Well, isn’t that telling

United States Passport Ownership per capita, by state.

Well, little Miss Mississippi, it looks like you don’t like to get out of the country very much do you?

The Daily what says:

Using figures found on data.gov (and a bit of extrapolation), C. G. P. Grey put together a map of the US illustrating passport ownership per capita, by state.


Snap my picture

Le Café is a ghost town today. The tumble weeds are rolling by faster than you can walk.

I’ve been taking care of a bunch of tax things, which is stressful and nauseating. And it’s kept me from posting too much here. So I’m going to post another shot from Sunday.

By the way, the shoot was a non-paid gig capturing a student’s fashion work. It was with inexperienced models. I take that back. They never modeled before. They did a great job, and it was a lot of fun. But I haven’t had a lot of free time to work on my shots.

When Tina was part of the club scene in Chicago, she liked dancing to that Prodigy song, “Smack My Bitch Up.” Only, she thought the words were, “Snap My Pic-Ture.” She and her friends would pantomime taking each others’ pictures. It never ceases to make me laugh.

Here’s one shot I was proud of from Sunday.

Bon appétit.

High Fidelity

Yesterday I called to wish my mom and dad a happy anniversary. They’ve been married 42 years. How incredible.

Their celebration plans were to keep it simple. They were going to celebrate at a new local restaurant/bakery and then return home and drink a bottle of wine.

While on the phone, my dad filled me in on some news regarding Jezzasia, a.k.a. the missions trip I documented for him and Pastor Jimmy last summer. Many of you remember that we went in search of Montagnards who were living in hiding in countries outside of Vietnam.

While in Cambodia, we had trouble getting access into a refugee camp housing about 66 women and children. The good news is they were freed. The bad news is they are way up North in Quebec for the time being. Could you imagine going from a tropical climate to just about the coldest climate?

Dad also told me that Pastor Jimmy knows a woman here in the states that is terminally ill. This woman’s dying request is to see her mother back in the homeland before she dies.

The problem is that there is no money. Jimmy wanted to raise money  for her. Dad said he poo poo’d the idea, because he thought that they’d tapped the funding resources they’ve used before. But dad says Jimmy’s faith is strong, stronger than anyone he’s ever known, and Jimmy asked a friend to write an eloquent letter to send to these resources.

It turns out, the resources responded in abundance and provided more than enough money to send this dying woman back to Vietnam to fulfill her wish.

What an amazing story.

I get it, too. Dad wants to impress me with stories about faith. He wants to show how faith gets things done and how it does seemingly impossible things.

Later on, I talked to my brother about the conversation. I was down about it. I feel shitty that I’m the non-believing black sheep of the family. I feel crappy that I don’t see God in these stories. Sometimes the guilt is almost too heavy to handle. “Wouldn’t be easier just to lie to avoid disappointing my loved ones?” I ask myself.

Yesterday was an emotional day. I spent over four hours doctoring images of our friend Kevin who passed away on Sunday morning.

I was making portraits of Kevin out of photos that weren’t meant to be portraits. These were images from celebrations. There were people laughing over drinks. I removed backgrounds. I removed people surrounding Kevin. I made it look like he wasn’t wrapping his arms around the people to his left and right by lowering his shoulders. It was pretty intense work.

For example, this was just one of many that I did:

There I was staring at a guy who mysteriously died the day before. His parents, friends and family are still in shock. I was working on photos taken two years ago at a celebration, only to be a funeral portrait that will rest on Kevin’s coffin.

Later, I called my brother to chat and I mentioned the conversation with dad. I told Jon that I don’t think dad intended to make me feel badly. He had the best intentions.

I told Jon that while dad sees the supernatural in the story, I see how Jimmy actively sought money and was rewarded. To me, God’s involvement isn’t necessary to the outcome of the story.

Then my brother said something which I thought was significant. He said, “I can see that. The story is about a great thing that God’s People did.”

I liked that. God’s People took action. They were fulfilling this woman’s dying wish.

I come from the perspective that people want to do good, moral behavior. When you ask anyone for a favor, they want to say, “Yes.”

It’s in our tribal DNA. And as the world gets smaller, the tribe gets bigger. Sure. Lot’s of people do crappy things, and the news and other outlets rarely focus on heart-warming moments. It’s all very reflective of a tribal gossip mentality.

Just like Kevin’s family had faith that their friends and family would help in different ways to prepare for this abrupt funeral, Pastor Jimmy had faith that people would come through and fulfill his request to do a significant deed for a dying woman.

I’ve said it before. The differences between people are within their vocabulary. You might say, “God did it,” or “What a miracle.” And I would say, “Look at what these people did.”

That doesn’t mean we don’t want the same thing, which is to make everyone we care for (and even strangers) feel loved, respected and appreciated and a part of our tribe, no matter how big our tribe keeps getting.

We can all become someone else’s perception of a miracle. It’s just a matter of vocabulary and perspective.

I like to call it High Fidelity.

Learning by example

In some ways, Talulah takes after me. She’s a voyeur.

She watches me pee so often that I’m beginning to wonder when she’s going to figure out how to get high enough to pee in the toilet by herself.

On some of these cold days, I can only hope, right?