Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorite Photos of 2014: Seven through Sixteen

Editions two and three combined today (since I fell asleep writing Monday's post).

Remember that these are in no particular order. They also don't mean that I think these are the BEST pictures I took. They are not all of the "five-star" rated photos from the year. I tried to pick with a little bit of variety, so that the same person didn't end up in multiple photos. These are just the ones that I looked at this weekend and thought, "yes, those are my favorites."  Next weekend might be different.

On we go!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Favorite Photos of 2014: One through Six

It's nearly end of the year, and -- because I started producing photography in a big way this year -- I'm creating an annotated list of my favorite photos. The list is twenty-five pictures, because I originally began by thinking I'd do ten, quickly formed a "short" list of thirty-six, then found that cutting was too difficult once I got to the current number. If I had been required to cut to 10 for a "best work" portfolio, I could have, but I'll leave that open for discussion.

Each photo will be presented, then some text about either the subject, the shot, or the settings. So if you see text, remember that it belongs to the photo above it.

Let's begin with six. The only order here is chronological. I've also removed whatever caption or title I'd given them (some had one, some never got that far). I wanted them to have a chance to stand as images... even though I promptly follow them with text. Hmm. Well, I actually want them to be free of whatever pun or commentary I chose as a title.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November Colors

A really nice day of photography, though I say it myself. Beautiful cloudy day at the park near my place. And I think I finally learned how to break the rules of the camera histogram to obtain pictures closer to what I visualize.

Full album link:


Friday, November 21, 2014

Out of Stock

When I was younger, my father worked for a company that owned an assortment of other companies. These companies made a wide variety of things, from cereals to food for pets to snacks for humans to flashlights and other small electronics. Around about 2000, the company was acquired by a larger company and my father, a part of the now-redundant management structure, was moved along the path towards retirement.

As a part of sorting his affairs, he divested himself of a small amount of stock for each of his three sons. I ended up with twenty shares of The Company. They were valued at about $20 a piece, for a total gift of about $450. I never saw the shares, as they were spirited away into the Safety Deposit Box, a mystical gyre that sweeps up all manner of important documents and items from my parents' lives. Birth certificates live in this disconnected realm, along with stock certificates, deeds to property, coins, jewelry, and a small mountain of Spanish Doubloons, if the novels of my childhood are to be believed.

But over the years, I've had the knowledge that I had twenty shares of The Company somewhere in my name. I put the amount into various financial tracking software, and I always mentioned it to financial advisers when they asked if I had any "holdings."

"Why yes! I own twenty shares of The Company."

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Alas, Poor Fantasy!

Last week, I had a novel experience: a woman flirted with me in public! I've had a woman or two flirt with me before, but those were women I was at least acquainted with, and it's certainly not something that's happened more than a couple of times. This was new because it was a woman I didn't know.

A woman I didn't know came on to me in a bar.

Reading those words, high school me -- who spent a large amount of thought, time, and preparation trying to get women to profess their attraction to me -- would be very excited!

Unfortunately, current-age me is just bewildered, disappointed, and kind of angry about the whole business. Who could have thought that my perceptions would change so much in only <checks watch> twenty years?

Hmm...probably everyone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Veritography, pt. 2: The Ethics of Photo-ing

I’m really enjoying getting back into photography, but I do have a big concern. That concern is that lots of people don’t particularly care to have their photograph taken. It seems to be for two reasons:

1) We’re really insecure about how we look.
2) We don’t know what people do with the photos once they’ve been taken.

That’s the cycle of perception and appearance we have in today’s society. I know because I used to hate having my picture taken, though it was largely a “received opinion” that wasn’t really my own. That didn’t stop me from criticizing myself based on it! Luckily, I’ve long since grown out of that phase. And while I can still be self-critical about my appearance, it’s a much more relaxed and healthy sort of attitude. I can acknowledge when exercise and diet have helped me to get into a more healthy shape, and I can also acknowledge that I do like making pizza with lots of cheese and pasta that has prosciutto mixed in for extra flavor. Mmmm.

Also donuts.

Where was I? Oh right, photography!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jazz Addendum

As a companion piece to the previous entry about jazz, I should mention that I had the privilege of attending a great jazz confluence at the beginning of the month. Gathered at one of the local jazz clubs was a host of the city's finest, wishing farewell to a saxophonist heading out of town for a job.

I took a series of photos, which I've put into a gallery at:

I'm really excited by how these photos turned out. It almost gives me the feeling like I might know what I'm doing when I have a camera in my hand.

