Monthly Archives: December 2007

The Clark Brothers

Ever heard of The Clark Brothers? They just won the competition The Next Great American Band.

Three spirit-filled Christian boys who have been playing music literally their entire lives. Baron showed me a video of theirs a few weeks ago, and I forgot to keep up with how they were doing, and they won the hockin’ show…

Here’s a video of one of their performances from the show. If you want to see some more, just search for “The Clark Brothers” on YouTube.

Advertisements

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

I had a good time in NW Arkansas with my grandparents and family, but it’s always a nice feeling to come back home where everything is in order.

You have your own bathroom. You get to sleep in your own bed. You can dig through your pantry and make a pig out of yourself without fear of guilt and/or disgust. Your routine is back in place.

It’s nice to be back home. I have some stories to share, but they’ll have to wait for tonight. For now, a picture of Gramps.

Gramps B&W

Happy Non-Religious, Non-Denominational Universal Holiday to You and Yours!

Did you read the title? Didn’t quite have that “punch,” did it?

Once again we’re forced to sit through the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas war. Yes, the whole politically-correct “Happy Holidays” thing gets on my nerves too, but what is anyone really going to do about it?

Here’s what will happen: millions of Christian Americans will forward Emails that ridicule companies that refuse to decorate their stores with the words “Merry Christmas.” The companies will ignore the attempted public outcry due to the fact that if they did put “Merry Christmas” in their stores or commercials, they’d face bad publicity as the ACLU and their ponies bombarded them with lawsuits and outraged interviews on MSNBC (which only seven people will be watching, but still).

Then they’ll have to kiss Al Sharpton’s rear end as an apology to the disenfranchised, who in this case would be atheists, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and probably Scientologists (I’m not sure about that last one, but they’re pretty weird, so I just threw their name in there) (additionally, I am not calling the others weird), but who cares?

There will be a big fuss, and we Christians will feel slighted due to the fact that we make up, according to this study, roughly 76% of the population, but we still don’t see the word Christmas anywhere. I should add that atheists are also likely to celebrate Christmas, but their nativity scene in their front yards will look a little different. Joseph will be replaced with Santa, Mary will be replaced by a reindeer, and baby Jesus will be replaced by Friedrich Nietzsche.

As for me, I’m not going to make a big fuss about it anymore. Sure, they can take Merry Christmas out of Target, but they can’t take it out of my blog.

So MERRY CHRISTMAS, everybody!

Much love from Ryan and Shari. We hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family. God bless!

Cop Experience #2 in One Week

LEO

Today I had my second experience with a law enforcement officer in one week. This one didn’t go as well.

You see, in Louisiana we have a state government cash cow known as the car inspection sticker. You give a place $10, and they’ll come out and slap a new one on your car without actually “inspecting” it. They’re not supposed to do that, but who’s going to be able to prove that those brake lights haven’t stopped working since inspection?

Today, after a few days of reminders from the dear wife (who was trying to look out for me), I finally decided that 20 days past expiration was enough, so I went to my Regions Bank to get a quick $20; half of it for my part of a gift and the other half for my car inspection.

Would you know it; as soon as I turn out of the bank, a Bossier City policeman in the turning lane glares at my car, whips out, and turns on the colored lights. I knew that I was up a creek without a paddle as soon as I saw the hood of his car turn a bit.

So does the cop care that I was on my way to get the car inspected? Does he care that most law enforcement officers give people a month “grace period” before making inspection stickers an offense worthy of a ticket? Does he care that it’s Christmas, I’m a young married college student, and money gets short during this time of year?

Well…no.

I don’t blame the cop. I blame myself. He really wasn’t rude, and I made sure to let him know I wasn’t going to be one of those guys with a bad attitude even though I was driving 100 mph in a 20 mph zone (of course this wasn’t me, but there are some people who seem to never be wrong). But STILL, did he have to write a ticket for that when I see people all over the roads who are months overdue for a car inspection?

