Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Google Me

Although I've googled myself before, I've never quite taken the opportunity to find out everything there is to know about Emily Chastain. So here goes: (some of these are pretty funny)

1. I won third place for "Rhythm Army" in the preteen line division of the 2005 St. Charles Missouri results.

2. I wrote a fantastic testimonial about the superior yoga teacher training I received from the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga. That must mean I'm also now a yoga teacher. Click here to read it.

3. I am one of the "Beautiful People of Town Hall." Click here to find my picture.

4. I am the news editor at Genesis, a magazine at Elkhart Memorial High School which has apparently garnered some controversy after printing an article about Valentine's Day for lesbian couples and an opinion piece calling for the legalization of marijuana.

5. I am the contact person to call when ordering the 18th edition of the bookContraceptive Technology from the website

6. I am a staff writer for Purdue's newspaper, The Exponent.

7. I am one of 700,000 people connected with European royalty.

8. I enjoyed the recent field season in the high Andes of Chile, thanks to the Mineral Deposit Research Unit.

9. I am an 8th-grader in the Challenge Program at Millstadt Consolidated School, which prompted me to present my findings on a local one-room school house at the Millstadt Historical Society meeting.

10. I was an amateur competitor in the Atlanta Open, a ballroom dancing competition. Ha!! Unfortunately, I don't appear to have won anything. Big surprise.

I have NOT, according to Google, ever created this blog, although my name shows up as being in one of Lori's blogs. Go figure. How'd ya do that, Lori?

There are a few true things about me on Google, but I find the untrue ones to be much more fun. I encourage all of you to Google yourself, and find out who you might have been.


Here's a random photo (a for real one, not a googled one!) of my bro and me. I got my underwater camera film developed (finally) from the cruise a few weeks ago. This is us snorkling in the crystal clear waters off the coast of Cozumel.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

At the Pool

I've been working on a photo essay for the paper called "Pool Daze." Here's a preview of a few of the images.

Originally uploaded by emster214.
A silhouette goes sliding down the tube at the Westover pool in Harrisonburg, VA.

Originally uploaded by emster214.
Maggie, 1, gives the camera a cute baby face while perched at the edge of the kiddie pool.

Originally uploaded by emster214.
A pair of feet emerge from the end of a long tube slide at the Westover pool in Harrisonburg, VA. Please tell me how much you like this photo because I really do. :-)

Internship Woes

Since I now have an internet connection to my computer WOO-HOO! here are (play-by-play) my first three days of the internship experience for your reading pleasure. It's a bit long, but hey, I haven't been posting too much lately. More to come...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My first day of the internship. I arrive as scheduled at 9:15 and ask the receptionist for Pete, my new boss. She calls him to let him know I'm here, and five minutes later, he saunters downstairs to retrieve me. He's younger than I expected, but not young enough to seem unqualified. I peg him around 45. We walk upstairs into the tiny newsroom, where everyone glances up expectantly as I enter. Everyone is a little more well-dressed than I anticipated, and I feel glad I didn't wear something casual. After a few introductions, we make our way to the back of the building: the photo dept. Photo gets its own (small) room, equipped with two Mac computers I'm pleased to see. I meet the staff. Mike is a considerably older man with a friendly nature and many tales of experience. He has been there for 30 years. Holly is young, 24, just two years out of college herself. Nikki is a little older, but not much, and has only been working there a few months. And that's the staff, two older guys and two younger girls, a strange split for a photo department. Pete and I go over a few basic questions such as job responsibilities and workflow. It is apparent that I won't be sitting around getting people's coffee, something I'm quite happy not to do. We take a tour of the building, including the press where they print the paper. I've never seen an actual press before, and the smell of newsprint is strangely appealing. We chit-chat until about noon when Pete takes me out to lunch at one of the local hangouts. (“Hell, we're not paying you so we might as well buy your lunch.”) I munch on a chicken cordon bleu sandwich while Pete flirts with the (young!) waitress and discusses a late evening spent drinking at the very place in which I sit. And while you might be thinking the drunken debauchery must have occurred many moons ago in his younger years, no. It was last night.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I arrive at work around 12:00, where I make small talk with the other photographers until 12:30 when I leave with Holly to shoot the gubernatorial candidate of Virginia, Jerry Kilgore, as he makes a short “fly-by” campaign appearance at the local airport. (Anytime I use “shoot” in this narrative I mean “photograph,” just to clarify.) Kilgore is supposed to miraculously appear from the runway at 1:00. 1:30 rolls around and we're still waiting. He comes eventually, and we do our thing, bringing the photos back to the office around 3:00. Thus begins the long process of loading them into the computer, and putting them, properly toned, in the correct folders with accurate captions. There are so many steps I wonder how I'll ever remember them all, and thank God that Holly's very nice and willing to help me. We'll see how long her patience lasts. I leave at 4:30 with directions to find the baseball game that evening where I've been assigned: “You know, just feature-y stuff. Not actual baseball, but everything else going on.”


