Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Business: Joslyn Place Photography

In today's economy and in our culture of "Big Box" retail and mass production, I think that it is important to remember that small businesses are the largest employers in the United States. As Americans, we owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to promote and patronize as many local seriecs and retailers as we can.

I would like all of you folks in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, to meet Kimberly and Meredith. These ladies own a local business which I hope you will support, in aid of which I have invited them to use my little corner of cyberspace to tell you what it's all about.
Take it away, ladies.

Gunfighter, whom I have the privilege of working with at DC Metro Moms (he's the official Dad), has offered us the wonderful opportunity to guest post on his blog to announce our new business called Joslyn Place Photography. We are located in Northern Virginia and we specialize in: family, newborn, maternity, pet, teen and group portraits. Many of our sessions are done right in the client's backyard, favorite park or outdoor setting. We like to share our work on our blog as well as on our big girl portfolio website.

About The Photographers

We are a team of two, A Laverne & Shirley for this century. Joslyn Place is wonder twins activated. Or at the very least, we are cousins. We go by Meredith and Kimberly. At long last our lives have geographically come together in Northern Virginia which isn't too far from where our parents started out back on Joslyn Place in Cheverly, Maryland. The proximity has finally allowed us to combine forces and share our love of people and life through photographs. This is good news for you.

I, Meredith, am the lead photographer. That means that while we’re together I’m looking for the right space, the right light, the right moment to capture you being you. This is, hands down, my favorite part. All you have to do is spend time with your people. And all I have to do is notice and capture you.

I, Kimberly, am the second shooter. I began following in my cousin’s creative footsteps and fell deeply in love with both the imagery of the art and the experience of the shoot. I enjoy putting people at ease and bringing out the comedy of the moment. I head up the organizational end of things mostly due to my anal retentive nature which, in turn, often leads me in the direction of a great bottle of red. I like to say that I savor life.

We love the details of all the ties that bind. We love the second where those ties and personalities surface and are captured while you were wiping a crumb off his shirt or helping her avoid the mud. We crave the moments where you can see the details of a misplaced hair, a smirk or a wrinkle and feel every ounce of that thing called love.

Our cameras capture your story so far.

We’ll catch your beauty, your heart and your funny all wrapped up in one.

We cannot wait to work with you.

Meredith & Kim
PPA Members

We have two types of sessions to fit your holiday needs and wallet:

2009 Holiday Package $500

· Sitting fee (90 minute session)
· Three 8×10 Stand Out Wall Prints
· Print Gift Set (One 8×10, Two 5×7s, Eight wallets)
· CD containing 10 images. Each image provided in color and B&W with copyright release.

Holiday Mini-Shoot $250

· Sitting Fee (a 45 minute session)
· CD containing 5 images w/ copyright release – perfect for creating holiday photo cards.

*Along with either package, our a la carte prints, listed below, would be offered to you at 30% off.


8 wallets (2.5×3.5) = $10
4×6 = $5.00
5×7 = $7.50
8×10 = $10.00
16×24 = $90.00

Check out our calendar for the day that suits you. Let’s take advantage of this stunning fall weather, pretty please.

We can't wait to work with you!


Kimberly & Meredith

Please note that I have not been compensated for this guest post. I am just trying to do right by some nice people.

Book Review - True Blue

Several weeks ago, the fine folks at Hachette Books were kind enough to ask me if I wanted to review an advanced copy of David Baldacci's new police mystery, entitled "True Blue". Despite the fact that I almost never read police stories (never mind what I do for a living), I decided to give it a go. Since today is the official release date for the book, there is no better time than now for a review.

OK, let's get to it, shall we? I enjoyed this book. I did... and that surprised me. I fully expected a lot of crappy and archaic terms that someone got of a badly-made police movie from the 1950's... but that isn't what happened. Baldacci seems to have really done his homework especially as it regards the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department. This simple fact helped me enjoy the book more that I would have thought, because I have so many pals on the Department (special shout out to my protege M, in 1D).

