The Journey of the Beard.

March 2nd, 2014

Some would say that growing a beard would be an easy task, but I beg to differ.
Growing a beard is actually quite hard to do. Lots of people do not have the genetics to grow facial hair very fast or possibly even at all.
During my journey I had ran in to many things that set me back or made me think twice about what I was doing. I will explain my mistakes and the troubles I ran in to, to hopefully prevent you from making the same mistakes.

I am not by any means and expert on facial hair growing. My beard as you will see from the photos below make me look like a hobo (most of the time).
The number one hardest thing about growing a beard is actually growing the beard. During this process you will have the urge to trim your beard. DON’T!
During the 1 year and 4 months I have been growing mine I ended up trimming it 4 or 5 times in the early stages and it turned out to be a very bad idea. 9 or 10 months in to the growing of the beard I began to feel real hobo-ish looking. So I started shaving my neck line to about the bottom of my jaw line, not realizing that by doing this I was cutting away most of the thickness of the beard as it grew longer. There was a period about a year in to the growth of the beard that it ended up looking really weird and thin. I thought about just scrapping the beard at that point and starting over, but I decided against that and I began to just let the hair grow and not touch it. It has been about 4 or 5 months now since I stopped trimming at all and now my beard looks much, much fuller.

Now I don’t normally care a whole heck of a lot on how I look which brings me to probably my second and last reason why growing a beard is hard.
Friends, Family and Strangers: If you are unlucky they will nag you about shaving. Telling you that you need to shave every time they see you. It tends not to play well on your psyche and makes you want to do bad things to your beard. Do not listen to them. If you want the beard, let it grow.
When should you shave? After knowing what I do now I would say “Never!” However; you should trim when you feel like you are ready and feel the need to round out the beard around your face.
Now I cannot tell how to do this as I have no experience with this. I actually have my mother who is a hair stylist do this for me when I go in for a haircut. The only thing I can tell you is when you trim your beard, not much comes off. You just remove enough hair to round off the beard to whatever style you are looking for. Oh and also to shorten those strangely long hairs that somehow grow to be 5 inches longer than any of the other hairs on your face.

Why did I begin this journey?
The short and sweet answer is: Nov 2012 – No shave November came and I was 30 years old and I had never grown a full beard before. I decided it was time to give this a try. I had no motivation other than this. Below will be some photos of my journey and you can see what I started with and where I am now with my beard.

The gallery above should be in order from 1 month to 1 year and 4 months.

In the gallery the last photo you will see is Beard Balm. I have recently discovered two items that everyone who wears a beard needs in their lives.
Beard Balm and a Boars Hair Brush. I got my Beard Balm from BeardBalm.us one of the main reason I got it from this website is because it is made in Detroit, MI. I currently reside in Michigan so I felt like I wanted to help out people in my State by buying their products. I was very surprised when I received a handwritten note with my Beard Balm. It was nice to see a company who cared enough to take the time to actually write to a customer.
The last thing I mentioned above was the Boar Hair Bristle Brush. When/if you buy one of these make sure you read the reviews and make sure it is real boar’s hair. I bought one from a company called Bass and it was not real boar’s hair, it was nylon or plastic bristles. It was also kind of hard and if you brush too firmly it can hurt your skin. Find yourself a soft brush and you won’t regret it. The day I got the brush in the mail I went in to the bathroom and started to brush my beard and I was instantly amazed by how well it groomed me. I had less wild hair flaring off of my face and I looked like I actually took care of my beard! This was something I had been trying to achieve ever since I started growing it!
The Beard Balm I have only used twice now, but it is awesome! It keeps your hair in place, but does not make your beard hair all hard and crunchy. It keeps the beard very soft and the wax seems to disappear or soak in to the beard fairly quickly so you do not have a greasy feeling beard. Also it smells really good and I don’t normally like smelly stuff. It sort of smells like freshly cut sawdust to me and I dig that. It completes my lumberjack man look!

That is all I have for now! I will update on this subject as much as I can, so check back!
Keep on growing everyone!

Astrophotography

October 24th, 2013

I am back again like the herpalurpies.
This time I am hoping to bring you a more steady stream of blogging. Probably not super steady, but it should be fun none the less.

