jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
So what why update here when I have Facebook, Fetlife and such..? Why update here when the owner of the SUP is one of Putin's cronies (the reason I let my paid account expire btw)? This system is so freakin' antiquated that transferring entries and comments to say Blogger or a LiveJournal emulator would take months.

History and memories...

It's hard to let some aspects of my past go. LiveJournal is one of them. I have so many of memories and emotions tied up in this journal, it's hard to let them go or move on in some respects. Much of this journal is wrapped around my struggles and joys of living in SoCal. I documented the aftermath of my first marriage and the loss followed it. I turned to a loose circle of internet friends and associates here as sounding board and it grew into something more. LiveJournal became my first publishing platform and was where I documented so many adventures. Those photos, explorations, shows and events helped me reopen my eyes to the beauty and the joy I felt as a child. I saw the world anew through the lens of a camera.

When the joy went out of SCA events in Caid, I turned to my camera, my journal and my friends here. When I couldn't afford to do things as a single parent, I took my kids out on some amazing and wonderful adventures exploring abandoned and frequently historic places. Those stories and photos feel like yesterday.

And then there was Angie.. I've been gone from SoCal for over 6 years now, and I still think of her every day. Time has healed my heart so many of those memories, those thoughts and feelings are warm and even longing. Yes, I still miss her and doubt I'll ever forget her.

LiveJournal contacts and associations helped me when I got to Huntsville. Some of my long term friends and connections over the years here are from those early connections.

Moving down the path (less traveled)..

So this bring me to the here and the now. When I moved here in 2008, I never expected to become a manager in my day job. Never fathomed that I'd be called a subject matter expert in it either. I watched my daughter not only survive high school, which she dreaded, but move along to become an outstanding Fine Arts major at her University. She'll be a Senior next year. I've watched my son go from a soccer player to a sprinter running with the high school varsity track team as a freshman. He's also on the A-B honor roll and tested in the top 1% of the country in in math and science. The step-son is doing well in school and in advanced placement courses, but his habit of acting then thinking is disturbing.

Tammy's medical condition isn't worsening, but isn't improving either. She's taken herself off all her medications in order to purge herself and eliminate the possibility of unforeseen interactions. She's trying to fix a healthy diet but the fatigue and pain is limiting her. Her fading memory is even more disturbing.

Hadn't meant for this to be an introspective post, but there it is. I'm here. I'm alive. I'm not going to guarantee I'll be posting here regularly, but I'm not gone. Life is keeping me busy.
jjmaccrimmon: (Me - Headshot)
Just a quick message. Due to work schedules, we will not be going to DragonCon at the end of the month. Add that to several other recent issues and I'm frustrated beyond words.

Speaking of work, I was nominated for an Agency wide honor / recognition. 30 contractors out of a workforce of over 7000 were nominated. I wasn't selected but wow. I think that's why I'm covering the projects they've been assigning me to.

Photo wise, I'm nearly caught up on photo work. I have a wedding to edit but I'm waiting on their selections. I have a shoot this weekend and next. This weekend has been in the works for 6 months and there was drama getting to it. The following weekend is a paid gig. After that, I'm putting down the camera for a while. First off, it needs to go in for repairs. Second, I have projects around the house I need to work on.

Speaking of unnecessary drama, the house in Lancaster is finally empty of tenants. We have to clean it up and make some minor repairs and I will sign the closing papers. This will free me from the place.
jjmaccrimmon: (Me - Headshot)
Wow it's been a while. Not intended either... Life has that habit of sneaking up on me and running off with my spare hours and days.

Let's make this a quick update as I try to play catch up (and let the anti-virus scans catch up to the computer).

If you didn't catch the news, the Lancaster house is finally up for sale. We've had a few hits in the last week or so, but the offers fell through. I expect to have a solid offer within the next month if things keep going this way. Why sell it? I never intended to be an absentee landlord when I had to move away from SoCal in 2008 (OMG it's been THAT long?!). I didn't have the choice in the matter. It was rent it or lose it entirely. I've struggled hard to keep making payments and lost thousands of dollars on the place due to bad renters. Another reason I'm selling it is the memories. Some are very bad, some are good, but many are too intense for me to ever move back into it. When that day comes again, I'd rather have a place where I have a bit more quiet and privacy.

