Weekend with Anisebredele

This weekend I am going to selflessly let Isabelle have all of the “attention” in this post as hard as that is for me.   Wow does this confessed difficulty make me a narcissist or just self centered.   Regardless… I am going to share with all of you her recipe for Anisebredele ( Traditional Christmas cookie from Alsace)

Anisbredele 01

This little cookie is well loved in Isabelle’s home region and a little bit misunderstood in my corner of the world.  This a dry “airy” cookie with a subtle not too sweet anise flavor.   It looks to be made of two layers but is really one layer made of very simple ingredients. This cookie and another one, schwowe bredele, have become a Christmas tradition for our family.

The first time I watched Isabelle make them I instantly found myself wanting to like them, actually willing to fake liking them, just because of the simple ingredients and weird preparation process.    I remember  tasting my first one and while my American tongue wanted gooey sweetness I found the light crackly texture and the  subtle flavor very interesting  maybe even addictive.   I found myself eating one after another and realizing that I didn’t have to pretend to like them… I actually loved them.

Here is the Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 500 grams sugar (2 1/2 cups)
  • 500 grams flour (4 cups)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of Anise Seeds

Steps:

Step 1:

Beat eggs and sugar together for one hour until they become white and “mousseux” (frothy… see picture below)

Anisbredele 02

Step 2:

Stir anise and flour into the mix from step 1

Anisbredele 03

Anisbredele 04

Step 3:

Create cookies by dropping a teaspoon onto parchment paper.   (See below)

Anisbredele 05

Anisbredele 06

Step 4:

Let dry for 12 hours.  Isabelle often makes the dough in the evening and lets it dry over night.

Anisbredele 07

Step 5:

Bake at 300 F (148 C) 16 minutes.   Do not over cook… you can tell they are done when you can lift them off of the parchment paper without ripping the bottom off.

Anisbredele 08

Anisbredele 09

I love how the dry outer layer leaves a shell and the inner part kind of “mushrooms” out.

Please give this a try…. you will either love this or mildly dislike it.  (yeptoo subtle to hate… hmmm… kind of wish I was too subtle to hate as well…)

 

Advertisements

Week in Las Vegas (AWS reinvent)

I have been fighting illness and at the same time travelling for work.   This week I went to Las Vegas for an AWS conference.   I try not to talk about work in this blog and will not bore you with work details. I do want to share some pictures especially pictures of the odd things you can see in Las Vegas.

SO just to contradict what I just said… oh the  duplicity… I will post two pictures from the AWS conference for those curious about what it was like.

aws reinvent-ANIMATION

The first one might make you dizzy or cause epileptic seizures.  (I can’t tell you that it is better in person… all the light flashing when you are on cold medicine does make one dizzy)This is one hall of four that was filled with people all waiting to hear a “keynote” speech.   The content was great this year… but the number of people and the size of the event was crazy.

aws reinvent 01

Here is what it is like walking with the other 45,000+ attendees…   This event was in four conference centers all up and down the strip.   Great conference but crazy crowded.

Here are some pictures from Vegas (non conference… some might be a little risqué but I avoided the really “naughty” stuff)

Let me start with the really tame and normal pictures.

aws reinvent 04

aws reinvent 05

I stayed at the south end of the strip.  I walked the strip up and down each day.  If you have not visited Las Vegas there is a lot to see on the strip both day and night.  (Some of it both buildings and people tend not to be “family friendly”)  I have joked with my family that you don’t need to visit the world… just visit Las Vegas and you will see it all.  I once said that this is the only place you could take a picture of  the statue of liberty and the Eiffel tower at the same time  but I realized you can do that in Paris as well.

paris-liberty

Yes you can take the same picture in Paris but you can’t gamble and buy legalized marijuana which you can in Las Vegas.   Not that I did…   in fact as a tourist you can buy “it” but you will not be able to smoke it since you have to smoke it in a private residency.  You are not suppose to consume it in any casino, hotel, or public place.  I noticed this law was not often followed.  I smelled that awfully pungent smoke every time I walked up or down the strip

Oh speaking of Paris…  Each time I visit somewhere without Isabelle and I pass anything that is even close to a French patisserie I take a picture and text it to her.   This is my way of letting her know that I am thinking of her. (I am such a great husband… and it is also fun making her jealous by telling her how good they were)

aws reinvent 11

aws reinvent 13

aws reinvent 12

These are the ones I texted her this trip… and although I only tried a couple they were delicious! (I use to bring something home for Isabelle especially macarons… but too much of a good thing would spoil her)

Speaking of food…

aws reinvent 06

Would you eat here?  and more importantly who starts up a restaurant and decides “egg slut” is a good name.   I understand the concept… they serve eggs all day, but couldn’t they name it better?

