Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Can of Corn Challenge: Best Baseball Movie (June)

There have been a lot of baseball movies made over the years and picking a best baseball movie is subjective, at best, as everyone has their favorite.  Did you like Sandlot or Pride of the Yankees?  Bang the Drum Slowly comes up a lot in discussion.

In my mind, I consider Bull Durham to be the best baseball movie. I really can't put my finger on it, but I think it comes as close as possible to revealing the inner workings of how professional baseball players actually tick.  Pride of the Yankees was too sanitized and Sandlot does a good job at showing baseball from a kids point of view, but for my money, I could watch Bull Durham over and over again, probably because it's more than just about baseball.  And because I played catcher in Little League and the star, Kevin Costner, plays the catcher in the movie didn't hurt its chances as the best baseball movie ever. 

It's one of the few movies where I have multiple scenes etched in my brain, perhaps because I saw it twice in the theaters. Any time I see it playing, which is infrequently unless I'm traveling and staying in a motel that has cable, I'll watch it.  I really just enjoy the movie.  Yes, it's definitely not a kid's movie and if you have an aversion to course language, I would advise not watching it, but I really don't think you can go wrong with seeing this movie, if you are a baseball fan.

"Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball,  high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap.  I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.  I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep soft, wet kisses that last three days."

"You're gonna have to learn your clich├ęs.  You're going to have to study them, you're gonna have to know them.  They're your friends.  Write this down: 'We gotta play it one day at a time.'"

"This son of a bitch is throwing a two-hit shutout. He's shaking me off.  You believe that shit?  Charlie, here comes the deuce.  And when you speak of me, speak well."

"Man that ball got outta here in a hurry.  I mean anything travels that far ought have a damn stewardess it, don't you think?"

"Yeah, I was in the show.  I was in the show for 21 days once - the 21 greatest days of my life.  You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags.  It was great.  You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains."

And, I'll leave you with this:

The photo is from the recreation yard at Alcatraz Island which I took a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Can of Corn Challenge: Swing and a miss (May)

Well, this month's challenge snuck up on me.  I blame the end of the year for my lack of activity on all fronts.  Let's face it.  It just gets plain busy at the end of the school year and time is at a premium. So this post is a basic Swing and a Miss.  

Here's a shot I took in 2013 when my daughter took me to a baseball game at Anaheim Stadium to see my beloved Angels take on the Seattle Mariners.  If I remember correctly, the Angels won, so I went home a happy camper.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Can of Corn Challenge: An early baseball memory (April)

P.J. has convinced me, or probably like tricked me into another writing challenge.  He's done a good job, noting several times in the past that I seem to write more frequently when I have these challenges in front of me, so here goes.  This is a monthly challenge, to write about baseball.  Today's topic is an early baseball memory.

I grew up in Orange County, a suburb of Los Angeles.  Disneyland was only 6 years old when we moved to California.  The Lakers hadn't hit their stride yet and baseball was all about the Dodgers.  I listened to Vin Scully on the radio for Dodger baseball, but whenever we went to a game, it was always to Anaheim, to see the Angels play.  The stadium was close to home and we'd always see either Cleveland Indians or the Chicago White Sox.  

Anyway, we'd go to the game, pay a buck fifty to sit up in the upper deck by the left field foul pole and watch an Angel game.  Always the Chicago White Sox or the Cleveland Indians.  I hadn't really thought why, but I was fairly young, so as far as I knew, the only teams in the American League were the Angels, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox.  I didn't know any different.

My first game that I can remember seeing, I saw catcher Tom Egan hit a two run homer for the Angels, then saw Andy Messersmith hit a solo shot.  Both homers cleared the left field fence and two lucky baseball fans went home with souvenirs that day.  I was shocked really.  In the past, listening to the games on the radio, I always assumed that the ball had to be thrown back on to the field so the players could keep playing.  Who knew?

From then on, I always brought a glove to the game.  We were always in the upper deck, so they never came up there, but I could still be an optimist.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stalking Geocachers

Yesterday, I went on a hike and found 3 geocaches.  Here's a YouTube video I created for one of the caches I found yesterday.  Enjoy.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The right way to apologize

Too many times, I hear about, or see famous people step up to a microphone and "apologize" for some action that they've done recently.  Usually, it's because they engaged their mouths before their brains and said something incredibly stupid or insensitive.  Almost always, the apology ends with "I apologize if I have offended anyone."

What?  Doe that mean you don't apologize if you didn't offend someone?  That's just BS in my opinion.  A good apology has four steps:

Step 1: Express remorse.  Every apology needs to start with two magic words: "I'm sorry," or "I apologize."

