Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Lucky Find

I was lucky enough to find a really great deal on a factory refurbished Canon HFS10 camcorder.

When the HFS10 first hit the scene it was $1399.00 and there were not many of them manufactured due to the cost. The refurb cost me $333.95 delivered to my front door.

The camcorder has a CMOS sensor that is native-mode high-definition 1920 x 1080 resolution and sports a made-for-HD-video lens (10X zoom).

Here is a little video...

I composed the soundtrack in Mixcraft 8.0 and edited the video with Serif Software's MoviePlus.

So far, I am very impressed.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thank You to My Readers

Book royalties rise and fall, depending on how you market and promote yourself. I've been so busy over the last couple of years that I have let marketing slip. It was a pleasant surprise to receive royalties from Amazon for sales in six foreign markets this month.

I'd like to thank everyone who purchased any of my books. Japan had far more sales than any other nation. I humbly bow and say, thank you.

I took a portion of the royalties and bought a new photographic studio setup. The upgraded equipment will be used for producing videos for my books and also musical instrument reviews for Ukulele Player Magazine.

One of the blessings of being a photographer and author is that I can write and use my own photographs to illustrate my books. I don't have to rely on someone else or use royalty-free images for illustration. I am also an "illustrator" and use a Wacom tablet to create images as well. Being able to do everything myself saves me money and enables me to sell my books at very affordable prices.

Thank You once again.

I hope you all enjoy success and happiness in everything you do.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I was pleasantly surprised to see that I am going to be getting book royalties from seven different countries this month (June sales). I get a breakdown of sales from Amazon where I enjoy an exclusive e-book agreement.

Without any special marketing push, June sales really jumped, especially in Japan. That makes me wonder, why? The word serendipity comes to mind. With no marketing push whatsoever, sales in Japan increased by 4925 percent. That's incredible!

I cannot explain this upswing in sales, but I'll take it.

In recent days I have purchased a new video camera and have been studying movie making techniques in order to start producing compelling marketing videos. I have invested in spare batteries for the camcorder and I have movie editing software that I've been using for musical instrument reviews for years; however, I have not been producing any award-winning videos. That is about to change.

I will be applying the techniques I am learning from the book "How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck!" by the award-winning director Steve Stockman.

We'll soon see if this plan works. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy my recent increase in book sales and smile all the way to the bank.

I'll be posting marketing videos on YouTube in the near future. As videos become available I will post them on this blog, too.

Stay tuned...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Into the Wild

I have spend a large portion of my life in pursuit of wildlife. I love taking pictures of animals in the wilderness. Of course, when I cannot go to the wilderness, nature preserves and zoos that feature environs will do nicely.

I am not a big fan of wildlife management because the minute you manage it, it's no longer wild. It's an oxymoron.

The best way to "manage" wildlife is simply to let it manage itself. Now, that goes against the modern way of thinking, but it's true. In trying to do what we think is right for nature and the preservation of wildlife we often do more harm than good. I'll give you an example.

Putting hatchery stocked trout in Western streams has served to introduce bacterial infection and whirling disease into native populations and it has weakened the gene pool. I have seen freshly planted brookies in Pennsylvania streams that had ulcers on their sides that were from bacterial infestations in Pennsylvania's hatcheries.

I prefer going into wildlife preserves and nature areas to take pictures or shoot video with as little disruption as possible.

Here is the type of picture one can take when one is careful.

I took this shot with a 70-200mm lens on a Pentax professional digital SLR camera.

The deer just sat there very quietly and watched me as I took pictures. I moved carefully and did not make a lot of noise or appear threatening in any way. White-tailed deer are very smart and curious. As long as you pose no threat you can usually get some nice pictures before they move away.

You'll notice that this is an eight-point buck wearing summer velvet. The antlers will be very hard and no longer covered in soft velvet by mating season (the rut).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sticker-Price Shock

I bought my first new car in 1978... a Plymouth Arrow. It was an import. It was made by Mitsubishi and I absolutely loved it.

The car was run over by a 45 foot tractor-trailer and extensively damaged a month after I bought it, but, it was rebuilt and given a custom paint job. I chose Hugger Orange, the color of the 1969 GTO Judge. The Arrow cost me $4995.00 and it was a lot of car for the money.

I had a newer-used Mitsubishi before I bought the new Arrow. It was a Colt GT and I liked it so much that I stuck with Mitsubishi for my first new car.

After the Arrow was old and tired I bought another new car-- a Colt GTS. Yep, another Mitsubishi. That one cost a little more than the Arrow, but it was still a modest investment.

Years went by and I owned several other new cars. I finally returned to Mitsubishi in 2005 when I bought a Lancer (16,000 clams). It was not the worst car I ever owned; No, that dubious distinction goes to the beautiful ESCORT GT I bought in 1989 --the Mitsubishi has had the front-end replaced twice, the brakes replaced twice, and the up-stream O2 sensor replaced as well. I had $4000 in repairs in the last two years and, recently, the brakes started grinding again. The car only had 86,000 miles on it.

MITSUBISHI... you will never get another dime from me.

Holy Sticker-Price Batman!

With average new cars selling around twenty-five grand, I've been hesitant about replacing that crappy Lancer. Even used cars average sixteen to twenty grand these days.

Last weekend, I bought a used Honda Accord. It has a lot of miles on it, but, Honda cars often give you over 350,000 miles before they give up the ghost.

The car rides like a dream. It has a great sound system. It is comfortable. It has NO RUST and has never been in a collision. So, even though it is a 2007 model and this is 2017, I pulled the trigger. I bought it.