It's fun, I guess, talking to people I've never met and can barely understand due to their small-town accent and loyal-ball-fan lingo. (How am I to know that CH stands for Clover Hill, a local baseball team? I plead “new girl,” a viable defense to many a misdemeanor around here.) I grudgingly concede to have my picture taken by a wiry man with large glasses in exchange for the extreme privilege of taking his. Hmmm, I wonder where that'll end up?

A photo I took from the ball game.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I knew I would have a moment of intern stupidly. What I didn't know is that it would come so soon.

I'm sitting in the photo office, by myself, because everyone else has either not come in yet or is gone off on assignment. One of the reporters rushes in.

“Uh... Where's Holly?”

“She's gone shooting something,” I offer helpfully.

“What about Mike?”

“He doesn't get here until 11:00.” Another helpful smile.

A pause.

“Well there's a big barn fire and you're going to have to go shoot it.”

Ahh! Panic! I try to control my facial muscles but my poker face has never been very good.

“Ummm... okay, where do I go?”

If I had been that reporter, common sense at this point would tell me to send the new photo intern out with another seasoned employee who knew the area and could get to the fire quickly. But no. I am sent with the new journalism intern, a girl who has been in Harrisonburg perhaps a week longer than I.

After a few wrong turns (she's driving), we spot a trail of smoke high enough to guide us to the fire. As we approach, I see the largest fire of my entire life. It's a gigantic barn, completely engulfed in flames. It's so big the firefighters stand back and watch it burn.

Then I feel a deep weight in my stomach as a small piece of recollection flitters up through my brain. The memory card to my camera is sitting back at the office in the computer, right where I left it. Now, for you non-digital-savvy people, this is the equivalent of forgetting every roll of film you've ever owned. That's never a good thing.

I explain the situation to the other intern, and she offers to drive me back to the office. No good. By the time we drive the round trip, the barn will have completely collapsed and plus, she still has a story to write. So I call Holly on her cell phone, begging her to please come bail me out. Which she does, 15 minutes later. Wooo-hoo! Crisis averted.

But the sickening part that sticks with me? I am standing maybe 50 feet from the greatest fire I've ever seen not on a television screen, grasping my camera, peering through the viewfinder, visualizing exactly how wonderful my pictures could be, but I have NO WAY TO SHOOT IT!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

william stringfellow
Originally uploaded by emster214.
Okay, just a short post until my computer gets back up and running with Internet access. It's not fun borrowing people's computers all the time. I started my internship last Wednesday, and so far, its been going well. I'll post more info on that last. Anyway, this guy was at an assignment I had to shoot on an old restaurant celebrating its 50th anniversary. The conversation we had went something like this.
Me: Would it be ok if I took a picture of you?
Him: Oh, I'll just break your camera.
Me: My camera's withstood worse battles, trust me. Can I ask how old are you?
Him: You wouldn't believe me if I told you.
Me: Try me.
Him: 87
Me: You're right. You look too good to be 87.
Him: That's what they tell me.

What a great old man. And what a great old face.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Back Again...

