I heard Dave Ramsay reading this on the radio yesterday… very intriguing to hear Lincoln’s eloquent writing recited and to learn a little more about how the official Thanksgiving tradition came to be. Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving to you all!

 

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

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Having worked on a number of reality TV shows, it was always part of my job to have people who MAY appear on screen sign “Consent to Use Image” forms. On one particular show, it was a rather tricky operation because there was a form for unpaid appearances, one for paid appearances, and two others for, uhhh, some sort of confusing, paid/unpaid stipulation. Ultimately, law can be a pretty murky area, so one photography professional I know always carries around $1 bills to compensate people for incidental appearances. If people happen to show up in video he shoots for commercial use, he gets them to sign the “Image Use” agreement and pays them a buck. His agreement form points out that they were paid – and how much – to further help avoid legal claims.

Another important consideration for these “Image Use” forms is to jot down on the form itself a physical description of the people who have signed these agreements. In the long run, Producers and Video Editors can then determine much easier which people have already been cleared to be used in your production.

The example listed below comes from a show I previously worked on. As I am in no place to dispense legal advice, I am conveying the information below “as is.” In other words, using the information given is at your own discretion, and you should run it by a lawyer to see if he/she has anything to add to it.

 

Consent to Use Image

I was/will be filmed, photographed, or recorded by ____(your company name goes here)____. In consideration of the potential exposure that this production may bring me, I ____(subject fills in name here)____ grant to ____(your company name here)____ and its agents, licensees, productions vendors, affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns, the universe-wide, royalty-free, fully paid-up, irrevocable, and perpetual right and permission to (without my approval) use, publish, broadcast, and copyright (whether in digital form or otherwise) my name, nickname, persona, character or characterization, initials, logo, slogan or catch phrase, autograph, facsimile signature, voice, photograph, film, video or new media portrayal, actual, simulated or drawn likeness, images, biographical or historical information, any material provided by or statement made (whether oral or written) by me, and physical attributes including, but not limited to, any material based on or derived based on my likeness.

I also agree to assume all responsibility for and hereby release and hold ____(your company name here)____ and each of its officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents, licensees, affiliates and subsidiaries, harmless form any liability of any kind or any claim whatsoever (including, but not limited to, claims for personal injury or death, invasion of privacy, defamation, right of publicity or infliction of emotional distress) directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting in any way from my likeness being used by ____(your company name here)____ and I acknowledge that my likeness may be used in and in connection with still imagery, film and audio, affiliated with current and future ____(your company name here)____ projects.

I acknowledge that there will be no compensation to me for being filmed, photographed, or recorded and the rights granted herein except as provided herein and that ____(your company name here)____ is not required to use my likeness. I also acknowledge that all materials produced under this agreement, including any photos, films, or recordings are the absolute and exclusive property of ____(your company name here)____ forever. This agreement shall be governed by and construed under the laws of the State of ____(your U.S. state)____ and the parties hereby consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue in the courts sitting in ____(your city and state)____.

AT THE TIME THAT I SIGN THIS AGREEMENT, I AGREE THAT I AM EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER.

PARTICIPANT

Print name:________________________

Signature:_________________________

Date of birth:_____________________

Today’s date:______________________

 

Once I get my domain website in order, I plan on making the document above a downloadable form that’s already formatted, so stay tuned. For more Reality TV / Documentary resources, check out this post: How to Conduct a Documentary / Reality TV Interview.

 

Finally, as an aside, WordPress provides me with two types of useful stats: page views and how a person landed here. Though anonymous, sometimes I can see search engine terms that linked to this page. For this entry, I sometimes see terms like “can you be on reality tv without consent?”

Well… unless you feel your appearance is exploitative and tarnishes your reputation, don’t be a jerk and try to figure out ways to screw people out of money. There is already too much dumb litigation going on in this society, bogging down the courts and creating animosity between people.