The kids are doing well. Brenna has decided that she wants to work on pottery and ceramics as her degree emphasis at college. I swear I haven't seen her this happy and upbeat about doing something with herself and her future since she was 9. The work she's done is pretty incredible so far. Chris is having mild issues with classes. This was the first report card in which he's gotten C's or lower in several classes. I wonder if all the games and on-line distractions are affecting things or whether the after school activities are instead. What after school activities you ask? Track. My little boy who nearly died of asthma and pneumonia is running track (sprints mainly) very competitively for his middle school. He's also learning to play bass. The boy's got some serious skillz there too.

Work has been going well, though this constant Federal budget crap is getting seriously old. As a Federal contractor (day job), I'm constantly tired of wondering whether we're going to lose or keep our contracts. That being said, I must be doing something right. I was recommended for a 4.5% pay raise when most people only were recommended for 3.0 to 3.5%. HR cut everyone's recommendation down by 1% across the board so I got 3.5%. I also got a bonus from the prime contractor for the many compliments. The other benefit is I've been moved into a job where I will be working with industry executives for high level test reviews. Without going into details, I'm working my tail off.

Photo stuff has gone well. I just did a shoot with a teenage model for a second shoot. Her parents were there and were happy with how I'm working with her and the manner in which the shoots are drawing her out of her shell. We're planning a very creative special effects set with her and my regular make-up artist in May. I've also had a number of local and regional business opportunities for shooting. Another local body painter (former photog) also approached me about hosting a workshop to display his work with my photos. That's next weekend.

Frolicon was also this weekend. The adult/fantasy/educational convention for debauchery was a blast. Once again, I shot as a staff photographer and presented two classes on abandoned site photography. Unfortunately I went solo. I gave my wife the choice between this event and a quilt show in April. She took the quilt show. I contented myself chatting with many old friends and making some cook new ones. Showed a few rope tricks and made some new contacts. I also worked my ass off. I shot approximately 2000 images in 4 days. I have already deleted 400+ images and expect to drop more. I have to give the Con my top 100 photos by next Sunday. Given how much I worked, I did bruise/torque a knee. I'll heal.

I'm going to start a new workout routine by the end of the week. I don't like the shape my body's gotten into and I want to be more trim and fit by this summer. I have the feeling that I'll need to be in better shape by then no matter what.
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I know I keep saying I'll update more but this month has been insane on multiple counts.

At my day job, I've been leading a major review of engineering deficiencies agency wide. Out working group has made little progress over the years till now. Something I wrote and presented on was noticed by several very high level people and they agreed. That said, a log-jam of ten years worth of materials, issues and political roadblocks just broke down. I'm rushing to keep ahead of and direct the flow. That being said, my customer just told me I was indispensable and they're moving me (immediately) from a remote office building, miles off-site, to the main building and right down the hall. I also found myself as the only representative from my engineering team remaining after a major internal personnel reorganization. This is all on top of my administrative and test support duties. O_O

We're keeping our heads above water, but only barely. Tammy is away at tech training so she'll be certified to work on the Bernina sewing machines we sell. Amy's been running the store while Tammy's in Chicago. This is a repeat of sorts. Two weeks ago, Tammy was at a company sponsored trade and education forum in Washington DC. We've paid for both of these trips out of pocket versus using store funds. The benefit is we get discounts and benefits for attending the conference and the tech training for the store. Right now, we need investors or working capitol though.

Networking and commercial shooting are paying off finally. I wish I could afford the time to post here more. For those who haven't seen, the Nature Photo of the Day Feature, has returned over at my Facebook page. I discontinued it here last year because of burn out and frustration over the image hosting at Photofuckit. As I get more confidence in LiveJournal's new photo hosting, I may start bringing it back here too. If you haven't friended or watch me on Facebook, I'm here: http://www.facebook.com/jj.maccrimmon

Off to work
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
OMG, I have this fond dream of relaxing, updating on life, posting photos and being creative. The reality is I'm now so busy that I frequently pass myself in the halls. I'm now scheduling when I need to make my schedule.

