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March 31, 2009


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Having been to/through Alamogordo many times, I'm guessing they probably have to give free rooms in order to get people to stay there.

FYI, El Paso has always looked like it was in a deep recession. Every relative I have there (a lot) has been burgled, vandalized, had their cars stolen or all three. It puzzles me that they stay there.

This is a serious iPod shuffle question: Are you "allowed" to skip a song (In the instance of Billy Joel and Joan's dislike) or do you have to listen to whatever pops up?

Phoenix phood: Pizzeria Bianco. Rated as the best pizza in U.S. beating out NY or NJ slices. Friends who live there agree. Likely a bit of a wait, but I'm assured it's worth it.


Let's not forget the legendary DI-related meltdown in '95 that led to the destruction of a bathroom stall. Actually, it was a two-parter. The first was the flinging of the mouse against the wall in a quiet office, followed by the stomp off to the men's room for additional destruction.

A true person from Michigan would say Michigander...

The Joan Pic is amazing and makes me cry.

I'm amazed you get the beagles to pose at all. Any decent pictures I get of mine are pure luck.

On the subject of movie soundtracks: I notice them and like all the composers you mention. Drives my husband nuts, but as a musician, not only do I notice the soundtracks, I remember what music was when in a movie. One of my favorite recent soundtracks is by Dario Marianelli: Atonement. Especially his use of intertwining his music with other pieces by composers such as Debussy, Parry, and Puccini. See? This kind of stuff drives John to drink. Poor guy.

Joan - while I am enjoying the beagle photos, I am really struck by the shots you've taken of ordinary people. The photo of the homeless man today is stunning. I love the composition of the man, his shadow and the bag. When you take pictures of strangers do you try to be unobtrusive? Do you ask their permission?

I am fairly certain I've been to San Antonio more than anyone reading who hasn't actually lived in San Antonio, and I can tell you, it doesn't smell like urine. It smells like sweat. And, occasionally, vomit.
Also, I'm sure you know the movie significance of Fort Hancock, Texas. I'll wait....
It's where escaped convict Andy Dufresne crossed over into Mexico in "The Shawshank Redemption."

I'm a little disappointed that the mention of Fort Hancock, Texas, didn't warrant at least one "Shawshank Redemption" reference.

Thanks, David. You must have been hitting "Send" while I was typing my comment.

Re: TP in the trashcan, that's actually standard bathroom etiquette in Mexico, so I guess your restaurant was just extra-authentic.

As to the light touch at the border patrol checkpoints, I learned in South Texas that *their* standard etiquette is focusing on the hoopties. They aren't permitted to profile racially, so they profile automotively instead.

So Jim - I have two unrelated things to post. First, tonight in honor of your trek thru Texas, Ken and I ate at the Hard Times Cafe in Arlington (VA that is). I had the Terlingua chili 3-ways with Fresh tomatoes and Ken had the Texas style chili three ways, decidedly without fresh tomatoes. We skipped salads and went for the jalapeño poppers to start. We both had a beer – Ken’s quick to point out his was a lite beer. So can we get a Jim nutrition rating on that?

Second I for one am too addicted to these daily missives for you to take a break so I wanted to ask if you’d consider a post or two from Virginia – I’d be happy to read about the fantasy league and I am sure there will be music and food involved even if the beagles are staying out west. Pleaseeee

I am in awe of Joan's photography skills, esp re the beagles. We also have two beagles, and getting a decent picture is nothing short of a miracle. Homer wanders over to sniff whoever has the camera; Bonnie is afraid of the camera and simply leaves the room, tail dragging. (We have taken to turning on the camera whenever we give her a treat, in an effort to overcome this fear.)

I, of course, agree with all of Cathy Moscatelli's compliments about Joan's photographic skills. But more importantly than "...do you try to be unobtrusive? Do you ask their permission?" is "Do you get a model release?" :)

Hey Cathy (and Ellen) - Thanks for your comments on my photos. I saw that homeless man while we were sitting at a stoplight and opened the window to take that shot. (While pushing beagle noses out of the way.)

Generally, I'm capturing something that I see in a particular moment, so if I ask permission, that moment is gone.

Back when we did this trip in 2003 I was shooting with a Sony Cybershot - I think it was 3.1 megapixels and had a 6x zoom. It was pretty easy to be unobtrusive with that little camera.

Now I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II and usually use a 70 - 200 (big, heavy, grey) lens. The combination makes a pretty big statement. But the upside to the new equipment is that I can be farther away and still get a great shot.

Ellen in response to your question regarding model releases, my understanding is that persons in public places have no legal expectation of privacy and therefore no release is required. Think of it like the pictures photojournalists take for print and online publication.

Joan - I must join the praise for the photos - excellent work! The photo of the homeless guy in El Paso is especially compelling. And then to top it off with a pic of the beagles recreating that moment - brilliant. Hank is especially impressive in his role as the backpack.

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