Friday, January 6, 2012

Lamp lighting

The lights in my office at the college, like lights in work spaces all over the world, are fluorescent. When I moved in to this office more than seven years ago, the woman I shared the space with then proposed that we leave the fluorescent lights off and use warmer, less-flickery, incandescent lights (lamps of various kinds) instead. It seemed like a good idea, so we bought a couple of lamps, and brought some from home and made our space a little more livable.

I'm sharing the space with another person now, but I still can't bring myself to turn on the overhead lights. I like my lamps. They make the office a little like a cave to some people's view, but the lighting is much more restful and I can work here all day without getting that headache that seems to accompany time under the tubes.

1/30s, f/4.2, ISO 800, focal length 32

I got a couple of new lamps recently. The above is one of them, perched atop a stack of folders of student work and next to a pile of books I'm reviewing for course adoption. In this photograph I like the combination of light/dark, color progression, patterns, etc. I saw that stack of folders arranged like that as I was ending the semester last year and said to myself, "I've got to take a picture of that."

So I did.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A photo thingie again

You won't remember this, probably, but a couple of years ago I started the new year with a quasi pledge to take and post new photographs from time to time-- a way to keep the blog alive and give myself a creative jolt.

You might remember more about the Dektol Jitters blog that I joined a year or so ago (it was in Feb '11 that we started it up, I believe). I've neglected that project to a certain extent too.

Here's my quasi pledge to carry the camera, and even occasionally use it.

I love the new year. New beginnings and all that. Doing the photo thingie again will be a good way to avoid the doldrums that "they" say afflict us this time of year.

That's the plan, anyway.

Here, then, is a photo I took a few days ago at a 50th wedding anniversary party that I was hired to photograph. I like the energy in this little guy.

The month's theme for Dektol Jitters is "motivation." What's more motivational than kinetic kids?

1/15s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, focal length 105mm

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Something from last summer . . .

The following is a post I wrote last summer but never published. I came across it today while cleaning up my blog a little. I'm not sure why I never quite finished it for posting. For what it's worth, here it is...

I have to admit, when we pulled up to Myrtle Point at West Magic, I was thinking "THIS is where the Fathers & Sons outing is going to be?" To my cynical eye, it didn't look promising. Flat, featureless. No trees, no appealing place to stake a tent. I halfway considered turning around and heading home. If not for two boys who wanted to come, I probably would have. The only attractive part of the vista was the lake, and we didn't come prepared to do anything in the water.

You see, I'm not much of a sportsman. I don't hunt. I don't hike (much). I don't camp but only three or four times a year. Most of all (as it applies to this story), I don't fish. One of the superdads there had several poles set up and had caught half a dozen fish by the time we arrived. His darling son was toddling around, happy as could be, enjoying time with his Dad.

Me? I was dreading putting up the tent and enduring wind-blown sand in my shorts for the second time in three weeks.

But, we do these activities because we appreciate the camaraderie with other men who are trying to do right by their sons. Parenting is the most important job in the world, we tell ourselves, so we spend a full day preparing for a half day camping so we can spend another full day cleaning up from the excursion. Yeah!

One of my boys commandeered my little waterproof digital camera and spent most of his time taking pictures of a dead rattlesnake he and the other boys had found. (When we arrived, we were told by no less than three people that they'd killed eight or ten rattlesnakes in the previous five days, so we'd better be on the lookout.) When he gave me back the camera, I couldn't quite bring myself to delete the pictures and the videos he'd shot, even though they are mostly blurry, mostly of tilted horizons, and mostly him trying out the underwater video feature (lots of beautiful shots of murky water and floating things). While videoing, he keeps up a running commentary on his view of the world that perhaps he'll like to hear some day.

My other son, age 5, was content to screech back and forth between the campfire (such as it was) and the water's edge--- daring himself to get a little wet and finding all sorts of interesting rocks and driftwood. We had to select just those eight or nine thousand pieces that he prized most highly to bring back with us, otherwise the level of the lake would have dropped precipitously for all the gravel we'd have hauled away.