And just so you guys know: if you’re a Louisiana resident and your inspection sticker is expired, let me make you aware that the ticket is $127. Read that again, and make your calendars. Get it inspected before it expires, okay?

Merry Christmas, BCPD. Way to spread that Christmas cheer.

More News Lunacy

In case you haven’t logged on to a news site, read a newspaper, heard the latest gossip from your co-students/workers, or have otherwise been living in a cave for the past week, I’m sure that you’ve heard about Britney Spears’ 16-year-old sister, Jamie Lynn; she’s pregnant.

I have little more to say than this: the media has no business making a huge, world-shaking story out of this. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

This girl is a BABY! She’s barely old enough to drive. Yet the media treats her as the story of the month. Ever heard of the Christmas season, AP? The only reason the media is making such a big deal out of this is because she’s Britney Spears’ sister. Is that Jamie Lynn’s fault?

There are somewhere near 800,000 teenage pregnancies per year in the United States. The media chose to take Jamie Lynn, who is likely devastated by this news, and place her under a microscope for the entire world to read about.

The media is disgusting, and they’ll do anything to find a story. I’m not sure what’s more repulsive; the media’s shameless pursuit of a story, regardless of whose life is destroyed, or the general public’s willingness to read the stories.

She’s still a child, and she’s being massacred. There’s just something wrong with the entire thing.

Birbiglia Hilaria

That’s his Latin name, by the way. *points upward*

I’m not going to link directly to his blog because I found some “questionable” comments on it, but I did find some funny quips about presidential candidates on Mike Birbiglia’s blog. Mike Birbiglia, for those who don’t know, is a stand-up comedian who is popular enough to travel around the country and make a living, but not popular enough to star in a poorly-written movie that tarnishes his name but still manages to rake in $70,000,000 at the box-office.

I tend to think that people just vote for the candidate who serves their own selfish needs. Like if there was a candidate who could get the smell of cat pee out of my couch, I would vote for that candidate.

On the Republican side my favorite candidate is Mike Huckabee, partly because of the Chuck Norris ad which is hilarious and partly because I’ve been meaning to go to church for a while and I always watch the state of the union address, so I figure I could kill two birds with one stone.

Rudy Giuliani kind of scares me. I kind of feel like Rudy thinks 9/11 is his birthday. He gets that excited look on his face and buys himself a cake and lights two candles and watches them burn down. And then he looks around and says, “What do I get?” And his advisors are like “$15 million in speaking fees!” and he’s like, “That’s even better than last 9/11!”

That last one is only funny because it’s true.

Excitement & Transparency

Tonight is an exciting time for me. It’s 1:19 AM. I’m sitting on the couch. My wife fell asleep well over an hour and a half ago, and my dog is curled up in an awkward position somewhere behind Shari’s heels.

So what have I been doing that’s so important that I haven’t moved my gluteus maximus from the couch for over an hour? Registering my web-site. That’s right. In just a few more days (if all goes as planned), http://www.RyanAustinDean.com will be up and running, ready for business.

It’s funny that the actual domain registration only took about 5 minutes; it took me about 6 months to convince myself into actually securing the name. I’ve teetered on the edge of making this step, but a few things always held me back.

First of all, I don’t feel like a real photographer. Everyone goes through their early days, and I understand very well that becoming an established photographer can be a lengthy process. I know that I can improve, and I believe that I’ve shown some mild improvement since purchasing a camera and a few lenses, but becoming a fan of photography means that I’m exposed to absolutely fantastic work.

I know what you’re thinking: Ryan, everyone has to start somewhere. Yes, but it’s difficult to see getting to the point that some local photographers are at currently. I go to famous photographers’ web-sites of course, but the ones I frequent most often are the great photographers from around this area. Mark Eric, Steven Myers, Fred Egan, Nate Weatherly…these guys are beyond incredible at what they do, and I get the sneaky suspicion that no amount of dedication, patience, and hard work can bring about that certain indefinable quality that great photographers seem to call up from within themselves.

