The Chicken Or The Egg?

I am going to have start building an Ark.  It’s ceaseless I tell you!  This rain is just never-ending, and I am growing a little weary of being relegated to the indoors for all parts of the day and night.  This downpour does not lend itself to photography either.  Heading out into sheets of squall lines isn’t my idea of a good time, nor does the gear appreciate it either.
So with limited resources, I’m relegated to digging up what’s in the archives.  Lucky for me, there’s some good stuff in there (Well, I think so anyways.)  If it keeps raining, a couple more of these posts will be from earlier photo missions that I never got around the publishing.
First up: Chickens.  Now this was a Picture Show that was published in Good Magazine’s online column, and I am grateful, but somehow I feel the editors missed posting a few of the best images.  So I am left to my own devices to post them here.
Before we get into it, yes, I have backyard chickens myself.  They are quiet, clean, happy to rid the yard of pests and weeds, and produce one egg per day per chicken.  I can tell you that the eggs you eat from your own hens greatly supersedes anything you will find in the corner aisle at your market or grocery store.
There’s nothing like watching them happily pull worms and snails out of the ground while finishing it off with a nice mixture of grassy greens.  You know it’s all natural and good for them, and it shows.  I have never seen or tasted yolks so orange and delicious in my life!
When Jen and I first got the trio, we marveled at how quickly our chickens became, well, chickens.  They had no other hens to teach them how to scratch around in that weird moonwalk type action they do to stir up all the critters that might be lingering under leaf litter.  But there they were, plucking earwigs and beetles off like it was second nature.  I suppose it is.  Even though they are dumb as rocks, they are amazing in their eagerness to do their job all day long, and I could watch them for hours, happily toiling away on my behalf.
I suppose it’s trendy now, to have chickens.  It seems like everything is “organic” or “green.”  Sometimes life here feels like that South Park video about hybrids and the smug cloud that’s coming to bring the perfect storm of wrath and Hollywood trendiness to your little town.  I fear someone saying, “Good for you!” with chin held high and closed eyelids.
I say that because I am starting to cringe at the sound of “green” and “organic,” even though I am living part of that life.  But for me, having chickens was never about being green.  Chickens were about egg production, having a little pest control around the house, and being a little more self sufficient.  It was a logical choice.  An affordable choice.
I’ve always had an affinity for this type of lifestyle.  How many people do you know who’ve lived off of solar panels for their electrical needs for over two years?  How many people do you know who’ve only used 50 gallons of fuel in two years as well?  How many miles did you put on your car during that time?  But that’s just it.  I shouldn’t care (and really I don’t.  I am just making a point.)  The last question shouldn’t be asked.  It’s not about comparing apples to oranges and saying, “I’m better than you because I am greener.”  That’s foolishness.
What you really need to do is take a look at how you live you life.  When you leave the room, do you turn off the TV and the lights?  Do you recycle paper scraps that you would otherwise throw away?  Do you motion to throw away that little Grey Pupon jar, but find that your hand doesn’t release, only to look at it and see the glass and metal could be put to good use in another life?  Well, that’s up to you.  If you can live with yourself, throwing things away or recycling them, then fine.  But I find after living a simple life on a boat and two 2 years in Japan, where recycling is doctrine, it’s actually not that hard to live a responsible, gulp, “green” life.
So get chickens because you want to.  Not because it’s trendy.  Not because the Smiths got a few next door.  Get them because you want fresh eggs, or to ponder your kids with that age old question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg.”
I am not really sure which came first, but as long as they keep producing fresh tasting, vibrantly delicious eggs, I don’t think I really care.
See you down the road.
-Todd
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Rather Than Right Now

4 am.  Can’t sleep.  I have that cold that is hopping its way from host to host.  Of course it has to be raining and crappy outside, just to mimic the way I feel on the inside.  But I take comfort in knowing that I am not missing much as my body goes through its cycle of feeling like dirt.

