Sunday, June 26, 2016

Point Reyes

There are many places around California that I have visited more than once, Point Reyes National Seashore is one such place.  One of the interesting things about this particular area is it has a lot of visual evidence for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  If you look at a map you can see Tomales Bay separating the northern part of the seashore from the mainland of California.  Tamales Bay is the San Andreas Fault submerged under water.  Point Reyes is moving northward, relative to the rest of California to its east which is moving southward.  Needless to say, there is a lot of tectonic activity that is responsible for this entire area.

My son and I visited here about 10 days ago with the intention of visiting the lighthouse at the point.  There is a virtual geocache out there.  You can read about what virtual geocaches are here.  The first time we went out there, we were stopped by illness and the second time we were stopped by weather.  It can get rather cold, windy and foggy out there.  Many times, during bad weather, the point is closed for safety.  The day we were out there last week it was cold because it was mid-week.  Budget cuts only allow them to be open on the weekends when there are the most visitors.

We went out anyway, hiked out to the observation point and looked down the 308 steps to the lighthouse.  We were able to get the virtual cache, because we were able to find all of the answers either here, or elsewhere.  It would be very tough to do without getting help from someone else unless you actually visited the site, which is really the purpose.

It would have been nice to have walked all the way down to the lighthouse, but it would have been very cold too.  The wind was gusting to about 25 mph on that day.  It was very brisk.  The walk out with my son was enjoyable and we enjoyed ourselves even though we weren't able to get to everything, which we knew was going to happen anyway, because of our itinerary.  I'll talk about that in my next post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Some perspective from the parental side

I read something on line recently regarding the death of Harambe the gorilla in Cincinnati this past weekend.  I've seen all sorts of outrage directed at the zoo, directed at the parents, but I really haven't seen much of this, so here goes.

This photo was taken in the summer of 2000 while we were on a camping trip to Yosemite National Park.  My children were 8, 4 and 11 respectively in the photo.  On this particular day, we had decided to hike the Mist Trail, a popular trail that takes you to the edge of Vernal Fall, which is what you see in the background.  It's over 300 feet straight down at this point.  If any of you have ever been on this trail, you know it's very strenuous, and not to be taken lightly.  The last part is pretty much stair steps going up the rock face with a handrail similar to what you see in the photo.

At the crest of the staircase, my youngest, who had been diligently holding my hand as we climbed up, broke free and made a mad dash to this spot, which I couldn't see at the time.  Needless to say, my life flashed before me several times in what was probably 2 seconds worth of time at the most.  There were other people there who stopped him immediately.  Did I mention it's a popular trail?

The fence/guardrail you see is all the way around like that.  It would have been difficult for him to have made the dash and gotten outside of the fence.  But please remember, he did break free and was headed that way.  AND I WASN'T DISTRACTED BY ANY OTHER CHILDREN AT THE MOMENT!

If you have more than two children, you're outnumbered and you no longer have enough hands to hold onto all of them at the same time.  Think about that next time you start berating the parent of the young boy who ended up in the moat with Harambe.  All it took was a second or two.  

Monday, February 1, 2016


P.J. is doing his monthly photo blogging challenge and I haven't done one of those in awhile.  Thought I'd take a crack at it again this year.  I also got lucky in that I took a bunch of shots yesterday while I was at the art museum in Los Angeles.  This month's theme was inside.  My take might be a little bit different, but we'll see what I can do with it with my five shots for this month, inside.

1.  Selfie
I took this shot on the first day of the year.  My intention was I was going to do another 365 project.  In 2011, I did a 365 project, then continued through and did two straight years, taking at least one photo every day for 730 straight days.  After awhile, I got burned out on it, so I decided not to continue.  Fast forward a couple of years, I thought I might be able to attempt this again this year.  Well, that lasted all of eleven days before I ended up not posting a photo.  I could have continued to post photos, but they would have been shots from last year and I wanted the shots to be current shots.  I have a lot of good intentions, but this one was not one of them.  I've found my niche for photographs and I can't get out to take landscape photos as often as I would like, so the camera is on the back burner for a little bit until I get some time to get out and about.  I'm ok with that.  

But I posted this shot, mainly because I like the way it looks.  My mother-in-law often said that she never saw a bad photo of me.  I know people are more critical of photos of themselves and it's mainly because people mostly see reflections of themselves and so don't like actual photos because it doesn't look like them.  I get that, but recently, I've noticed that I don't like photos taken of me.  My "mug shot" photo that will appear in our school yearbook this year, I think is hideous.  But for some reason, I really like this shot.  I think I did a good job of capturing the essence of what I think I am.

2.  Bi-Plane
Inside you say?  Well, I was outside when I took the shot and the airplane is outside as well, but this is a vintage plane and I really think it would be cool to get inside the cockpit and take that baby for a spin.  I would bet that it would be loud and dirty and windy, but it would be fun to get up in a small plane again and fly over landmarks I've only seen from the ground.