The Jazz Acquaintance

A rare sighting of the behatted b. watson saxophonii
I've played a fair amount of jazz this summer. While nothing particularly groundbreaking, I've had seven jazz gigs that actually paid money (in addition to one or two free ones). The amount of money is not great for the time involved -- none of them have paid over $60, and all of them are over three hours of play time -- but it's a personal milestone. Take that, minimum wage!

At its core, jazz is improvisation. A particular jazz song provides a loose framework of chords that are called the progression, and there's a melody associated with that progression. Some people write new melodies for already-used progressions, and half the fun of listening to soloists is when they bring melodies from other songs to a place they don't belong. My relationship to jazz, even as a performer who sits inside of bands and actually plays jazz, is mostly as a spectator.

The reason why I feel a disconnect from jazz as an art form is that same reason that makes jazz unique: the improvisation.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

PR Skills. He has them

I'm glad somebody's got some kind of humanity, the kind that is able to be enacted at a moment's notice. For context, the Missouri Highway Patrol has been placed in charge of the scene in Ferguson, relieving the over-militarized presence of the St. Louis County task forces. Too many photographs of men in combat armor sighting down sniper rifles at unarmed protesters in the previous days. And tear-gassing people on their own property. And arresting journalists for being journalists.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Neighborhood Tech Support

I've been doing technical support for years. Since computers "came of age" as I did, I've had the benefit of using computers for most of my life. I put tapes into Tandy computers (the ones that co-opted a TV as the monitor), I put floppies into the Apple II to play "Number Munchers," played "Oregon Trail" on the Apple IIc, and I marveled at how much STUFF one could pack into the 3.5" HD variant of the disk drive on the IBM PS/2 my dad won in a business card drop.

For a large portion of that computer time, I've done tech support for other people. I can remember acting as a kind of teaching assistant for classes I was supposed to be in during elementary school. Helping various people get their computers working, programs loaded, commands understood, and designs drawn on LogoWriter. While I felt very self-important doing this, it really just amounted to obeying the three fundamental laws of tech support:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

So it's like Disneyland, but with supernatural wrath, genocide, and incest. Cool.

Watch out for those teeth, Noah!
SOURCE: Family that owns Hobby Lobby plans Bible museum in Washington

I had a few short thoughts on this article that talks about Hobby Lobby's founding family looking to spend $800 million on a museum to the Bible in Washington, D.C.:

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Attention-Getter

This is how they do it, right?
[Disclaimer: descriptions of harassment of women will be mentioned later. Sail these seas with caution.]

I always thought it would fun to be attractive. In a world governed by visual stimulus, it's one of the closest things our society has to a superpower. It's not as super-natural as flying or shooting beams from fingertips, but it's pretty close. Being attractive can provoke extremely altered behavior in others from a distance of fifty paces! Eat your heart out, Ant Man.

Recently, I had an experience at a small club in Kansas City that demonstrated the effectiveness of the Power. While watching a band play, the girlfriend of one of the band walked in. She's attractive. Her appearance at the door led heads to turn to look at who entered, then *stay* looking at who entered.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Judiciously Silent

One of the big problems with having friends is they can break your heart, a bit. They may not necessarily intend to do it -- especially if they're good friends! -- but they can still do it.

The type of heartbreak I'm talking about isn't a romantic one. It's more just the uncanny ability that friends have of showing me the ways that I've been a fool. And having been a fool, the path back to sensibility leads through a bit of heartbreak.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Death in the Morning

Beyond the Waters
News of a death with my morning routine today. The person lay outside my normal circle of friends, so even now I don't have all of the details. The obituary section of the KC Star website is such a horrible intersection of bad design, slow updates, and intrusive advertising that I'm not sure I'll be able to get anything out of it for another month.

It wasn't a particular surprise, this death. It happened in the way deaths often do in this time. A cancer diagnosis, years back, that led to treatments and time away from the job. Then no news. Is that good news? Or bad?

Sunday, July 06, 2014

What about *green* squirrels?

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26085784/colorado-teen-birth-rates-drop-state-hands-out

There is barely a sentence in this Denver Post article that is not fascinating to me.

The governor of Colorado says that a program which makes long-term reversible contraceptive devices available to low-income women for little or no charge has reduced the teen birth rate by nearly 40% in five years. Let's tick off all the fascinating things:

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Thoughts about the "Pride Whopper"

Source: USA TODAY, "Burger King sells gay pride Whopper"

Burger King announced that one location in San Francisco would sell a special "Pride" version of their flagship sandwich through Thursday. The location was at the heart of the Pride Parade from last weekend. Clothed in a fancy rainbow-colored wrapper, the inside features a standard Whopper and the words "We are all the same inside."

Tentative Interrogative

I've talked in the past about how I've been guilty of manipulating people and controlling the conversation. The conscious choice I've made to leave that behind has made me a happier person overall, but there's still one aspect that I've had a very hard time leaving behind. Every time the situation arises, I have to leash back the sentence that's about to charge out of my mouth.