Step 2: Admit responsibility.  Next, admit responsibility for your actions or behavior, and acknowledge what you did.

Step 3: Make amends.

Step 4: Promise that it won't happen again.

PricewaterhouseCoopers did a whopper of a mistake at last night's Oscars award ceremony when the wrong envelope was handed to Warren Beatty and the wrong winner was announced for Best Picture.  This is what PricewaterhouseCoopers did almost immediately after they discovered the mistake.  They issued an apology.

"We sincerely apologize to 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land,' Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture," read PwC's apology.

"The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected.  We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.  We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation," added the statement.

About the only thing this didn't address was the promise that it won't happen again.  But since they've been doing this for 83 years and this is really the first time this has happened due to an error on their part, I'm pretty sure that the "Promise it won't happen again" part is implied.

I wish more people, especially famous people who say stupid or insensitive things, would look at this real apology and actually apologize and mean it the next time they screw up.  Either that, or I'm going to have to stay offended all the time to make the apology real.  But, I really shouldn't have to do that.  If you screw up, apologize for it, admit responsibility, make amends for it and promise not to do it again.  PricewaterhouseCoopers knows how to apologize.  Others should follow their lead.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Goals for the year

This post, as are most things in my life it seems, is just a little bit late.  I got caught up in the 20 days of Chill challenge and really didn't think about posting something along this line for the month of January and here's now almost halfway through February.  But as one of my students said last year, "Better late than never."

Goals that I have for myself are as follows and they fall into two main categories:  Hobbies and Personal.  Interestingly, the main personal goal is tied up with my hobbies.  If I work on that one, the others will fall into place.

First off, let me talk about hobbies.  I went out geocaching today.  Big deal most of you will say, but what you don't realize is I've only  gone out geocaching four days in the entire month of February.  In other words, I've taken a step back, slightly.  Many of you might not know is I just completed a 601 consecutive day streak where I either found a cache or attended an event.  It stretched from June 1st, 2015 until January 21st of this year.  Sunday, the 22nd felt weird not to go caching, but it rained hard all day and I was able to use the rain as justification for me not going out and finding a cache that day.

I have other geocaching goals in mind, many of them most of you will probably find quite silly, but those particular goals keep me interested in the game.  My current goal is to get every date on the calendar filled in with 11 finds each.  Since I've been geocaching since 2001, you would think that I'd found at least 11 caches on every day of the year.  Not so.  There are certain time periods, notably the months of September and December, where I am busy doing other things and geocaching takes a back seat.  Since the consecutive day streak has ended however, I can now concentrate on filling in those dates.  This won't happen by the end of the year, since I already have a couple of dates in January and February that still need to be filled in 2018.  But, at least I can put a dent in that particular goal.

Since taking a step back, I've decided that I want to find more quality caches.  If I have to walk or hike to a cache, then I rate that higher quality-wise than if I just walk up to something and find it there.  That doesn't mean I'll change my entire caching habit, but I would like to work on that aspect.  Today was a perfect example of both aspects.  I went over to Whittier today to cache along a trail in the Arroyo Pescadero.  No such luck since the trails were closed due to the weather we've been having.  So I found some nearby caches in parks and along some streets and ended up over near another large park where the trails were open and I was able to find some good quality hiking caches.  It was like the best of both worlds.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been if I'd had a caching partner, but that doesn't always work out and I'd rather do a solo hike then sit at home because I don't have someone to go caching with.

Today also made me realize why I need to step back slightly from geocaching.  On the trail today, I saw two swallowtail butterflies flitting around each other, most likely in some kind of mating or territorial ritual.  And I didn't have my camera with me.  Two years ago, I always took my camera with me.  Now, it very rarely comes out of the camera bag.  I take photos with my iPhone, but those don't compare to the ones I post here.  That's also probably one of the reasons that I don't post as often here on my blog.  The blog's title is "A Photo a Day."  I really need to get out more and take photos again.  I discovered today, that I have missed taking photos. I think the consecutive day streak had something to do with that as well.  I was pretty much consumed with making sure I found at least one geocache, that I wasn't concerned about other things that I enjoyed doing and so photography fell by the wayside.  That's going to change this year.  I just need to strike a better balance between the two.  And a better balance between the two means, more photos and thus more posts here as well.  It's a win/win all the way around.