I was invited to eat here one evening but I am not an egg guy… and some how I imagine a very unpleasant eggy flatulent smelly place. Would you eat here?… and if you think the place offers something more based upon the name you will be disappointed.   They do serve “Slut”.  In fact it is one of their specialties.

I am a bit torn on this item…   I have never had egg on potato puree and why does it matter if it is poached in a glass jar?   Just in the case you think I am making all of this up here is a link to the (menu)
For those of you who can’t get enough of my boring restaurant comments…

I had an interesting only in Vegas experiences during a “pub crawl” this week at a restaurant.   I picked one of the less crowded places (LAVO beautiful Italian restaurant with excellent food) and sat in a corner next to the kitchen door.   The idea being that every new appetizer being brought out would stop at my table first and I would be sheltered from the crowds of festivity.   My plan worked excellently in fact better than I thought since the trays of  food visited my table on the way out and then returned on their way back to the kitchen.   I could not have been more happy even if there was neon flashing lighted wands on my table.

Then weird happened… that is I guess if you are not use to acrobats/contortionists doing things on the floor between you and the beverage table.   I was also concerned since I didn’t really know the applause or not applause etiquette for these types of acts.

aws reinvent 10   aws reinvent 09

I imagine these ladies are very talented but there has to be an easier way to earn money.  Can you imagine how strong the lady on the bottom is… holding up the two other women.

All of this made me feel weird at the table.  I started wondering if should I look or not and how much is too much looking.  There were some guys yelling out encouragement which made it all the more uncomfortable.   Am I out of the norm… is this “dinner party acrobatics” a common thing?  I left my ideal location because of the awkwardness I was feeling which turns out to be a good thing.  I probably had eaten two dinners worth of calories with all of the appetizers passing by.

And speaking of awkwardness…. one afternoon while walking down the strip a “take a picture and pay me money” worker spanked me with a riding crop.   You read that correctly I got spanked.  Honestly I was walking and avoiding any eye contact with these street money making acts, especially the mostly naked ones, and next thing I know a lady dressed up I think as a nasty police officer started hitting my butt with her riding crop (I didn’t know police used riding crops).   I asked her to please stop spanking me.  Not because of the pain… it only hurt a little but it was really embarrassing.   She made things worse when she started yelling “Don’t be shy… come and take a picture with me”.  She got in at least 6 good whacks…  and I not knowing really how to react told a coworker “well I can cross that off my list”.  My coworker just laughed and said “What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”.

aws reinvent 14

I did get a “free” picture of the lady.   If you look closely you can see here with the crop on her shoulder.  I am sorry that I didn’t get a better picture but the closest I wanted to be to her was all the way across the street… you know a “safe” distance.

I had one more “invade my personal space” experience while in Vegas…

Monday I was still sick and it was showing especially on my face since my eyes were puffy and my nose was red.(at least I want to blame my face appearance that day on being ill).  I walked past some kind of beauty boutique and one of the men came out and asked me to come in.   I thought he was going to try to sell me something for my wife but he said “You are much too young to look like this”.  I told him there was nothing he could do to help the way I looked   He ignored my comment and sat me in a chair. (I don’t know why I go along with these kind of things).    He started talking about my fair complexion and stated while it can be beautiful that he could see every flaw.   He started with all sorts of stuff… some in syringes…  He spent at least 15 minutes working on just the left side of my face. (I spend less time in the shower for my entire body)  He then showed me how much nicer the one side was and said it would only cost me about $300.   I told him I struggle spending $5 on lotion.  He asked for my phone and took two pictures.

aws reinvent 02

Untreated side….