I'm back, safe and sound, from this weekend's family reunion. I had a few pleasant surprises awaiting me, including my two new lenses (yay!) and the news that my skin biopsy was not cancerous (another yay!). Just some weird skin thing that confused my dermatologist.

The reunion this weekend was nice. My mom's side of the family is a bit more exciting than my dad's - not to mention much, much, much LARGER. About 30 relatives came, and we stayed in two cabins at a campground in Ohio called Top O' the Caves. While the sleeping accomodations left a little to be desired (tiny double beds with campfire scented sheets), the rest of the cabin was pretty nice. It's always so interesting to me to see how different all of the families can be coming from the same set of parents (my grandma and grandpa). My grandparents are Mennonites, a religion with values and a lifestyle vaguely akin to the Amish, but not nearly as strict. They raised seven children on a farm in Pennsylvania, and taught them all the importance of God and hard work. Now, within the seven kids and their families, we unite with everything from Mennonites to Baptists to non-denominational worshippers everywhere from Ohio to Pennsylvania to Tennessee. So it's fun when we all get together to watch the interactions. And not always just fun, but funny as well. For example, the other major group sharing the campground with us this was a huge Harley motorcycle gang. Mennonites and bikers, now that's a interesting combination.

The area around the park/campground was just beautiful. We hiked nearly all day Saturday, and I saw at least 3 waterfalls and probably almost as many caves. I'll have those pictures to share with you soon, hopefully. Don't be misled though: the waterfall pictures on this post are from the previous trip I took last week. (Yes, yes, confusing I know, but I'm done with all this vacationing now I promise.) I'm sore, not only from the hiking, but from the air hockey as well. Add up the total number of times I've played in my life and it still doesn't quite equal the number of games I played this weekend. To give you an idea, I used nearly an entire roll of quarters (at 50 cents a game) and I only paid for half. If only my skill had increased at the rate my quarters decreased...

Now, for the last installment of the cruise trip photos:

Tullis-Toledano Manor
Originally uploaded by emster214.
This is a view from the stairs of an old historical manor built in 1856 in Biloxi, Mississippi. It was given as a wedding present to this girl by her husband... a nice gift I suppose, but I wouldn't want it. The only stairs up to the second floor were outside of the house!

Originally uploaded by emster214.
We passed this South Carolina waterfall on our way back to Tennessee. I was driving, so with driver's privilege I stopped the car and shot some photos. One of the only perks of driving with my family...

waterfall close-up
Originally uploaded by emster214.
The same waterfall, but a slightly different shot. I had no tripod with me, so it was quite a challenge to hand-hold the camera for the long exposures I needed.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Few More... Then I'm Off Again

Originally uploaded by emster214.
Well I have just a few more photos to share with you before I have to finish packing. We leave (again) tomorrow for a family reunion in Ohio with my mom's side of the family.

Anyway, this is a photo of Cozumel's coastline.

Originally uploaded by emster214.
A stack of Mexican blankets and hats outside a vendor's shop in Cozumel.

Originally uploaded by emster214.
My great-uncle, a WWII veteran, is buried in the Biloxi National Cemetery in Mississippi. When we visited my grandparents on the way to board the cruise ship in Mobile. we also got to spend a few days on the Gulf Coast. Uncle Ed died about 10 years ago of lung cancer, and this was the first time I'd ever actually seen his grave. I'll have more pictures from Mississippi when I get back next week.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Photos in Progress

Originally uploaded by emster214.
Alright, well I set up a Flikr account to post my pics that way. So I'll be giving you a little photo scrapbook of my trip over the next few days if you can bear with me as I get my act together. I spotted these motorcycles leaning against the sides of old buildings through the metal gate I passed in Cozumel. You can click on the photos for an enlarged view.

ISO 200 f/22 at 1/45

Originally uploaded by emster214.
This was a doorway I walked past while ambling through the streets of Cozumel. I'm a fan of the colors and the texture. That was one of the best things about Mexico, for me. All of the color.

