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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Bailout Bombed

Today's economic crisis is obvious and not so obvious at the same time. Everyone sees the gas prices fluctuate from day to day and think that they have a handle on what is going on with America's finances, but I'm willing to bet that the average voter probably can't explain the process of credit institutions and how their stability can affect the market. We've all seen news reports, debates, headlines in the newspapers, and probably online stories from all over the US but all the information is getting lost as it piles up on the heads of the people who don't fully understand it.

I know all this because I am one of the people that don't fully understand it. I read a lot and do a lot of research before I formulate most of my opinions, but the information out there is a bit much to take. There appears to be an agreement that the financial security in America is at stake, but the way to go about healing it is where all the confusion comes in.

The White House wants to bail out the financial institutions that are struggling with foreclosed properties and bad debt. Their hope is that by purchasing these bad debts from the banks it will allow them to become healthy again where they can continue to dole out loans to people who need them for businesses, personal property, and homes. It's the classic "trickle down" economic process that promotes helping out the biggest companies so that they can in turn create jobs,give loans, and stimulate spending.

But, what if, by relieving the banks of the results of their own mistakes, they only go out and make the same mistakes again? Or maybe they won't. But, what's stopping them from doing so? By bailing these companies out we're giving them the message that they can do whatever they want and even if their company fails they'll still collect.

I know that if the economy continues its nosedive that America as we know it could radically change. But, I fail to see what I should be fearing by this change. Let it fall. It's a machine that was built by the wealthy to become wealthier by feeding off of the majority. It's wrong and it deserves to tumble. My guess is that the majority will survive just fine, those that don't rely on the government (their neighbors) to support their lifestyle. For the others, it can only serve as a wake up call to a broken system.

While it may be a difficult road, one in which that us fat and lazy Americans aren't used to, I think that we'd be better off letting the bottom fall out and starting over with a much more aware society rather than this willfully ignorant one. Many will disagree with me and I welcome any comments for or against my position, but I would like to ask these people who are for a government bailout a two-part question: Can you explain to me what you expect that this bail out will save? And, if saving our current mode of operations is your answer, then what is it about the current mode of operations that is so worth saving?

Remember the Vikings

Foreword: Sorry for the blogs being few and far between for the month of September. I have a small handful of blogs that I read and I know how it feels checking in on them just to see the same old blog sitting there. Today is my last day to get one in before the calender flips over to October so here I am. Can you believe it? October! I'm too busy to actually write one that takes a lot of brain power, so sue me if you don't like the content but here goes.

This past Saturday I ran across a news story that made my jaw drop. Maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but you get the idea. It was about Parkview High School's football team. Apparently, they won their game last Friday night. I normally wouldn't have been reading about sports, but the headline caught my attention. Parkview's win broke a fifty-eight game losing streak. 58 games! Before Friday night's game their last win was October 10, 2002, almost 6 years ago.

Think about that. Both the Class of 2007 and the Class of 2008 spent their entire four years of high school without a win on the football field. This discouragement had to extend beyond the lighted field. School spirit probably isn't what it once was, but there is still a pride to be had by a season record even if you never attend a single game. I know I've felt a spark of healthy pride when someone finds out that I graduated from Ozark and starts complimenting their football program. And I was a soccer player! I didn't go to football games, and yet I've felt it. So, what then for the multitudes of students who had to bare the embarrassment of a losing streak that took years to break?

According to the News-Leader the state record for longest losing streak is held by the town of Iberia, MO. This is a tiny little town of 605 people halfway between Rolla and Lake of the Ozarks. Their losing streak of 72 straight games stretched from 1965 to 1974. The second longest losing streak took place in Gainesville, MO. Gainesville lost 66 in a row and is also a small town of 632 people. Parkview now holds the third place for longest losing streak in the state. On a sidenote, neither Iberia nor Gainesville have football programs anymore. So, one could say that Parkview holds the longest football losing streak in the state for a team that is still active.

Friday night's win didn't come easily either. It was a battle down to the final tick of the clock. Parkview beat Hillcrest in double overtime 39-36. It will be interesting to see what this win does for the team for the rest of the season. Coming out of a slump like that could easily turn the entire morale of the team around. Time will only tell. Just remember the Vikings when everything seems to be working against you and you see no end in sight.

Say Cheese!

I fear that If I talk about Studio Living Room or photography in general any more that people might get the impression that this is merely a company blog page designed for the purpose of promoting itself. However, recently I've been really busy with events and even busier with editing the photos from those events so I don't have much else to talk about. I'm not sure how many collective hours I have spent touching up photos this month, but I feel that my eyes have definitely been working overtime.

My most recent job was for Battlefield Lanes here in Springfield. They recently got a contract for ten billboards around town promoting their bowling alley, and they were looking for someone to take some action photos and some shots of their facility for use on these billboards. Well, it was a friend of mine who hooked them up with the billboard contract and he then recommended me when they asked if he knew any professional photographers. So, that was cool. I interviewed for the job and got it.

The photo shoot went well and it was neat to be involved in some commercial work. Another bonus was that one of the photos that the general manager really wanted was of a small child bowling. They had a plan already for this photo but the intended subject couldn't make it when we did the shoot. So, we just did without. I suggested that we could use my kids and they thought that that was a great idea. Jodi then thought it would be nice if we could do it before the billboard designs got finished so that they could use it as they had originally planned. So, I negotiated with them and in exchange for me returning with my family to take a few photos of them bowling we got to bowl that night completely for free. Lyric had never been bowling before and was a lot less interested in it than I thought he would be. Like most kids, he's always loved playing with balls (or "deesh" in his language) and so I thought for sure that he would get a big kick out of bowling. But he did just that. He kept trying to kick the ball rather than roll it. We did get some good shots of him even so.

