WPC: Earning Cash, Saving Lives

0213 Saving A Life

This picture was taken back in February 2014 at the CSL Plasma center in Lansing, Michigan where my family and I go to donate plasma (the pale-yellow, mainly water portion of the blood) and earn about sixty dollars per week on two separate days: $20 on the first and about $40 on the second. At the time I was working on a 365 day photo project and this sign seemed like a great addition to the mix. The photograph means something special to me because my family and I are actually saving people’s lives (in a fragmented way) by supplying various hospitals and clinics with the essential components from our donated plasma, including proteins and antibodies, needed to make certain life-saving medicines. This is a multibillion dollar worldwide business that is viewed both strongly and negatively by various organizations because of the immediate dangers of pathogenic diseases such as AIDS/HIV being spread through the blood, tainting the plasma, and infecting patients receiving it but this seems to be under control. Continue reading “WPC: Earning Cash, Saving Lives”

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A Walk With My Camera

My walk with my camera was pretty nice. I took a lot of pictures not thinking twice. Rain drops falling on my head, creating spots on my t-shirt and shorts. Cars were rumbling by, their inhabitants unaware of my photographic intentions. It was a fairly depressing day, so quiet and somber. I’m trapped in this little hole of mine, unable to break free and explore the wide open world. I thought about leaving this terrible prison but it just didn’t feel right today with the weather being so unattractive. My hair slicks in my eye, causing it to twitch. I try to find interesting shots but there is nothing around here that wows me. A couple shots of the boulevard, some trees, some of the interesting hues in them but other than that this place is uninteresting. I go up the entrance to where the flag is waving high and mighty. A picture of a colorful tree looming over a bench. On my way back I see a car with an interesting design on it. On the hood is an artistically spray painted image. I walk by this at first, not wondering if I should take the picture with the people home but a couple seconds later double back and get the shot, feeling satisfied. As I continued on, I saw some kids walking the other way, just getting out of school. There was a school bus just passing before them. One kid was kicking a soda can, about in the fourth grade I believe. Another was carrying a small instrument in a case, clarinet or french horn perhaps. They didn’t seem to notice me as I walked on by but I simply shrugged off my moody blues and made them acknowledge that I wasn’t just a creepy loser with no path in sight.

The sky is dark, few clouds in the sky. So wet. So sad. 365 days of photos is hard to accomplish. Trying to add more life into my style, more variety. I walk on home, around the corner, back to humble abode, back up the lazy steps and into the mess of a house. I see my uncle, he asks me where I went, I say around the park. He thinks I’m a stalker.

Ready, Set, Done 3

WPC: Fountains of Hope

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Walking up the winding stone staircase besides the rapid, color-changing, hypno-inducing waterfalls of the Cascades, I point and clicked pictures of this castle-like structure, its sheer beauty eminent, memorializing the reds, greens, blues, and occasional darkness between the color transitioning streams. When I reached the balcony at hill’s crest, I paused and looked down upon the gleaming, sparkling tri-levels of water in the night and saw most of the metropolis countryside spill out before me; the ponds, lakes, hills, and trees merely spooky silhouettes of their selves. Then, sizing up my distance, angles, and lighting, I snapped a couple shots of the water jets spewing colorful streams high into the cool air. The one pictured above, captured in its blue phase, luminescing magnificently against the pitch black canvas, an aura of shimmering electric light emitting from its misty origins, with an ethereal beauty of celestial skies; its twin brother mimics in the background, creating a positively enthralling light show; alternating between various bright, uplifting hues and the dark swallowing jaws of dusk.

The water’s equal – a gentle sound, so smooth, relaxing, rushing out of the jets and cascading back into the still pool, calming and inducing a feeling of hope inside me. The serenity of peace and tranquility beside the stone wall. A star-spangled banner resting windless high above yonder. Forgetting about my worries, self-doubts for just a moment, instead reflecting on the time I have right now to enjoy life as it is. The faint sound of a 70s classic humming at ground level reaches my ears. I am here. I am now.


Photo Challenge for Week of September 26: Nighttime.

Starting a business…fun, but not that easy

This past July I have been in the process of trying to establish my first company. It’s called ‘Matt’s Videography’ and specializes in creating quality presentation videos and photography for events that people are having. This whole thing started when I created a video for my sister’s open house and my family members just went crazy over it, calling me “a genius” and that I am missing my calling with this kind of stuff. The video was amazing, way beyond their expectations. I even ending up calling it my own – adding that I created it along with a promotional message at the end.

