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.

Monday, January 25, 2016


My wife and I communicate pretty well I feel, but there was one area that we really didn't talk about a lot before we got married and that was how we would vacation.  I grew up camping.  My family went camping just about every summer.  I have fond memories of the trips we took as kids to various national parks in the western United States and I wanted to impart that love of nature to our children.

Well, it wasn't until my wife and I were on our honeymoon that I found out that she didn't like to camp.  Oops.  But for us, it has worked out all right.  When the kids were growing up, I'd take them camping and it was a lot of fun. I got to enjoy the kids just by myself, we got to do things that we enjoyed doing, and my wife got a little "me" time where she didn't have to think about cooking for anyone else except her.  The nice thing about it is, even though we disagree on our vacation time, we've made this work for us.  

The kids and I even started our own tradition where we'd take a photo of our campsite every where we camped.  We've missed a couple of spots, either just because we forgot, or once because of a  faulty camera, but for the most part, we have a photo for each campsite we've camped in over the years.  This particular one is from Redwood National Park, taken when my youngest was entering high school.

Now that the kids are grown and pretty much out on their own, the camping has diminished.  I have a couple of buddies who enjoy camping and we'll get out for a week or so in the summertime.  That's all I really need to recharge my batteries.  But I suspect that my vacation time in the next couple of years will slowly shift away from "campsite 124" alongside a stream to a little bit nicer site, like Room 124 in a high rise hotel where I can enjoy some time with my wife. And that's OK with me.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Can you hear me?

I probably talk about the idiosyncrasies of where I work and what I do probably way too much, but over the past 33 years, I've liked what I do.  Let's face it.  How many people do you know who teach the hormonally schizophrenic on a daily basis?  That's right.  In case you didn't know it, I teach middle school, 6th, 7th and 8th grade.

Over the years I've seen gradual changes in my school's population as well as their overall attention span and general attitude.  The photo, although it doesn't show middle schoolers, probably sums it up from my standpoint.  Two guys, probably friends, based upon how close they're sitting next to each other, are totally absorbed by what they're doing and not interacting with each other at all.

This is what I think most of my students do every weekend.  They are so absorbed in their video games, computer and You-Tube channels that they literally never interact with another person/friend of theirs until they come back on Monday morning.

How I can tell this is loosely based on anecdotal evidence.  My first period class, comes into class after a break, be it a weekend, Thanksgiving break, or Winter break and they literally are screaming at each other.  Can you hear me?  They have no volume control, nor would they really want it.  They're two feet away from each other and screaming.  Can you hear me now?

Cell phones, etc., are powerful tools, but I really think they are robbing our children of their childhood.  And consequently, these children will have difficulties dealing with real life situations, because they really don't know how to react to people on a personal level, outside of screaming.  That's my two cents on the subject.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

If I had a million dollars

The prompt for the day is an easy one from my standpoint, although I've heard that a million isn't enough and it causes more problems than it's worth.  I think I could do quite well.

First off, we're going to have to assume that the million is tax free, because all this goes out the window if the government gets involved.  So I'm assuming I've won some prize where the government has already gotten its share and I'm left with a million dollars.

The first thing I'd do would be to retire.  I might make it to the end of the year, but I'd retire this year.  The million dollars would be invested.  Now, conservatively, I expect to get a return some where around 10%.  I may be dreaming here, but I think I could get some good financial advice and earn 10% interest on that money.  That means, coupled with my retirement income and my wife's retirement income, because trust me, she's retiring with me, I figure we'd be making somewhere about $70,000 dollars more than we do right now while working.

What this means is we could pursue things that we've always wanted to do.  My wife has talked about going back to school and get a masters.  I've wanted to travel more.  We could do that and live comfortably for the rest of our days without ever touching the million dollars.  The cool thing about this would be that we wouldn't have to worry as much about when we needed to buy a new car.  I'm driving around a 15 year old automobile and it needs to be replaced.  Hey, we need a new car!  Great, go out and get one!

I think the one extravagant thing I'd do would be to go on a Disney trip.  I think I'd like to take the train to Florida and visit Walt DisneyWorld again.  Last time I was there was a long time ago in another life.  EPCOT had just opened, but all of the other stuff there wasn't around.  It would be fun to go back and enjoy two weeks or so of some Disney magic.