I’m no lawyer or judge, but I have taken Media Law classes that exposed me to real-world privacy cases. Chances are, if you’re trying to figure out if you can exploit people and seek damages for a situation where no harm was done to you, then you’re probably S.O.L. Were you in a public space when you were filmed? If so, you can’t have any expectation of privacy. Were you on film because you were in the proximity of a public figure? Then, you’re not the subject of the video. If you just happened to be in the background, you may – but probably don’t – have a case. Were you on the news? News is public interest. No money for you. If you were in a private space, are you sure there wasn’t a filming notice posted and, by entering the property, you were giving consent for your likeness to be used?

If you were in the background of a show, do what I’ve done – laugh about it, share the exposure with your friends, and fuhgetaboutit. Unless Honey Boo Boo’s family made you look bad (by association), you were caught making out with a high schooler, or Snooki assaulted you, it’s probably not that serious. If it is, get off the internet and take the footage you were in to a lawyer, because you’re not going to get good, free legal advice through a Google search.

As always, feel free to share this page via the social networking links provided below… comments are always cool, too!

Over the years, my line of work has kept me from enjoying many holidays in the same way so many others do. I’ve missed several New Years celebrations, 4th of July, part of a couple Thanksgivings, and a few Halloweens… and there’s also Labor Day and Memorial Day. Being pulled away for work is sometimes a real bummer, and other times it has been for really incredible opportunities. One of those that fall into the “worth it” category is the work I did on one of the more popular ghost hunting TV shows in 2009. I’ve talked about the ghost hunting experiences in other posts
(i.e. Haunted History, The Strangest Coincidence of My Life, and Reflections on Eastern State Penitentiary & Hauntings), and here is another story vital in getting me where I am today.

 

Ft. Delaware

 

It was the week of Halloween 2009, and we were shooting the ghost hunting live show in Delaware. It was frigid outside, and the weather hadn’t been cooperating, making load-in and setup on the island really difficult. Like many of my coworkers, I had really worked by tail off, so one random day during the week the bosses gave me a break and put me on call. So I did what any good employee would do: I made the 30 mile drive to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and eat cheesesteak. “The City of Brotherly Love” is a place I had always wanted to visit, due to its incredibly rich history and also being a big Eagles football fan.

So there I was, gallivanting around town and enjoying the day when my phone rang. I had become so accustomed to seeing that 302 area code, so my heart started pounding… nearly out of my chest, it felt like. “We might need you to do a run…. but if we do, it won’t be for another hour or two.” “Great!” I exclaimed and carried on, relishing the experience.

Not knowing if I would ever make it back to Philly, I had a tough decision to make: Pat’s or Geno’s. Both are equally famous cheesesteak establishments, conveniently located across the street from one another. Leaving the decision to the flip of a coin, Pat’s was the winner. Geno’s eventually earned my money, too, but more on that later…

 

In the mobile office, "on call"

Enjoying a Pat’s cheesesteak in the mobile office, on call

 

The serenity and freedom to explore the city on my own was awesome. I walked through Independence Hall, saw the Liberty Bell, visited Ben Franklin’s grave, and had a beer in the rebuilt tavern where John Adams, George Washington, and other important dignitaries dined and drank over 200 years ago.

After my free time was bygone, I headed back to the “ranch” to do that work I was on call for. It was a lot of shuttling people between the airport, hotel, and shooting location on the remote island. To actually get to the island, we had to radio the boat captain to pick us up. Again, the weather had not been cooperating and, at one point, our itinerary got delayed because the violent waves made the trip too dangerous.

I won’t really get into the meat and bones about the production and what it was like sitting alone inside a fort for eight hours on a cold, cold night. But I will touch upon what most people ask me about my experiences: Hearing there was only one death at Ft. Delaware, the weird vibes were minimal but not totally absent. One odd thing was when I did some exploring during down time and found a winding, unlit hallway that terminated at a small, pitch black room (maybe 15’x15′) that was deep within the fort. I started snapping pictures in there, and one came out with a weird, white cloudy blur near the ceiling. Whatever that was, Ft. Delaware is fairly low on the “creepy” scale compared to other places I’ve been… places like Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky and the former Essex County Hospital (psychiatric facility) in New Jersey.

