Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Breakfast with Santa

My employer, the College of Southern Idaho, hosts a "Breakfast with Santa" every year. More accurately, the Program Board of the Student Senate of the college sponsors the breakfast with Santa. In other words, the students of CSI make a special day for the children of our community. It's a fun activity that our kids have come to love. We've taken our kiddies every year since we've lived in Twin Falls.

This year we took just Cate and Cole (the older boys being much too mature for such a thing). As you can see, they are of an age to really enjoy activities like this. It was fun to see them have such fun.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Look at the form

Check out the elegance and the grace...

Josh would not be happy to see that I'm posting pictures of his school's winter program, but he did so well that I can't resist sharing. He won't see it, probably, anyway, as the only thing he does online is play StarCraft II.

It was a very nice program. Xavier Charter School did very well. See other pics online.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Here comes Santa Claus

Who knew that Santa Claus lane was only accessible via helicopter...

This picture is of our kids at the Magic Valley Airport watching Santa and his trusted elf walk across the tarmac after disembarking from a helicopter. It was quite exciting for the little ones. Can't you tell how excited Colton (on the right) is?
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cute Cate Curl

I was helping Caitlin wash her hands this evening and I saw this little curl. Totally unplanned, but completely cute. Happily, she let me take a picture or two.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Well... not exactly toothLESS, but certainly lacking in the dental department for awhile. You can't see them, but those two front teeth are finally starting to peek through the gums.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Keri and I took the family to Rexburg on the 7th to help celebrate the birth of her nephew's newest child. It was a fun day with family, and I ate WAY too much food at the luncheon. That's another story, though.

On the way home from Rexburg, we saw Old Glory streaming in the wind in Rigby, with the setting sunlight gleaming from behind. Old Glory - streaming and gleaming.

I cropped this version to 16:10 which is just right (or pretty close) for you folks who have widescreen monitors. Feel free to use this as your wallpaper for a few days, if you like.

If you are wondering about my title, let's just say that the power behind the throne should always be the people-- the voice and will of the people who care deeply about doing what they believe is right. Thanks, Mom, for helping me understand what this beautiful flag stands for.

And a belated thank you to the women and men who have served, and fought, and died to keep us free.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Lilly! Back!"

"Lilly! Back!"

That's what Caitlin said when she got home from school and saw this little cutie. Her name (we finally concluded, after much agonizing and discussion) is actually "Sammie," but to Catie, she's her long lost dog returned.

About 6 weeks ago, Cate started including our little dog, Lilly, (the one who was killed in January) in her recitations of who is in our family. It's been kind of touching and sad. Cate just simply insists that Lilly is still part of our family (and I guess she is, if you believe in resurrection for animals). We've been planning to get a new dog since Lilly died, but waiting until we could dog-proof our very porous fence (which still hasn't happend, but will have to soon, of course).

Yesterday, I was in a meeting in Boise and I got a text from Keri asking if she could buy this dog. A neighbor was selling the pups from a litter born in August, and this was the last little girl doggie. Part of Keri's text read, "Pllllleeeeeaaaaasssseee!!!!!" How could I resist?

Sammie's had her dewclaws removed, her first shots, and she's mostly house trained. Seems like a pretty good deal.

So, Catie and I both came home to a new little dog at our house. We've all been missing Lilly (and we still do), but this is one cute dog, and we are having some fun getting to know her.
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

A couple more

These two pictures were supposed to have been uploaded with the ones yesterday. I don't know what happened.

Anyway, I wanted to have each of the kids represented.

See, Clint... semi-monthly. :)
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween haunting

Technically speaking, tomorrow is Halloween, of course. Our ward (and the adjacent 7th ward) had a "trunk or treat" tonight, however, so we did our sucrose reveling a day early. The kids had some fun dressing up and overdosing on processed sugar. I had some fun taking pictures of them after we got home. 

And I posted my semi-monthly blog entry.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

LDS General Conference on Kindle

I'm not sure I've done it all properly -- in terms of making a really workable Kindle document (it seems to work okay so far) -- but I've gathered up all the sessions of the recent General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (including the General Relief Society Meeting) into one file and made it available for Kindle users.

Of course, the copyright still belongs to the Church, so if I should not make this available to others, I hope someone will let me know (please use the comments section - it's monitored) and I'll take down the link.

In the meantime, Kindle users, this may prove useful. Let me know what you think (also via the comments section). How would you do it differently? How can I make it better?

My review of my Kindle is still coming--- I promise.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just a note . . .

. . .  to say that my wife's Spanish omelets are a darn good way to end the day. A little Tabasco jalapeno sauce and an ice-cold glass of milk. Perfection.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Do you name your possessions?