Other than that, I think my life would be relatively the same, with the exception being that I wouldn't be working for my money, my money would be working for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The day after last night

I tried to think about what I might be able to use to write about this prompt.  I thought to myself that I wonder what kind of photo I could use with this, so I decided to let the fates decide.  I went to my Flickr account and thought it might be interesting to just post a photo of the last shot that got faved there and write a story around it.

I actually got very lucky since it could have been one of my more recent shots, but someone apparently found the shot of downtown Los Angeles in the archives and faved it today.

I enjoy going to LA, mainly because there's a lot to take photos of there.  I can take the train in from where I live and it drops me off at Union Station, right next to Olivera Street.  A couple of blocks over and I'm in Chinatown.  Three blocks the other way, I'm in Little Tokyo.  Up a couple of blocks a third way and I can then walk all the way around Walt Disney Concert Hall.  It's like you're in a time warp, where the day after last night keeps happening over and over again, you get to see different cultures and yet never really do any kind of traveling.

The other thing I enjoy about this area is it affords me to practice my street photography.  I know not everyone is comfortable taking photos of random people on the street and at times it can feel very intimidating.  But I've found that I can document life on the street in a variety of ways, not all of it nice, but all of it real.  Sometimes I post those shots in color, but most of the time, I'll post them in monotone.  For whatever reason, I feel that the monotone gives the shot a more authentic look to it, almost like something out of the past.

Street photography has its own rewards and it can present problems.  Most people don't like other people taking photos of them.  I understand that, but if no one took any photos how could we document what's happening out there?  I've tried a technique with a varying degree of success.  I'll see a shot, compose it in my mind, then walk by it with my camera in my hand upside down and fire off shots as I walk away.  With the zoom lens and the auto focus, I can sometimes get some very interesting shots that way.

Other times, I'll just take a shot, because it looks interesting.  Many people don't really notice when you're taking your shot, especially if you don't get in somebody's face about it.  That's another reason to carry a zoom lens along.  It makes for a less intimidation factor when you're in a crowd taking shots.

No matter what day I go, whether it's yesterday, tomorrow or the day after last night, I find the subject matter in the downtown area has always changed, so there's always new shots.  But at the same time, the subject matter is also constant and doesn't change.  I hope that makes sense.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Dreams are an interesting phenomena.  They can happen at any time, they can be controlled, and yet can also not be controlled.  I'm at the point in my life where I dream a lot more than I used to for a variety of reasons, both literally and figuratively.  

About a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  I snore.  Go figure.  However, I'm a shallow breather, that is to say, I take such shallow breaths that my body constantly wakes me up to take a deeper breath while I'm sleeping.  When I did the sleep study, I was waking up to take a deeper breath 59 times per hours.  Needless to say, I wasn't getting much restful sleep and not much dreaming.

Now, I don't wake up much at all.  I sleep like the proverbial log.  Dreams are a nice side effect of this as well.  It's like having a movie in your head and you're part of the picture, but you never know how it's going to turn out.  

Other dreams however, I control.  For example, because of my age and how many years I've been employed, I find myself dreaming of retirement. It sometimes gets very tough when you see co-workers leaving, because their situation makes it easier for them to retire or they're slightly older than you and it's their turn to leave.  Eventually, that will happen for me too.

I'm looking forward to retirement so I can concentrate full time on my photography.  Five years ago, I started a 365 project, taking a photo every day for a year.  It went so well, that I completed a second year.  720 straight days where I took a photo.  Then I took some time off.

This year, I decided I wanted to try it again.  So far, that has fallen flat.  I don't pick my camera up nearly enough right now.  I know what I want to take photos of, but I can't, because work is getting in the way.  That happens, so I dream about when I can go out and just take photos for a day, just to see what I can get.