As I was just lying awake in bed, listing to the ting ting ting of rain falling, dripping, and bouncing off the roof and it’s accompanying venting aparati, I thought that I should get up and do something productive.  Not sure if this is it, but what the hell!

But now with these two paragraphs down, I can’t think of anything of consequence to say.  My mind keeps drifting off to places I would rather be.  And then I got to thinking.  Why not just post a few photos of the places I would rather be right now?

I’d rather be cruising the streets of the little island called Sado, off Japan, looking for cool nightscapes.  Looks like there is someone awake in this little hamlet as well.

I’d rather be chillin’ with my dog in a nice grassy field.  By the way, this isn’t my dog, but it got me thinking.

I’d rather be going to different locations, meeting people, and photographing their chickens.  I freaking love chickens!

I’d rather be walking around San Francisco in my underwear.  Wait.  Really?  It’s early, and I’m not sure about that one.

I would rather be around the campfire with my friends and family, shoot the bull and roasting marshmallows.

And I would most certainly rather hear “Kompai” instead of “bless you.”
What would you rather be doing?  Let me know.
See you down the road.
-Todd

No Pants Subway Ride

No Pants Day.  San Francisco.  Why not?  And so it was with hesitant enthusiasm that I drove to Adam’s house to dawn a pair of organically made, silky smooth, cotton boxer briefs.  (As a side note, the grumble of right-wingers humbly clinging to their Judeo-Christian guilt complex when it comes to “indecency” will be audible when reading this.  Please listen for it and think nude thoughts.)  Arriving promptly, I was met by my partners in crime: Adam, law abiding tenant and local stud.  Jason, Co-Founder of Pact, a sustainable organic cotton underwear company. 
And an eerie silence that represented Adam’s better half not too happy about certain public displays of high quad (although they are quite lovely) exposure.
Improv Everywhere first pulled this stunt on the subway in NY in 2002.  Today, cities and metros across the world participate, but, “The fact that the No Pants Subway Ride has become a global event with multiple cities participating on the same day has led to its confusion with No Pants Day,” cites Wikipedia.  
Really?  Who’s confused?  I’ve never heard of either, but that’s not to say it wasn’t a great time!
Ten minutes to go, I slipped on a new pair of boxer briefs and immediately thought, “My, these are soft!”  My wife Jen makes fun of me for having the criteria that anything I wear should be “warm and soft.”  Above style and function it’s got to have those two things, or it’s probably a no go for me.  Thus, it can also be a problem when I find something that fills form, function, and the soft and warmness categories.  For then I barely take it off.  (Sorry about the Cremeux mom.  It’s just too damn comfortable, hence the dirtiness of this once lovely sweater.)
Providing the draws for the day, Pact Underwear is manufactured in Turkey where everything happens within a 100 mile radius.  All the growing of the organic cotton, dying, sewing, etc, happens right there.  On top of that, local workers earn an above average wage.  Designed by Yves Behar, “each pair’s design is inspired by a social or environmental cause and is shipped in a compostable envelope.”  To boot, (to boxer?) 10% of the sale goes towards their not-for-profit partners.
Standing around in our undies, I was nervous that I might get a little cold, and made sure to wear my down vest just in case.  I was also a bit preoccupied with what I would look like trying to catch all those low angles.  You know what a 6’2” guy with gleaming white legs in tight boxer briefs looks like bent over?  Not a pretty sight I can tell you!  So I decided to un-pants a bit later at the Bart Station so I could photograph without fear on the walk over.
Strutting their stuff (literally), our group walked with purpose but little dignity.  My favorite part was the looks from the innocent bystanders.  I think I saw one man’s eyes burn out.  Making it to the platform, I took a look around, unzipped, and took ‘em off.  It felt like that first time getting naked in an Onsen; cautious and at first, and then completely liberated. 
The highlight for me had to be seeing girls checking out guy’s crotches.  I mean, just openly staring; something they never do (or at least do, but don’t get caught.)  There were a lot of nodding heads (eww… get your mind out of the gutter), but not really in an up and down approving motion.  Nor could you call it a side to side disapproving movement.  Actually, no real indication was made to reveal their honest thoughts, but remember I lived in Japan.  They have a word for this face, and I can easily see it and interpret it: Shogunai.  It literally translates as, “It can’t be helped.”
Sadly, no, it can’t.
So the next time you are on a subway and see someone take their pants off, don’t follow suit.  However, if you see a gaggle of people de-pantsing, ask them what’s going on.  I think if you decide to join them you’ll find yourself having a great time, chatting it up with strangers, and understanding that we all share (wait for it…) a common thread!
I just couldn’t resist.
See you down the road.
-Todd
      