When I was in the Dominican Republic for my church many moons ago, I had a companion who cleverly named some of his more treasured possessions. For example, as I recall, his bicycle was Teancum, and his briefcase was Gus.

The love affair that some Kindle owners are apparently having with their new reading buddies has inspired them to name their precious possessions. I'm thinking of doing the same.

Let's make it a poll... What name do you think is appropriate for Clark's Kindle?

(I can't wait to see what y'all say.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm on facebook

Okay. Of course I'm on facebook. I have been for quite some time.

Tonight, however, I made a facebook page for Clark Draney Photography, which is me too.

"Like" me and I'll include a DVD of your portrait session at no charge.

I've been kindled.

I think most serious readers were intrigued and a little excited by the appearance of Amazon's Kindle a couple of years ago. I know I was. The whole concept just seems right for folks who like to read. Lots of books at one's fingertips all the time. "Want that new bestseller but don't have the time or inclination to head for the mall? Why not download it instead and start reading RIGHT NOW?" Variable font sizes, built-in dictionary, no monthly bills for the connectivity etc. etc. etc.

Let's not forget the geek factor. The Kindle is a gadget and a pretty cool one at that.  E-readers have been around awhile, but Kindle pulls together the best features (it seems to me) and has the influence of Amazon there to get titles into the device. Clickity, clickity, click.

But let's talk price. What did they cost when they first appeared? $300 smackers, or something? Too dang rich for my blood. And you still have to buy the books. With books available for just a single click, I'd probably be buying left and right and racking up a huge ole bill in no time. Yikes.

After a few days of drooling and dreaming, I decided it was not time for me to kindle.

So, a couple of weeks before my birthday (which is August 24th, for those of you keeping track), Keri asked me what I wanted. I hopped on Amazon and updated my wish list. I put a few books, a couple of DVDs, and some other reasonably priced things on there. And, just for fun, I added the new Kindle. Just as a joke, you know?

Of course, you know where this is going.

Afternoon of my birthday: Keri hands me a package and a stack of cards. The package was a book from my list (the very useable and useful Speaker's Guide to 40 Years of General Conference). The cards were fun and touching cards from the kids, a sweet note from Keri that reminded me of the many, many reasons I married her, and one more surprise-- a note that read "These items are back-ordered and will be delivered when available." On the card were images of a Kindle and a black leather Kindle cover. Wow! What fun!

The Kindle and cover were back-ordered because the newest Kindle, the third edition*, was just released and was in heavy demand, so I had to wait. The order page indicated that orders from the date Keri bought it were shipping around Sept 10th. I haunted the Kindle forums** on Amazon for several days until, miracle of miracles, my Kindle was delivered earlier than expected on Sept 8th. Hurray!

So... does the Kindle live up to its hype? That'll be the subject of another day's post.

*Don't call the newest Kindle the K3, though. The official term is Kindle (Latest Generation). I wonder though,...what happens when a newer generation comes out next year? Will that be the Latestest Generation?

**The main forum I paid attention to was the one that indicated when people in my shipping wave were getting their notifications and their actual shipments. A fun forum that continues to amuse is one about the extracurricular activities of electronic devices.
(BTW,The price is much closer to "right" now. Just $189 for the whole shootin' match (the one with 3G and wi-fi), and only $139 for the wi-fi only version. WAY reasonable.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Despicable Me

Despicable Clark. That's right.

Okay. That's too strong. Of course it is. I posted that little note about feeling selfish, etc. Several of you true-blue friends chimed in to say encouraging things. Thanks. It meant a lot. Really.

I still think there's an element of truth in what I wrote though. I don't mean to get all philosophical on all-y'all or anything, but I think most of what most of people do boils down to a kind of self-interest. Call it enlightened self-interest (as Voltaire and others did), but it's still quite a bit about "what in it for me?" Right?


Here's an example. I'm contemplating taking on some different responsibilities in my department. The person who holds the position now believes that the holder of the position should teach only comp. I love teaching comp, but I don't want to let go of my lit teaching. Rather than thinking of the ways in which teaching only comp would be good for the department and for students, or thinking about how teaching comp and lit together while holding the above-named position makes sense for the department or for students, I'm thinking only of my selfish desire to continue to teach lit. See? It's all about me.

Or, here's another...

Let's say that the person who cleans my office is something of a jabbermouth--- loves to hang out in my office and chat while I'm trying to work. Let's say, also, that I find out that this person lives alone and his/her only companion, a faithful dog, has just died. Out of a sense of ... what? ... duty? I decide to spend a little more time each day talking to this person. Am I doing that because he/she needs the chance to talk? Or am I doing it so the person will continue to do a bang-up job on cleaning up my work space? Or to keep him/her from taking my Hot Tamales? Or ... What is my motive?