So around this time last year I picked up my first DSLR camera and I bought it with the sole purpose of doing Astrophotography. Now for those of you who have no idea what this is. Simply put it is the photographing of the sky. Be it the Sun, Moon, Stars, or even deeper sky objects like Nebula and Galaxies. Well to my surprise this can be a super expensive hobby. So what I think I am going to do with this blog (among other things) is talk about my adventures into jumping in to the field of astrophotography. What I have learned and things I have done. Next weekend I am heading to a Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City called The Headlands. Before I head up I am looking to fabricate up a Barn Door Tracker. This will allow me to track the sky so I can take longer than 20/30 second exposures with my camera with out having any stars start trailing in my photos.

I will take photos and complete a write-up on the tools/hardware used to construct this and I will also include the prices as well.
I have visited many sites and they all offer what I am going to be posting, but hopefully I will have more of an All-in-One stop shop type setup for you guys.
Hopefully this will be a nice blog for the new guys getting into the field. We will basically be learning together and hopefully I can get a small following of people and we can have discussions and toss around ideas and what-not.

I will try and make this as professional as possible, but my grammar is going to be something that some may find unbearable. That being said, if you are still reading this, hold on tight.

So for starters I will go over my current equipment and setup.
I am a Nikon User. The one thing that I dislike about other astro-websites is everyone uses Cannon and swears by it. I feel I have had just as good luck with my Nikon. So that being said, if you own a Nikon body and Nikon lenses, don’t go out and spend money on Cannon.

Camera Body:

  • Nikon D5100 (If I was to buy a camera again I would buy a full-framed sensor camera)
  • Lenses:

  • Nikkor 35MM f/1.8 (My Baby! I love this lens)
  • Nikkor 85MM f/1.8 (I have not used this yet on the stars)
  • Nikkor 18-55MM f/?.? (I like using the 18MM)
  • Rokinon 8MM f/3.5 (I have not used this yet, but I will soon!)
  • Nikkor 70-300MM f/4.5-5.6 (Hoping to use this for deep sky)
  • Optron 500MM f/8 (Cheap-ass lens, I hate it)
  • Tripod: (A good sturdy Tripod is a MUST HAVE!)

  • Manfrotto MK294A3-D3RC2 294 Aluminum Tripod Kit with 3-Way Head
  • So to get you started you really only need a few things.
    Camera Body, Camera Lens (35MM is a cheap and great starting point), Tripod, Dark Skies, Snacks and Drink, and a few hours to kill.

    Setup your camera on your tripod and aim at any stars/constellations your little heart desires.
    Now if you are using the 35MM lens you want to set your shutter for 20 seconds. I have had good luck with a 20 second shutter and had no trailing produced on my star shots.

    What is trailing you ask? The Earth is rotating 465 meters/second so if you are photographing something in the sky for a long period of time you will see the stars start to streak or make trails since the Earth is rotating. There are many options to counter our star photos from having streaks. The easiest way is to use the Rule of 600.
    Take 600 and divide it by your lens focal length (ours is 35MM) 600/35= 17.14. So in reality the longest you really want to expose for is 17 seconds. My Nikon however only offers 10/15/20/30seconds. You could be on the safe side and shoot 15 seconds. I however have done most of mine at 20 seconds and had little to no trailing.

    Back to where we were: So we have the camera on the tripod and we are shooting Orion at 20 seconds. We take a look at the photo and we love it!
    Woohoo! Our first Astrophoto! Really that is pretty much the easy part.

    The next part which I have not dove into yet, but I will be in two weeks is photo stacking.
    So lets say you are shooting Orion and the photo is nice, but is a bit faint. So we would take multiple exposures of Orion and then when we import them on our PC/MAC we would use a program called Deep Sky Stacker (Freeware) and we would stack and align our photos. By doing this it would remove a lot of the grainy/noise from our photos and also make a nice brighter photo.
    More on this to come in the later weeks.

    Now, lets assume you want streaks/trails in your star photos. We could create Startrails! I absolutely love these photos! You can see a couple of mine in the photos below.
    For this you pretty much just set your shutter to 30 seconds (if your in a really light polluted area) and take hours worth of photos of just one spot in the sky. You would then take all of the photos and stack them in Photoshop or this program I like to use called Startrails (Freeware). This program pretty much does all the work for you and fairly quickly.