Here are some pictures:

I took the car to Darby Creek Metro Park to take a few pictures without a cluttered background.

This is the parking lot on Kuhlwein Road for those of you familiar with the Columbus area. There is a bike trail running alongside the parking lot.
The fields surrounding the parking area are filled with birds and an occasional white-tailed deer. It is a perfect place to take a few pictures.

The Accord has a 2.4 liter engine with hemispheric heads and a low restriction exhaust. It is quiet and feels as if you are driving on air. The engine purrs.

In the center console is a 6-CD changer and 120 watt amplifier. There are six speakers inside the passenger compartment. This is first-rate car audio. I am very happy with the sound quality and I am a professional musician with a passion for audio.

The car features cruise control, air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, comfortable bucket seats, vanity mirrors with lighting, reading lights, side-view mirror defrosters, rear defroster, electric windows and door locks, electric adjustable driver's seat, and a moon roof.

The transmission is a six-speed automatic. That is important since my wife cannot drive a stick-shift car. I've tried to teach her, but, it just ain't happening. This is a luxury sedan with tons of leg room. In short, after one week, my next new car will be a Honda Accord.

Reviews of this car are all favorable. Some people have reported getting 400,000 miles on their Accord. Once you drive one you'll understand why so many Honda owners are absolutely loyal to the brand.

I admit it. I am hooked. The Honda Accord is a keeper.

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Been Crazy

It has been quite a while since my last post, but, it has been crazy around here lately. 

I attended an event at the Ohio Theater in down-town Columbus, Ohio. Due to very small and cramped seating at the theater my back was thrown out of alignment and I was in pain for two solid weeks. I stayed on schedule for the next issue of Ukulele Player Magazine even though I was in a lot of pain.
I had just released the latest issue of Ukulele Player Magazine and announced it on Facebook and ukulele forums when I received a phone call from my sister-in-law telling me that my younger brother was in a terrible accident and was in Mt. Carmel Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

My brother passed out while shopping in a Meijer Department store. The back of his head struck a metal rack as he fell cracking his skull and he was rushed to a local hospital where he remained on life-support for some time.

My brother's accident happened on a Sunday and the following Monday night and into Tuesday things were pretty severe and it was possible that they could lose him. My wife and I sat with him Tuesday.

By the end of the day my brother's condition had improved to the point where he was once again breathing on his own.

The following Sunday, I was at the hospital twice. The first time, I tried to convince my brother to stay there and get a pace-maker that they discovered he needed. When that did not work, I called my older brother and had him try and talk sense into him. Unfortunately, my little brother is as stubborn as a mule— my older brother and I coordinated efforts, went to the hospital, and we took my younger brother to the home of my parents.

I talked with my parents yesterday and my brother is scheduled to meet with his doctor and OSU Hospital to discuss the pace-maker and installation procedure. That saga is almost over.

At this point, things are back to normal.

So what exactly is normal for me?

I have another issue of Ukulele Player Magazine coming your way. I have another book project in the making. I had another book that I was planning that will be on hold until this new book idea, and subsequent writing is completed— because timing is everything.

I won't say more about the new book idea for now, you'll hear more about it in a few weeks.

What all of these recent events serve to do is emphasize that life is precious and we should not squander a single minute of it. Every day is a blessing. We should make the most of the time we are given.

Enjoy time with friends and family. Enjoy your work. Enjoy your play-time, too. Life is SHORT. Don't let it slip through your fingers. Don't put off things you really want to do because time is fleeting. 

If you want to accomplish anything, plan for it and get it done when you can. You may not get another chance.

Live each day as if it were your last. Tell your family that you love them. embrace them. Be grateful for them. Be grateful for your friends and associates.

Count Your Blessings...

Monday, May 8, 2017

I Love My iPhone 5S

I already wrote about gadgets. If you read that blog post you know that I love gadgets, but to me, a cell phone is a tool, not a toy. I use my Palm to keep me on time. I use my laptop for work. I use one of my tablets for work on the go when I must travel light.

With that in mind, I retired my old Samsung smart phone in favor of a refurbished iPhone 5S running the newest Apple iOS (10.3.1 at the time of this post).

To keep this phone well-protected I turned to Amazon. I found the "O-Case" in brown leather. It has a classy look and feel to it. The leather is luxurious and the stitching shows great attention to detail. In short, I love the way it looks and feels. 

In order for me to buy a case it has to be well-made. While I definitely prefer the look and feel of leather, it must have a thoughtful design and the stitching has to be straight and even. I want a product that looks as though care went into its manufacture.

There is a lot of cheap leather out there. Just like shoes, you can find junk, like Nubuck, and you can find patent leather that will serve you for many years. This case is the latter, not the former.

Why the iPhone 5S rather than the 6S like my wife. I prefer the smaller phone because I really only use it for communication and checking the weather. I don't want it to entertain me. I don't want to listen to music. I just want to carry a phone for emergencies or when I need to contact someone.

As for the case, I love an elegant look, a luxurious feel, and adequate protection for the phone. I also want it to fit comfortably in my shirt pocket or in a sport coat or jacket. I don't need a pen holder or flaps to make it stand up for watching movies. I can watch movies on one of my tablets if I choose to do so. This is, after all, a telephone as far as I am concerned.

If you want a practical phone, consider the iPhone 5S. There are lots of refurbished units available. If you want a top-quality, executive leather phone case, check out the O-Case at Amazon.