One other thing about that topic, though… My job during the live investigation was to control a video switcher going to the show’s Director, who was working probably 300 feet away from the fort in a video truck. In fact, all of our cables to the truck ran across three boats that were floating in the moat around the fort… it was really a huge undertaking and operation. The point I am getting at is that – I kid you not – while scanning the eight camera feeds on the screen in front of me, I saw the legs on a bar stool rotate back and forth for probably about 30 seconds. That’s one of just a very few times in my life that I’ve pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It was such a bizarre moment that my mind could barely comprehend.

After the investigation, load-out was a little more easygoing. We had more time to spare, and the bad weather had passed. In fact, the bosses let us Production Assistants off work early one day so we could go have fun in Philadelphia. Due to my prior trip to the city, I was recruited as the navigator on our way to get… you may have guessed it… cheesesteaks. So that was my opportunity to give Geno’s a try. Ultimately, I found both places to be too similar to pick a favorite, although both were delicious. And it caught me off guard that what makes a cheesesteak really unique in Philly is Cheez Whiz.

 

Geno's Steaks

 

Thanks for a great time, Philadelphia (and Delaware, I guess). Speaking of, remember the line from Wayne’s World, when Wayne and Garth are in front of a blue screen, acting like they are in different states?

Wayne: We’ve got a new feature on Wayne’s World. It allows us to travel through time and space… it’s called “chroma key.” ….

Garth: Say you wanna go to Texas. “Howwwwdy, partner. Let’s raise and rope broncos.”

Wayne: Or imagine being magically whisked away to… Delaware.
[pauses]
Wayne Campbell: Hi. I’m in… Delaware.

 

Yeah, it’s really about like that. Anyhow, Philadelphia, I look forward to visiting you again one day… and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Home Brewed Beer in Clear Glass Bottles

Last night I bottled my second batch of beer, and maaaan was it a challenge. As mentioned in my previous post [(Home)Brewing Some Beer], the Mr. Beer kit is a good way to begin to learn the craft of beer making. The equipment leaves something to be desired, however, as it’s cheap. But as we’ve all heard, “you get what you pay for.” Everything is plastic, which means replacement parts are required at some point. Unfortunately, in my case, the need for a replacement part came much too soon. The spigot on the fermenting tank stopped working after brewing the very first batch, and the discovery of that came at a most inopportune time.

While prepping the second batch (American Blonde Ale), I went through the motions – sanitize all the required tools/boil water in a pot/mix in the hopped malt – and discovered that the sanitized water wouldn’t pass through the spigot on the fermenting tank. So the only option was to flip the fermenting tank over to dump out the water. I then removed the spigot from the tank to see what was up. The assembly is designed so that hitting the “push” button activates a bar inside that pulls down on a rubberized seal, allowing liquid to pass through the valve. Well, the bar had somehow become disconnected from the rubberized enclosure, so the “push” button activated nothing. Since the spigot wasn’t leaking, I had no choice but to go ahead and reassemble it so the “wort” and yeast could do their thing.

Mr. Beer’s Customer Service dept. was a big help. I let them know the equipment failed after just a single use, and they promptly sent me a replacement/redesigned spigot. It sure is nice to have, though it’s hard to remove a tap when its seal is helping keep liquid in the fermenting tank.

My wife and I schemed and debated on the best approach to get the beer out for bottling. Ultimately, I ended up turning the faulty spigot counter-clockwise until beer began pouring out. I really hope the liquid didn’t get too agitated/aerated, as it flowed down into the sanitized pitcher I put in the sink. In retrospect, the better idea probably would have been to sanitize a ladle and slowly, scoop by scoop, move the beer into the pitcher. Once enough beer poured out of the tank, I was able to reach in and install the new spigot.