In this story, Baldacci tells the tale of Mason "Mace" Perry, a hot shot former police officer who was set-up, convicted of a crime that she did not commit, and imprisoned. Her sister, Elizabeth, is Washington DC's Chief of Police (hello Cathy Lanier!), a true leader in this ever politicized town. When Mace is finally released from prison, she figures that the only way she can get back on the force is to bring to justice, all of the people who set her up, thereby restoring her honor (and her eligibility to wear the blue again). She'll have a long way to go, because as soon as she gets out people start getting murdered.

Despite her sister's repeated warnings, Mace sets out to investigate one of the murders on her own, and then she meets Ace Georgetown lawyer Roy Kingman. Combining forces, Mace and Roy begin to... well, I think that I will let you find out the rest on your own, but believe me when I tell you, this is where the wild ride begins!

In this book you will find murders, police procedure, lawyers (good and bad), spies, government deception, crime in the name of "National Security" (and haven't we had enough of that?!), corruption, and all sorts of action.

If you live in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, I think that you will enjoy the book, even though Baldacci could have been a little more descriptive of the specific locations he used to tell his story, but truthfully, I don't think that any of this impinges on the story itself.

If you like police mysteries, you'll like this book. Give it a read, I don't think that you'll be unhappy. As I said, today is the official release date for the book, so it is available at local bookstores and online.


Please Note: While Hachette Books provided a copy of the book, I have not been compensated in any other way.

Book Review: Pursuit of Honor

I recently finished reading Vince Flynn's latest novel, Pursuit of Honor, and I would like to tell you a little bit about it.

Flynn's main character, Mitchell Rapp, is a CIA counter-terrorist operative who spends his time covertly doing violent and bloody things that most people can't imagine themselves doing. What I mean by that is the Rapp finds out where terrorists are and he kills them. Sometimes he kills them after using "enhanced techniques" to interrogate them... which is to say he sometimes tortures them. If you are waiting for me to get weepy about that, keep waiting.

Anyway, in this novel, which picks up immediately after the end of the last, is about finding the terrorists that got away in the last book, so that Rapp can do what he normally does, but there is a fly in the ointment (isn't there always?).

In this story, Rapp's fellow operative, Mike Nash, is starting to burn out, and his family life is suffering along with him as he wrestles, morally, with the things that his job requires him to do, and living the secret life that he does. These feelings are not only affecting Nash's marriage, but also his ability to think clearly in the field.

I won't give any spoilers as to how Rapp and Nash go about dealing with the terrorists who are still at large America, other than to say that you'll like that part of the story if suspense, action, skulduggery, and cloak & dagger adventure are your thing. Nor will I give anything away as to how Rapp is able to help Mike Nash find a solution to his personal woes, but he does both with great effect.

Vince Flynn writes a good story most of the time, and he has done a fair job here, but as a reader, I would warn him that he should probably leave off with his political tirades masked as soliloquies by Mitch Rapp. Truthfully, Mr Flynn, it gets tiresome... so give it a rest, because you are beginning to sound like something of a crackpot.


TV Show Review: Glee

Generally speaking, if I love a television show it is destined to be canceled. Seriously, almost every show that I love lasts a season, maybe two before it is ended for not having enough support, or because it conflicted with other shows that were just a little more popular. It gets irritating, especially after the recent cancellation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

This fall, with the beginning of the new television season, I decided that I was going to give a few shows a watch to see if the networks could find me somebody to love... and they did.

If you have been watching Glee, you wll have been watching the breakout hit of the season! I don't usually gush about television shows, but this one is really good. Glee is funny without overselling the humor, dramatic without being morose, and just good fun. The fact that it has music that is well done and doesn't grate on my ears is just a bonus.

The basic premise of the show is that a young teacher agrees to take over the Glee Club at a small-town Ohio high school. The Glee Club is demoralized and only has one or two members, none of whom can be remotely considered cool. While the new teacher tries to recruit people, he is stymied at every turn by the creepy coach of the cheerleader squad (who calls them "Cheerios"). Anyway, the usual dorks v. cool people premise plays out in it's usual way, but is made that much better by the music, which is really good.