Too much...

Heading back to work from lunch shortly.
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Alrighty folks, I'm alive but that's about it. This has been one helluva week. For those of you not following me on Facebook, I dropped a few bombshells.

1. While moving furniture out of storage, I may have torn a muscle in my shoulder. Last week the doctor merely thought it was a bursa (cushions in the joints). Instead it's been hurting for the better part of two weeks and not in the joint. Because of this, I've been in a sling and expect to have an MRI in the next week or so.

2. Remember the car accident this summer. The attack tree and the XTerra having it's front end mostly ripped off?.. Well the car certainly remembered. There was apparently additional damage that they didn't find. Specifically, a radiator hose was knocked or worked loose and leaking fluid. Unfortunately, it was doing so onto the alternator. I got into work Thursday and the car died, horribly. It had to be towed to the shop that did the work. Fortunately, I was already in contact with them about the leak and the cause. I merely didn't know that it was where it was. The shop thinks it will be covered under the old claim.

3. There's news on the house front. In California, the tenant abandoned the house. Given this, it means I don't have to pay a lawyer to get them out. Sadly, I'm still out several thousand dollars. I'm still looking at selling it, but the realtors don't seem enthusiastic about the prospects. Tammy's house has been attracting interest and maybe it will sell before the end of January.

4. Speaking of Tammy, she got some extremely bad news from her company this week. Without giving away privileged info, they may be consolidating her company and closing the store. No timeline is available, but it was a huge shock. On that same note, they called her today and effectively offered her two positions working directly for corporate. This is a massive opportunity. She also is discussing with investors the prospect of opening her own store.

5. Given everything, I've pretty much stayed close to home and avoided shooting. Because of the shoulder, editing is pretty much out of the questions without substantial pain.
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As noted on Facebook, Friday I got to watch the Carrier Classic (college basketball game). This was a Veteran’s Day (Armistice Day) event that was played on the deck of an active US Naval vessel (USS Carl Vinson) in San Diego harbor. I’ve got to say, I was impressed to see a full court surrounded by stands with over 7000 seats, tents for both teams as lockers/changing areas and a press booth. While the game was fun, I was marveling at the views in the background. The sight of San Diego in the background, the coastal mountains and in the other direction, and the absolutely stunning sunset over the Pacific made me more than a bit homesick for southern California. I guess it’s true that time and distance eases the pain and frustrations of the past. While Alabama is my home now, part of me will always long for California and someday I will go back.

I’ve contacted USAA and I’m going to see about the feasibility of getting the old house in Lancaster sold. Keeping it as a rental has not worked out well at all. I can’t afford this drain on my finances (especially since I really have never recovered from the financial hit in 2008). Realistically, I’m not sure we can sell it and break even. I’m not underwater, but with many houses in the area still being foreclosed, it’s driven the prices down. If it stays as a rental, I need a better class of people in it or a guaranteed rental check. Given the economy and what I’ve heard about how Lancaster has declined, I’m not sure that’s entirely possible either.

As for the rest of this weekend, it was a mixed bag. While Saturday was a slow paced day where Chris and I went to a local anime convention (Mini-Hamacon), yesterday was full of work. I am hurting this morning. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been slowly re-doing the guest room in our new house. I say slowly because the funds aren’t readily available. We’ve repainted the walls (except for the baseboards), drilled the floors to remove most of the squeaks, stripped the 50 year old varnish (with chemicals requiring a gas mask) and yesterday was ‘sanding day.’ I rented a large commercial sander with vacuum from Lowes to make the finish even and keep the job quick. Did I mention that the sander was large (100+ lbs heavy, bulky and not transport friendly)? While it got the job done in a matter of an hour, my back and shoulders are not happy today. Now I only have to stain the floor (if necessary) and put down polyurethane to finish up.