This isn’t a pity party; it’s a harsh and what I consider to be realistic look at what the future holds for the average aspiring photographer. I have no desire to fool myself into thinking that I’m something I’m not; delusions of grandeur, as I’ve said before, are never becoming.

Second in my reasons for delaying a serious marketing push is the awkwardness that I’ve felt in establishing a consistent payment system. I didn’t buy a camera to make money. I bought a camera because I knew I would love taking pictures. I’ve wanted a decent camera my entire life, and I finally got one. I just wanted to capture special moments with the family, expressions and instances that would never come again. If I saw a beautiful landscape, I wanted to have a picture of it to go back to time and time again. I just wanted to take pictures.

You can imagine how uncomfortable it is informing “clients” for the first few times about your sitting fee. Not having given any previous thought to it, I’m sure the awkwardness, long pauses, and shifting around has betrayed the thoughts just below the surface.



“Is that too much to charge them?” “Is it worth that much?” “Will they resent me if I shoot higher than $__?” “What if they believe I think too highly of what I do?”



These questions race through my head, and I feel myself nearly panic. Never mind the fact that I’ve found what I observe to be comparable work for much higher prices…I’m brand new at this! Then again, doing worse than breaking even for the amount of time, effort, and resources is never a healthy practice to get into.

So, yes, I feel uncomfortable figuring out what to charge people, but I have every intention of setting a standard fee (after some advice from friends and seasoned photographers) to place for viewing on my web-site. The very thought makes me break out in a cold sweat, but I have to do it.

Now for the “transparent” part of this post: I’m doing this for a reason, and the reason has something to do with God.

That last comment might have made you smirk, but hear me out.

I’m a life-long pastor’s son, and I’ve been a youth pastor for 4 1/2 years. Being in this position, I’ve been privy to all sorts of information. I’ve seen people at their best; I’ve seen people at their worst. I’ve rode the highs and lows in Bossier City with my parents for 20 years. I’ve seen the toll that caring for 500+ people has taken on my family as individuals; I’ve also seen the incredible blessings that have come as a result. I’ve seen every blemish, every hiccup, every triumph, and every trial, and I’ve seen it up close and personal.

While it’s a life of “privilege” at times, it’s also a life of burdens, most which are unnoticed or (more often) unseen. I tend to take things heavily, being an emotional person, and I’ve felt it take a toll on me personally. I don’t simply concern myself with my own burdens, but when my family struggles, when a member of the youth group struggles, or when the church as a whole limps through a tough time, I can’t quit thinking about whatever it is that’s causing the grief. While it’s often unhealthy to do other people’s worrying for them, I believe it’s an integral part of the job, and I’ve done my best to accept that.

I’ve sought means of escape through various hobbies–anything to distract me during the off hours, but I haven’t found that escape through most of the older pastimes. When there’s no momentary escape, it’s easy to feel burnt-out, even during times when less is going on in the church. Add that on to feelings of personal dissatisfaction with the job you’ve done or the caliber of person you’ve been thus far, and you have a recipe for a meltdown.

I said all that to say this: I believe that God gave me photography as my escape. I don’t just love doing it; it’s therapeutic for me. Even when I’m just taking pictures of Apple in the backyard or shooting the ten-thousandth picture of one of the nephews, I feel a release from the stupid and often unnecessary burdens that I place on my narrow, Irish shoulders.

I’ve enjoyed photography so much that I’ve prayed several times about it, asking God to dial me back a notch if I let photography become too high of a priority in my life. For me, it has sometimes been the spiritual equivalent of a nice Shiatsu massage (I’ve never had one, but Mom said it’s good); just a little something to loosen me up and send me on my way.

Where this attempt at a business fits in to God’s plans, I’m not quite sure, but I have felt a release from Him to pursue it in moderation. There are more important things in life: my wife, my family, my youth group, my church, and my study, but I believe this fits into God’s will for my life.