 

Pt. Reyes

I know I know- it’s been a long time.  And having watched Julie and Julia last night, I feel even worse to those of you who actually occasionally read my blog.  I feel as though I have let you down.  But should I be that egotistical?  I mean, are you really out there waiting for me to publish something all the time?  Most likely not.  Still, I should be on my game a little better, and dammit I have!  I’ve been photographing and conjuring ideas daily.  I am just a little behind with actually getting it to “press.”  But what are New Year’s resolutions for anyway!  So onwards and upwards for this New Year.
After a fine visit with the family out in FL, several mosquito bites and canoe paddles later, I returned to the Golden State.  Right back into it with a renewed vigor to get out there (and to work off the 5lbs of excess that I accumulated thanks to mom), I headed up to Pt. Reyes a few days ago for an overnight camp.  Crazy that it’s just outside of the greater SF Bay Area.  I was surprised by the diversity of land and how it’s utilized. 
Obtaining my permit for a backcountry site, I hiked up 1.5 miles to Sky Camp to set up the tent, drop the gear, and head back down to the car for a drive.  Heading out to the beach and the fading light, I walked along Drake’s Estero for about an hour.  Scouring the land, gorgeous sea grass flowed back and forth in the wind while the tidal mud popped and bubbled as the water recessed.  Wildlife was abundant, from the sea lions in the surf to the egrets pinning minnows with the lance like beaks.
As the last dregs of light began to settle, I headed back to the car.  Making my way into town, I opted for a burrito at a market just outside if the entrance, where I killed a bit of time before heading back up into the hills.  Reaching my turnout at 8PM, it was truly pitch black.  I slung my photo gear on my shoulders and made my way up the hill and through the darkness.  Oh man, it’s creepy slogging through the hills at night.  I kept an eye on the uphill slope for mountain lions, angry bears, and the possible Orc.  Once at camp, I was a, uh hum… happy camper.
Not sleepy at all, I tried a few photos while doing a bit of light-painting.  I was pretty happy how they came out after just a few tries of exposing for the sky and then splashing some light from my headlamp on my tent.  My oh my the Milky Way is a pretty cool thing!
Up the next morning, fog was the name of the game.  I have never seen such thick pea soup in my life.  Driving out to the lighthouse, I was denied any such photo opportunity due to the dense stuff.  On my way out there I passed by several dairy farms, and one image just stuck with me; I had to get it.  
This cow was just doing its thing, but it was backlit and so spooky with the fog.  I don’t think the images captured the total feeling, but it’s pretty close.  Just imagine weird noises, pumping milk from the utters in the background, 20 knot wind, fog blowing, and creepy halogen lights and you get the picture.  
Needing a second option, I headed to a beach with a small clearing of sky.  Drake’s Beach was totally empty of humans with glassy little waves pulsing in as the morning feeding frenzy was on.  It was a gorgeous beach, and if the wave had just a little more shape, it could have been pretty fun.  Still don’t know if you could get me in the water though, knowing what patrols just offshore.
Cruising around for the rest of the morning I photographed what I could: Whatever presented itself.  I got up-close and personal with a red-tailed hawk and a turkey vulture and gave a scare to a cow or two.
I just tried to get close, but they didn’t seem to like me much! 
After the decision was made to head home a day early due to approaching weather, I took the coast home.  I was lucky enough to pull over and watch the last few minutes of the sun setting.  Man, they just don’t get better than this. 
See you down the road.
Todd