And lastly, but probably most importantly, is my personal goal:  Lose another 15 pounds by the end of the year.  I have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.  This is not a good thing and I don't want to slide down that slippery slope and so losing weight is a very good option for me to help me avoid becoming diabetic.  In the past two years, I've lost 30 pounds.  Another 15 to 20 pounds will put me back at my college weight, which will be much healthier for me in the long run.  Hiking, and thus geocaching will help with this.  But if I can't find a geocache, then I can always walk the Thompson Creek Trail or the Claremont Wilderness loop.  A five mile hike is always good for the body and good for the soul.

Thanks for reading this. As always, I look forward to your comments.  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dear Mr. Grossman

I met you in the summer of 1986, when my girlfriend took me to meet you and your wife.  Over the course of the last 31 years, I've known you by a variety of different names.  You were Mr. Grossman for about a day, possibly two, before you became Sherwin to me.  Less than a year later, you were Dad.  I had become part of your family by marrying your youngest daughter.  Within two years you had been renamed once again, the name that you kept for the rest of your life, Grandpa.

When we first met, you were a heavy smoker.  When your daughter became pregnant with your first grandchild, you started to cut back.  We had already outlawed you from smoking inside our house, so after a dinner you'd go outside to have your smoke.  Eventually, you decided that you wanted to live longer to enjoy your grandchildren down the road, so you quit.  I'm very glad you made that decision, because you were able to enjoy your granddaughter for 27 years, and your two grandsons for 25 and 21 years.

I chose this photo of you because it's an awesome photo of you with your grandchildren.  You were one of the hardest individuals in the world to get a good smile out of.  My very last roll of film I ever took, I ended up shooting an entire roll of trying to get a good shot of you and Grandma together.  The first shot on the roll was the best and only one where you were really smiling.  This shot of you with the kids is the best I've got, but it's a good one and that's what counts.

Today, your daughter and I began the painful task of cleaning up a house after a loved one has left.  This was not a one day job, but just the first step.  However, you should know that I know, now more than ever, why your daughter is the way that she is.  You taught her very well and I hope you're very proud of that.  You have left a good legacy behind.  You were a very good father-in-law and if I can be half the father-in-law that you were, I will have to say that I have succeeded in that part of my life.

You leave behind two very loving daughters, three loving grandchildren, and one loving son-in-law.  You will be missed Grandpa.

Sherwin Grossman
March 7, 1930 - February 3, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sydney, Australia (Day 20) - 20 Days of Chill

"Go to the Uetibergbahn and get a ticket at Seinau station for the upper station.  From there, walk to the summit of Uetilberg.  You will know what to do once you get there."  That had been the last text message I received while on the plane after it had landed in Zurich.  I still had to find Herman, so I made my way to the Uetibergbahn and bought my ticket.

All the while, I kept thinking, why had Herman gotten me into this?  How had someone gotten into my house?  How had someone dognapped Herman from my back yard.  We had gotten Herman while we were on holiday in Sydney, Australia.  He was just a puppy, but we found him on a street corner along with several of his littermate as we had been walking around on the waterfront at Sydney Harbor.  The boy was trying to get rid of the dogs before he had to take them to a shelter.  My wife fell in love with Herman almost immediately, but then again, she fell in love with Jack the same way.  She saw Herman, he bounded over and put his paws on her pant legs and it was all over.  We had to have Herman.  And man, was that an adventure getting him home.  All the paperwork, just to bring a dog stateside.  

Now, however, Herman was a 130 pound German Shepherd that no one wanted to mess with if he was in his own territory.  On a walk, Herman was another story, the friendliest dog known to mankind.  But in the back yard, he'd rip an arm right off of someone who tried to come into the back yard without me giving an approving command to him.

I was startled out of my thoughts by the station conductor announcing the upper station.  I got off at the end of the line and started to make the walk to the summit.  You know, Herman would really like it here, I thought.  And that's when I saw him.  Herman was heading to me like a friend train.  BAM.  He hit me and knocked me over.  Now I was on the ground with him licking my face.  What the heck is going on here?  "Herman!  Good boy.  How did you get here?"

"Those questions will be answered in short order."

I looked over to my right and saw where the voice had come from.  Quickly, I was on my feet and running, with Herman beside me.  Then, Herman turned around, growled and charged the man, who had pulled a gun out of his pocket.

"Herman!  No!"

It was too late, the man shot and I saw Herman fall on his side.  Then the man looked at me, aimed and fired.

The next thing I heard was, "Did you hear what I said?  That's a really big tree."

Yep, is sure is," I said.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that there is a tree in California that had a branch that was larger than this entire tree.  It was at that point in time, that I realized that I needed to stop daydreaming so much and actually enjoy some of the adventures I'd been thinking about while standing on that rooftop in Philadelphia.