Also, this could turn out to be a really stupid move, but I substituted sugar for honey in one of the bottles to see what happens. As it’s a sugar product, I know the yeast will convert it to alcohol, but I have no idea if it’s appropriate to use the same amount of honey as the recommended amount of sugar. We shall see, and hopefully nothing blows up.

One thing I was concerned about was that all the swing top bottles I have are clear. Dark brown and green bottles are used to keep out sunlight, which can break down the hops in the bottled beer. Sometimes that’s used for effect, as it adds flavor to brews like Corona. So it seems to be that you can use whatever bottles you want – colored or not – but be sure to store the clear ones in a dark cabinet to avoid introducing a skunky flavor.

Also, to further develop my beer making skills, I bought a hydrometer. Honestly, I still don’t know exactly what the “specific gravity” readings tell you, but I do know that you can calculate the beer’s percentage of alcohol (ABV) with the device. The tool also indicates if fermenting is underway or if it’s complete. But how to determine those from the hydrometer, I have no idea, as the one purchased through Mr. Beer came with no instructions at all. You’re pretty much on your own figuring the thing out, but I guess they must figure you know how to operate such a device if you’re buying one. But I don’t, and I have some research to do.

So my second batch ever is now in storage for the next couple weeks. Hopefully it will be a hit at Thanksgiving… but I think I’m going to have to try a bottle beforehand so I don’t potentially offend my guests!


 

I just purchased a Mac Mini, and I’d like to share my initial thoughts. I’m pretty stoked about the purchase, as my other desktop computer has gotten too old to run the newest version of Pro Tools audio software. And that old (2005) Dell computer is just cramping my style in general. Comparatively, the Mac Mini is so small and sleek looking, but let’s really get into the review:

INITIAL START UP TIME:
I made a leap from OS X 10.6 on my laptop to 10.8 on the Mini. Starting up the computer for the very first time took a while. It wasn’t like that with the laptop at all. Maybe the operating system has grown, although one major goal Steve Jobs had was to significantly speed up the start up time. That happened, but now maybe things are starting to go the other way. But whatever, it’s all good. I was just getting antsy about wanting to play with the new computer and had to twiddle my thumbs while it started up.

PROCESSING SPEED:
My first thought is that is seems, well… a little slow. This version of Mac Mini has an I7, 2.7 GHz processor, but maybe some of its speed (or lack thereof) is my imagination. Right off the bat, the internet connection definitely was slow. It didn’t matter if it was a wired connection or a wifi one, pages loaded…….very…..slowly…… Then again, Time Warner’s internet service around here is reliably known for being unreliable.

DESKTOP:
This is a big-time complaint I have, though fixable… I was wondering where the heck the hard drive icon was, which, of course, is normally found on the desktop. Actually, there was NOTHING on the desktop when the computer was first booted up. Maybe it’s because Apple wants to keep things looking completely sleek, but I really need to get into the hard drive and keep all my sound samples and assorted audio files organized. So if you want any type of useful icon to show on the desktop, you have to simultaneously hit CMD + Comma to bring up the Finder Preferences window. From there, you can select to display “Hard disks,” “External disks,” “DVDs,” etc. on the desktop.

GRAPHICS:
The resolution looks sharp, realllll sharp. Seriously, I am blown away by how crisp video looks these days. I love high definition… and that makes me glad I’m not an actor! Taking a photo of a screen doesn’t truly do it justice, but this, at least, gives you an idea of how awesome it looks:


 

SCROLLING:
I hate to potentially turn this into a complaint fest, but there are some weird, quirky things about OS X 10.8 that I just don’t get. You know how you operate a scroll wheel – you scroll “down” (or towards you, rather) to make the page, ya know, scroll down? Well Apple decided to change this up. Now, you scroll up/forward to make a page scroll down. It’s suddenly like “no” meaning “yes” or figuring out which way to push the yoke to gain altitude while flying a plane upside-down.

To be fair, you can go into the “mouse” settings and turn off the “natural scrolling” direction, in favor of the direction you’ve always used.