aws reinvent 03

His “miracle” side”…   I am not sure I see the difference but he said send these to my wife and come back after she tells me how much better I look.   The man obviously didn’t know how frugal Isabelle is… even if she saw a difference she would never spend that much on my face.  Would you spend over $300 for the change you see?  (if you see any)

There are some cool things that happen in Vegas (still weird ).   One afternoon I noticed that they had shut down traffic on the strip and that there was a crowd growing around an intersection.   I stopped just as a stock car revved its engine and squealed into the intersection.   The car proceeded to spin it tires and spin itself in circles.  This was very cool and there was a line of stock cars waiting to show their thing in the same intersection.

I thought I had to get some pictures of this…  I took over 30 pictures but as I reviewed the pictures later I realized that all you could see was the smoke.   I should have taken a video… lesson learned.   I will end this post with a couple of those pictures.  (enjoy the smoke… if you look hard you may see the car)

Thank you for reading my post!

aws reinvent 07

aws reinvent 08

Weekend with Turkey and Turmeric Dye

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!   So… I am sick this weekend  (think I have the flu) but I still had a fantastic time with my family, food… and well… wool.  This weekend I am starting hopefully the “last” scarf I will ever knit.  As manly as my knitting is…  (it is very manly) I am kind of sick of making scarfs.   This last scarf is for my youngest son Ben.  I tried to talk him out of a scarf by suggesting a hat but he wanted a scarf…  an orange scarf.  I needed “orange” yarn so I am going to share with you our attempt at getting orange colored yarn with Turmeric.   Thank you SUZE for the idea!

I have already made a scarf for Gwen and Sam (Ben’s brother and sister). Actually I have made three scarfs… and to be honest a scarf is all that I know how to knit.  Yep… there is only thing I know how to knit and I am starting to “master” these long rectangles.  I have even started experimentation. (manly experimentation… wow that doesn’t sound right) I barely finished Sam’s scarf which has lots of stripes and three blobs at each end (not sure what the blobs are suppose to be)

Tumeric 01

Here is Sam’s scarf.  The colors are either natural wool or dyed wool using logwood or walnuts. (see Weekend with Logwood – Weekend with Walnut Hull Dye).  You can see there are lots of stripes and little symmetry… that is how men do it.

OK… back to the turmeric dyeing story…

Ben and I had decided we would avoid the craziness of shopping this black Friday and stayed home while Isabelle, Gwen, and Sam fought the crowds.   I was extremely pleased to be avoiding this crazy day  but Ben after a couple of hours couldn’t resist the festive commercialistic spirit of this season…  so off we went to the grocery store to purchase turmeric. 

Tumeric 02

After exiting the store Ben asked “did we get a good deal?”.   I told him that we had saved $2.25 and this made him unexpectedly happy.  Several hours later Isabelle and the other two kids returned home from their “black Friday” shopping.   Ben was very anxious to let them know that we had our own “shopping” adventure.  He announced our “savings” turning it into a bit of a “fish story” by announcing that we saved over 40%.  I am not sure where the percentage came from.

Here is how I dyed yarn with turmeric… (very simple instructions)

Tumeric 03

I soaked the wool yarn (barely made) in hot water.  While it soaked I added half of the turmeric bottle to about a cup of vinegar.   Once the vinegar and turmeric was mixed I could see that we were not going to get an orange… more of a golden mustard.

I added about a gallon of water to the turmeric/vinegar  and heated up the mixture to just over 100ºf.   I then added the yarn and let it sit in the hot turmeric water for 60 minutes.

Tumeric 04

After one hour of soaking up the color I rinsed the yarn several times and got my final color.   (By the way this is probably the messiest stuff I have worked with… I got it everywhere and Isabelle was  a bit upset… especially with the new yellow hued gray towels.  I blamed all of the mess on the a fact that I was starting to feel ill)

I asked Ben if the color was ok… and before he could say anything I reminded him of the “huge” savings we made.   Fortunately he was still on his “bargain shopping high” and said it was fine.

Here is the yarn dry… and the start of Ben’s scarf.

Tumeric 05

Tumeric 06

I had best stop here…. I have taken some Nyquil and am starting to dose off.