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So after my mom suggested that I start a business making and selling videos with people’s pictures, home videos, and music on them, I jumped right into the potential money making pit by starting off conjuring up a temporary logo and creating a Facebook page that has, as of July 30, 67 likes and growing. My relatives also suggested I get some business cards to pass out to people to spread the word. I went on Vistaprint, created a custom card with my info on it, made it look nice and purty with a glossy finish, and ordered 250 of them. Well the $30 bucks I paid for them (that included shipping and handling), hasn’t gone very far because I’ve only given away two (just yesterday). This is because I felt funny about going up to random people and showing them a business card, feeling like I could be an annoyance. I didn’t feel so confident about showcasing my company to people but I guess I have to fight tooth and nail any which way to get it known out there. I could have gotten 50 cards free with FreeLogoServices.com, which I did later on while creating a more professional looking logo on that site, that I couldn’t use without purchasing it first, arbitrary to the website name.

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Things got more serious when I decided to create a website for my brand. It all started while I was watching a golf tournament and a commercial for web.com appeared (the only one I’ve seen so far), since the tournament is sponsored by them. I thought, “hey, that’s just what I need. It’s a fast and easy setup and I’ll be successful in no time”. That’s what the commercial pitched and piqued my interest immediately in the site. So I went to the website without hesitation and signed up for a domain name under ‘anytimedvdandphoto.com’.  Then I had a choice between the basic, standard, and professional website. I chose the pro because it included a shopping cart that would be beneficial to my operation. So the cost of all of this seemed like a sweet deal with the promotion that was currently being offered at a low price. In a few days time, though, I found out that the price of running a website with web.com, including all the perks such as SEO, Facebook Boost, Google listing, and professional help from the design team, would all add up to cost about over $300 per month. If I’m billed every four weeks, that would be about $1000 a year that I don’t have.

Looking for alternatives, I checked out the site builder on webs.com, with an ‘s’, and saw that they offer a more flexible option of paying for either $24.95 monthly, 1 year at $10.41 per month, or 2 years at $8.33 per month.

I had a website done by the people at web.com and I was really impressed with it. I made a couple of changes and asked the design group to make some changes as well. It’s not a very dynamic page, everything stays the same and I only have so many ways to customize the page (being that it is template based and doesn’t require any coding to work). Still, it is good for me because I’m a beginner at this sort of stuff and need something that is easy to manage. Currently, I am featuring two products on my ecommerce: photo prints and special event videos. I know there is not a whole lot going on right now but if I give it time and put some hard earned effort into the page, I could have it streaming with products and interactivity that’s up there with some of the best websites. Could have.

If this business of mine takes off one day I am thinking about opening up a shop somewhere locally or out-of-state if I ever move away. I’m pretty good with video making software such as Sony Vegas and CorelStudio. I haven’t used After Effects that much but I think it would be beneficial to the work of my company if I learned more about it and applied it. I would also invest in some camera and photography equipment to give my operation more potential.

For now, this is more of a fleeting hobby of mine than a serious business since I haven’t made any money yet and don’t know where it is going to go. I’ll continue to go along with the ride and if someone happens to be interested enough to buy my product I might just reconsider not going through with it after all. I knew not to expect amazing results right out of the gate. It takes work to get a company going good and strong. Since I’m the only employee right now and I’m not yet officially incorporated as a business, I really shouldn’t be too upset if things don’t go like I want them to. Like any successful company, it starts with a dream and then a vision. Getting that vision to become a reality is no one step process. I know because I am now experiencing it for the first time.

Tots, Clocks, Bikes, and Air

A few more of my favorite things…

0717141745-00Golden Tater Tots: A family classic. A favorite food of a classic cult character.

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Clocks: Time comes in many forms; also a visual representation of Coldplay’s hit.

0712141910-00 (2)Badass Bikes: Belonging to some big badass bikermen and bikerchicks at a motorcycle rally. Not even close to the size of the Sturgis gathering held every year. Bikers come from miles away to participate in that one. At this particular one, I got near the stage where a cover band was playing and it was LOUD! I thought the whole place was going to blow up or something.

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Max-Air: A high flying exhilaration ride that turns your world upside down. Just don’t get hit in the head by falling shoes. Reminds me of a pendulum clock, only this one belongs to Death himself. BTW, check out this eight year old on the Gatekeeper, a ride I had high hopes for when I first rode it this year but was kind of let down.

