Categories
General Photography Travels

“Standing But Not Operating” – Book On Sale!

UPDATE 4/15/12: ‘Standing But Not Operating’ is now on sale on Apple’s iBookstore.

I am pleased to announce that I now have a photography book on sale for the holidays!

The book is entitled “Standing But Not Operating” and is a compilation of shots of Six Flags New Orleans.

For those unfamiliar: Six Flags New Orleans was flooded under 9 feet of water and destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The property was subsequently abandoned by Six Flags, who cherry-picked what they could from it and left the rest as a liability for the city.

James and I ventured down there in April. We found our way into the park and were eventually detained for trespassing by the police, who graciously allowed to retain our images.

From the back cover:

“Standing But Not Operating” is a term used for an amusement park ride that is still standing in place but for whatever reason not operating.

Since being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, the amusement park formerly known as “Six Flags New Orleans” has been standing but not operating after facing abandonment and an uncertain future.

For the few who have visited the park since its closure, it has served as a place frozen in time—a haunting memorial to the devastation and perseverance of New Orleans.

This is a 40 page 10″x8″ softcover book and includes 37 of my favorite shots from that trip, which I am selling for $30. I am also making an iBooks compatible ePub available for $9.99 if you’d rather have that.

To date, this is personally my most beloved photo project. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do, and I appreciate your support.

You can pick up the book here: Standing But Not Operating

Of course, the original photo set will continue to exist on Flickr at a lower resolution. If you’d like a preview of the images, feel free to check them out here: Standing But Not Operating on Flickr.

Thank you!

Categories
General Photography Travels

Paris Day 2

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that would define me for the following months; that of a backpacker. My goal was to explore the world, learn about other cultures, and meet new people solely through mobile applications and social networks. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes, I made my way around based on the recommendations of friends and followers.


On my second day in Paris, I gave up trying to find a constant connection for my devices and decided to knock as much off of my checklist as possible and planned to leave the next day. So I got up early and found my way to the Catacombs. Lis Rock and others were pretty adamant about it too

I had long heard about Paris’ dramatic underground tomb & tunnel system, so I made it a point to get to it on this trip. The cost of entry was 8€ + 3€ for the audio guide. The walkthrough is entirely self-paced through an unguided pathway. Any diversions in the tunnels are gated off to prevent visitors from getting lost. The path has very few modern signs or notes, and very few are in English, making the audio guide well worth it.

The combination of the calm voices of the audio guide and the long walk wound up being a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the Paris streets. Rather odd when you consider that I was surrounded by the remains of thousands.

After walking up the 83 steps back to the street level, I immediately found the gift shop across the street (surprise, surprise). There I picked up some postcards and a bottle of Absinthe. On my way out, I decided to ask the gentleman working there where in the area I could get a sandwich. Immediately after asking I could see the excitement on his face, he let me know that his absolute favorite place in Paris was just three blocks away on a little corner by a roundabout. He quickly jotted down directions and emphasized “best sandwiches in Paris. No tourists.” This was exactly what I wanted to hear.

I took his advice and headed up the block and over to a little place called Le Pain d’Auguste and found there was only one other customer. After she finished ordering, I attempted to ask for a sandwich in the crudest, most gratingly awful French ever spoken. The girl behind the counter laughed and told me, in English, that normally she wouldn’t have time to make a sandwich from scratch, but she would for me since there was no one else around. A few minutes later, I was eating the most delicious ham and cheese ever on the best French bread ever. Well done, Catacombs gift-shop guy. Well done.

After that, I needed to recharge mentally and physically, so I stopped at a Starbucks, got on Wifi for a bit, and caught up with the world and took suggestions for the evening.

From there, I went back to Notre Dame like the day before. This time I quietly explored the area while mass was in session, and I marveled at the amazing stained glass work from the inside. I then relaxed in the plaza for a while and then decided to take the advice of Tim Dreyer on Twitter to check out the Musee de l’Orangerie and see their impressionist collection. With that in mind, I used my map and found it to be on the other side of the Louvre courtyard area, so I headed off that way. However, by the time I arrived, it was closed. I looked at the signs, and it wasn’t supposed to be for another hour. I don’t know why but they had closed early this evening. Damn. Out of luck and unsure what to do next, I headed towards the riverside to watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower.