It's fun to dream.  P.J. even wrote about dreaming what he would do if he won the lottery.  That's three quarters of the fun, because we all know we're not going to win, but it's fun to dream about what could have been, or what will be should we ever get lucky.  My retirement dreams are a little bit different than that, because somewhere down that road, those dreams will come true.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Best stadium food you ever had

I almost forgot about today's post, yet I'm actually posting earlier in the day than I normally do.  I went on a hike this morning, got home and looked at my email and remembered that it was Monday, the first day of the third week of P.J.'s 20 days of Chill Writing challenge.

I will be the first to admit, that I'm not a connoisseur of stadium type food.  Mainly because I'm pretty cheap when it comes to buying food from stadiums or amusement parks.  If I can work around it, I probably will.  Stadiums are easier since you're usually only there for a limited amount of time, so you can eat beforehand, or eat afterwards at places outside of the stadium/arena that are much more affordable than the Jacked up prices you'll find inside.

Amusement parks, on the other hand is an entirely different story since you're there all day and unless you want to go outside the park and get your food elsewhere, you're going to have to bite the bullet and pay the price.  For a family of four, the price of meals at an amusement park is almost like buying another entrance ticket to the park.

But as I sit here thinking about publishing this, it comes to mind that I did buy a cheeseburger at AT&T Stadium last summer when I was there for my future son-in-law's last game as a single man.  It wasn't so much the burger as it was the garlic fries that came with it.  My daughter and my future son-in-law both said that I needed to get some garlic fries.  Usually, when someone raves about something, the food doesn't live up to expectations.  These did.  I don't care how many people I offended with my garlic breath.  These fries were that good.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Every now and then you get one of those blog prompts that you just want to throw back in the pile.  Usually when that happens to me, I end up not using it and not writing that particular day.  But I've promised myself that I'd stick this challenge out, so I need to write about misfortune today.  Hmmm.

My daughter posted a website to me yesterday.  It was a Powerball simulator.  I ran the simulation for 50 years, spent $10,500 and got a return of $924, less than ten percent of what I spent.  Your mileage may vary, but the best I could do was hit three of the white balls ten times.  I got the Powerball right 140 times.  Woo hoo!

But the argument is, no matter how many times someone tells you that the definition of a lottery is a tax on a person who is bad at math, that someone has to win.  And that would be correct, but a lot of people are not.  There was a 16% chance that the Powerball could have rolled over again to this weekend, that's how many numbers had not been drawn yet.  And, someone did finally win.  The Powerball actually had three winners this week, one in Florida, one in Tennessee and one near me, about ten miles away in Chino Hills, CA.  Someone is very wealthy down here in California.  I hope it's an unmarried woman.  Then everyone will be able to call her Miss Fortune.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Slim Pickings

This is a geocaching story so if you're not interested in geocaching, you can stop reading right now and move on with your life.  I only say that as a public service announcement since I know many people are probably tired of listening to me go on and on and on about geocaching.

At first, I was at a loss for words on what to write about with this prompt today of slim pickings.  But then I thought about what I have been trying to accomplish this year as one of my geocaching goals.  Last year, I started a consecutive day streak, mainly because there was a challenge cache to find a month of non-traditional finds.  For you geocaching muggles, a non-traditional cache would be any cache that doesn't have that green box icon on the map.

Challenge caches are pretty straightforward in their approach.  They challenge you to do certain geocaching things before you can find the cache, or at least log it on line.  As I noted above, the non-traditional challenge cache was for a month, so I found at least one non-traditional cache for each day of June.  Then, I thought about trying to extend my streak a little bit further.  I'd never gotten a streak beyond 56 days in the past, mainly because it became tedious to go out and find a cache every day.  But I got through July, then worked my way through August, getting at least one cache per day.

The problem is in my area I've found all the nearby ones.  The second map shows all the caches I've found near where I live.  That's the big donut hole in the top map that only shows the caches that I haven't found.  To keep my streak alive I have to keep going a little further out each day, mainly because I've already found almost all of the caches around my house.  I was talking to my son about this a couple of days ago and I told him that if someone wanted to do a one year consecutive day streak (which is what I'm attempting to do for a challenge), then they should start it early in their caching career before they find all the caches near them.  If I had just started geocaching, the lower map would represent almost 70 caches that I could find within a half hour walking distance from my house.