3.  Still life
On the 31st, my son and I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  He had a project to complete for his art history class and I just wanted to go, because I love going to LACMA.  It poured down rain all day, which was good because it kept the crowds down and really allowed us to contemplate the artwork in the museum.  This first piece is a still life by Jan Davidsz. de Heem.  I ran across this piece while walking by myself while my son was looking at a different painting, the one that he would eventually write about for his art history class.

If I hadn't known already that this was a painting, I'd almost swear that this was a photograph.  The attention to the little details and the absence of large brushstrokes makes this painting really come to life for me.  I looked very closely and there were so many details that amazed me that the painter would include, including the little worm crawling up the stem of the orange limb.  The way the lemon had been cut with some of the underlying peel still there and the drops of juice falling off the edge of the oyster shells are just some of the other things that caught my attention.  Overall, this was my favorite piece of art that I saw yesterday.  I'm sure when I visit again, I'll find something else to ooh and ahh over, but right now, this is it for me.

4.  Ivory
I'll not get into a discussion over the rights or wrongs of ivory carvings.  These are centuries old pieces of work, so the times were different back then.  But this piece of artwork is really amazing when you think about it.  This is a piece of carved ivory by the Japanese artist Masatoshi.  After the carving, the ivory was stained to give it additional color.  But I really don't think that's the amazing part.  The amazing part of this one is this piece is no larger around than a John F. Kennedy half dollar.  Think about that for a moment.  Look at the intricacies of the sculpture and then think about how painstaking this must have been to carve.  What would it have been like to have been inside the artist's head as he carved this small piece of ivory.

5.  Woman contemplating Pollack
Last, but certainly not least is this shot below, also inside LACMA, of a woman contemplating a Jackson Pollack piece of art.  Now, I could go on and on about how some people "get" this type of art, but others don't and at the same time theres get other types of art and so on.  Needless to say, I'm glad we don't all get the same stuff.  Most of the modern art work in this particular room, I really didn't get.  Actually, what was going through my mind at the time was, "I could do something like that."

And for the most part, I think I would be right because I think once big time artists become well know, their name precedes them and it's great, because it's a Pollack or a Warhol.  Art is very subjective and is interpreted differently by different people.  For example, for whatever reason, I really like Pablo Picasso's work.  I have a very good friend of mine, who much prefers the work of de Heem that I posted above over anything that Picasso ever produced.  And that's ok, because if everyone liked the same thing, the world, in my humble opinion would be a very boring place.  We'd all like the same thing, so everything that would be produced would be exactly the same.

I believe that artwork is supposed to stretch the mind and the imagination and to get people to see things in a different way.  There was a sculpture in this room that was nothing more than welded old car parts.  Yeah, I could have put something together like that and it might have been the same type of piece as was produced, but that's not the point.  Just because you could do something like that doesn't mean you had emotions attached to your brushstrokes.  

Who knows what was going on inside Pollack's mind when he applied the different shades of gray on this canvas?  Nobody really knows for sure except him and he's been dead for almost 60 years, killed in a single car crash while driving under the influence of alcohol at the age of 44 years old.

Whatever it was, he rocketed to fame during the late 1940s when LIFE magazine did a four page spread on him and his drip method of painting.  Curiously, after that exposure, he stopped using that particular method of painting.

Well, there you have it.  This is what went on inside my mind as I looked through the shots that I included for this month's theme, Inside.  Please check out the other bloggers who are participating in P.J.'s photo blogging challenge.  As I get ready to publish this and link up, it looks like I'm going to be the 13th participant, not counting P.J., which means there should be a lot of tremendous photography to look at here.  I hope you enjoyed my selections.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The End

And here we arrive at the end.  Through the encouragement of several different people, I was able to carry through on my end and meet the different prompts each and every day.  But this is the end.

I'm not saying I won't write again, but I know my history.  I've been very good in the past, when challenged to keep on a writing schedule and keep this blog fresh.  But the stats speak for themselves.

2012 - 28 total posts, 6 in January, none after August
2013 - 75 total posts, 12 in January, 10 in February
2014 - 25 total posts, evenly distributed throughout the year
2015 - 34 total posts, 23 in January, none after July
2016 - This is the 20th post

Are you seeing a trend here?  I am and I keep telling people and keep saying to myself that it's going to change, but it probably won't.  I get busy with other things in my life and this falls by the wayside.

But look at the sign above.  We are so used to driving on pavement and our roads take us everywhere.  What do we do when the pavement ends?  Well, for me, I'll keep going.  I have to think that way.  If I become pessimistic about this blog, I know it will never happen.  I posted that sign, because it represents an entire new world out there.  And as Calvin said to Hobbes in their very last Sunday strip,  "Let's go exploring."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Your favorite meal

It's the penultimate day of this challenge and I can write about food, which works well for me. The title, however, is too restricting mainly because there's too many meals I've consumed over the course of my lifetime to just casually pick one thing.