One more,

Do I serve in my church calling (or my community volunteer position) because I have a genuine desire to be of help to and to make the lives of others better, or am I doing the things I do in that setting because I want people to like me or to say nice things about me or so I can put those things on my next rank advancement application (which means more $$ if I succeed in advancing in rank, and everything is about money, right?)? What is my motive?

I know, of course, that our motives are marvelously mixed. We do things for all kinds of crazy (and sane) reasons. I guess I'm just trying to examine what I do and why, and trying to think more about how what I do creates happiness or sadness, offers opportunities or shuts them down, for the important people in my life.

So I'm selfish, but I'm trying to be enlightened. Does that fly?

Monday, September 6, 2010

See what happens?

When classes begin, I drop off the face of the blogging planet.

And now that classes are also beginning for 4 of our 5 children, I'll be even more of a blog basket case. Ah so.

I've decided, by the by, that I am one of the most selfish people I know. I've been analyzing my behavior of late, and I've come to the uncomfortable realization that almost everything I do is for me-- in one way or another. It kinda makes me sick to realize it, but I think it's more than a little true.

The funny thing is, that's not the way I want to be. Being all wrapped up in myself makes a pretty small package. Really.

Sad, too.

So. What am I going to do about  it?

I don't know yet. But I do know that I'm going to give it some serious thought and make a plan.

More on this before long, I hope.

Monday, August 23, 2010

And so it starts (again)

Here we go again, folks. Classes begin today. Are you ready? I'm not.

Well... I am, sort of. When Colton (our youngest) came in at 4:14 needing some attention, I felt that old familiar feeling in my gut-- that nervousness that indicates I'd better step up and get to work. Now what I mean is that if I go in to something feeling calm and comfortable, I usually make a wreck out of it. Too much confidence means I don't pay the price to be ready, to teach well. A little twinge in the stomach, however, indicates that I need to sit down, study it out, and do my best. That approach much more often leads to a successful outcome.

So, after I took care of Colton and got back into bed, I lay there for a few minutes thinking about what I need to do today-- what needs to be done to be ready for class at 10AM. After about 3.5 minutes of that, I just went ahead and got up.

It's been a good morning. I've gotten a lot done already and I'm eager for the rest of the "to do" list.

How's your day so far?

Friday, August 20, 2010

To tell or not to tell

When I was in graduate school I learned that keeping 50% of students in an online class is a success story. The attrition or drop-out rate for online classes has always been much, much higher than for f2f (face to face) classes. Keep half and you're doing great. I learned that concept as a maxim, but my experience has borne it out. Students taking classes from afar (often) or taking online versions of classes for convenience sake (or laziness, sometimes, I think) just don't finish as often as students who have to come to class and face the music a couple or three times a week.

In fact, sometimes students enroll in an online course and never do a single thing in the course. They don't enroll in the Blackboard site (online course management site), they don't submit assignments, they don't respond to email, and they don't drop the class by the drop deadline. They're like ghosts-- present in name only. Of course students who behave thus (a lack of behavior, really) have to receive a failing grade even though they could have avoided such simply by dropping the course by the 12th week.

Then there are those who complete a few assignments, but quite doing so at week 4 or 6 or 9. A few even do all the work, but fail to turn in the course portfolio or the final paper or fail to take the final exam-- thus disqualifying themselves for a "completion" or a "pass." As much as I encourage and empower (I really don't like that word-- too ambiguous) and cajole, students just don't finish-- some of them anyway. What's up with that?

I've thought some this summer about what to say (write) to students who will be in my online classes. I always send a cheery, informative, and encouraging (though realistic) email message which spells out what they'll need to do to be successful in the course. I've wondered if I should tell students that half of the class will likely disappear or stop participating before the end of the term. Would that help them see how seriously they should take the course requirements? Would it strengthen their resolve to step up and do they work? Or would it give them an easy out?

"Dr. Draney said half of us wouldn't finish. I guess I'm in that half."

What do you think? Have you taken an online class? How did it go? What motivated you to do well? What kinds of communications about expectations did you get from your instructor(s)?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From the archive (again)

In-service week started on Monday, which means that classes start next Monday. I came down with something mean yesterday about mid-day, and I spent about 16 hours in bed with a scalding fever. I'm feeling a bit better tonight, but needless to say, I haven't been up to blogging much. I searched through the archive briefly and found this pic. I was in Boston last year for a publisher's junket and had an afternoon to wander downtown Boston. This picture was taken in a cemetary where all kinds of colonial folks are buried.