I'm pretty sure I'll be able to keep this streak up, but I really need to plan out my after school days carefully, because of the slim pickings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A dose of vitamin N

This was an interesting prompt.  What the heck?  There is no Vitamin N.  But then, when I googled it, it all made sense.  Nature.

Yeah, I believe I get a good dose of Vitamin N on the weekends and an even bigger dose of it during my breaks, but I don't think I get enough of it on a daily basis.  But then again, who has the time, except for those who are independently wealthy, or those who are retired?

I'm getting out on a daily basis for a little bit.  I did a short walk today to find a geocache.  It was the 227th consecutive day I've found a geocache.  The goal is to get to at least 366 days.  Finding geocaches gets me outside, but it's no necessarily nature like going to Bryce Canyon and hiking down in the canyon.  Then again, very few places can compete with Bryce Canyon.

So that's why I get out on the weekends for my hikes.  It fulfills me and keeps me fairly fresh for the upcoming week.  It's one of the reasons I really love my spring break the most.  Christmas break is a cruel holiday, especially if you're an adult.  You see two weeks off and you think, "Yeah, two weeks off."  But you spend the first week dealing with everything leading up to Christmas and you spend the second week with everything leading up to New Year and in reality you only have about two or three days to do what you really want to do.

My school district has taken two weeks at spring break for the longest time. I love it.  Think about it.  Spring break.  No commitments, nothing really to do except you have two weeks off to do what you want to do.  And if the weather is bad, it's only for a day, so you can curl up with a good book at home for that day.  At Christmas, if the weather is bad, you still have to go out in that crap, because things have to get done.

So yeah, I don't get enough of it, but I try to make the most of my Vitamin N any chance I can get.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Summer rain

The prompt for the 20 days of Chill for today is summer rain.  I had to laugh at that since I live in Southern California and we don't get summer rains.  P.J. noted that summer rain is a bummer because it wipes out baseball games.  I think the local teams, the Angels and the Dodgers have been rained out less times in the last fifty years than I have fingers on my hands, combined.

So what to write about today?  Well, how about summer rain?  I've been camping enough times that I've been able to experience summer rains.  My youngest son and I went to the Grand Canyon and had thunderstorms every single day that we were there.  It was quite an experience.  

Although it's not rain, when my wife and I honeymooned in the middle of July in Oregon, Crater Lake received a foot of snow on the day before we got there.  It made for some really nice shots, which I have on slide film and need to scan and digitize one of these days.

I even got sprinkled on when I took this shot in Bodie, California at the state historic park that surrounds this old ghost town.  Even though I don't usually see summer rains very often where I live, I have experienced them enough elsewhere, that I can honestly say I like them.  It makes for some really striking photos in my opinion.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Life’s turning point

Today's prompt for the 20 days of Chill Writing is Life's Turning Point.  I didn't really have to think too long about this, because for me, anyway, it was that point in my life when I finally realized I was an adult.  And surprisingly, it wasn't at the birth of my daughter.  No, the moment came a year later.

For the most part, I know most people are clueless until they have their first child.  Some might even be clueless afterwards, but that's an entirely different story that I won't go into deeply at all.  I've heard many people say that when their first child was born, then knew that they were adults.  I didn't think that way at all.  I already had a job, was married, owned a house, but I really didn't feel "grown-up" even after my girl was born.

On her first birthday, all that changed.  At the risk of embarrassing her, I'll tell the story, but I'm sure she's heard it before.  On her first birthday, we were celebrating much like other couples do, including giving her some new foods to try for the first time.  Something definitely didn't agree with her and she started projectile vomiting. (We later found out she'd caught a virus, because we all ended up getting sick).  So my wife grabbed her and rushed her to the bathroom to try and contain everything.

In the meantime, I'm out in the living room, trying to entertain my daughter's godfather and keep the dog at bay.  I walked down the hallway and noticed barf on the carpet, barf on the walls, barf on the ceiling.  At that moment, I realized I was an adult, because I didn't see anyone else around who was going to clean all of that up.  That was my life's turning point.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A fading memory

A long time ago, in another state, far, far away, I was born.  I've been living in California since I was three years old, yet for the longest time as I was growing up, I called Indiana home.  California is home now, has been for a long time.  Interestingly, I have but one memory of Indiana, making a snowman and then watching my dad knock it down with a snow shovel later on.

