Short story: My name is Phil Ruokis and I'm 44 at the moment (unless I've forgotten to update my age again) - I've been happily married since 1991 and I call Cambridge, Massachusetts home these days. You're reading this because you decided to check out the "About" page on the photoblog where I post pictures I've snapped during the few idle moments when I'm not doing a zillion other things.
Longer story: My late father came to the US from Lithuania in 1949 - this accounts for my uncommon surname - it's Lithuanian. Not Greek. Not Lebanese. Apart from my immediate family, my only other relatives in the States are in the Chicago area and southern Oregon - they happen to spell the name Ruikis, which just adds to the spelling festivities and foibles. To simplify things, I always use "Adams" when ordering takeout.
I'm a classically trained pianist / organist - I spent four years at The Boston Conservatory and they decided it would be OK for me to have a degree in Composition - they gave me my sheepskin in 1990. I finally finished paying for it in 2002. After teaching piano for 12 years or so (9 full-time), I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a gig with benefits and a retirement plan (and a regular, predictable paycheck), so I up and went to work for Berklee College of Music doing computer training and support. Among the hats I've worn over the years:
Church Organist / Music Director - I started when I was about 15 and finally burned out when I turned 30. It was a helluva ride, that's for sure.
Tanglewood - The folks at Boston University run a thing called the Tanglewood Institute. They figured it was a grand idea to let me spend 8 weeks there in the summer of 1986 learning how to be a composer. Mere words cannot describe this experience.
Warehouse Grunt - I worked for a summer in a shoe warehouse, third shift 10:30 PM to 7 AM - you get some strange looks when you're buying beer after work...at 7:30 in the morning, but hey, it's all relative.
Print Publishing - Another summer was spent shooting plates and stripping rubylith for an outfit that prints wedding invitations. I got to be around BIG cameras and I almost accepted a night manager gig there instead of finishing my music degree; then I came to my senses and returned to school in the fall.
Precision Machine Shop - This was a Siddhartha journey of sorts; quite a departure for a musician depending on fully functioning fingers to choose a job involving milling machines, lathes and bandsaws. I gained immense respect for factory workers everywhere during this summer gig. Only thing that kept me coming back was the lunchtime chess matches with my supervisor, a former master-rated competitive player.
I've also worked my share of retail and food service jobs which I do not miss one whit.
Turfdigger is a handle I picked up back when I was running an online golf league - it's representative of my real-life golf skills, so I'm not often found pressing the Nassau at the turn.
I started out with 35mm film technique back in about 1981 when I was doing school yearbook publishing. I cut my teeth on a Pentax K1000 SE which I still have - moved to digital in the mid to late 1990's. I'm a composer at heart, but satisfying one's creative urge via the creation of music has a bit of a delayed gratification: it's easy to hear the orchestra in your head, but rounding up live players to do your musical bidding is a bit, well...pricey. Lately, I've found more immediate satisfaction in attempting to express myself through visual media and it allows me to feed the creative urge with relative abandon. Hence this photoblog. As an educational medium, a photoblog has great potential as a visual means to aid other photographers in learning their craft by the sharing of workflow techniques and general technical info in addition to leading by example - as a form of visual entertainment, there are few pursuits more immediately rewarding than viewing the creative fruits produced by the many and diverse members of this growing global community. I endeavor to meet demands both educational and entertaining through my creative pursuits here.
Collaboration is a good thing. I always welcome the opportunity to do so, whether it be a contribution to another's vision or a mutual masterpiece of a shared series. Collaboration allows us as photobloggers to stretch the limits and possibilities of our own creativity while reaching out to the community as a whole. Below is a list of explorations I've undertaken or otherwise been invited to as a participant.
jen's bumper page of chairs - a growing repository of seatable imagery
jen's memory project - a collaboration on the meme by guest photographers
dogsbreath.org - the hip hotspot for photos of our canine companions
your waitress blog - contributor to 'one year baby!', a survey about photoblogging
Of course, it's always nice to be featured in some way - here's a list of publications and locations where my work has been presented:
Photoblogs Magazine - Contributing Editor, September 2005 issue
blog.photoblogs.org - Post of the Day for 6 August 2007
This Week at Grace Cathedral - August 15th 2007 issue
The Pacl Foundation - image 71 - 'Foundation' used as the banner graphic
WeeklyShot: "Dream" (3/9/06) - image 534 - 'End of the Tunnel'
WeeklyShot: "Geometric Figures" (3/23/06) - Double Feature
image 512 - 'Conjunction' and image 530 - 'Spatial Interchange'
WeeklyShot: "In the Midnight Hour" (3/30/06) - image 41 - 'Spooky Sentinel'
WeeklyShot: "Circle" (8/17/06) - image 235 - 'Ciro's Eye'