And that sentence is, "What are you doing tonight?"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Dad

Dad recovering from dual carpal tunnel surgery in 2007
Sitting still and doing nothing does not suit him.
For much of the first half of my life, my father wore suits.

It took quite a while for me to understand what it was he did when he was "at work," this mysterious place he went for quite a lot of the time. I knew that he got up very early, wore suits that were subtly different but substantively the same, wore a white shirt and a conservative tie - in my memory, it's always a muted red with little patterned rosettes (also muted). I also learned that there were ties that were inappropriate for the office, namely anything I would wear to a jazz band concert.

I know that I'd often be eating cereal and drinking juice when he'd depart in the morning, and that instead of having Honeycomb or Cheerios, he'd depart carrying a single banana. I'm still not sure whether that was breakfast or lunch.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Big Throw

I ordered something online that happens to be coming from Hawaii. Whereas forty years ago, I might not even know where it was coming from or when to expect it, now we have digital tracking through the magic of the Internet. Let's see what my tracking tells me:


According to this, it left a post office in Hawaii on Monday, at precisely 4:21pm. It's traveling "3-Day Priority," so I might conceivably expect it today (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday). But there's no further information since Monday. Somehow I don't think there's a direct - but very slow - flight from Hawaii to Kansas City, so the package will probably head to California first, before being moved onto the plane bound for Centerland.

Personally, I like to think that they climbed to the top of one of those dormant volcanoes, took a running start, and then tossed it towards the mainland with all their might, causing it to arc up into the sky and through the earth's atmosphere, before finally landing somewhere in the field near the KC Post Office. It would explain the lack of tracking information ("Yeah, Big George sent it out of here just a bit ago").

Sunday, June 08, 2014

An August Gesture

(click to enlarge)
First, take a look at the hero photo I included with this entry. If it looks like a potted plant in a trash can, that's because it is a potted plant in a trash can. Specifically, it's a plant commonly known as "Lamb's Ear" for its seemingly-fuzzy broad leaves. Even more specifically, it's in my kitchen trash can, captured a year or two ago in August (that's half the title explained!).

And to be perfectly plain, I threw it away because it was dying. And it was dying because the lamb's ear plants don't particularly care for apartment-style living. Especially ones with little sun and no nitrogen-rich soil to speak of. In fact, the lack of arable soil in my apartment is shocking!

Friday, June 06, 2014

A Crazy Gig

On Wednesday, I got a call from a trumpet player about a gig the following evening (Thursday night).

It proved to be one of the strangest and wildest gigs I've ever played.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Matrimony

Yesterday, I went to a wedding. Those being attached were friends from a previous job. A nicer couple there has never been, and for as long as I've known them, the general topic has been "when are they going to get married?"

They were married in the town square of a small Kansas town called Paola. In 2010, the population was 5,600. In the town square stands a gazebo, and they were married in front of the steps, while a small collection of friends and family looked on.

Here are some moments:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Enter: Tinkerbell

"Chihuahua" by Anthony Kelly on Flickr,
Creative Commons License
My downstairs neighbors have several dogs. The rules prohibit more than one? Don't worry your pretty head: they certainly haven't. For the winter months, all I knew was that they barked a lot while people were gone, that they barked when I slammed open garlic bulbs (which must have sounded kind of like knocking), and that the owners occasionally yelled at them in unintelligible words.

This spring, with the windows open, I found that one of them was called "Tinkerbell." That's an unfortunate name for a dog, but I assume the dog does their best to move past that and continue living its life of quiet desperation. Living as a purse-dog.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Secret's Secret

Today I downloaded the newly-available Secret app for my phone. It's been in the tech news for months after its release on the Apple platform, and the Android version launched this week.

If you don't know what Secret is, let me give you a quick explanation. When you download the app, it takes a look at the contact information you have. It then anonymously places you in a circle with people you know, based on the information. You can then read and/or post things that people have posted anonymously. Some of them come from the network at large (I saw posts from Uganda and Belgium - certainly no friends of mine!), but a certain percentage of tiles you see come from your "acquaintances" that make up the people you know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Letter to Myself

People write very infrequently these days.

And by that, I mean that they seldom take ink to paper - there’s still a fair amount of digital writing going on. <cough> On...err… other people’s blogs. Or so I hear.

On the recent brass band trip, I brought along a journal. I have many notebooks that I collectively refer to as my journals, but the organization is lacking. That is to say: I don’t really have a system of organization. I usually grab whichever one I lay hands on first, regardless of when the previous entry happens to be dated.