For the completion to others who took part in the 20 Days of Chill, please click here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

White (Day 18) - 20 Days of Chill

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas.  No, I'm really not.  Although I was born in northern Indiana, I have only one recollection of snow back from those days, of building a snowman and then watching from inside the house as my dad knocked it down later.  My dad tells me of one time when I walked off the back porch and fell head first into a snow bank.  He reached down and pulled me out by the ankles.

So snow is white, but then again, a lot of things are, but how many of them are as cool as a beluga whale?  Polar Bears maybe, but I don't have a photograph of a polar bear, so a white whale will have to do for today.  But we won't call him Moby.  No.  Besides he has too nice of a smile to be Moby, although I can understand why Moby wasn't a happy camper.  I think you'd be unhappy too if someone was always trying to spear and kill you for no reason outside of wanting some of the oil in my nose.  Heck, just mine your own teenagers nose.  There's enough oil there to fuel an entire house for a year.

For more stories about White, click here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dreams (Day 17) - 20 Days of Chill

Sweet Dreams are made of this.

A dream is a wish, your heart makes.

Thunder only happens when it's raining.

I believe you can get me through the night.

I thought of the theme today and four songs came into my head, in this order.  Can you name them all or at least give me artist or movie they came from?

For more stories about dreams, click here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cheese (Day 16) - 20 Days of Chill

Up until this past year, I'd only ever known P.J. was through the Internet.  I used to write a blog entitled Electronic Breadcrumbs, which was all about geocaching.  I believe this is how we first met, and when I got tired of writing that blog, I created this one and he eventually followed me over here.

Last summer, he went to a lot of baseball games, 75 of them in all.  I really love baseball and I think in my best year, I probably went to no more than about 20 games, so 75 is an incredible amount.  Anyway, his last three games were out here in Southern California late in September.  He flew in Saturday morning and attended the Dodger game that night, then he and his friend drove down to San Diego on Sunday morning and I met him down there and we met for the first time.  We then to the train from Qualcom Stadium to downtown San Diego and took in a Padres game at Petco Field, the first time I'd been to Petco.  Monday night he went to Anaheim to see the Angels play and then flew home.

This story, however, is about where he ate.  Since he's not from around here, he'd never been to In-n-Out.  If you live in Southern California, or have lived in Southern California, you know what In-n-Out is.  Best burger place ever.  Consistently good.  When my son went to England to study abroad, we stopped at the In-n-Out to get his last meal before leaving the country.  That's where this photo was taken.

So P.J. and his friend went to In-n-Out Saturday night and ordered standard fare.  I think he Tweeted about it and got a response back from one of his followers something on the order of, "Did you order off the secret menu?"  THERE'S A SECRET MENU???

So needless to say, we went to In-n-Out Sunday night after the game.  On the drive up there, we'd talked about the secret menu and other things related.  They ended up in one queue and I ended up in the other.  I did my standard order, "Cheeseburger, extra toasted bun, whole grill, fries and a medium drink."  The server didn't bat an eye, although extra toasted buns and whole grill are not on the main menu.  I know I've never seen whole grill on the secret menu.  P.J. wanted something a little bit more "out there" so he ended up ordering fries "Animal Style."  That's fries, with special sauce, grilled onions and cheese melted over the top.  Delicious, but not really good for my waistline anymore, so I usually don't order it.

There server was very entertained by their order.  You could tell they weren't regulars, because they stumbled over their order, but it was fun to watch. Regulars rarely stumble and if you click on the secret menu link I've posted, there are plenty of things that still aren't listed there, including the two I usually order.  

Now, I think I want to go to In-n-Out and order a order of fries Animal Style and have them hold the special sauce just to see what they'd do.  Cheese and grilled onions on fries sound good all by themselves.

For more stories about Cheese, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Zurich, Switzerland (Day 15) - 20 Days of Chill

"Your attention ladies and gentlemen.  The captain has put on the seat belt light.  We are beginning our descent into Zurich."

I started awake and quickly looked out my window and could see the sun shining off of Lake Zurich and the Swiss Alps in the distant background.  Yesterday, I had been in San Francisco and now I was getting ready to land in Switzerland.

I started to think back over what had happened in the last 48 hours or so, but it was a blur.  All that I knew is Herman was here somewhere and someone wanted me to go here as well.  It was all very suspicious, but I hadn't paid for the ticket, so I figured I was getting a free vacation out of the deal. 

My next thought was realizing that we were taxiing to the gate.  I reached in the overhead for my carry on, the only thing I had brought with me.  Suddenly, my phone buzzed.  A text.