    Well that is about it for now. I will add more when I do more and learn more!

    I will add in some photos I have currently taken over the past year. This is not all of them, but the ones I find most fascinating (or the ones I like the most).
    Most all of these are taken with my 35MM. The only exception is the shot of the lit of staircase and Orion overhead. I took that with the stock 18-55MM lens the D5100 came with.

    Harbor1 BluSky

    Harbor2 Orion

    PurpSky Startrail1

    Startrail2

    If you would like to see more of my photography/astrophotography you can check out my Flickr Account <—Click.

    Like I said above, I plan to add more about this subject on this blog and hopefully someone will be able to use this as a reference to help them along in this hobby.
    If you have any questions feel free to ask. I am learning this too so I may not be able to help right away, but I can probably find the answers.

    Check back later!

    Week 1 Down.

    July 17th, 2013

    Week one of eating more/better and exercising is complete.
    So before the start of this I took some measurements and this is what we are looking at.

    Weight
    -230lbs

    Waist (Just below my belly button)
    -48 1/2inches

    Hips (Where I wear my jeans/shorts) (I currently wear a size 36 or 34 jean/shorts)
    -41 1/2inches

    Bicep (Both Left and Right)
    -16inches

    During this regiment of exercise and dieting I will be consuming protein and fish oil. I take the fish oil on a regular basis and I hope to take the protein on a regular basis as well.
    Fish Oil – 2000mg
    Protein: Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein: Double Rich Chocolate (23g per scoop)

    So lets get right down to things and I will tell you what I did during the first week:

    WEEK 1:

    Monday 7/8/13
    -Had Semi at work. (This was my daily exercise since the Semi is pretty intense work)
    -Pulled Pork for lunch/dinner.
    -Consumed Water the entire day.

    Tuesday 7/9/13
    -Taco Bell for breakfast. (3 HS Tacos + Side of Nachos + Large Dr. Pepper)
    -Pulled Pork for lunch/dinner.
    -Protein Shake. (46g)
    -Elliptical. (30mins 0.98miles 314calories burned)
    -Worked my arms on the Tower 200.

    Wednesday 7/10/13
    -(2) Bowls of cereal for breakfast.
    -(1) Bowl of cereal for break.
    -Elliptical. (30mins 1.04miles 387calories burned)
    -Protein Shake. (46g)
    -Pulled Pork for dinner.
    -Consumed nothing but water/tea.

    Thursday 7/11/13
    -(1) Bowl of cereal + 2 Bagels w/ cream cheese for breakfast.
    -(1) Bowl of cereal on first break.
    -(1) Bowl of cereal on lunch break.
    -Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwich for dinner.
    -Elliptical. (30mins 1.04miles 345calories burned)
    -Worked my arms on the Tower 200.
    -Protein Shake. (23g)
    -Consumed only water.

    Friday 7/12/13
    -Roasted Chicken on Mashed Potatoes w/ Gravy for breakfast.
    -Drank Snapple and water.
    -Salad w/ ranch dressing.
    -Hungry Howies Pizza.
    -Consumed nothing but water.

    Saturday 7/13/13
    -Ate leftover pizza.
    -Nature Hike. (2miles)
    -Burger King. (Double cheese burger and fries)
    -Consumed soda and water.

    Sunday 7/14/13
    -Grapes.
    -Grilled cheese sandwich.
    -Consumed only water.

    Current Weight: 225lbs
    Total Lost for Week 1: 5lbs

    As you can tell I work the night shift so I eat weird things at weird times.
    I also usually do not eat much of anything during the day which is why I believe I am fat. I think whatever it is I do eat gets stored in my body as fat because I don’t eat regularly.
    As you can see on Sunday and you will see this coming Mon/Tues/Wed I will not have much on my list for food.
    I am sometimes just not hungry, so I have been trying to force myself to eat breakfast and at least lunch.

    Not bad for the first week. I don’t feel different or look different yet, but hopefully soon I will.
    Stay Tuned!

    Look who’s back.