I like food in general and this is one of the reasons I probably should be cutting back.  Food likes me way too much, because it sticks around a lot longer than it should, although in the past year, I've been able to reduce the amount of food that hangs on to me, which is a good thing for my health.  

I have to say though, that the one food I look forward to every year is my sister's cheesecakes.  I don't know where she got started making cheesecakes, but it was a long time ago.  They have become her staple item that she brings to our holiday meals.  And it's not just one cheesecake but two different varieties.  It gets to the point that when she asks what flavor I want, I just say, "Yes."  This is unless she's decided to make a peanut butter cheesecake.  Then the answer is always the other one, but that's a different story.

In reality, it actually helps that I know she's bringing cheesecake for dessert.  I've learned how to moderate at Thanksgiving or Christmas, so I can always enjoy two pieces.  Should she bring the dreaded peanut butter cheesecake, I know I can always have a slightly larger slice of the other one to compensate for the loss of that second slice that I would normally get.  By the way, the one pictured is her pecan pie cheesecake.  Yeah, it tastes just like a pecan pie, but in cheesecake form.  It's just yummy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I collect things.  Some might call it hoarding, but I can stop if I want to and I don't have complete collections on a lot of things that I have collected and I'm good with that.  On one of our early camping trips, we ended up at the campground store in Mesa Verde National Park and I spotted a sew on patch that had a scene of Mesa Verde stitched into it.  I thought it was pretty cool and that collection started.  Every place I go now, I look for patches to add to my collection.

My parents had some old coins, actually, they still have them because I asked to see them again recently, so I could show my kids.  My parents also brought out a couple of the proof sets of coins that they had purchased after our tour of the US Mint in Denver, Colorado, probably on the same trip where I started my patch collection.

After seeing those proof sets, I think my kids finally figured out why I have so many proof sets of coins collected myself.  If you've never really looked at proof sets, you really owe it to yourself.  First off, they are perfect strikes of each American coin, then sealed in plastic.  Think of the shiniest coin you've ever held in your hand.  Quadruple the shininess of that and then you might be getting close to what a proof set looks like.  

What looks like black is actually just pure flatness of the coin shining back whatever it reflects.  There's just something about the luster of them that is hard to describe.  I know a friend of mine once told me when he was young he found a proof set of his dad's and he had to see the coins up close, so he broke the plastic so he could handle them.  That totally ruined the value of the coins.  I felt his dad's pain.

These are three of the quarters from my 2010 proof set that had the commemorative dollar coins dedicated to the presidents as well as the new backs to the quarters, two of which you can see here, commemorating different scenic areas of the United States.  Most people who know me well totally get why I'd have this set, which has both Grand Canyon and Yosemite commemorated.  I doubt I'd ever sell these, mainly because of the subject matter, but they are fun to look at every now and then, and I guess that's really the point of them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Home run

Although I was born in Indiana, I grew up in Orange County and so am an Angels fan at heart.  Yes, 2002 was a wondrous year and I hope I don't have to wait that long again for a second World Series championship.  

I've been to so many games at this stadium, I cannot count them.  I think I went to 20 games the summer of 1979, the year the Angels won their first Western Division title and then were wiped out by the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs.  I saw Nolan Ryan flirt with a no-hitter that summer, coming within two outs of one, losing it in the top of the ninth inning.

I've never seen a no-hitter, either live at the stadium or in person.  I have seen batters hit for the cycle, including one that summer by Dan Ford.  When I started writing this, I was under the impression that hitting for the cycle (single, double, triple and home run all in the same game) was rarer than a no-hitter, but after a quick Internet search, I've found that both are equally rare, but the no-hitter is still a little bit more rare 288 times vs. 306 times.

August 10, 1979, Dan Ford hit for the cycle.  We were sitting in the upper deck.  I'm pretty sure I kept score, as I kept score for most games back then, being a 21 year old geek at the time.  Where that scorecard is, I don't have any idea, but I really wish I'd kept it.  I remember telling my buddies at the time that if he tripled in his last at bat, he'd hit for the cycle.  And then he did. 

The cool thing about it is he hit for his cycle with probably the toughest hit to get as well.  Singles and doubles are fairly easy.  Home runs come from time to time, but it is a rare individual who can leg out a triple.  You need to hit it to a gap and you need good speed.  It's also one of the reasons, I'd much rather see a triple over a home run.  Home runs are fun, but they are rather anti-climactic and over all, they tend to end rallies.  Triples keep rallies going and they are usually bang/bang at third base.  And there you go.  Give me a triple any day over a home run.