Back in Indiana my dad flew airplanes as a hobby.  After we moved out here to California, that ended for some reason.  He was making more money out here than he had been in Indiana, but I know the cost of living was also quite a bit higher as well.  He took us to a couple of air shows, but that was the extent of his flying for the most part out here.

In 1966, my great uncle flew his plane out here from Illinois.  He had been a graduate of Purdue University and they were playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day 1967.  He took us up flying over Orange County.  I remember taking photos with my new camera out the window of Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland and the newly built Angel Stadium.  I'm sure we violated some kind of air space laws with regard to Disneyland, but it was great fun.

When we went back to visit Indiana the next year, we made it to Illinois to visit my great uncle again and we flew over the state capital of Illinois and the nearby cemetery where Abraham Lincoln is buried today.  I can remember my dad taking the controls on both of these flights.  I wonder if he ever missed it, or if it just became a fading memory?  Was it something that just got compartmentalized away, kept out of sight because he just couldn't afford it?  Any time I've asked, he's always said it was too expensive and he didn't have enough time with growing kids in the house.  I'll take him at his word.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pen and Paper

When I first started to geocache 15 years ago, I had a new GPS unit, but you couldn't input cache pages into the unit because it had not computer cord to connect it up to the computer.  Nowadays, that almost seems like standard equipment, although I recently went to a Geocaching Event where someone gave away as a white elephant gift a GPS unit exactly like my original.

Back in those days, if we wanted to go out geocaching, we'd print out the cache pages and carry them with us, often times writing notes about the caching experience on them and then hopefully, keeping them in order so when we got home, we could then write our log write ups on the computer to lay claim to the find we'd found out in the field.

Now, the only pen and paper you see while geocaching is usually the paper log book inside the geocache and the pen that all good geocachers carry with them because most geocaches are so small that they don't have room for a pen.  You have to be able to sign the log book to claim the find.  

And so it goes with technology.  We've pretty much eliminated the need for pen and paper, yet we still use it.  Some things are hard to change.  It would be fun to see all geocaches go totally electronically.  Find the geocache, then once you have the geocache in your hand, input your electronic signal access code given to you from the website and you automatically get credit for a geocache find.  As with anything, I can see people hacking the system to cheat, but we see that all the time no matter what.  I guess it's a challenge.  For me, the challenge is the find.  I'm not going to lie about how many geocaches I've found, just to inflate my numbers and impress someone else.  The only one I'm in this for is me.

But I digress a little.  Totally electronic geocaching would be fun, but I really do like the pen and paper.  With the total electronic version, you'd have no need to look through all the stuff in the cache.  Even though I don't usually take anything, it's still fun to see what's in there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Life wouldn’t be the same

This will probably be the most difficult post I've ever had to write on this particular blog.  When I looked over the list of prompts for P.J.'s 20 days of Chill writing challenge, I thought this post might be tough to write about.  The events of the last week make this post very difficult to write about, but not like you might think.  And actually, this post will be very therapeutic for me.

He came into our lives in mid February, 2005.  We had been dog-less for about 6 months after our dog Rocky had passed away at the age of 17.  I was kind of getting used to the idea of not having a dog under foot and when my wife called me up and said that I needed to go look at a dog, I decided to humor her.

She had called me up because she knew I'd look at the dog and say no and that would be the end of it.  She knew herself too well to be able to be rational about things like that.  So I went down to the dog grooming place where this two month old puppy was.  They put him on the counter, he looked up into my eyes and then put his paws up on my chest and that was it.  I brought him home, put him on my daughter's bed, which woke her up and said "Happy 16th birthday."

He was named Jack for no other reason than we all liked the name. It was far better than my wife's suggestion of Quentin.  Jack has been a member of our family ever since.  He'd greet my wife's dad at the door, because he knew Grandpa always brought treats for him.  He liked my lap the best sitting in it for hours while we watched a movie or a sporting event on TV, but he liked the foot of my wife's side of the bed at night.  He'd look at you and then sit, as if to say, "Look, I'm being a good boy.  Will you give me a treat?"  And he was a very good dog.