In addition to working on the guest room, we also raked the front yard yesterday. We have a number of oaks and maples in and around our yard. The recent cold snaps and wind pretty effectively filled the front lawn with a thick coating of brown, crisp, swirling leaves. Tammy and Chris raked everything to the street and I filled ten 30 gallon bags with leaves. The crisp breeze and smell of the leaves was intoxicating enough that I didn’t mind the constant bending and stooping to stuff the bags. Tammy actually paid for the effort though. Her back and shoulders were a mess today.

Work continues to be challenging. I was shifted from long range planning and scheduling to help on analysis issues. It’s a more defined position and certainly more familiar.

On a surprising note, I weighed myself for the first time in several months yesterday morning. Since I haven’t ‘worked-out’ in months, I was expecting to be reminded that I was out of shape and overweight. Instead of seeing the scale reach into the mid-240’s, I was stunned when it only made it to 226 lbs. I guess I have been eating less and keeping active. It really was a pleasant surprise.
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6. SCA – I’m failing utterly at my goal to return to play. I’ve now missed three events or demos I wanted to attend this summer. In retrospect, I know I missed them for damn good reasons, but I’m starting to feel a bit hypocritical. Sure, this was a chaotic summer… Yes, each event was in conflict with other activities (our move, a planned (paid) shoot, bad weather, and illness)… It’s still frustrating me. On one hand, I really like the SCA atmosphere here. It’s much slower paced and much more laid back than Caid. Even with that, I can’t seem to break out of the rut and get going. I can’t even manage to consistently get to practices... Again family commitments and Tammy’s medical issues are making going to anything hard. On the other hand, I will soon have easy access to all my camping gear, a functional workshop and sewing space in Tammy’s studio.

7. Work has another source of consternation. While I’m being paid and have done some work in my new assignment, I’m still waiting to have full access to the government computer system. Without that, I’m relegated to busy work which is not satisfying in the least bit. I’ve pinged my site lead and heard very little back. In an era where the government is cutting back, I’d rather be doing something to make me a ‘value-added’ contractor rather than being that guy they barely see (because he can’t log into their computer system).
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Today I start working at the corporate HQ in Huntsville. I'm not sure what to expect from this but it is what it is. I'm hoping to hear about several of the MiDAESS contracts expected to drop this week and next. It felt strange leaving the offices I've worked in for the last three years and knowing I wouldn't be able to come back today.
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I keep trying to sit down and actually write something sensible and sane, but my words diluted and unable to form. Between the recent storms, the evacuation and subsequent recovery efforts; I'm still trying gather my thoughts. It doesn't help that I'm also feeling increased pulls from family, work, other blogs and commitments that draw me away from writing, setting up a web-site or much else.

The biggest things going on right now:

In two weeks, my daughter (my little girl) graduates from high school. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that. She's grown up and is showing some remarkable signs of maturity. For example, while we stayed at Tammy's grandmother's house, Brenna was polite, helpful, soft-spoken and genuinely sweet. Tammy's family all were very impressed with her. I still can't fathom that I have an 18 year old who's going to college in the fall.

On that same note, Chris is hitting puberty and growth spurts with a vengence. At 11 1/2 he is already wearing the same size shoes as me and stands 5'4". His voice is starting to warble and crack intermittently as well. I'm going to have to replace clothes he's outgrown again very soon.

Michael is also surprising me with how much more willing he his to express himself intelligently about things. The medication he's taking for ADHD is helping him to focus, be thoughtful and recognize things he didn't before. I'm pleased with how his personality seems to be developing too.

Career wise, I still don't know what's happening with our contract, but at this point, no-one else seems to either. Last month I recieved my fourth bonus in 3 years. While this is absolutely incredible (to me), I'm still more interested in knowing that the company will keep me on with them if we don't win our contract. On the actual work side of things, I'm attached to three different engineering projects. The most current should send me out to California again in June and July.

On a similar note, a very good friend of mine in California lost his job recently. It was mainly due to a personality conflict, not his remarkable skills. I'm writing this to echo my support for him and hopes knowledge that he'll bounce back to even greater heights soon.

The house search went on hold following the storms of April. I think I'll e-mail the realtor after this to let her know we haven't disappeared. We've got a series of places we'd like to look at and will go from there.