The 365 Project of 2014 continues on facebook

Besides that, I am also getting a business together that focuses on creating videos for special events, as well as offering photo collages, photo books, and possibly in the future a whole line of party supplies. All of this is an if because I don’t know if the business will even get off the ground let alone having one customer approach me. Doesn’t hurt to try.

One With Nature

It’s been a stormy evening with thunder and lightning shattering the dark sky. I’m here again lying in the tent, just listening to the sounds of nature battling it out for supremacy. This is one of the wildest, relentless storms I have witnessed in a while and also the second one I have witnessed today. I woke up this morning to the sounds and sight of rain pouring down and the first booms of thunder in the background. Bright flashes of light made me cower under my thin black blanket. It was rather calm and soothing, just sitting there to myself, letting my thoughts wander while the heavens shouted out from above. This was a first for me, being outside in a thunderstorm with only three walls of thin, rain-resistant fabric keeping me dry and safe. Of course, I was much braver than the person before me, my uncle Jack. He chickened out and left the tent at the first sign of the storm, retreating back indoors. In SURVIVOR, that would be the equivalent of quitting the game. And yet Jack has never been one to tucker out challenges that come his way. Oh well, I guess I know who he would play in the Wizard of Oz.

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I stayed in the tent and tried to imagine that I was really in the wild with help miles away, not just a few feet away in my house. In a few weeks my family and I will be going camping and living in the rustic outdoors. That means no electricity, plumbing, or phone/Internet service whatsoever. We will be forced to use other unconventional means of ‘relieving ourselves’. In outhouses for that matter. If I am going to use one of those nasty things I am wearing a gas mask and bringing a can of Lysol with me! Of course that’s not possible since I don’t even own a gas mask. As for the rustic part of the camping trip, I do not believe that people like Zeke or Charles will be able to live without their computers.

ImageAlso, Charles and mom will likely eat at a nice restaurant than bother with cooking food on the fire. It’s their choice but the whole idea of going camping is to live without the luxuries and necessities of every day life and learn to survive.

Well, back to my tent session… I am preparing for the day we go camping by testing out my wits in a thunderstorm. The tent held up well the whole night and through this treacherous morning so it shouldn’t be a problem when the real games commence. In a style reminiscent to The Blair Witch Project, I used my phone to film myself talking about my stay in the tent and various things around me, while the rain came down outside and thunder rumbled, adding to the spookiness. There wasn’t much light in the tent so when I played back the video all I could see was a creepy silhouette of myself hiding under a blanket.

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I listened to the appropriate song for this occasion, “Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks, seeing how the thunder sound effects in the song mesh with the real world sounds, making it really authentic.

So this is Day 1 and my uncle already ran away from the challenge – facing mother nature in her darkest hour. I must had been in the tent for almost two hours, waiting for the loud but fairly tame storm to pass. The storm did pass eventually but not without a few flashes of Ben Franklin kite power appearing as I was just about to leave my sanctuary, scaring me out of my skin. I finally did get to fold my blankets up and head outside into the morning light. That stupid water hole of our’s was full of, well, water again.

This is only just the beginning. Tonight is one of the biggest storms this year and we are sleeping through it. The end of my army blanket is soaked as I forgot to zip the tent back up after I left, much to Jack’s dismay. Jack is much braver tonight, deciding to endure the fierce storm instead of seeking the safety and common sense warmth of his bed indoors. C’mon that would be too easy! We need to learn how to become one with nature and tackle her beastly villains we call storms, wind, and rain. No one can control or change the weather, but we can be tough and try to see the real beauty of our planet Earth at work. Amazingly, our world’s cycles of random weather have been going on for billions of years. Patterns and seasons may have changed and become unpredictable but Earth still follows her unruly task of making us selfish humans realize what is out there for a minute. Okay, so the planet isn’t trying to seek revenge on people and only has crazy weather because of changes in the air, but humans still need to realize that the home they inherited thousands of years ago is being ruined by their selfish actions and greediness just to get a leg up in the world. Photographers and geologists alike are the few that really appreciate the true essence of the Earth.

Everyone else could care less.

With these survival tent runs, I am really starting to see just how wonderful our planet is once all of the material stuff is put aside. Night 2 is here and my journey has only begun…I still need a bear and an ax murderer on the loose to freak me out. And a tent that is actually in the woods.

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