Thank you for stopping by!

Recap from my Trip to India (Random Pics and Words)

Just got home from India and I am very “thankful” to be home.  I had a rough trip home that lasted almost 40 hours with delayed airplanes and missed connections.   All of this reminding me how much I missed my family.   I will share some very random pictures… Some interesting, many weird and one or two touching.  (At least they were touching to me)

I want to start with two weird pictures from Paris.

WPD Paris 02

The photo is for “Brow Powder”. (What exactly is “brow powder”?… and does this mean that animals tested it on humans?)   I am wondering does it make your eyebrow look like the eyebrow on the left or right of this girl?  My guess is the one on the left since this is what I imagine a gorilla wanting the eyebrow to look like.

WPD Paris 01

This window display with the oddly cool/sexy sheep (wow do I feel wrong saying that) caught my attention.   Regardless of how you feel about a red headed sheep… please just “Say no to uncool wool”.

Now it is time to share pictures from India…

First some pictures that represent my personal glimpses into the fascinating world of India.  Scenes that made me smile and others that broke my heart… Scenes that made me grateful for what I have and others that touched my soul changing the way I look at the world.   (wow… that last part was a bit dramatic… I am going to leave off “words” and let you perceive them in your own way)

India November 1

India November 17

India November 15

India November 2

India November 26

India November 25

India November 4

India November 18

Now… for my typical tourist pictures!

India November 19

On my drive to Pune I love looking at all of the trucks which are usually fantastically decorated.   This truck had “wait for side” written on the back… I waited expecting something… and well nothing.   I have no idea what “wait for side” means.

India November 21

Here is another back of a truck message that I just don’t understand… “MILK NOT FOR SALE”…. I saw this on many trucks.   Why are they saying that the milk is not for sale… what is the milk for? (can’t be for “rent”)

India November 20

I have driven this toll road from Mumbai to Pune at least 8 times this year and have never noticed this sign… “Caution!  Accidental Prone zone”.   Wonder how many others have missed this sign

India November 22

Obviously this truck didn’t see the sign…   The cab was completely burnt.  I hope the driver was ok.  (Must have been “Accidental”… you know… the zone is prone to that kind of stuff)

India November 8

At the local grocery store I noticed this “free water dispenser”.  I am always very careful with respect to drinking water in India.  I am even more careful when I notice that everyone shares one metal cup to take that drink.

India November 11

I bought this at the grocery store and had it eaten in about 30 minutes… then I noticed it was a “FAMILY PACK”.   I feel like a pig… Is this really considered a family pack in India?

India November 10

Speaking of food… CUSTARD APPLE?   I have never had one of these… I wanted to buy them but had no idea how they must be prepared.   Anyone out there… are they good?  How do you eat them?

India November 9

Let me just say one thing… I need this sign for my home bathroom with a switch that lights it up and the bathroom ventilator at the same time.  (I also like the “WATER LEAK SYSTEM HOOTER”… )

India November 12

“Not all addictions are harmful”… my new personal mantra…  although the sign does draw the line at smoking.

India November 13

Last sign… and yes “SIZE also matters”.   My co-workers pointed this out and said this one is directed at me… and that I needed to take this picture for my blog.  I said that I didn’t find it funny… (nor did I appreciate their innuendo)

Thanks India for another fascinating trip and thank you everyone who has taken time to stop and view this post!

Which way should they be going?

While in India as I travel to and from work I wonder how anyone is able to drive here.   I simple don’t dare drive a car and in fact I even have a difficult time sitting in the front seat.  Honestly everyday I believe we are going to get into a serious crash or worse kill someone.  Look at the cute family in the feature picture (4 on a scooter)… imagine heading strait for them.  (I have been in three accidents here… fortunately nothing more than small taps… the last of which upset my driver so much he got out of the car and ran down the road chasing the scooter… leaving me alone in the taxi with cars honking.)