I suppose that if I cared to do so, I could dissect this show and figure out reasons to hate it, but I'm not going to. Why not? Because the show is fun, thats why, and I think that if more people had more fun, they would sleep better, live longer, have more fulfilling sex lives... and they'd quit being such tools.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Peek

This year, I wanted to do something really nice for my wife on Valentine's Day. It's not I don't normally do something nice, but I am usually a schmaltzy-card-and-expensive-chocolate kind of guy. This year I wanted to give my wife a present that would be cool, useful, and completely surprise her.

After a bit of deliberation, I figured out what it would be: a smartphone! smartphones are cool, aren't they?, I know that they can be useful, and I know that it would completely surprise her. So I went and looked at various smartphones. They had touchscreens, email, web-browsers and all the other bells and whistles that I could ask for... they also cost a couple hundred dollars. Well, it isn't like I'm a tightwad or anything, I could afford to buy her one of those things, but while the cost of the gadget being one thing, the service plans were quite another. No thanks.

What to do?

Well, the answer was simplicity in itself. I went to my local Target store and purchased The Peek!

The Peek is an email device that will allow you to receive email from as many as three different personal email addresses. It doesn't browse the web. It doesn't include a GPS beacon, It doesn't remind you to pick up your kids from their horseback lessons. Most importantly, it doesn't try to do all of these things and be a telephone, too.

The Peek is the email device for everyone. It is well designed, simple to operate, incredibly easy to set up, and best of all, there is no service contract and you get unlimited emailing service for $20 per month!

Some of you, by now are sitting at your desk, muttering about your smartphone saying: "Yeah but I can text with my smartphone!" Sure, you can do that, but you can do that with The Peek as well. If you use some online applications, you can even Tweet & blog from your Peek!

The Peek is thin, fits well in your hand, and the screen is large enough to see well, even if your eyes are not as young as they used to be... like mine. The Peek is the device to have if you just want away-from-home access to your email, and you already have a cellular phone. It's the gadget that even non-techie types will love.

Right, so it's functional, comes in cool colors (I have the charcoal, Mrs Gunfighter has the cherry), it's easy to set up, and doesn't cost much to operate. All of those things are good news. Now let me give you one more piece of news: The Peek, which normally sells for $100, is now on sale for $49.95.

That's right, $49.95... Compare that to the popular smartphones or blueberry devices out there.

Go get one of these things, and then get one for your sweetie. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Bush Administration: A Review

A great day for America. Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th President of the United States.

If you don't mind, I'll quote President Gerald Ford and say that "our long national nightmare is over".

I will try to refrain from over-sentimentalizing, but I am certain that it won't shock you to know that I am excited. Excited for our future. Excited about the possibilities that this day means. Excited for my daughters, excited for my Grandmother, and excited for my parents. I'm Excited for my ancestors... all of my ancestors, black and white. I am excited for America.

I have no illusions that with the inauguration of President Obama, everything that is wrong in this country will be put right by next week. I have no illusions that with the ascension of Barack Obama that everything wrong in this country will change... even in the long term. I remain excited, nonetheless, because in electing Obama, this country has showed, enthusiastically, that it has reached a tipping point. We, the people, have had enough bad leadership from our government.

We have, by electing this man to be our leader, taken a positive step in restoring sane, responsible government. This isn't a matter of Right v. Left, nor of Democrats v. Republicans, as much as it is about making wrong things right.

Over the past eight years, a particular faction of anti-democratic reactionaries have run roughshod over the government of the United States. The government of, by, and for the people has been mightily abused and as a result, the American people have been mightily abused.
These reactionaries spent the past eight years making our national treasury the playground of largesse for any corporation or conglomerate seeking to make money... taxpayer's money, in the name of "privatization". These evil men and women engaged in the political sleight of hand of deceit and deception, and fooled the people, at least for a while, into believing that the "party of fiscal responsibility" could fight two wars, improve schools and infrastructure, create something close to a balanced budget, and cut taxes all at the same time, and maintain solvency.