Out of ideas for the evening and more exhausted and hungry again, I took a walk along the riverside. Eventually, I came to the Musee d’Orsay—which was also closed—and I stumbled upon a statue of Thomas Jefferson and a street vendor grilling sausages. I stopped, bought a water and a sausage and just as I went to leave the vendor asked me (in very broken English) if I had been to the Tower. Not wanting to get into semantics about when I was there (two years ago), I told him I had. He then handed me a silly purple souvenir Eiffel Tower keychain. I thanked him for his generosity and headed in for the night to work on photos and relax at the hostel as I was getting up early the next morning to head to Munich.

Full photo set.

Categories
General

Roll Outs

As mentioned a few weeks back, I recently had the pleasure of staying with Jeremy and Jessica’s Brighton home. On one of my last days in town, Jeremy told me he was adding me to his “Bedroll,” which is his blogroll (Editors note for mom: A “blogroll” is a set of links to other people’s sites you like) for people who have stayed in his home while visiting Brighton. It is found on the lower right hand of his blog at http://adactio.com/journal/

That got me thinking, I’ve played around with having a blogroll here before, but I’ve always wound up removing them. I’ve typically decided I didn’t feel there was an excellent semantic reason for me to include people on them; it still felt like a form of favoritism. I’d feel guilty not including some people over others. Jeremy’s solution hit me as a fair and fun way to handle it.

Sadly though, I don’t host a lot of travelers. It’s not that I’m opposed. It’s that usually, I seem to do more traveling myself.

With that in mind, I’ve stolen Jeremy’s idea, but flipped it. Instead of having a blog roll for people who have stayed with me, I am now going to have a blog roll for people whom I’ve stayed with while traveling or have traveled with me. I figure if you can tolerate me for any significant length of time, there should be some form of badge of honor.

So check out these excellent people listed on the left, it’s the very least they deserve for all of there generosity.

Now, if only I could figure out how to add “link category descriptions” in WordPress…

Categories
General Technology Travels

Little Troubles in Big Paris

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that would define me for the following months; that of a backpacker. My goal was to explore the world, learn about other cultures, and meet new people solely through mobile applications and social networks. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes, I made my way around based on the recommendations of friends and followers.


When I arrived in Paris via the Eurostar from London, everything was going according to plan. I had a restful train ride in which I wrote, edited photos and caught up on that week’s episode of ‘Breaking Bad’. When I got to the station my friend Kirsten was there waiting for me at the gate with a big smile.

Kirsten is over in Paris for grad school and had moved here just days before my arrival from Chicago. The original plan was for me to stay with her on. She had anticipated she would have an apartment, but was unable to secure a place before my arrival and was staying with someone from her college alumni association. Fortunately she let me know with just enough time to find a hostel for Paris.

She needed to pick up her monthly train pass so I took the opportunity to purchase a series of tickets as well. The next thing on my agenda was to pick up a prepaid SIM card for my phone so that I could proceed as planned with crowd-sourcing my iternerary. In England I had found vending machines at the train station, so I assumed the situation would be similar in Paris. Not so.

Upon my arrival to my hostel I asked about getting a SIM card and I learned that the country had recently tightened restrictions. Due to anti-terrorism legislation, a requirement has been added to supply ID and fill out paperwork to buy even a temporary pre-paid SIM card. So, figuring that the staff that the Apple Store might offer more help, Kirsten and I head out towards the Louvre shopping area.

Once there I was able to get my bearings and learned that there was an Orange store nearby that might solve my problem.

Sure enough, once we arrived at Orange, a gentlemen was extremely helpful at getting me setup. In just minutes I had what I thought was a working SIM card with 500 MB of data only to have it stop working just moments later. Frustrated, I popped the SIM card out and plugged it back in. Suddenly things worked again! And then moments later, they stopped.