I’m not sure why you (whoever you may be) read this blog, but I’m sure that very few of you will have made it this far in this particular post. For the few of you that have stuck with it…*high five*

If none of you have made it this far, then I would like to take this moment to announce my candidacy for the office of President of the United States of America. I would appreciate your (no one’s) vote.

All of that being said, I’ve made my decision: I’m going for it. I’m getting a running web-site (which I plan on updating to a spiffy, Flash-based design in mid-2008), printing out business cards, and pushing this thing for real. What happens past that point is up to God, but at least I know I’ll have fun doing it.

God bless you guys. I’m going to sleep. It’s 3:25 AM at this point, and I’m sick of staring at this screen.

Trouble

Here are two of the shots that got me in trouble last night. They’re really nothing special; definitely nothing to get worked up about.

The first one is the one that probably got me in trouble.

Trouble

Flipped

Forgot to Mention…

In the last post, I forgot to mention something.

Camo-stache was hired to watch that store area at nights to make sure no one burglarizes the stores. He takes his job very seriously.

Camo-stache, I’ve got my eye on you.

Why Me?

Cop Lights

A “funny” thing happened tonight.

Shari went to bed earlier than usual tonight, and even though I’m very tired, I’m nowhere near sleepy. I finally feel like I have the slightest bit of energy for the first time since Saturday. There’s no way I’m going to bed, right?

So I ran an errand: I filled the car up with gas. Then I went to Wal-Mart. Then I drove down Airline. Then I drove down Texas Street. Keep in mind that I’m aware that for anyone not associated with the Bossier City area, those street names mean absolutely nothing to you; don’t worry though–it’s nowhere close to being relevant to the story.

Anyways, I make my final stop in a parking lot close to my house. There’s a Sonic, several small stores, a Brookshire’s, and a Goodwill in the area. It’s a well-lit area, and I wanted to get some “unique” night shots, so I start snapping away. I wish I could show a few of the pictures in this post, but due to my computer still being MIA until the power cord arrives, I’m typing on Dad’s archaic laptop at the moment (Shari’s computer died yesterday).

So I’m literally getting down on the ground in this massive, empy parking lot, taking stupid shots. Then I make a mistake: I went into the back alley between the stores to see if there’s anything else that looks cool back there. I find one decent area, so I snapped two shots and got back in the car. Off I go, back to the house…

Not so fast, Mr. Dean!

As I turn onto the road leading to my house, I see bright lights flashing behind me. “Oh my god,” I thought. “I didn’t do anything!”

I get my license and insurance card out, then turn on a light so the cop can see me before he gets to the window; I didn’t want to make him wonder if I had something up my sleeve in the dark (this road is pitch black). He gets to the car before I can get my registration out, so I asked him if he needed my registration. “No, sir,” he replied with a suspicious look. “Just your I.D., please.”

Then I noticed something else weird; there was a “large,” moustached man decked out in camouflage standing behind him. Okay, the guy was huge, and he was peering at me from behind his thick, wirey, Jeff Foxworthy ’stache like I had just killed his family.

I asked, “Did I do something wrong?”

The officer, a young, slick-headed guy in his late 20’s said, “Well…we’re not sure, Mr. Dean.”

“Is it about the pictures in the parking lot?”

“Well, you tell us.”

“Oh!” I grasped at my camera. “Do you want me to show you what I was doing?”

I started flicking through the pictures. The cop and camo-stache looked at my XTi as I showed them pictures of overturned buggies, messed up signs, highly-reflective puddles, and every other pointless thing you could imagine. The cop started chuckling. Moustache did not.

“You’re a photographer?” the cop asked.

“Kind of,” I nodded back. “I have a bit of trouble sleeping, so I find weird ways to pass time. I’m really sorry about causing any trouble. Y’all thought I was ‘casing the joint?’”

“Exactly,” he laughed. “Hey, go back to that one!” He pointed at the camera, wanting to see the upside-down handicapped sign. “I like that one, man,” he gestured as he talked. “Well, you have a good one, Mr. Dean.”

“Y’all too.”