"Go to the Uetilbergbahn and get a ticket at Seinau station for the upper station.  From there, walk to the summit of Uetilberg.  You will know what to do once you get there."

To be continued...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Next 10 Years . . (Day 14) - 20 Days of Chill

In the next 10 years, assuming we haven't destroyed one another, the leaves will still change in the fall.  The snow will fall (hopefully), and the seasons will change.  

The one thing that will be different, from my perspective is, I will be retired.  I've been teaching the hormonally schizophrenic (otherwise known as middle school students) for 34 years.  I started out teaching in Buena Park, California.  I taught there for one year, then took a teaching position at Cucamonga Junior High School, now known as Cucamonga Middle School.

I'm not quite ready to step down yet, but I can see that opening at the end of the tunnel, and it's no longer a train barreling down the track, but an open window on a new world.  I know many people who have no desire to retire for the simple reason they feel they'd be bored.  Not me.  

As I noted in another post, there's a lot of things I want to do.  One of them is to experience different places in the fall.  Having grown up in Southern California, we don't really have fall.  Leave turn colors all through our winter as it gets colder. I want to see an actual fall sometime.  I haven't been able to do that, because I'm always working in the fall.  I guess my first trip when I retire will be to New Hampshire.  Who knows?  It could happen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fears (Day 13) - 20 Days of Chill

I have a fear of heights.  It's an irrational fear I know, yet it still bothers me when I'm really high in something and there's nothing to hold on to or something like that.  

On our first anniversary, my wife and I took a trip to Seattle, Washington.  One of the things that we visited was the Space Needle.  We bought our tickets and waited for the elevator to take us to the top.  Ironically, something like this usually doesn't faze me.  But when I saw the glass elevator, I panicked a little.  

Going up was fine because I was rather rude and pushed my way to the front of the line and jumped in all the way to the back of the elevator.  At the top, I was fine, mainly because there were so many anti-suicide devices that I knew I wasn't going to fall.  Perhaps that's the fear.  It's not so much the height, but the fear of falling.

Now, going down was a different story.  I had been so comfortable up there enjoying the views, that I forgot all about the elevator.  I ended up being the last one on and so I was pressed up against the glass as we descended.  I hyperventilated and had to turn around and stare at the floor to keep from going full panic attack mode.

For the most part, I've overcome this fear.  At least I know it's irrational.  I'll readily get into planes now.  Before, there needed to be a really valid reason for me to fly before I'd even consider getting into a plane.  I know people will laugh at this considering it as rather silly, but how many of those same people will shudder when looking at either one of the photos I've used for this post?

Fears are irrational.  I think Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it best when he stated in his first inaugural speech, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."

For other stories about Fears, click here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stress (Day 12) - 20 Days of Chill

Stress.  We all have it and it affects our lives, mostly adversely.  So I guess the point of this post, is to not so much talk about stress, or what kinds of stress there are, but how I deal with it.  And you will probably deal with it in a variety of ways, most of which are probably different than mine.  And if it works for you, that's great.

I've always used this blog as a way to advertise my photos. I'm not into making money, but I do like to show off my work.  As I was looking through some photos today for one that I thought would work with what I thought I was going to write about, it hit me.  Most of the shots that I had in that particular album are stress relievers for me, because they pretty much capture what it is that I do to relieve my stress.

These are the things that I love to do, in no particular order.  Geocaching. Travel.  Photography.  They get me to start thinking about other things, they get me to reorder my priorities and they pretty much de-stress me.  

This particular photo is pretty much emblematic of all three of those things.  This was taken while finding either a virtual geocache or an earth cache in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I've been geocaching for almost 16 years.  If I didn't like it, I would have stopped a long time ago.  I enjoy the hunt for those hidden treasures and I especially like the hunt when I'm in different areas than my own.  I get to experience hides by different people.  It gives me a new perspective on the hobby.  

Travel is something that I've always done, starting at age 4 when my parents took us on a week long camping trip to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.  We tent camped then, but sometime shortly after that, my parents bought a 14 foot trailer to haul all of our gear and family around the country.  Whenever I can get on a road trip, I'll take it.  It's a great stress reliever for me.

I've been a photographer for as long as I can remember.  I used to beg my parents to let me take the Kodak Instamatic when we'd go camping.  Many of the photos that were taken on those trips were taken by me.  My parents bought me my first camera when I was in third grade.  I don't know whatever happened to that camera and it would be nice to have it again, just for old time's sake, but I took many photos with that cheap little thing.