While these governmental pirates had their snouts deep in the trough of Midas and were busy bribingdistracting the ever-shrinking middle class with "stimulus" checks, they were busy molesting our Constitution in ever more vile ways. These people treated our laws with no less brutality than that of a dark-alley rapist, with secret prisons, torture, warrantless searches, indefinite detention without trials or even charges. This sort of thing is wrong in any circumstances, but it is thrice-damned when you consider that these things were also done to American citizens.

The Bush administration, at the direction of their leader, and with the collusion of their party affiliates, instigated and initiated a war of aggression against a sovereign nation that wasn't a threat to this country, our way of life, or our economy. This war destroyed a nation, made it less safe and opened that country to internecine religious strife, which, until our intervention, it had never seen on this scale in modern times. Without the slightest compunction, our country, being led by the criminal clique of George W. Bush, and his lick-spittle sycophants, began a bloodletting unequaled in modern western military history. A bloodletting that didn't have to happen, that was based on distortions, lies, and outright crimes. A war that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, thousands of American and allied military deaths, and untold thousands of wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.

Anyone who is reading this knows that Bush and his quasi-fascist gang of Constitutional thugs were unpopular, that fact became abundantly clear early in their time of national control, but they didn't care. We don't like the law? Don't even bother to change it... let's get our pet lawyers to write something that says it doesn't pertain to the Executive Branch. Don't like the fact that the Attorney General is being investigated for crimes in office? Have him refuse to answer questions put forth by Senate committees. Don't like the treaties that we are signatory to? Ignore them!

George W. Bush wasn't content to flout the laws of this nation, no indeed, his domestic policies regarding education, in the form of the "No Child Left Behind" act, took measures that could potentially cripple already struggling public school systems. Mr. Bush's one-size-fits-all view of education started and ended with teaching students to pass standardized tests, which is fine on it's face, but fails to take into account that if all you are doing is teaching to a testing standard, you are failing to educate the whole child. Further, the "No Child Left Behind" initiative was basically a cover for attacking public schools in general and public school teachers and their Unions in particular. The idea here is that the more blame and scorn we can heap on public schools, the more money the government could take away from public education in order to fund private schools, which does nothing for the education of children in either public or private school.

All of this was done in the name of "school choice" which is just another name for segregation.

The list of crimes and nefarious activities of the Bush administration is long. Certainly too long to be properly enumerated here, but I have to tell you that, Mr. Bush and his people were out of control from start to finish. Their leadership was a a nightmarish exercise in failure.


Failure of leadership. Failure of good citizenship. Failure in every single aspect of governance. Mostly, the Bush administration was a textbook example of the failure of character.

Welcome, Mr. Bush, to the ash-heap of history, your place is well-deserved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

CD Review: Melissa Etheridge - A New Thought For Christmas

As has become my custom, I am reviewing this year's best new buys in Christmas music. Here is the first (and best) of this year:

Melissa Etheridge - A New Thought For Christmas

In this new offering, Etheridge covers some tried and true Christmas standards on this CD, but her aim was to have a CD that focused on the theme of "Peace on Earth" and has included some original songs that I believe will immediately become holiday classics in their own right.

Etheridge's voice is as bluesy and as soulful as ever, and the arrangements are awesome. Guitar solo's by Phillip Sayce are a high point in a recording full of high points.

As much as I enjoyed all of the songs on the CD, the following songs really stand out:

Christmas in America; Glorious; Merry Christmas Baby; and Glorious.

As I said earlier, Etheridge covers some standards on this CD, but don't let that lead you to believe that she does the same old songs, the same old way... she doesn't.

Now, listen to your old friend Gunfighter... give this album a listen and I promise that you won't be disappointed. This recording is THE one not to miss this year.

Merry Christmas!