    July 9th, 2013

    Well it is July 9th 2013 and I have not written anything on my blog in quite some time.
    I am in the process of changing my habits, my goals, and my life. I have been getting fat and increasingly sick as the years/months go by.
    I think a lot of it might be due to my unhealthy lifestyle.
    So, before I jump into what I hope to do with this blog I would like to tell ya’ll what I have been up to.

    Last Nov. (2012) no shave November was on the calender. So I participated and I am still in the process of participating.
    This is me 6 days into No Shave November.
    6daysInNov
    This is me April 16th 2013 (5 Months)
    April16

    Still growing it out as I type this, but I currently do not have a good updated photo.

    I am still somewhat doing photography. It has been a pretty bad summer so far. I have not really had time to go out because my job has had me working pretty much every weekend.
    Also this year the Ticks and Mosquito’s are super bad so you cannot really stay out too long at night without getting all eaten up.

    Well onto the future of the Blog.
    I am going to attempt to do what I was going to do last year with this blog and track/record my workout / fitness progress.
    I am not sure what all it will contain. I do not feel like I need to calorie count. I think if I just eat well and eat like a normal person does I will be doing just fine.
    When I say normal person I mean someone who actually eats more than once a day. The shift I work really messes with my body and I typically only eat once a day and that is at night during work.
    Then the rest of the day I don’t eat anything and I think this is causing me to store absolutely everything as fat in my body.

    I will try and update the Blog every Monday and talk about the previous week and all my gains and losses.
    I look forward to a newer healthier me. I really need to shape up or I foresee some bad thing happening to me in my future.

    Stay Tuned!

    Night Photography Fun.

    September 15th, 2012

    So last weekend I went out with a few of my friends and we all took some attempts at night photography. We had a pretty damn good time and I enjoyed myself.
    We started out at this abandoned factory building. So some of my shots are not all night shots.
    I took most of these shots in 3 exposures (-2, 0, +2) and attempted to create some HDR Photos. I feel these all turned out pretty well, all except for my sky shot.
    The only reason the sky shot did not turn out so great though was because the clouds were moving and in the 3 exposures taken the clouds ended up being in different spots.
    I will post of those photos from 9/8/12 at the end of this post.

    Today a few of my friends and I are heading out to try and attempt at some more day/night shots. I think we are going out on a “nature” photography hunt.
    So we will see how well this goes and it should be interesting.

    Anyways! On to the Photos!

    These few photos are my attempts at HDR Photography:


    These are a few photos of the Canadian Side of the St. Clair River:


    Couple shots of the Blue Water Bridge (Port Huron, MI):

    Photography of a UFO!

    Random Photos I thought turned out great:

    Light Streak (Long Exposures) and Moon Jars:

    Well that is pretty much everything! Hope you enjoyed!

    Astrophotography

    September 1st, 2012

    Oh man! 3 posts in one week!
    So last night Aug 31st was the second full Moon August had. It was called “Blue Moon”.
    In honor of this I went out and I attempted to get footage of the Moon to share on the web with my friends and family.

    Well since I am pretty new with Photography I can say that my shots were not award winning photos.
    I did however manage to get a few decent photos. I also ended up getting a video of the Moon as well. It was very shaky but it got commented on and “liked” quite a bit on my Facebook so it made me very happy.

    First off before we get to the photos the smaller shots of the Moon were taken with my Nikon D5100 with a 70-300mm Lens (4.5-5.6 aperture) all the shots were done at 300mm.
    I also have a manual 6inch Orion Telescope (4ft tall weights about 70lbs) I hooked my Nikon D5100 up to this and took a few photos along with a video of the Moon.
    The biggest problem I had was keeping the Telescope steady. Since it was not on any kind of tripod it was very hard keeping the telescope still and from moving around on me. You will notice in the video it is very very shaky. Even my photos are a tad blurred because of this. I am working on a way to remedy this though for next time.

    On to the photos!

    All these photos were taken with the Nikon + 70-300mm Lens
    This first shot is my favorite.

    These next shots were taken with the Nikon + 6″ Orion Telescope:

    Finally here is a video I made using the Nikon + 6″ Orion Telescope. (Note it is very very shaky and jumpy. Still pretty darn cool though)

    Enjoy!

    HDR Photography Attempts.