More later

Photo-wise... wow, that's going to be an entry all to itself I think.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
For those wondering why I'm on during business hours, I'm working from home today due to severe thunderstorms in the area. Work laptop is hooked up next to the personal desktop.
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Notes from last week. I can’t believe that I wrote all this then forgot to post it.

This week has been interesting. I spent all day Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday with Chris recovering from a nasty flu like bug. When the last change in weather roared through here (Sunday/Monday), he started getting a sore throat and sniffle. When he got up on Tuesday, he was coughing and hacking, running a low fever and aching. No school, instead we went straight to the doctor who gave him antibiotics & heavy-duty cough suppressant. I also was doing everything to make sure that it didn’t progress beyond the cold/flu stage.

Friday morning was his first day back in school and my first back in the office. Oh just because I wasn’t in the office much this week, doesn’t mean I didn’t work. I took my work laptop home on Monday evening and connected into our network from there. While I’ll admit, I was a bit limited for what I could do, it’s not a bad arrangement to work from there.

While on the subject of work, I received my annual assessment from the company today. If anything, I got a major pat on the back – again. The very positive ratings will net me another pay raise. Given the on-going concerns about employment / contract support / bidding, this kind of rating and raise give me some ammo to use should things turn badly. It shows the positive impact I’ve had to the MDA organization and to my company. That being said, I’m going to try to stay focused and modest.

Lancaster House
So far work on the house in Lancaster is coming along well. With a bit of hope the place might be up for rental again very soon. The value of the house has been steadily going back up. Hopefully in 6 months to a year, it will be at a price I can finally sell it for a comfortable profit.
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As mentioned in my previous post, I’m back home from California after working on the engineering test. While I can’t give specifics, I think the contributions I made were substantial and very positive. I am supporting the test, but my government customer decided that I wasn’t needed back out there on the second go. Most days, I worked 9 to 10 hour days and got a remarkable amount done. I had hoped to be flying back on Sunday, but now I’ll be staying home and will support the test from here.

After Action Reports )
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Well, damn it. My follow-on trip to Southern California has been cancelled. I'm not coming back out on the 6th of February. Customer changed their mind about needing me there. To the folks I was planning to visit or shoot with during free time, I'm genuinely sorry.

Just to note, I'm more than a bit disappointed. I could explain a lot more behind this decision but it'll show a level of childishness I hadn't expected to see from professionals. No I'm not in trouble. If anything, I did my job too well.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
If it hasn’t become obvious, I’m on the road again and back in Southern California. I was sent out to support an engineering test and help organize the madness at the site it’s being run from. My cat herding skills are being put to the test because half the assets we need to administratively do our job aren’t in place. I’m putting the administrative work ahead of the test execution side on this trip to gather more management and support experience.

Even though I’m on the road, I’ve had to prompt my manager (back in Huntsville) to schedule meetings and technical reviews; still following documentation for ops back in Huntsville; and watching developments there on the upcoming office move. While I may be a contractor, most of my coworkers regard me as the branch chief’s number 2. I haven’t jockeyed for it or done anything to shine the spotlight on myself. I just seem to be in the right place, or making the right decisions, or have earned the respect of my peers in this agency. I’m still a humble contractor and am working my tail off. The advantage is that in April, I’m supposed to be one of the few contractors moving into the new agency building on base.

Being here in SoCal is still surreal to me. The familiarity and the sensations are almost overwhelming. In a lot of ways, Los Angeles and the Southland will always be home. When I left Huntsville, it was 35 F and raining. When I landed at LAX, it was 74 F and mostly sunny. The drive out here was almost second nature; enough so that I tossed my Thomas Guide (map) aside and drove up to Oxnard from memory. Since I’m supposed to be here on and off for the next month, I’m planning to use my unscheduled time off creatively. Descanso Gardens, the Getty and a few abandoned site hunts are in the planning stage. Likewise, I plan to visit friends when & where possible. I intend to keep my connections here if I can manage it.
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Well we survived the holiday weekend – barely. The misadventures and mayhem was good and bad.