I went back to Orange to discover that I needed to ‘top up’ the SIM with an additional 10€ to make it work on data. Even then, it wouldn’t work until tomorrow.

After a little bit of cross-cultural customer service battling, I returned the card for a full refund and set out looking for other carriers via an old-school paper city map.

The plan was to meet up with Kirsten and her friends at a gelato cafe across from Notre Dame around 7 PM. However, by the time I found myself in the area I couldn’t locate the cafe in question, and spent an hour or so just walking up and down the street peering into restaurants before eventually giving up. Tired, hungry and surrounded by expensive food, I resorted to the cheapest thing I could find that I knew I could get quickly: Subway.

I tried looking for WiFi connections I could use to orient myself but it turned out that the same law that restricted SIM card purchases also restricted open WiFi

Unwilling to let the night be a complete bust I trekked back to Notre Dame and spent my time sitting in the courtyard people watching. As I sat there soaking in the incredible architecture, detailed craftsmanship, and the camaraderie around me, I determined that although nothing had gone as planned, it was still a beautiful night. Also, I was eating gelato. Gelato rules.

After some time wandering around I head back towards my hostel and found open WiFi at a bar near the Stalingrad plaza. When I finally got to catch up on tweets, fellow Chicagoan, Elaine noticed I was in Paris and so was she, I then hopped a train and headed her way.

Small photo set posted, more coming soon.

Categories
General Pop culture Technology

Thoughts on Steve

On April 1st, 2011, I walked out of the doors of The North Michigan Avenue Apple store as an employee for the last time.

My fellow employees were lined up from the glass staircase to the doorway, leaving me no choice but to walk down the middle between them. As I approached, they began to clap and cheer at full intensity. I had been a part of this ritual countless times in my six and a half years with the company, so I knew it was coming. Still, it took every fiber of my being to stay composed. I bolted for the door, and when I finally got there, I turned around, looked back at my friends, and threw my arms in the air to wave goodbye one last time.

Seconds later, I turned the corner. Once I knew I was out of the view of my colleagues, I let loose and full-on wept.

I couldn’t hold it back. Working for Apple was more than a job; Apple was a family. Apple still is my family. I have met some of the most important people in my life through Apple. Mentors, friends, lovers… you name it.

Apple allowed me to put my creative energies to use. It enabled me to move halfway across the country to start over, and it inspired me to strike out on my own.

I learned more working for Apple than I did through all of college and high school combined. I grew more as a person than I could have possibly imagined. Apple filled me with memories and experiences that I will cherish until I die. All of that, those people and memories are a part of me; many of them mean more than anything else ever will. I wouldn’t trade any of it, the good or the bad, for anything.

This morning I woke up in a hostel in Bruges and heard the news. I looked at Twitter, and it was filled with loving, thoughtful comments and not a single one in poor taste. I then looked through Instagram, and it was flooded with photo tributes. Every news site was filled with articles and comments regarding his passing.

And I wept.

I never met the man, I never even saw him in person (though I apparently stood right next to him and didn’t know it), and yet there I was standing on a picturesque bridge in the middle of Bruges on a dreary, cold day openly weeping.

My friend Nick today, posted on his Facebook regarding Steve’s death. He mused on how people feel like they know someone in the public eye when they don’t know their internal person. He said that he hopes Jobs was as good in person as we all like to think he was. I would like to counter that point.

That one man who Nick claims I didn’t know, whom I never met and who probably didn’t even know I existed, profoundly changed my life for the better. For that, I am eternally grateful.

When I heard of his retirement, I did something that I swore as an employee I would never do.

I emailed him.

It was just a simple thank you, basically saying a lot of the things I’m saying here. I have no idea if he read it, and I never will. And that’s okay. I didn’t need anything from him. I didn’t need to know him personally. The Steve I knew, the Apple I knew… it gave me more than enough.

Thank you Steve.