And by a fun coincidence, the notebook I grabbed for this trip happened to have a first entry dated almost a exactly a year previous. I started writing just after I purchased the volume from the hotel sundry shop. I sat on an incredibly ostentatious couch in the historic lobby in Cincinnati and started writing.

And a year later, I sat in the not-at-all ostentatious lobby of the Holiday Inn in Grand Rapids and started writing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Righteous Emptiness

Image from
As I was riding the bus back to Kansas City on Sunday, the news was breaking of shots fired at the Jewish Community Center and another facility not far from where I live. As I got closer, the news resolved into the fact that three people had been shot and killed. Speculation was that it was a hate crime. By the next day, the identity of the shooter and his victims were known.

The suspect is a white supremacist who has written at length about his anti-Semitic views. And his victims are three white people who weren't Jewish. They were a grandson and grandfather, and a mother of three.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It's been two months since I've last updated. A shameful gap in something that I try to keep regularly updated! I'm not sure how I would define "regular," but I'm sure it *isn't* every sixty days. Unless it's a change in the weather patterns or something...

Anyway, a few things of note have happened. Several of them have entries devoted to them which I've started, and there's a good chance I'll finish at least one, so they are entries that you may have a shot at being able to read at some point.

This last weekend was the brass band contest that comes every spring, so I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan to participate. I have an album of photographs I took, which is ostensibly what this entry is about -- the photos, I mean, not the contest. The link to the album is https://plus.google.com/photos/+AndrewSchwartzDMA/albums/6002020948393510417?sort=1

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Open Letter to Sprint

To +Sprint:

I received an email from your office this week:

The email was generated in response to me transferring my Sprint phone number to +T-Mobile service, thus triggering the end of my Sprint contract. Let me explain why I made that decision.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dismissed Without Prejudice

My practice aids
Last week, I participated in the preliminary round of auditions for the bass trombone position with the Kansas City Symphony. This is an entry about that process. All thoughts and accounts are mine alone, the Symphony had no input or responsibility for any of the content herein.

And let me spoil the result up front: I didn't win. In the legal parlance, I was "dismissed without prejudice," meaning there was nothing wrong with the fundamentals of my case. I'm free to bring the same suit again, if I can structure it in a tighter fashion.

With that essential information out of the way, let's dive in.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


This evening, I rented a computer-animated movie ON my cell phone using funds I earned WITH my cell phone. I rented it from my phone and sent it to my TV in a wireless fashion. It took about 30 seconds and I was watching the opening credits by 35 seconds.

No wonder Blockbuster went out of business.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Photo mio

Self Portrait #4: Black and Tan
I started a new public album on Google+ of pictures I take as I gradually teach myself all kinds of things about modern photography.

Last night I took a few self portraits and edited them in various ways. I had a good time trying to take each photo and make it interesting. It was challenging, and it is perhaps not surprising that I put much more time into the photography and editing than I did into my personal wardrobe or appearance.

In fact, I didn't even think about whether or not I'd combed my hair sufficiently until after I'd slipped into bed and turned out the light. Spoiler: I didn't, but I don't think it diminishes anything.

The link to the album is HERE and you shouldn't need an account to see them.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Greg and the Woman Beside Him

I shop at the grocery store that is across the street from where I live. It's a nice store, as you'd expect from one in the relatively upscale neighborhood that I cling to the bottom bracket of. It's friendly and I know most of the tellers and clerks by face, if not actually by name.

Today I had a new bagger. His name is Greg.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013 - Thirteen Things I Learned

Color tunnel

  1. All those photos of myself I've been taking are called "selfies." I don't like the word "selfie."
  2. Lots of people are unhappy in ways they could fix if they knew why they were unhappy.
  3. I'm disappointed that living according to the concepts and expectations that have been defined have left me sad.
  4. Snow is still among the best of things - coincidentally, we're expecting 2-4 inches today.
  5. There are some things I know and I feel that are worth keeping secret from everyone, especially myself.
  6. Nobody ever seems to mind if one brings chocolate and alcohol.
  7. Bringing food doesn't necessarily obtain a spot on the nice list.
  8. Nothing makes me feel more stupid that attempting to play tennis with someone who won't send anything back over the net except encouragement.
  9. One should always strive to love people when they need to be loved. But it is important to remember that love is often only a one-way street - remembering that will help to alleviate problems.
  10. Very few things make me feel old, but getting excited about the possibilities of love and then finding out it wasn't what I thought makes me feel old and tired.
  11. Nobody can ever really know the process involved in anyone's academic degrees. They're like extremely complicated magic spells that may or may not work.
  12. It is worth spending time - while others think you crazy - in order to determine what you know.
  13. It is always good to make a new cookie recipe.