TEMPERATURE:
Even after some simple operation, the computer case feels hot to the touch. It’s a little disconcerting because heat kills computers and hard drives. Without proper ventilation, the failure rate for electronics climbs right up. If this continues, I might have to keep a small fan pointed at it during processor-heavy operations.

DVD / CD SHARING:
I wish Apple wouldn’t have abandoned the optical drive so soon. DVD sharing is a pretty cool thing, I must say, but it takes some setup and figuring out to get DVD information to transfer from one computer to another. I use an audio program called Reason. During installation for that, I got the first disc to read on the Mac Mini but, unfortunately, the installer wouldn’t register discs #2 and #3 when prompted to put them in. So without having an actual DVD drive for just the Mac Mini, I can’t proceed with installation. I contacted Reason’s manufacturer, and the response was that they’ve seen that issue before and that I’m just going to have to buy a cheap USB optical drive.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
This new Mac is going to take some getting used to. Change is hard, and sometimes we grow complacent (see Nov. 6, 2012). So maybe all these new features and the different layout wouldn’t have seemed so drastic if I would have gone through OS X 10.7 first. I’m sure the computer will end up working out great, though there is still much to do. As for now, I am working on making the operating system as efficient as possible for professional audio use by eliminating the frou-frou things like animated windows and disabling modes like “sleep” and screensavers.

TO COME:
-additional hard drive (via upgrade kit)
-16 GB RAM (official specs put max. at 8 GB, but Other World Computing has determined 16 GB is capable)

CURRENT SPECS:
Apple Mac Mini
Model No.: A1347
Processor: 2.7 GHz i7
Hard Drive: 500 GB, 5400 RPM
RAM: 4 GB total (2x 2 GB sticks)
Ports: HDMI (x1), USB 2.0 (x4), Thunderbolt (x1), FireWire 800 (x1), SD card slot, audio in/out, Ethernet
 

Lots o’ Cables

The government’s intrusion in our lives is crazy. So is the lack of accountability. What I keep seeing, replaying in my mind, are the town hall events in 2009 and 2010. Those were packed with people, citizens, yelling at their representatives “We don’t want this bill!” But it didn’t matter. Congressmen and -women weren’t going to be swayed. They had their minds made up, yet shouldn’t it be the other way around? I always thought the will of the people was the most important thing. Or is it that elected officials truly do believe their constituents are just too stupid or uninformed to have an opinion?

It’s not that people want their neighbors, friends, and family to forgo treatment for their ailments, but rather it’s about government intrusion. It’s about expenses and the government’s willingness to keep putting things on a credit card. I think it’s safe to say that people have grown weary of politicians and promises that they often can’t keep, due to the design of the system.

You couldn’t pay me to vote for President Obama. And I don’t have faith that Mitt Romney is a better choice. So that leaves me voting for parties and candidates that talk about crazy, old school topics like the Constitution, freedom, and NOT policing the world. Those are the people the media paint as kooky, if they even get any coverage at all. Ron Paul is one such person. Whether you like him or not, he’s smart, can make an unconventional argument, and a lot of people like him. But he doesn’t pander so much to people and groups in order to get votes, and he’s not as young and handsome as the candidates the major parties push. Studies have shown that those characteristics truly are important today.

But as for the major concern about accountability, I think it’s important to keep things fresh. I’m pretty sure we all would have benefited if George W. Bush would have been in office four LESS years, and it seems to be a good time now for the incumbent to hand over the reins to someone new. Elected officials should bring a little bit of fear to their jobs, because their boss is an entire nation. What I see today is someone who appears to never have any regrets. I can hear in my head something a la “We took a real shellacking, but at least we got the job done.” It was a “shellacking” because Democrats and the President pushed legislation through that a huge number of constituents fought hard against.

So, in good conscience, I can’t cast a vote for someone who ignores mobs of people screaming that don’t like the direction their government is headed. And at the other end, I really thought Mitt Romney’s unwillingness to do something as simple as release a full tax return would do him in. Since it’s going to come down to either of these folks, I guess what I’m really looking forward to is way on down the road – at the end of “four more years.”