When you're doing something you really love to do, it's pretty much impossible to be stressed.  I think stress just melts away.  As one of my friends said to me one time, "You're not going to be bored when you retire.  You have too many things that you're going to want to do."  Yep.  The less stress, the better it will be.

For more stories on Stress, click here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Selfie nation (Day 11) - 20 Days of Chill

The selfie photo has become ubiquitous over the last couple of years.  I know I'm as guilty as the next person for posting selfies, but I've also found that I've been looking at my selfies recently, I've found that I like what I see.

For the most part, I see a person who's out and about, not making duck faces at the camera in my bathroom.  If I look at them chronologically, I see a person who has lost weight over the last couple of years, yet still needs to lose some more.  That's a motivating factor.  If I don't like what I see, then my job is to fix it, which is what I've been trying to do over the past couple of year.  I've been using my Fitbit religiously, making sure I get my 10,000 daily steps.  Some days, which are usually few and far between, I'm unsuccessful in that goal, but I'm a work in progress.  

I feel I'm in better shape now, so I keep doing it.  I hiked over 3 miles yesterday and wasn't even winded when I was done.  That's a good thing.  My goal is to lose another 15 to 20 pounds.  I think if I lose half of that the next year, that will also be a good thing.

In my mind, most selfies seem to be pretty silly.  My selfies have a different purpose, at least for me.

Friday, January 13, 2017

San Francisco (Day 10) - 20 Days of Chill

As I stood there on the roof of the Franklin Institute, my mind wandered back to those trees in California and then it went to one of my favorite cities in the entire country, San Francisco.

I remembered the trip I'd taken there in July of the previous year.  Someone had told me that I needed to go there, just to enjoy the weather.  The weather?  In San Francisco?  It's cold and blustery there all the time.  What's to enjoy?  "Just go," the voice said. So I went.

Something compelled me to go to the Golden Gate Bridge.  

"Walk across it."

So I found a place to park on the southern side and walked with all of the tourists all the way across the bridge.  Now, the fear of heights has always been strong in me, but for some reason, I wasn't worried, even as I felt the bridge sway in the strong breeze.

I walked to the north side, took many photos, and then explored a couple of areas over there.  People were taking selfies with the bridge in the background.  People were getting in each other's ways.  I was trying to get the best spot possible for that shot of a lifetime.  The fog was starting to roll in and I wanted to get the clouds as they passed over the bridge.

I waited patiently, probably irritating many of the people around me who wanted my spot for their own photo.  I wasn't budging.  There, I got it.  I started to pack up my equipment, when I felt someone bump into me.

As always, my immediate response is to check for my wallet.  Nope, it was still there.  But, as I felt my wallet in my back pocket, I also felt the round end of something hard pressing into my right kidney.

"Listen.  If you want to see Herman alive again, you're going to take this ticket to the airport and get on the plane.  DON'T LOOK AROUND!  Just take the ticket and get back over to your car and drive to the airport."

Whoever it was pressed something into my hand.  Then, he was gone as quickly as he'd snuck up behind me.  I didn't even have a chance to turn around and get a good glimpse of him because of the crowds.  So I looked into my hand and there was the airline ticket...IN MY NAME!  Who was this guy, and how did he know Herman?  I guess I'd have to get on that plane and find out.

But wait, I don't have my passport with me.  This is an overseas flight.  I started to panic, but I knew that I needed to get on that plane.  So I packed up the rest of my equipment and started that long walk back across the bridge.  When I got back to the other side, I hiked down to my car, opened the trunk of the car and got another surprise.  There, in the trunk, was my suitcase, packed and ready to go.  Curious.  I reached into the front zippered pocket, knowing full well what I'd find there.  If whoever was behind this, had been able to break into my house and break into my car, I knew I'd find my passport where I always kept it. 

I reached in and felt around smiling slowly.  This guy was good.

Looks like I was going to Zurich.

To be continued.......

For other stories, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Booze and Bongos (Day 9) - 20 Days of Chill

The truck had been abandoned in the field.  You could see the tires were worn and peeling from too many years in the hot sun.  The nearby shack was in a state of "arrested decay," whatever that meant.

The rain clouds were piling up against the nearby mountains.  It was going to rain, and probably rain hard, with possibly some hail thrown into the mix for good measure.  The animals knew.  They were already out of sight, hunkering down for the long storm that had been building all afternoon in the summertime heat.  

The only thing that was moving was an older man, with a limping gait staggering along as best he could.  He was going to get wet.  The truck was totaled and he had nowhere to go.  The shack was empty, but it was going to give little protection against the clouds that were within minutes of dropping their moisture upon him.

