Light at the end of the tunnel

My little boy will turn one in about a week. Today in the mail was a bill from the hospital where he was born. Insurance paid (thankfully) a large portion of the bills from his birth and a hospital stay when he was about three weeks old. Since we’re not made of money I made payment arrangements to pay it out. I’m getting closer to having them all paid down, but it’s kind of hard to believe that its taken so long.

I joke with Spence when ever he rough houses with Shaun, “Don’t break him, he’s not paid for yet!” Some day he will be paid for..

Shaun and Spence at the wedding this past weekend.

Red dirt

No, I’m not talking about the kind of red dirt under your feet, but instead a kind of music. Some even call it Texas Country. I heard an interview on the radio this morning and the DJ said they were one of the few stations in the state of Kansas who play Texas Country. It made my heart sing a little.

I was introduced to Red Dirt music more than 10 years ago. I was attending K-State at the time, and my sister was at Oklahoma State. She had a CD of Jason Boland and the Stragglers, and one weekend when we were together, she put it in my pickup’s CD player. I was hooked, and she barely got her CD back.

In the spring of 2000, I headed to enroll in Oklahoma State University for the following year and visit my sister who was already living in Stillwater. We had tickets to attend the annual Tumbleweed Testicle Festival as well. The event now features a number of red dirt artists and is still held every April at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall. It’s coming up this weekend, April 26, 27 and 28.

While living in Stillwater, we had the opportunity to see a number of bands as they were starting out, and it sure is good to hear some of them on the radio now, mixed in amongst the crappy mainstream “country.”

My favorites still remain the same, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Cross Canadian Ragweed (now defunct, but Cody Canada and the Departed are touring), (the original) Great Divide, Gary Allan and now I’ve added: Randy Rogers Band, Eli Young Band, Casey Donahew, Stoney Larue and many more.

The local station, 96.3 the Marshall, has a couple of hours on Fridays dedicated to Red Dirt. Sure makes me happy to hear “Pearl Snaps” or another Red Dirt song that takes me back to Stillwater, Okla., and College Days.

Everyone’s a photographer

I take photos for work and for fun. I had a couple photography classes in high school and later in college. Back then it was all film cameras and it forced you to know what apetures, f-stops and shutter speed all meant. My first introduction to digital photography was one class I took in junior college where we used one of the first digital cameras out by Kodak. It held an amazing 8 photos on the memory card. Fast forward nearly 15 years, and it seems as though everyone has a phone with a camera on it or a point and shoot digital camera for that matter.

I’m a sucker for a good photo, and try pretty hard to get the best shot with the light available and the camera in my hands. I will admit, a lot of the time I let the camera do the work for me, and leave it set on automatic mode. My new camera is allowing me to branch out and try all the new settings on it, even working from manual mode.

The thing that gets me is the “photographers” that take a mediocre photo and turn it into something neat all with a couple clicks in Photoshop. Maybe I’m jealous because I don’t have Photoshop, but it should be an amazing photo before you have to (or want to) edit it on the computer. To me there are three edited versions of a photo: color, black and white, and sepia. On my Mac I have iPhoto and it allows me to edit photos and change the colors and tones pretty quickly. My favorite is the antique tone, but at times I really just care for the color version straight-out-of-the-camera. I have been testing out Picasa a free download from Google since I’m too cheap for Photoshop.

So which do you like best?