Back to School

Very early in life I decided that receiving a higher education was not an option; it was something that must happen.

After high school I enrolled in our local community college here in Cleveland, TN. Cleveland State Community College was an economically responsible choice because while I wanted a degree I really wasn’t at the maturity level to waste my parents money and travel off to a University like the university of Tennessee.

After starting but not completing my associates degree at Cleveland State I joined the U.S. Navy, which delayed my degree completion. I did however take several college classes that were offered through the Navy and at the end of my 8 years I had earned around 40 or so semester hours and that did not include the military schools that possibly counted as college credits.

In 2008, as a part of my job, I was assigned to a local elementary school and their School Resource Officer.  Working with highly educated teachers inspired me to go back to school so I enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  That lasted a couple of years and after an unsuccessful semester I stopped going.

It is now 2011 and I am enrolled as a full-time student at Bryan College.  Bryan has a Bachelors Degree completion program which in my opinion is great.  I attend class on Monday nights for 14 months.  At the end of the 14 months I should have enough credits to graduate with my Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management.

So far the classes have been fairly manageable.  They are by no means easy though.  There is no traditional testing but instead we write a lot of essays on what we think about certain topics that we read and talk about.  The accreditation body, Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS), requires these essays in lieu of testing.

For the adult student who wants to finish their degree I would highly recommend a school similar to Bryan College.  The groups are small, the work is manageable but more importantly, the work and topics taught in class are practical and useful.  There is no reason why you shouldn’t do it.

Here are a couple of tips though for picking a college:

1. Ensure the school is accredited by a reputable accrediting body, not some fly-by-night agency.

2. Check prices.  Some degree completion courses can cost upwards of 20k (which is too much in my opinion).

3. Get references. With the ability to ask questions, to literally thousands of people, on FaceBook and twitter there is no excuse for not asking your friends about experiences with certain colleges that you are looking in to.

4. Will they provide books with your tuition or will you have to provide them at an additional cost?

5. If you are eligible for the Montgomery G.I. Bill, can you use it at the school you are choosing?

In closing, go back to school.  Even if you don’t go back to finish a degree I still recommend going back to school.  We are never too old to stop learning and I promise, it will be worth it and you will grow as a person.

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Delivery Room Video *Update*


I posted the above link a couple of nights ago while my girlfriend was in the delivery room about to deliver our sweet little girl Eliot. I was sitting there wishing that more people could join us. I wanted to record the whole thing but I knew no one would want to watch it afterwards and then it hit me, I had a ustream broadcast app on my Mac. So I fired up the app and started broadcasting. During those “private” moments I would close the lid of the laptop so that no one could see anything they shouldn’t see and during the actual birth I closed the lid but allowed the audio to continue streaming.

I tried to play commentary as much as possible and keep everyone updated. It was much easier doing it that way then having to send out a million individual text messages. In the end I think it was a huge success and have gotten a lot of positive feedback. Everyone who was watching at the time of birth got to hear Eliot’s first cry.

To my knowledge, no one else in my little town has done anything of the like. So I would like to think I was the first to broadcast a live birth over ustream from Cleveland, TN.

Note: I did not violate any hospital policy which prevents video and stills to be taken during the birth since I turned the camera away and simply allow the audio to stream.

Thank you to everyone who was able to share such a sweet moment with us. Eliot is very healthy and so far she seems as happy as a two day old can be.

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Today is the Day

Today will be the day that little Eliot enters the world.



Yesterday was Annie’s due date but due to the poor weather conditions the doctors office was closed.  We contacted the doctors office today and they told us to come in.  Had it not been for a little bit of high blood pressure they probably would have sent her home.  As I type I am sitting in an uncomfortable hospital room chair waiting on the Dr. to come in and break her water….more later

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The Jetton Family

A message to my fellow law enforcement and sailor friends:

Sheila Jetton is a friend and co-worker of mine.  She is a police officer with the Chattanooga Police Department and she is also a Second Class Petty Officer in the Navy Reserves.  The below email was written by our Navy Ombudsman and gives more details then I ever could.