He thought to himself, "How had it gotten this bleak this quickly?" The answer was quite simple.  Too much booze and not enough bongos.

For other stories about booze and bongos, please click here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Blue (Day 8) - 20 Days of Chill

Plain and simple, Old Guys Rule.  It says so right there on the wall.  

I can't really call this a selfie, since my son took the photo, although I set it up.  I love this photo for a number of reasons.  One, I think it captures my personality pretty well.  And two, it's me from two years ago and 30 pounds heavier.  I think I would be feeling blue if I still weighed that much.  I'm not done yet, as I believe I still have at least 15 more pounds to shed, but I think I'm heading in the right direction.

And that's not feeling blue at all, although my shirt certainly is.

For more stories about Blue, click here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dream winter vacation (Day 7) - 20 Days of Chill

I had a great shot all planned for today, but now when I'm looking for it, I can't find it.  But I have a back up photo for this one, so it's all good.

I live in Southern California, have so for all of my life.  I don't do snow, so to think about a dream winter vacation is pretty much a stretch for me, unless you're thinking about somewhere tropical during the winter months.  

As most people know, I love to travel.  Natural wonders are my destination of choice.  When the kids were little, I used to take them camping all of the time.  We went to Joshua Tree, we went to Sequoia, we went to Yosemite, we went beach camping at San Simeon and Hearst Castle.  You get the drift.  We didn't camp in the winter time, because we were in a tent.  Way too cold to be camping like that, although I know people who would do that too.  Not me.

Now as I'm older, I have many destinations I still would like to see, but as far as a dream vacation be it winter or not?  The only vacations I want to go on now are the ones where my love is at my side.
Go here to read other Dream Winter vacations.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nicknames (Day 6) - 20 Days of Chill

Nicknames.  I haven't had many nicknames growing up.  My brother-in-law used to call me PJ, because I was a junior as opposed to that being my middle name, but I haven't really gotten any nicknames growing up.

Now, as an adult, I've accumulated quite a few nicknames.  Probably from people on the road calling me idiot or asshole.  Hey, you don't like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk buddy.  Funny thing is, I'm not a fan of nicknames, and yet two of our three children growing up had nicknames.  Go figure that one out.

Now, for many of you, you'll know that I use the screen name Webfoot a lot.  I've already created a nickname for myself.  I don't need a nickname for my nickname.  I'm Webfoot, not Webster, not Webby, but Webfoot. I don't understand why some people insist on shortening someone's name, even if it's an avatar name.  And I know, the photo has nothing to do with this post, outside it shows Webfoot and Tadpole95 right after they found a geocache up near Pt. Reyes, California.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Philadelphia (Day 5) - 20 Days of Chill

The two of us stood on the roof of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  We had been thrown together as part of the Franklin Institute's Fellowship program for educators of technology.  I was from California, while he was a native of the Massachusetts area.  The view from up there gave us a different perspective to the nearby tourist attractions of the "City of Brotherly Love."

One of the people from the Institute who we were working with that weekend in August told us a story about many people running up the steps of the Institute pretending they were Rocky.  Little did they know that Rocky ran up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was situated to the northwest of the Franklin Institute up Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  The Franklin Institute, which overlooked Logan Square, was featured in the movie "National Treasure" with Nicholas Cage who just knew that there was a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

As we stood up there, looking out over Logan Square, my newly acquired friend commented on the tree that was growing in front of the Institute.  We were on the roof, basically five stories above the square and the top of the tree in front of the museum was slightly above our heads, no more than 10 feet at the most.

My friend said, "You know, this is a pretty big tree."

Looking at the tree, I realized, that from his perspective, it probably was.  I remembered one time when I was taking in the sights at Bryce Canyon National Park and my wife and I were walking along a trail with a bunch of other tourists and we came around a corner and encountered a couple of deer.

One woman exclaimed, "Oh, look at the deer."

I said, "Yep, those are deer."

Then, this woman went off on me, exclaiming that I had no appreciation for God's creatures and that I should be excited when I encounter nature in its element.

I looked at the woman and said, "Oh it's not that I don't appreciate nature, it's just that I just came from Yellowstone yesterday."

The look of comprehension on the woman's face said it all.  However, I heeded her remark and decided that from that day forward, I would show more appreciation for other people's perspective.

"Did you hear what I said?  That's a really big tree."