    August 31st, 2012

    So here are a couple of attempts in HDR Photography I have done.
    What is HDR Photography? It’s when you take 3 identical photos but in different exposures and then you mesh the 3 photos together and create most of the time a cool looking image.
    Here are a few of my attempts.

    Original File:

    HDR Version:

    Original File:

    HDR Version”

    Original File:

    HDR Version:

    Original File:

    HDR Version 1:

    HDR Version 2:

    Let me know what you think.

    Hectic Life – Run, Run, STOP!

    August 31st, 2012

    Been a while. It’s always been a while since I last posted.
    Diet thing is pretty much off the table as of right now. I got too much going on to try and keep track of what I am eating and what I am doing.
    Not sure if I mentioned this in any other posts, but I started going to College. I am attending WGU and its and all online college.
    I am liking it so far, but the downside is my life is so hectic right now that I don’t have time to do anything in the class. So I am pretty far behind.

    Why is my life hectic right now? I guess it’s not too bad and it’s not too abnormal from what happens most everyday. My boss at my job ended up leaving and I am left with myself and my brother to do a job that in all honesty should be done by at least 4 people. I have to let that go though because I doubt I will ever see more than 2 full time people working this job. Then you have to add in the position above me which “was” filled by my boss who left the company. His job consists of other things, but one of them jobs was working with the crew (me) to help get things done. So my brother and I are working a job that should require 4 people and we are doing it with 2. That’s where the hectic-ness comes in to play.. I always feel like we are scrambling to get things done on certain days. I really don’t like that feeling so I will be very happy when things come back to normal.

    I also realize I am sitting at an impasse with myself about my life and what direction I want to go in. It’s nothing new to me, I have always been stuck here trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. What is going to make me “happy”?
    I am going to college, but am I going for the right reasons? Sometimes I feel like I am going just to get a degree to make other people happy. Everyone says this is something I should do because I am “smart” and I should not waste my life and intelligence on “junk jobs”. (I am using tons of quotes in this and honestly I don’t even know if they are needed LMAO!)
    I really don’t know if I want to work in the computer industry or not. I am for the most part happy with my life how it is. I wish I was making more money and I wish I was living on my own.

    I decided today that I was going to apply for that job that just opened up above my job. I would like to become the new boss of the facility. I think I would be happy with this job. I would make more money and it possibly would be enough for me to continue what I am doing and move out on my own. Well it’s really not that I cannot move out on my own now. I could not move out on my own and continue to pay off my debt is what it is right now.
    So I guess we will see in a month or two what ends up happening with all this. I should probably begin prepping for a job interview. Figure out what I am going to say and try to guess what might be asked. I am hoping my LGM since he is conducting the interviews will give me a few tips on what I should work on.
    I think if I land this job I am going to celebrate by moving out lmao. Well depending on the salary anyways. I am still kind of thinking they don’t make a whole lot more than I do currently.

    So yeah.. In other news I picked myself up a Nikon DSLR D5100. I am going to eventually try to get into Astrophotography. I will probably start out just doing Star Trails and what not. I don’t really have 2G’s to drop on a motorized Telescope at the minute. I do however have a 6″ Orion Telescope my grandfather let me borrow for the time being. It’s a stationary telescope, so I will only be able to get shots of the Moon and possibly some planets. I am also into Light Trails which are pretty much light streaks created by traffic on the road when you use a long exposure on your camera. I will probably add my photos to this blog for a place to store them so anyone interested can view them whenever. I have attempted to do a few HDR photo’s but they came out pretty crappy lol! I need to learn to use Photoshop. It is actually quite sad Photoshop has been around for years and I think I have only tried to use it once to twice.
    Well.. That’s all folks! It’s Friday! Have a good weekend!

    2 Weeks In.

    July 7th, 2012

    Well we are about two weeks in on the journey to healthier eating.
    So far, so good. I have been mostly eating salads and fruits for snacks and/or dinners. I gotta admit it is actually pretty rough. The first week was bad due to the fact it felt like I could never be full. I think my body went into starvation mode though so I am going to have to take a look at eating small snacks more through out the day. I actually gained 10lbs in these two weeks. I am up to 230lbs right now and I feel like shit (mentally).