Me? I ate a couple of cold hot dogs and drank a couple of Shastas while we waited our turn on the coals to cook our hobo dinners. To get out of the wind, I huddled behind a strange concrete bomb shelter of a picnic canopy with a couple of other dads who hadn't brought fishing gear and we watched our boys to keep them from wandering off into rattlesnake territory.

When the time came, we inflated the air mattress to fit under the shell in the back of our pickup (I lied earlier about the tent thing), and discovered that it was too wide to fit between the wheel wells. We plopped it in there anyway and spent the night sleeping on top of each other, feeling rather like the innards of a taco. At least we were warm.

I hope that these experiences are memories we give to our children. Spending two days preparing for and cleaning up from an uncomfortable half day is an example of staying at our parental posts. We are were we should be when we get out of our personal comfort zones to do for and be with our children.

A wise and eloquent leader once said that a committed disciple of Christ "sees prevention, especially through good families, as a superior life-style. Parents, therefore, should stay at their posts. If those at the front lines are persuaded to leave their posts to help the reserves build “promising” fall-back fortifications, such parents simply guarantee that both the front lines, and all other lines of defense, will be savagely overrun. Parents, like a symphony conductor, lead those who actually produce the music; we would be dismayed, however, if an anxious conductor deserted his podium in mid-passage to become a flutist."

That last part sounds just a tad preachy to me now, but I believe that parents do have a unique role that they (and society) often underestimate. 
Anyway, there's a post for today--- something more than a post about what I had for lunch. 


This is a test. If this had been an actual posting, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for further instructions.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last lazy day

The kids are back in school today, so Keri and I are taking it REALLY easy. I have enough to do before classes start that I plan to go back to the college tomorrow, but today is a day for wearing PJs, reading the Steve Jobs biography (pretty engaging reading so far), watching old movies (does You've Got Mail count as old yet?), and making egg sandwiches (thank you David and Rachel for the amazing little device that makes 'em so nicely).

I've been reading some interesting   things about goal setting recently. A maxim you've heard, not doubt, is, "If it isn't written down then it isn't a goal." Perhaps one of my next posts will be the writing down part of goal setting. I'm thinking of lots of the usual suspects (the ones having to do with weight and fitness, and the ones having to do with patience and fatherly kindness). What else might I be thinking of? What are you resolving to do more (or less) of this year? How do you stick with it?

The new internet service is shaping up nicely. I'm wondering, though... any Netflix users out there on the CableOne 50GB data plan? If you watch Netflix to your hearts' content, how much data do you use in a month? Just curious what my bill is going to be.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kindles for Christmas

So I got that Kindle I wrote about a few weeks ago. It was actually for our son for Christmas, but I justified opening it and "configuring" it for him because of Amazon's free app of the day. I was glad to be able to get a bunch of games and few other things on it for him in advance of Santa putting it under the tree. My friends laughed at me for how much time I spent "configuring" it.

Anyway... I also secretly got one for Keri. She played with our son's a few times and I could tell that she would like one, so I got one and secreted it at my office. Christmas secrets are fun.

Christmas morning... surprise, surprise... Keri got me one too. We both pulled out these "special" packages that weren't under the tree and handed them to each other. Fun! So now we have three Kindle Fires in the house. Fun, fun. All those apps and stuff now get used thrice. Fun, fun, fun!

Probably my favorite thing about the Fire is the Church's Gospel Library app (which is now available for the Fire natively--- no more need to sideload it). Scriptures, conferences, study manuals, lesson manuals, handbooks, etc. --- all in one place, cross-referenced and "clickable." With an LDS account, you can even sync your study notes and highlights with the online study notebook at The ability to "play" with this app has lead me to spend more time in the scriptures and in conference addresses than I ever have. Hurray for technology, eh?

We also upgraded our internet from DSL to cable. All these wireless devices in the house competing for bandwidth, and the overall cost will be lower once we dropkick our land-line.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting the new year in a new ward

No... we didn't move. The boundary moved. We are now in the Twin Falls 5th ward. I have mixed feelings about the venture, to be sure, but on the whole it will be a good thing. We hate, hate, hate leaving our many, many good friends in the 1st ward, but we look forward to making many new friends in the 5th ward.

Time to stretch a little, eh?

Happy New Year all, wherever you find yourself!