"Yep, it sure is," I said.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that there is a tree in California that had a branch that was larger than this entire tree.  Everything depends upon one's perspective. be continued.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I found a ball … (Day 4) - 20 Days of Chill

Since this blog is entitled A photo a day, I went looking through my flickr feed for a ball.  I was looking for a shot of a baseball I'd taken a photo of last year.  I didn't find that one, but I found a ball anyway.  Actually, I found lots of balls.

This is a temporary artwork that was set up in MacArthur Park in 2015 entitles the Spheres of MacArthur Park.  The artist who set up this artwork is Ed Massey

The artwork, 4 to 6 feet tall painted spheres, was part of Portraits of Hope, an organization devoted to creating public art installations that serve as creative therapy for children with disabilities and those in hospitals coping with cancer, burn trauma, and head injuries.  Most of the spheres were painted by people with disabilities. 

So today, I found several balls.  See other stories about this theme here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Photograph (Day 3) - 20 Days of Chill

One of the things I love about photography is the freedom to explore different areas where I wouldn't have gone 5 years ago.  In 2011, I joined the 365 Project which challenges photographers to shoot at least one shot every day for 365 consecutive days.

Now, for those of you who know me well, when I dive into something, I dive into it full cannonball mode.  Not only did I do an entire year, I did a second year, not missing a single day of picking up my DSLR camera and taking at least one shot.

Looking back on some of those early shots, I think I would be embarrassed to even show those shots the light of day today.  I can distinctly remember a shot of three different kinds of hotdogs.  Who posts photos of hotdogs anyway?  Yeah, well I did.

One aspect of photography that has intrigued me over the years has been street photography.  When I first started doing the project, I rarely took candid shots just walking down the street.  Over the course of the first year I became bolder and now I find myself enjoying taking street photography.  This particular shot is one of my better street shots I've taken. Because I feel street photography works better in monotones, that's how I usually process them.  Every now and then, I'll post a street photograph in color, but most of the time, I find the black and white aspect of the shot gives it more detail and dramatic effect.

Please check out others interpretations of the theme Photograph here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Little red wagon (Day 2) - 20 Days of Chill

Since the photo is dated December 1994, I'm going to say the wagon was a Christmas present that year.  I liked to take family photos around this time as well, so it made sense that the wagon make an appearance in the kids' photos for this year.  

It was bright red, with wooden sides, although we didn't put the wood side on the front, as it made it easier to get in and out of the wagon.  Ages five and three were the perfect age for this wagon.  They filled it with toys and hauled things around in the front yard as well as the back yard.  Sometimes the older one would pull the younger one around, but not often.

By the time the third kid came along the following year, the wagon had already seen better days.  It was used hard and often, a sign of love for most kids.  I've not known a toy of my own that didn't have scratches, dents and dings in it, usually from the first week of use.  If it didn't have those dings, it wasn't used much and was probably not a good buy.  This wagon was a good buy.

When I first saw the theme for today, I knew this was the photo I was going to use.  It's one of my favorites of the two older ones as they were growing up.  Hard to believe they're 27 and 25 now.  I wonder where that wagon is now.

Check out other stories of red wagons here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

About your blog (Day 1) - 20 Days of Chill

Well, here we are again.  It's January and time for P.J.'s annual 20 Day of Chill blogging challenge.  Today's theme is "About your blog."  

The title of the blog is a Photo a Day, but I think the real deal with this blog is "Best Intentions not Realized."  Last year is a perfect example of what I mean.  I posted 23 times with this blog, but 20 of those posts were done in January (Can you Say 20 Days of Chill?  Very good.  I knew you could.).  My last post of 2016 was in June.  You'd think that I could have posted more since I was in the middle of summer vacation.  But as I've stated above, this blog is all about best intentions but there's no follow through.  And yes, I could say, it's going to change this year.  Maybe, maybe not.

So here we go again.  My photo for the day is one I took on the 1st at a memorial while I was out geocaching.  I have been at this particular memorial more than once, mainly because there have been more than one geocache to find here over the past 15 years.  I think the photo serves as a reminder that we need to remember that the freedoms we enjoy have always come at a price.

Now, back to the blog at hand.  I always cross post this to my Facebook page.  I tend to get more comments there than I ever get here, although I think I'd like to have people comment on the actual blog.  I think that would give me a sense of who are actually reading it.  I pretty much know who's reading it on Facebook.  I think that might be part of my problem.  I like to read other's comments and will usually respond back.  Sometimes those comments prompt me to write about other things down the road.  When people comment on Facebook, I'll end up commenting there, but that's about where it ends.

So who knows where this goes?  I'm not sure, but I now I'll probably do this for the 20 days in January and then we'll see where it goes from there.  Thanks for reading and as always comments are always welcome.  I won't bite.