“Sheila Jetton is a member of NOSC Chattanooga.  She is also a proud mother to a beautiful baby girl named Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was born  on Dec 30th, 2009.   She has been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary interstitial glycogenosis, abnornal lung growth, failure to thrive, global developmental delays, inominiate artery syndrome, and a neuronal migration disorder.  While Elizabeth lives with her mom and dad in Chattanooga, they are currently in Tx at a children’s hospital waiting and hoping for a lung transplant.   Elizabeth is about the happiest baby you could ever hope to meet, and she doesn’t let her fierce battle against these life threatening conditions break her smile at all.  She just  celebrated her first birthday, and with our help, and God’s help, she can celebrate many more!
As you can imagine, this family is facing tremendous odds right now.  On top of medical expenses, there are the travel expenses to and from hospitals, some hospitals being hundreds of miles away from where the family lives.  There are also the normal day to day living expenses that we all incur.
There are several ways you can help this family, the most important being to lift them up in prayer.  Other ways you can help them are: donate to any SunTrust Bank, under the Elizabeth Jetton Trust.  There are also several fundraisers for Elizabeth coming up.  The one this week will be held Thurs, Jan 6th, at 6pm at Middle Valley Church Of God.  It’s 5 dollars per person, and that will include a spaghetti dinner, along with dessert.  There will also be a silent auction held at the dinner.  As I get more information on future fundraisers for Elizabeth I will pass them along.  Below are links to Elizabeth’s Caringbridge website, and a link to an interview on Channel 3 WRCB, which featured a story on little Elizabeth and her brave battle.”

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My Five Favorite Fotogs of 2010

If you see me out I typically have a camera in my hands and if I don’t it’s not very far away.  I keep my Nikon D300 pretty close at all times, even at work since I never know when I might need to photograph some evidence or something like that.  Having a camera nearby usually elicits photography conversation and I usually ask the other photographer who they follow or which blogs they read.  The vast majority of the local photographers that I associate with don’t seem to read or follow anyone else’s stuff.  That’s kind of surprising to me actually.  Matt Baxter is the exception.  He and I follow the same people for the most part.

Over the last few years I have been religiously following a few different professional photographers.  I like these guys because not only are they amazing photographers but they also have the “heart of a teacher” (Dave Ramsey quote) and want to share what they have learned.  So here is my top five list in no particular order.

1. Joe McNally :

Joe has been shooting for well over 20 years and has been coined the Master of Flash.  Every image of his tells a story but to hear Joe actually tell the story makes it even better.  He is not shy in front of a video camera and he explains things very well.  I’ve been able to locate a fair amount of interviews on youtube but the best place to learn about Joe is on his blog at

2. Zack Arias :

Mr. Zack Arias.  How do I explain why I like him….  I think I like and follow Zack more because of his candid, un-politically correct attitude toward the craft of photography.  Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing photographer, but his candidness is great too and lends itself well to the community.  I see Zack as being the type of guy that really has to work at being a creative.  Here’s just a little personal story I have about the Arias family.  Zack had a “Black Friday” special on his OneLite DVD back last month.  It was so good that I couldn’t pass it up and was one of the first ones to hit the purchase button.  When I got my DVD and tried to play it there was something messed up with the audio.  I contacted his wife Meghan and was rushed a new DVD with a nice little note inside.  Their customer service is wonderful and the DVD is awesome!  I recommend it.  You too can follow Zack on his blog at

3. Chase Jarvis:

I found Chase back a couple of years ago by accident much like I found these other guys.  His images were different and very conceptual.  Chase shoots mainly commercial photography but posts a lot of his personal work too.  He does a lot of behind the scenes videos which adds to his teacher qualities that I like and admire.  Follow Chase at his website over at

4. Mike Colon:

Mike is an internationally known wedding photographer.  He is simply amazing.  There isn’t much else to say about him.  If you’re a wedding photographer or aspire to be then I highly encourage you to start reading his blog over at

5. Scott Kelby:

Last but certainly not least is Scott Kelby.  Yes, that’s right, Mr. Photoshop made my top 5.  Scott is an amazing teacher and an amazing photographer.  He recently started shooting some NFL and college football games and is nice enough to share those with us.  While I am not a huge football fan, I do enjoy looking over the images and reading how he is able to get such crisp and clean pictures.  Follow Scott at  I also recommend checking out his online training website where you can learn all about photoshope, wordpress, off camera flash, and a mixture of other photography related subjects from professional photographers such as Joe McNally, David Ziser, Jay Maisel, Jeremy Cowart and many others.