I mentioned in a previous post that I had an idea for a coffee book.   (One of my life’s ambitions is to create a coffee table book)  This book would be called “Which way should they be going”.  It is based upon a game I play with Ben (my 8 year old) while showing him my pictures of India.   The only way I can get him to even pretend interest in my travel pictures is by showing him pictures of traffic and asking him “which way should the cars be going”.   Even with the game Ben finds it difficult to sit through all of the pictures. Honestly I can empathize with Ben’s struggle since I remember well from my own youth that travel pictures are a subtle form of torture.  I still force him to sit with me and suffer the pain inflected by my “work trip” picture…  it is now my turn to torment with travel photos.. you know… circle of life.

I want to share with you some “candidates” for the coffee table book.   As you look at the picture play my game and try to decided which way the cars should be going.

which way 01

which way 03

which way 06

which way 04

which way 02

which way 05

UMMM….

I feel like I just tortured all of you… (queue circle of life music)

Weekend in Paris

I am off to India again for this coming week. (the feature picture is not India… I don’t want to confuse anyone)

Instead of having a stinky marathon travel fest… yes after 20+ hours I usually am quit stinky… I decided to break up the trip into two segments with a half day and night in Paris.  I was accompanied by three coworkers two of which were Paris virgins.   (that reads a bit weird… virgin meaning never been to Paris… again don’t want to confuse anyone.)  They asked if we could go site seeing and I said half a day is more than enough time to see all the major sites in Paris.  (It is not lying if you are very vague with respect to your interpretation of the “major sites of Paris”)

I have been playing with my camera settings (pretending to be a photographer… see I am not a stalker… promise) and most of my Paris pictures are very bad. I finally notice that I had messed up a setting and fixed it quit late in the evening.

Here are some pictures of our afternoon in Paris. I will be adding words… but they are not mandatory reading.

Here we go!

Paris November 01

We dropped off our bags at IBIS (Cheap but not horrible hotel at terminal 3, Charles de Gaulle airport) and caught the RER to Paris.  My coworkers wanted to take a taxi but how can you see Paris without using the Metro.   We got off at the stop you see above… (Saint Michel… I love the Art Nouveau styled metro stops.  You can see the awesome sign with the two lamp posts shaped as lily of the valleys)

I may have mentioned this before but this stop is in the Latin quarter and back in the 80s I used to buy gyros packed with fries just a half a block to the left of this picture.  After buying them, I would walk another block and cross the Seine and eat the gyro and fries in front of Notre Dame.

No matter how hard I “vocally reminisced” about this my co-workers were not interested in eating.  “We are not hungry yet” was all they said.  I still held hope and had a secret weapon.  I walked them down the street and showed them this sign!

Paris November 02

Who can resist a “SUPER ASS GYRO”?  (they did… darn them…)

Fortunately we did walk to Notre Dame (they had not choice I was the guide) unfortunately our hands were empty.   (Just not as awesome without the gyro)

Paris November 05

This is the picture that I noticed that my camera was messed up. I knew that I had a setting that was off so as we walked I tried to fix my camera.  I hope you are able to forgive me for the poor quality.  After a quick peak at the cathedral I suggested that we walk across the other side of the Seine and visit the Louvre.

I imagined us just walking up to the entrance and then off to our next “major site”.   One of my co-workers wanted to visit the museum and they all decided that 1 hour should be enough time to see the Louvre.   Who was I to argue plus nowadays nobody actually looks directly at the art.   They all have their backs to the art with their phones pointed at the art and themselves to capture selfies.    I find it funny that many people spend more time looking at the amazing works on their phone screens instead of directly at them.  If you don’t believe me here is some proof.   The first is me taking a picture of people at the Mona Lisa.  (They should all be looking to the left… the direction of the painting)

Paris November 03

Here is another example. (venus de milo)

Paris November 04

It is almost crazy how many people have their backs to the art… (Am I creepy for taking a picture of a couple taking a selfie… hmmm is it still a selfie if you are taking it with a work of art?)

I just realized that I am criticizing everyone for turning their backs to the art and I actually spent most of my time looking at people… not the art… hmmm…  I just went through my pictures and they are all of people taking pictures of themselves.   I might have to get therapy.

Let me continue with our day in Paris.

After a crazy run through a very small portion of the Louvre.  We  decided to have lunch.  I thought they would complain about not really getting to spend much time at the Louvre but they all agreed that even a tiny bit of time there was an amazing experience.

We ate lunch at Cocorico…  (random café next to the musee d’orsay).