ISO 100 f/16 at 1/45

Originally uploaded by emster214.
This pair of dancers put on quite a show at the restaurant in Cozumel where we ate lunch. This guy is the same dude who dragged me out to "dance" with him. Those quote marks around "dance" are purposeful, mind you. (See previous post.)

ISO 800 f/13 at 1/45

Originally uploaded by emster214.
I like the photo, I think, but I would like it a lot better if the wooden handrail didn't cut through the center. It is just me or does it bother anyone else?

ISO800 f/8 at 1/45


Well I'm back from vacation. Now it's all about recovering from it. Ideally, vacations are a stress-free, relaxation-filled enjoyable time where you get to do nothing but what you want. Realistically, vacations are not always what they're cracked up to be. There was nothing wrong with my vacation, per se, but not everything was right either. As my mom said earlier this evening, we have just forgotten how to have fun as a family. I agree. We can't seem to get past the silly petty stuff that doesn't matter and just appreciate each other's company. I think it stems a bit from the fact that my dad's a little uptight, and if he can't control the situation he can't enjoy it. And if dad doesn't enjoy it, nobody enjoys it.

Anyway, it certainly had its good parts and high points, fun moments and intriguing sights, pleasurable conversations and playful banter. I am thankful to have a family, period, with whom I can take a vacation. Here are a few observations and conclusions I came to after returning home:

1. I can't dance any better in Mexico than I can in the U.S.

At the restaurant we ate lunch at in Cozumel, there were two Mexican dancers shakin' down some pretty wicked moves on the dance floor. Of course, to foster Mexican-American relations and get bigger tips, they dragged a few diners out to participate. So suddenly I found myself literally yanked from my seat by a tall, sweaty mariachi man and being pulled around the dance floor. I emphasize the word pulled here. There were no graceful moves on my part, just a little foot-shuffle in a desperate attempt to keep up. I wish to God someone had made me dance as a little kid and things would be considerably less painful in my adult life. Ah once again I am forced to blame my parents for this.

2. I have a Band-Aid tan.

No matter how see-through translucent waterproof Band-Aids are, they are not see-through by Mr. Sunshine. My skin browned evenly, save for the distinct white portion of my leg where I wore a Band-Aid all week to hide my ugly stitch (which came out today, by the way.)

3. My father will always comment on my driving skills no matter how many years I've been driving or no matter how asleep he appears to be.

It is the most frustrating thing to drive a car with my dad in it.

4. The rocking sensation you feel while on a cruise ship still lasts a good 36 hours after you hit dry land.

I swear if I get up suddenly from my chair or stand to wash my hands at the sink it feels like the house might pitch over at any given second.

5. Ping-pong is not the best sport to play aboard a sea-faring vessel.

Why they had ping-pong on the deck of a cruise ship is beyond me, but 15 games later I am reigning champion. Just let me gloat a minute before you tell me that beating my younger brother doesn't necessarily make me good. By the way, the Gulf of Mexico has officially eaten 4 ping-pong balls. (I can only imagine how hungry it got when the 6 year-olds played.)

6. The only gratifying thing about spending 12 hours in the car with all four members of my family is that now it's my parents who have to stop every hour for a bathroom break.

When I was young, my dad would hand my brother an empty Gatorade bottle on roadtrips because as soon as we'd pull away from a reststop he already had to pee again. Now, I can't help but realize how closely lemon-lime Gatorade resembles urine...

7. I will never enjoy an alcoholic beverage in the presence of my parents.

Oh, it's no big deal for them to have a glass of wine, but apparently 22 is still way under the legal drinking age of our household. I sure would have liked to sip a pink umbrella drink while roasting on the sun deck, but no... maybe next year.

Well, hope I was able to create some vague picture of my vacation. I'll provide a few more details tomorrow, but for tonight, I'm spent. I was going to post some pics as a teaser of more to come, but for some reason I couldn't get it to work. So I'll have to save those for tomorrow as well.

Do you remember any amusing vacation stories from your family? I'd love to hear 'em.