There’s nothing new to report on the eviction proceedings. I put in a written request to the court for a copy of the legal answer to my eviction notice from the tenant. This is the same answer that was supposed to be mailed to be by said same tenant. My property manager has gotten a copy of the answer and tells me the response from the tenant effectively admits guilt. I’m leaning heavily to giving this to the lawyer and letting them rip.

Recovering )
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
Hi there! Sorry it’s been a little while since my significant written entry. It’s been a busy few weeks and a mixed bag of mayhem.

As noted, the tenant answered the eviction summons. I have to get a copy of the summons in order to proceed. Unfortunately but property manager has medical issues and hasn’t been able to get to the courthouse. I’ll call the courthouse today to ask what’s needed and how much to send for the copies. If they won’t mail it, then I will call the company I used to file in the first place. As this point, I have little doubt that my “tenant” is nothing less than a con artist and is stalling for time. Their lease ended, they were asked to leave and they’ve not paid a penny since mid-September. I’m making ends meet, but this is hurting on multiple levels. Instead of finally getting back ahead of bills, I’m adding new ones. Given legal fees, missed rental income and such, she owes me close to $3000 right now. Add in the lawyer and the next month of rent and by next month, we’ll be up to $4700 owed.

Career, Holidays and another little surprise )
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After all those photos, a real post to follow up a week and a half of relative silence. This was an interesting week and a half in many respects. For once I was able to relax for a couple days, but I’ve been down sick with a cold on and off for several days now.

Photoshoot with Amanda J
I took a vacation day and headed to Birmingham to do a multi-set shoot with the amazing Amanda Jada. She’s fun to work with, comfortable with her figure and takes direction extremely well. The shots were done with mature themes (artistic nudes and implied nudes in silhouette). I really had wanted Murder Doll to join us for make-up support but she had a death in the family. The content of the shoot came out remarkably well.

While we were at the shoot, Tammy called me about her treatment options from the back specialist. She learned about treatment options that didn’t include surgery. Pain management and steroid injections to reduce the impact on the damaged area is what they recommended. She’s not thrilled about the pain management plan, but it’s a start.

the rest of the story.. )
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Work news and possible changes. Since moving to Huntsville in 2008, I’ve worked for the same contractor SAIC, supporting a government agency. That may be about to change. The ‘agency’ is going through a major realignment of the contracts that cover test and support. In a matter of a few days, they’re going to announce which team won the contract for the work I’m doing now. In the simplest terms, I may be looking for a new position in the near future. The current contract is good through mid-December and looks like it will be extended through February 11 given several on-going test efforts. So far the companies winning the contracts are all low balling offers to incumbent staff. That’s made an already bad situation fairly ugly.

I’ve managed to establish myself as an expert with a reputation for getting things done effectively and efficiently. I currently work as the executive officer to the head of test execution and as assistant branch manager for my company. Without stroking my ego, I’m a fairly well respected and valuable engineer in the agency. So you ask what are my options if my employer loses their contract? I break it down into several scenarios:

1. We stay in Huntsville
A. Stay with the same company and hope that they shift me to another contract position
B. Stay in the same position but switch to the company gaining the contract
C. Different company, different job

2. We Move
A. Return to California (Edwards again)
B. Seek a position in Colorado Springs, Dallas-Ft. Worth or Seattle

Moving is not high on my desires right now, but I do still own my house in Lancaster and know I could get work on Edwards or Plant 42. There’s a number of open positions posted on job boards there and well, I had offers before I moved. Given my salary in Huntsville, I should be able to command a substantial salary in SoCal now.

Speakign of work, I'm off to it now.
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While I'm at it and have noone talking into my ears, let me give a brief update. Life's obviously busy. We're still recovering from DragonCon like a warm happy hang-over. Brenna's getting anxious about possible college choices. Chris is now learning to play trumpet in middle school. Michael is now in kindergarten and having some difficulties in adjusting to behavior expectations. Me? I'm now busier than I can describe. At work I'm now managing multiple people and tests (successfully). Photowise, I had two amazing shoots last weekend.

Congrats go out to model Kitti Paula who gave birth to her first child on Monday. Best wishes to the expanding family.

Oh, I bought the download for the new Beats Antique - Blind Threshold - WOW

More coming soon..


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April 2017



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