Free bowling was good, but the real bonus will be if Jodi, Jacob, or Lyric or some combination of the three find their faces on a billboard somewhere. I thought that it would be cool just to have my work displayed on a billboard, so how much cooler is it to have my wife and kids on one. That would be something for the scrapbook. Anyway even if my blog page is the only place they're used they're still out there. Here are some of the pics from the shoot. Of course, most of the pictures I took for them weren't of us but I'm including mostly ones of us because I'm biased like that.

Also, stay tuned. I've been editing the Des Moines wedding and it is turning out beautiful. My best yet.

Beauty Revisited

I wrote yesterday's blog and after proofreading it I watched the Dove commercial again even though it needed no proofwatching. I'm just amazed at the amount of work that went into making a beautiful model picture that didn't even resemble the woman that was an attractive woman already. Afterwards, I noticed the short list of related videos that YouTube attempts to entice the viewer with. Several were other examples of extreme makeovers using Photoshop. I chose one and watched it.

Impressed as I was, I ended the short video slightly upset because I noticed the author was using tools found in Photoshop that were awesome. See, I don't use Photoshop. I use GIMP. And, I'd never found those tools in GIMP. Which, if GIMP had these tools, my work of editing photos would be much simpler with a better finished product as well. But, then I had an epiphany. Despite my well-rounded experience with GIMP, I still don't use all the features. I thought maybe there is a GIMP equivalent to these Photoshop tools.

I Googled a description of what the tool was doing and after a few clicks found the name of the Photoshop tool. I then Googled the tool name with GIMP. First try was a charm. I found a forum of someone asking for the equivalent and receiving direction as to which tool will perform that same function in GIMP. YAY!

So then I had to try this method out for myself to see if I could do in GIMP what this guy had done in Photoshop. I saw that he got his photo from Stock Exchange which is a free stock photo website. I searched "girl face" and wound up finding the exact photo he used and decided to use it as well for easy comparison purposes for our finished products.

Below is the video that the guy did, the original photo from stock exchange, and my edited version completely performed in GIMP. So much for Photoshop being a little bit better than GIMP.

What I did: gave her a nose job, plucked her eyebrows, fixed her terrible eye make-up, gave her green eyes, changed her lipstick, gave her a tan, got rid of the mark on her face (whatever that was), smoothed out her skin, reshaped her face and skull, pinned her ears back a little, whitened her teeth, rounded out her shoulders, changed the background which got rid of all her stray frizzy hair, and added a little color to her cheeks to give the slight illusion of cheek bones. So, what do you think?

Beauty Defined

The idea of beauty is an interesting thing. I've heard many studies over the years claiming theories about what constitutes beauty in a society. Some of these theories you may have heard yourself. One of them is based off of symmetry. A study showed that faces that measured to be more symmetric in photos were given a higher approval rating from the people who were picked to rate the photos by beauty. This theory also is carried into architecture. Most buildings are built as symmetrically as possible. Look at virtually every Capital Building in every State. County Courthouses, skyscrapers, Eiffel Tower, White House, the Taj Mahal. All these buildings seem beautiful to us. People take pictures of them not only for their size but because they're beautiful. Maybe they wouldn't be quite as beautiful if they weren't so symmetrical? It's a thought.

Another idea is that beauty is seen in reproductive capabilities. It's been said that men are subconsciously attracted to hourglass shaped women because the hips would suggest a better chance at birthing healthier babies. When googling about this subject for a little more content I even ran across there being a specific waist-to-hip ratio that according to physiologists accurately indicates women's fertility levels. On the women's perspective, I once saw a 20/20 report that was all about how a new study showed that almost 70% of women will pick a man to be her partner that has the "strong" facial features like wide jaws, over set brow, small mouth, and set apart eyes. These same women with almost the same majority pointed out that in their opinion these men that they would choose as a mate also have most of the undesirable qualities in behaviour like they tend to not be good fathers or caring husbands. The men's chances of abandoning the relationship at any point were greater.

This study clearly showed that the 1000 women polled would choose a mate based off of "desirable" appearances despite everything else being "undesirable". The other men were overwhelmingly seen as safer bets, but remained unchosen by the majority of the women polled. So, could women, too, be just as shallow as the men whom they accuse of the same? Sociologists claim that this study shows that these women like all women simply want healthy, strong, "desirably featured" children and are willing to take the chance on the man in order to get the desired baby.

For whatever reasons beauty is defined, the results of beauty have a profound effect on society and always have. A casual stroll through a shopping mall, a few minutes of commercials between tv shows, even something as simple as logging in to MySpace can find you seeing ads about how to be more beautiful with some skin care product, hair conditioner, or weight loss program. It was these ads on the internet that sparked this blog in the first place. I captured three of them and created two of my own. I'm sure that there's no misunderstanding as to which two I made, but for disclaimer purposes let me say now that both the Clearasil and Olay ads are indeed not ads ran by either company. After seeing these funny ads you should watch the YouTube video of the Dove commercial if you haven't already seen it. It's a great demonstration of how beauty is perceived and how the beauty product industry has raised the bar to an almost unreachable level.

Do you have any theories that relate to the subject of beauty? Let us know and comment below.

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