Maybe I blogged about all this last year. My fever isn't quite gone and I'm too tired to check.

Here's to a good night's rest and a fresh new day tomorrow.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Lucious Lawn

I was outside yesterday mowing and trimming and etc. when this fellow walks by. "Are you the new owner then?" he says. "Um, no," I say, "We've lived here for six years." (It was six years exactly on Tuesday, in fact.) "Oh," he says, "Well... you've certainly improved the yard recently. I assumed it was because you had just moved in." "Um, thanks," I say. (I haven't changed anything except the watering scheme. I guess green grass really makes a difference.)

This picture is a little bit deceiving because there's actually a fair amount of weeds you can't see from this angle. It is true, however, that our lawn has never been this green this late in the season. I have finally figured out a fairly good watering scheme (involving timers and hoses and the like-- because we still don't have an in-ground system).

Don't look too closely though. No flowers this year.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Catie's cute cake

This lucious bit of patry looks store-bought, doesn't it? It's actually much, much better than store-bought. It was made, by hand (and with loads of love), by our talented and generous friend Michelle Arrington. Very cool, huh!

It tasted just as good as it looks. Lucious!
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This birthday girl is happy

Of course, Catie is happy a lot of the time. Happy is her default setting. She was pretty pleased by her little birthday presents, though, and she showed it.
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Scout Cabaret

Here are a few pictures of the Snake River Council's annual Cabaret on Saturday. This year the Osmond Brothers performed. It was quite a night. Lots of memories and fun. And a few dollars to support boy scouting in the Magic Valley.
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sudden summer shower

If you were in or near Twin Falls today, you saw (felt, heard, had to clean up after) this heavy downpour. What a refreshing change of pace in the (near) middle of the day. The kids had fun watching from the safety of the indoors.

The storm cooled things off for a while, but then it got a bit muggy as the sun reemerged and the temp went back up. It was nice while it lasted.

I think I can turn my sprinklers off for tomorrow. What do you think?
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Caitlin

August 4th. Caitlin's birthday. Six years ago today we were living in Pocatello, but were within days of moving to Twin Falls. I'd gotten the job at CSI and we were excited to be moving into our own home. We also knew that Cate was coming and that she had Down Syndrome. It was, to say the least, an exciting and tumultuous time. Caitlin was born on the 4th, we moved on the 10th and she got out of the hospital on the 11th. Keri went back to Pocatello, spent that last night in the hospital with Cate, and then brought her home to our house here. And our lives changed forever, as they say.

There are many challenges living with a child with a disability. I can tell you unequivocally, however, that the blessings outweigh the minor troubles. When Cate looks at you like she's doing in this picture, it can make your whole terrible, no-good, nasty day change.

We don't know what the future holds, but Cate is making continual and excellent progress in physical therapy and in her speech. She's not in her peer group as far as developmental things are concerned, but she's doing just fine. And we see the sky as the limit to what she can do. She's a blessing and a delight.

How lucky we are!
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Get busy on those merit badges

I missed scout camp this year. Our family schedule worked out differently, and I didn't get to go. I did get a glimpse of it in this video though. It was made by my friends, the Carters. Enjoy (and get busy on that Family Life merit badge)!

Camp Bradley Merit Badge Video (Old Spice spoof)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shadow leadership

What you see in this picture is a scout leader anonymously (I intentionally chose the shot with his face hidden) helping boys learn how to handle the Unites States flag. What you don't see here is the 4 minutes prior to the picture as he let them make a few mistakes and try on their own to manage the flag ceremony. It was clear that they'd had training and some practice, but in the pressure of the moment and with parents watching, the training was momentarily forgotten. So... the leader stepped up and whispered a few well-chosen reminders in the boy's ear.

These youngsters won't be able to do a flag ceremony completely on their own after just this one experience, but after 5 or 6 more such experiences, they will. And they won't soon forget such experiences if they are allowed to do them mostly on their own most of the time. They will own both the mistakes and the successes and will be better men for them.

That's how to lead boys and young men.
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Draney Camp 2010

Righteous traditions build strong families. Our family assembles yearly for Draney Camp. We camp & cook, laugh & learn, paintball & pow-wow for three days in the splendid Utah wilderness. We teach our children to look to God and see themselves as the eternal, celestial beings that they are.  It's a good thing. Below is a sampling of our camp.

Whiterocks Canyon - Uintah Mountains - near Neola, Utah.

Big brother loves little sister.

Glow-stick fun

Camp dirt is clean dirt, right?

More pics of Draney Camp 2010 are available:

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