Say ‘Cheese’ — Oct. 19, 2021

What’s Below 👇
On being self-taught 📷
The Bee Battle 🐝
Ahhh, Ben Platt 🎶


I set up a little makeshift portrait studio today in a training room at my office. Lights, a backdrop — the color of which matches our new brand hue — and a tripod with my Nikon Z6. It all looked very fancy-shmancy.

Here’s the thing: I know nothing about portrait photography.

Well, to be more specific, I knew nothing about portrait photography. Candid photos? Action shots? Sports photography? All that stuff I can do. But then again, there was a time I didn’t know a dang thing about doing those well either.

When I fled the newspaper industry in 2009 and landed in the safe harbors of marketing and communications, I was a one-trick pony with a few associated side skills. I could write like no one else. But take great photos? Make movies? Design ads? Build websites? Run social media ad campaigns? Come up with marketing campaigns? Nope.

So I taught myself.

Before there were handy-dandy YouTube videos that could teach you everything from the ins-and-outs of Adobe Premiere Pro to how to replace your toilet, there was my method of “try different things until it works.” That’s a good method for, say, photography, though probably not so much for the toilet thing.

When I started my new job with The Allen Brake Team in August, I took some headshots of a few employees. They sucked. The lighting source was the fluorescents overhead, and the backdrop was a wall. Everyone looked like they’d just woken up in the morning after an all-night bender, which is a hard thing to do with some of the Beautiful People I work with.

So I googled that shit and learned about studio lighting. I asked Boss Lady to order me some stuff. I took it home, turned my home office into a JCPenney portrait studio and made Boy The Younger sit still long enough for me to move a managerie of lights around until I got the look I wanted. Voila! I did it.

Employee photos started yesterday and run through Thursday.


I Blame Elon Musk

There are many benefits to the work-from-home revolution. Tops on my list today is “You don’t have to deal as much with idiot drivers in traffic.” To whoever was driving the Tesla while I was trying to get on I-270 from Manchester at about 5:15 p.m. today, it’s probably not a good idea to dart across two lanes of traffic with no signal light at relatively high speeds without checking to see if any other vehicles are occupying the space you’re cutting across. Just a thought.


In Other Writing …


The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day

‘You say I’m your hero, but you are the one who saved me.’

Ben Platt, ‘Imagine’

Dead Wasps

Yesterday’s observations of Wasps Behaving Oddly turned into today’s plan to Murder The Wasps. Wifey Poo brought me home not one but two ample cans of wasp and hornet killer. I took one of those cans — thinking two would just be showing off — and went out to the deck before dinner. I pointed it at the amassed blob of stinging bastards that sat where porch post met roof and sprayed.

For a second, I had an image of a million pissed-off wasps emerging through the slats from a hive the size over which news crews would marvel after my million-times-stung body was removed from the scene, but alas, no such thing happened. Most of the clump fell to the deck floor quickly. A few others struggled to hang on to life for a few seconds before giving it up. One who fell even valiantly tried to climb back up to his perch in the rafters until he was overcome by poison.

I feel kinda bad. I mean, the wasps were just being wasps. They can be no other thing. And because their waspyness doesn’t jive with my humanness, I killed them. Seems like a bad-karma thing to do.


Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. Boy The Elder comes home from college this weekend, as my parents travel from their North Carolina home for their first visit since that one guy coming from China brought that thing that was just going to disappear.
  2. High temps starting Thursday are supposed to be only in the low 60s. Fall!!!!
  3. My favorite coffee mug.

More From ‘A Puzzle Known As Life’

Off — Dec. 6, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45Continue reading “Off — Dec. 6, 2021”

Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Self-Teaching 👨‍🏫Beer Flood 🍺🌊Space Mission 🚀 When I left the newspaper industry in 2009, I knew how to write, take decent photos, design pages and copy edit. I landed a job in which the mandate was, “Go make our communications program better,” something I’d assured those who interviewed me I knewContinue reading “Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021”

Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with theirContinue reading “Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021”

Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they liveContinue reading “Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021”

Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wrasslin’ 🤼‍♂️Wifey Poo 🦶Costco 🛒 Boy The Younger and I found ourselves this evening in the most difficult-to-spell-without-looking-it-up building in the Midwest, Chaifetz Arena, home of the Midwest’s most-weirdly named college basketball team, the St. Louis University Billikens. But we weren’t there for hoops. We were there to watch the oddContinue reading “Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021”

Work Drinkin’ – Sept. 3, 2021

I’ll Drink to That Since my departure from newspapers in 2009, I’ve worked for very conservative not-for-profit organizations. An electric cooperative. A Lutheran benefits provider. A pediatric orthopedic hospital. None ever encouraged me to post photos on our social media of employees drinking during the workday. But that happened to me today following our champagne-tastingContinue reading “Work Drinkin’ – Sept. 3, 2021”

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