Last week, age and illness caught up with him.  He got sick just about the time Christmas break rolled around and a couple of days after Christmas we had to take him into the vet because he just wasn't rebounding like he'd done in the past when he was ill.  After a night in the hospital, it was clear we had to make the toughest decision anyone who has ever loved a furry friend will ever had to make.  

Jack was surrounded by love as he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on December 30th last week.  He is missed by all who knew him.

Life wouldn't be the same without dogs.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My favorite place.

When I saw this prompt for the 20 days of Chill Challenge, I knew my answer would be Yosemite.  There's something about this place that just speaks to me.  My first visit was when I was four years old.  I don't remember much of that trip, but I do know that I've been back numerous times in the course of the last 50 years.  I know I will go again in the near future.  I don't think I could ever get enough of this grand spectacle.

I've been to Yosemite in all sorts of weather and all the seasons.  Most of the time I've gone in the summertime, as that's when I have the most time off in which to travel to this scenic spot, but I've done a one day weekend trip to the park in the fall with my daughter.  I've also visited in the spring time with my dad when we were scouting out colleges for me.  I walked on the valley floor during one of the heaviest snowfalls on record on a late December day back in 1988.  

Each season changes this park, but you just can't beat the scenery at this place.  And there's the constant that attracts me, the scenery.  I know there will be detractors out there who will say that it's too crowded.  And they would be right.  But that's not going to stop me from going.  Each time I visit, I go to my favorite spots, take in the view, compose photo shots and just enjoy myself. Many of my favorite shots are along trails, which don't have as many people.  The people that venture out on a trail away from the valley have a different sense of purpose and a different respect for the park.  We know the masses are there for a day or two, to take in the sights and to move on.  We have a different feel for the park.

Every time I camp there, it's for at least a week and there's still so many things to see there that I never get it all done.  Just another reason to get me to come back later on I guess.

I took this shot from the valley viewpoint as you exit the Wawona tunnel on a June day in 2014.  I have to say I've been fairly fortunate in that most of the times I've been to Yosemite, there's been weather.  The clouds just help the shot, no matter where your taking a photo, but here, it just makes the spectacular shot even better.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Who am I?

I have to say, I'm a man who has strong convictions, but not a whole lot of follow through.  I've made resolutions in the past, especially with regard to blogging, but usually have fallen through.

Just last year, I participated in P.J.'s 20 days of Chill Writing blog challenge and swore I was going to do better with my blogging.  I posted 23 blog posts in January of last year, but only 34 overall.  Needless to say, January was the high water mark of my blogging last year.  So I'm not going to make any promises this year.  All I know is I had a lot of fun with this writing challenge last year, so I'm going to participate in it again this year.  

Today's prompt is "Who am I?"  

I'm a teacher.  I've taught in the same school for 32 years, plus one additional year at another school.  Interestingly, I've taught at my school longer than four other teachers at the school have been alive.

I'm a husband.  I've been married for 27 and a half years.  As in every marriage, it's not perfect, but I know for sure I got the better end of that deal.  Why my wife would want to put up with some of my antics and shenanigans for the past 27+ years is beyond me, but I'm glad that she has.

I'm a father.  I have three children, all beyond their teenage years.  My daughter, my oldest, is a teacher up north.  She is a fifth generation teacher in my family.  My son, my middle child, is in between jobs right now, but just moved back down here to Southern California.  I hope that means I'll bee able to see more of him in the coming year.  My younger son is still at home with us.  He's attending community college and looks like he's going to major in Psychology once he gets to a four year institution.  We will be making the rounds to different colleges this spring.

I'm an outdoorsman.  I enjoy being in the outdoors.  If it's hiking, or camping, or geocaching, I'm probably doing it and doing it for much of my off time when I'm not working.

I'm a photographer.  Believe it or not, my parents bought me my first real camera when I was in 3rd grade.  I wish I still had that old camera that took roll film, but somewhere when I graduated to better cameras, that one went by the wayside.  I still enjoy taking photos and you'll see many of them in this blog and on other sites as well.

Day one done.  I'm looking forward to the next day of this challenge.