Paris November 13

I had to steal these pictures from a co-worker… (let’s call him Nate… my pictures at this time were all bad… I was still messing with settings.)  We ordered a “plateau de charcuterie” and “fromage”.. (meat and cheese…  you can’t go wrong… see Nate’s picture below)   Food is an important part of any French tour regardless of how much time you have.

Paris November 12

After eating we were off to the Eiffel Tower.  (the picture below is mine… I almost have the setting fixed by now)

Paris November 06

We waited in the security check line for 20 minutes.  We ran over to the pillar that was open for walking up the stairs (usually the shorter line) and as soon as we arrived they announced that it just closed.  I tried shedding tears and mentioned that it was our first and only day in Paris.  The city employee was not moved by my emotional plea.  With some bit of Parisian smugness, she told us go to the other pillar and wait for the elevator.

We looked at the elevator line and it was over two hours.   I promised that we would return later (I can’t be trusted) and said it would be a good idea to take a boat tour of the Seine.

Paris November 14

I stole this picture on the boat from Nate (messed my camera up again… gesh).  The boat tour is always incredible but it was really chilly this night.  Towards the end of the tour we were some of the only ones left on top of the boat.   It was either the cold wind that chased everyone down inside the boat or it was the overly romantic couple who were trying to heat the top deck in their own special way.  I think Nate was the one who said since they invited us to be a part of their special romantic moment… we should at least have a say in naming the baby.  I would have taken a picture of the couple but I wanted to keep my blog family friendly.

After the boat tour ended we stopped back at the Tour d’Eiffel and I feinted a surprise when we saw that there was still a long line.  I suggest we visit the arc de triomphe.  (Here is the last stolen picture from Nate)

Paris November 15

It was suggested that we should climb to the top.  I have been here many times but have never visited the top.  I was kind of “giddy” to experience something new.  I let them decide but made sure I offered a subtle hint by adding the sneaky line “This might be your only chance to get a good view of the city since there is such a long line at the Eiffel tower”.

I am ashamed that I had not bothered to do this years ago.  The view was amazing! and so are the spiral stair cases going up and down.   (I sat down and fixed my camera before I started the ascent).

Arc de triumph

This is looking up…

Paris November 09This statue is just before you go up on top of the arc.  (This reminds me of Isabelle when she realizes I have just done something really stupid)

Here is on top… imagine the 360º view you have of the city.

Paris November 16

Arc de triumph 2

Finally the way down.   You can get dizzy walking down these stairs.  I actually fell.  I wasn’t hurt at least physically. I had two young French ladies run over and ask me if I was ok.   How embarrassing… I hope they thought I was drunk and not some old guy struggling to make my way down.  (Still sensitive from the Halloween old guy costume)

As you can see from the pictures our day was almost gone so I said we had one last thing to do before our tour was over.   We located a Monop’ (grocery store) near the Arc and bought my favorite chocolate (only found in France during Christmas time)

Paris November 10

This chocolate is the only thing I really wanted to visit anyway…. much better than the top of the Eiffel tour.  (This was not just a way to make everyone feel better about missing the climb to the top… but I can earnestly say that it is better… at least in my opinion)   If you have not had this I believe it is the best tasting chocolate in the world.

Paris November 11

I also bought some tomme de savoie… love this cheese! and it is right now in my hotel fridge here in India.   (I brought my food again…  I know shame shame)

Stay tuned for stuff from India… and at the end of the trip I will be sharing my weird pictures!

I am not a stalker… promise

I did some more dyeing and fiber fun stuff but that is not what this post is going to be about… I want to be profound this week… (stop laughing… I am being serious)

Before I “pontificate” I will share a picture!

AlpacaFiber

The above picture was a gift from Claire…   More alpaca fiber and a beautiful color!!!  Thanks to Claire I spent several hours this weekend lovingly pulling vegetation and poop out of these fibers.  She also sent me a card with a picture of the nearby beach.   Do you notice that the sand matches the fiber?   Coincidence?  I think not… (I know that didn’t make sense… I am folding under all this try to write something profound pressure)

I added this picture as proof of the incredible kindness of those of you who I have come to know through my blogging experiment.  Many of you have shared such amazing posts.  Posts that have made me laugh, become emotional (umm… no tears… I am too manly), and most of all think… and think beyond my typical what the heck did they write thoughts… but thinking that made me question my preconceived view of the world.