    So starting this Monday we will continue to eat the same way I have been the last two week, but add smaller meals through out the day.
    I am also going to try and add in a 45min elliptical run once a day and every other day hop on the Tower 200 and do some resistance exercises.
    I thought I did not care about my appearance, but someone said something to me the other day and I think it was the first time I ever had/let someone hurt my feelings. They did not really say anything at me about my weight, but it was a remark that had to do with me and it got me thinking.
    Today I was looking in the mirror and I felt quite awful about the way I look.
    Kind of dumb how we let stupid things like this get to us.

    Well let’s end this here. Lets see how this next week goes.

    Thoughts and Motivation.. Mostly Thoughts…

    June 25th, 2012

    Most people can always find something they dislike about themselves. I don’t really think anyone is every really happy about everything they have been born with in life. Most of the time it is the way a person feels like they look to the outside world. No matter how much our loved ones tell us we look beautiful/handsome we never believe them, but always thank them for the compliment. It really is quite sad.

    I think my generation has it quite bad in the terms of feeling unattractive in the perspective of others.
    The world has changed quite a bit since my parents generation. Back then you always had attractive people in Hollywood, but nothing to the extent that you see in today’s generation. You rarely see people in movies or on TV today that don’t have 6 pack abs, beautiful white teeth (unless it’s a British show), and a pretty cut looking body.

    It’s rough for a guy to try and feel like he can compete in a world where expectations that all “attractive” men should have some if not all of these features.
    They actually say females have it worse and I would agree 100%. Females have so many more body parts/features that have to look a certain standard to be accepted in the perspective of our eyes.

    While these “Hollywood Expectations” may not be true or even real other then in our own minds. It still makes one think more than once before asking a person out or going to the beach and showing a little bit of skin (or going to the beach at all for that matter).

    What really stinks and does not help any of us with our weight issues is the affordability of crappy food over good food. With so many people jobless, under paid, over worked, or just not enough money to get by in life. Why would you spend so much money trying to eat healthy when you could buy a cheeseburger for $1?
    I know common sense tells you, its better for you to eat better and stay healthy but again life and the perspective of the way people are supposed to live tells us to save what money we can so we can spend it on useless/material things we can’t even afford to impress people we don’t even like.

    I am not one to try to impress people but I sure like to save my cash to buy myself things I want. So eating the dollar menu rocks my world! Also eating fast food and pizza is super convenient. In this world where we have no time or feel like we don’t have time it becomes super easy to just eat already prepared food.
    Working 40+ hours a week and doing 16 credit hours in College you have no time for food and sleep and you have no money. So grabbing that dollar menu is an easy simple choice.

    I am about to take a journey to drop from 219.5lbs down to 180lbs. I said I was going to do this back in Jan/Feb and I started but then stopped.
    I feel like I have gotten to fat and I feel my belly sticks out to far. I looked at myself in the mirror the other day before taking a shower and I was sort of disgusted at what I have let myself turn into.

    Steps I am taking:
    1.) Stop eating Pizza.
    – I currently eat pizza 2 to 3 times a week.
    2.) Start walking again.
    – I am a lazy ass. I never do anything other than watch TV or play on the PC.
    3.) Eat better.
    – No pizza for a while, sticking with Chicken, Meats, and Greens.

    For now these will be the only steps I will be taking to be healthy and active. I will be adding more to the last 2 steps later when it has become more routine to me.

    The routine I am going to try and get myself into will look something like this:
    Get home from work -
    Homework -
    Workout – (Tower 200 and/or Elliptical)
    Eating Food -
    Guitar Practice -

    On another note. I ended up getting myself my first Guitar. Fender T-Bucket 300CE (Acoustic).
    My goal is to put in at least 1 hour a day on this thing. It is something I have wanted to learn for a long time and I really hope it works out well.
    The guitar is beautiful looking too.

    Here is myself getting to know the new guitar.

    I just had another thought a second ago. I never mentioned on my blog that I dig music. I actually have been trying to create/produce music.
    My ultimate goal would be to become some sort of Producer/Artist. I should start blogging about what I have been up to and links to my songs on SoundCloud.

    Well I think we will end this here. I will do my best to keep the world informed on my progress. As always though, I say I will try to do these things and I never do. Lets hope we can over come this laziness.

    Until next time……