All of the above are also avid twitter users too.  You should be able to find their twitter handle on their blog page.  If you can’t then ask me and I’ll give it to you.

If you are a photograph then I recommend you find and follow a few photographers that shoot things that inspire you and encourage you to get off your butt and shoot more images.  The wheel doesn’t need to be re-invented.  Learn from each other.  That’s what makes this fun.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

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Dixie Stampede

For 19 years my extended family has been coming to Dixie Stampede.  This weekend was our anual visit.  DS has been open in Pigeon Forge, TN for 23 years and I’ve been able to go to make it for the show almost every year.  There were a few years that I miss due to being out to sea.

Most years the show is the same.  The Master of Ceremony comes out on a horse and sings the same songs and says the same things.  The bulk of the show is made up of a contest between the North and the South seating areas in which cast members ride horses and compete against each other representing their perspective sides.

This year they added a lumber jack competition.  Two lumber jack teams competed in a relay style race.  They started out with a climbing race, followed by two men sawing a log and finally they chopped wood.  Then the two teams competed in a log roll competition.  This was the highlight of the show and was a much welcomed change and addition to our anual event.

Just when you think the show is going to be the exact same thing as it was last year they throw something new in there.  All in all I really enjoy our yearly vacation to the Smokies and I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful area.

As a side note, if you are in the military and want to visit the smokies then pull out that ID card and use it to get some amazing military discounts.  Most places will give anywhere from 25 to 50% off ticket prices.

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Christmas Vacation

It’s that time of year again.  Christmas.  Every year in January my grandfather makes reservations for twenty or thirty people to go to Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge, TN.  And in the second or third week in December we all load up in the family truckster and head north for the weekend.  That, is where we are, right now and the stress of being in close quarters with family is in full swing.

As I type I am looking at my aunt, uncle, three cousins and a cousin-n-law.  We are talking randomly and we are all playing on our Macs.  Two Mac Book Pro’s and two Mac Books to be exact. lol

I’m rambling right now because I don’t have my moleskine with me to write in so I am putting it here.  Feel free to move alone to another


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A couple of years ago I began keeping a short daily journal of things that I did at work. As a police officer, keeping notes and being about to look back into the past to remember things is very important. Often times I have to testify in a case that may have occurred a year or two ago. For most people this may be no big deal, but I have a hard time remembering what I ate for supper last

So a few months ago I saw these really cool looking journals at the local Barne’s and Noble book store while I was shopping and looking at some photography books and magazines. I ran across the Moleskine journals and thought they looked really neat. I wanted one. I wanted one really bad but I didn’t buy. They were expensive. At least they were for me, someone who doesn’t like to write (I much prefer typing). So after several weeks and months of wanting one I bought my first red Moleskine journal with lines in it.

I like to think I have a type “a” personality which means I’m not very creative. This is probably the reason my photography isn’t that great. Being fairly organized and the non-creative type “a” person, it took me a day or two to actually write in my new journal. I didn’t want to mess up a page or write something wrong. I actually thought about how the layout of the writing should look. Silly I know.

Finally, I put pen to paper and it was amazing. The paper of the moleskine soaked the ink up in a way I have never seen or felt. It was magical and much different than writing on copy paper or notebook paper.

I have tried to write every night but have missed a few days here and there. If something exciting happens I’ll write it down. My hopes are to leave something of myself behind when I am gone. I have plenty of photographs to leave behind but I want to leave more, so I try to write with that in mind and explain things a little more than I normally would.

The likes of WordPress, twitter and facebook will come and go, but pens and paper are here to stay. If you don’t journal, then I highly recommend it. Not only will you leave a legacy but it will also help you become a better writer.

I prefer the moleskine for now, but that may change with time. There are plenty of other types of journals out there. The point is, JUST WRITE! oh, and READ! lol

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