All of this thinking because I started a blog almost twenty months ago. During this time I have met fantastic people and I honestly feel like I share a true friendship with many of you.  I find myself curious about your projects, your day to day lives, and most importantly your inner thoughts.   I can’t wait to see what many of you will share next.

Wow… just re-read that and it makes me sound like a crazy stalker.

For those of you who are quickly moving their mouse to the “unfollow” button…. I don’t think I am a stalker… as least not a dangerous one.  (hmm I am going to have that going through my mind every time I click “follow” on a new blog..)  I just looked up the definition… and well I do show an obsessive attention but hopefully I am not harassing or persecuting anyone.

OK… let me get to the point.   In the past months I have really appreciated some of your words and I felt like I am taking and taking.  As a child I learned that if you take and take and take… the other ends up a “stump”.   Only good for being sat upon…   (for those who are worried I am high because you are not aware of what I am referring to below is the source of my stump story…  Should be called the “enabling tree”).

This is one of the saddest stories I have ever read.   One abuse after another… and worse at the end the tree is happy… talk about codependency.

umm back to the topic…  I think some of you know who I am talking about but I have been touched by both your comments as well as what you have written and I want to give back.  I really want to give back… I don’t want any of you to become stumps.

I have been working all week on something “profound” to make all of you think thoughts beyond… “what the heck is he writing”.

Well… it has been a struggle and I almost gave into plagiarizing someone else.  I decided to take a break and google photography.  (the good kind not what you are thinking).  I found a site called GuruShots.   It is like a social networking site for photographers which includes contests.  You post photos following a theme and others vote for the best pictures.

I love photography and contests and I decided to join.   I entered myself into the black and white flower contest.   (I am not a photographer… but I have a camera… so how hard could black and white flowers be?)

Here is the first flower I posted… (had to “Photoshop” the flower to make it black and white)

GuruShots 2

This is my favorite flower picture…  I posted it here already stating that it reminds me of a Dr. Seuss tree.   After impatiently waiting (they wont let you vote for your own) I just didn’t get the votes that I felt I deserved. hmmmm… maybe the contest is rigged.

I went and looked at the top 100 black and white flower pictures.  I immediately recognized a formulaic pattern.  I first noticed that the flowers all were bright white and had drops of dew on the petals.  I wondered if I could get more votes if I put in a flower that followed this pattern.

I found the sunflower picture that I used for this post’s feature picture.  I notice some dew drops… so I converted it to black and white. (see below)  I am not sure that I like it but it “fit in” with the other winning pictures.

GuruShots 1

I could not believe the difference in voting.   My first received 32 votes and this picture received 469 votes. (plus 9 loves… can you believe 0 loves for the Dr. Seuss photo)  The competitive side of me went back to seeing what else I could do to make a picture in the top 10.   I noticed that the top pictures had just the flower… no background… hmmm what if I did some more “Photoshop”?

GuruShots 5

I stopped and realized that I was no longer submitting photography that I liked.  These photos were not me… they were just “VOTE BAIT”… I might just as well have been submitting copies of the top photographs.  (That probably would have gotten me disqualified… and caused a scandal… hmmm maybe I will do it just for fun.)

I thought about this and looked at my life. I wonder if I studied popular people… could I copy charisma or find the patterns for charm?   Could I fake my way into incredible popularity and success?  Could I actually be considered SEXY and COOL?  (sexy might be pushing things)

I spent considerable time pondering all of this… especially the sexy part.  After several days since entering the contest I realized something deep.  (I didn’t copy the winning one and submit it… as fun as that would have been) I just voted some more (still can’t vote for my own pictures) I also revisited the top 100 black and white flowers and found myself incredibly bored.  I am even bored with my “popular” flower….

Bored in general with black and white flowers except one… yes I still love my Dr. Seuss flower.   There is a lesson in this somewhere… I am quit sure.  (if you were waiting for something profound… well that is the best I can do)

dr-seuss-trees-436384