Saturday, December 31, 2011

Archiving - Races 2011

Date - Race - Distance - Comment
1/8/11 - Bridle Trails Trail Run - 5 mile - First Bandit Event!
3/6/11 - Lord Hill Trail Run - 5 mile
4/10/11 - Soaring Eagle Trail Run - 5 mile
5/1/11 - Bloomsday - 12K - PR!!
7/9/11 - Clear Lake Triathlon - Sprint Tri - PR!
8/7/11 - Troika Triathlon - Half Ironman - COMPLETE!
8/27/11 - Priest Lake Triathlon - Olympic Tri - PR!

Archiving - Photo Goals 2011

It’s better to fail spectacularly while reaching for the stars than it is to succeed at something we never really wanted in the first place. - David duChamin

I'm starting this page to keep track of what I want to tackle with my photography. I plan to keep adding notes to it as I go, and will probably have to think of some way to track progress on each one of the things I want to be sure to learn.
Last updated 11/21/11


  • Control aperture: select depth of field on purpose, blur background for effect
  • Execute good exposure manually; control exposure for creative effect
  • Learn to use and manipulate ISO settings: what it does, why to use, when to use vs. other settings like exposure +/-
  • How to take pictures indoors without orange incandescent light tinge
  • How to use Aperture Priority setting
  • How to use the flash without it washing out everything, being too harsh
  • Learn to maximize existing light that is generally not ideal


  • Ability to create interesting and compellingly composed photographs
  • Ability to do cool bokeh


  • Define a workflow in Aperture, including organization, rating system, and keyword logic
  • Ability to edit photos in Aperture: create effects, filters, black & white, sepia, colorized


  • Determine what to replace my broken lens with
  • Night star shots
  • Night traffic shots
  • Get over feeling awkward whipping out my huge camera to take pictures, maybe tackle tripod phobia

Progress Updates:
1/5/11 - already panicking nightly about what to capture for my photo.
1/10/11 - getting bored with indoor light in the evening. Everything is orange. The flash is too harsh, the light too cold and blue.
1/12/11 - not sure about continuing with Flickr. Started posting and logging 365 project with Picasa to make sure I could always access the full file photos for free, and know which ones I used for the project.
1/16/11 - decided I needed a mentor. Started looking. Found some good options.
1/18/11 - submitted my first 365 to the Shutter Sisters photostream. Joining the conversation on Flickr.
2/11 - bought filter for on-camera flash. This rocks and softens things.
2/21/11 - broke out the flashes from Mom's old set up taking photos of her art. LOVE this!
3/6/11 - finally bought new lens: Nikon 50mm 1:1.4 AF - LOVE this!
4/24/11 - beginning to get over big camera phobia. Less weirded out by whipping that bad boy out. People actually are now referring to me and my "cameras". Definitely more comfortable with aperture priority, shutter priority, and learning more about how to control the exposure in the dSLR. Starting to consider running it in full manual mode (although I'm much more comfortable in full manual with the film camera), and am understanding more about what the information the dSLR presents in the viewfinder means and how to use it.
11/21/11 - wow. wow, wow, wow. So much to say. I came to post ideas. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Circularly Linear

Somehow I've been contemplating fear and trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up for over 15 years - perfecting circular thinking since 1998.


Sunday, October 9, 2011


I'm thinking a lot about Steve Jobs, lamenting the loss and appreciating the astonishing impact Steve Jobs made on our lives (as I type this on my new MacBook Pro and complain about Lion). There is so much out there - so much commentary, so many people dedicated to saying anything I might think of to feel or say, so I'll let that stuff settle in my head. My mind eventually drifts to life moving forward - the legacy and company he left behind and what will become of it. What will the new leadership do, how will they keep his vision alive?

Monday, September 5, 2011

No one loves a photographer

Mamo Mary - her next words were, "don't take my picture!"

Then Sonnie says, "don't take my picture!"

And Cappie's next words? "Don't take my picture!"

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Huckleberry daiquiri in Grandview (we call it "PGV", or "Pretty Good View") bar...checking out race results from Priest Lake tri, taking a break (sigh!) from the sun and getting an internet fix.

Friday, August 19, 2011


...that when I stop training for races, I have more time to cook yummier food...

Monday, August 15, 2011


My dad holds up his fork. We are at dessert, having pie, cake and coffee.

"Can I please have a fork that's straight?" He asks, noting the strange and significant curve to the handle. It looks as if it's had a bad run in with some telekinesis.

"Are you questioning the fork for its alternative orientation?" I question back. "Just because the fork has an alternative orientation doesn't mean it can't perform it's job just as well as a straight fork," I obstinately declare.

"And what would it's job be?" the Boy jousts back to me.

"Well, forking, of course...are you saying it can't fork just as well as a fork of a different orientation?"

Some questions probably shouldn't be asked, nor answered. And it was probably good that no one pointed out that spooning leads to forking.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


What is beautiful today?

...that I have so many people who love me more than I will know, even when I make mistakes (big ones sometimes) and am all the things that frustrate me about me - somehow they love me not just in spite of those things, but BECAUSE of those things.

...that I got to spend two weeks with my dad

...the few moments the sun breaks through the endless Seattle clouds

...the peace that comes from watching piles and piles of laundry get clean

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Endless Loop

...taking a picture of you taking a picture of me taking a picture of you...

Monday, August 1, 2011


...and when I did sleep, I dreamt of a pool, a beautiful pool - black lanes of tile under aqua blue water, sparkling in the sunshine, stretching out a full olympic distance, wide and empty. Strings of triangular flags stretched above the lanes, moving gently in the nearly indiscernible breeze, begging, inviting me for a swim.

This was not the Y: short half length pool, crowded with other swimmers. This pool was perfect. I went to get my things and go swimming.

By the time I got back, the weather changed. The pool was indoors. It was cloudy. The breeze had picked up. I looked for a way to get into the pool. I had to go through a door. When I got in, the building was dark, the water no longer aqua, had taken on the darkness of the building and reflected the gray of the low light in the building.

The only way into the pool was from the diving board. I put my things down and went to the diving board. As I looked down, the water was stormy - this was not the pool I went to get my things to swim in. This was not the pool that invited me.

I looked around to get off the diving board; the only way off was back. I considered turning around and looked down at the pool. Now, farther down, I was standing on the high dive. The water was churning under me. I had considered jumping anyway, sucking up my fear and trusting that I would survive. Looking down, the water was far below me, rough, and farther now each time I blinked. I could jump, but it would be too far to survive the fall, and the water was now a river, rapids below me.

Panicked, I turned around again to walk back, afraid that I would fall as I backtracked, terrified to move, to choose, to do anything, knowing I could not stay where I was.

I woke up with a start, staring at the ceiling, the doorway, the darkness...thinking about the pool and my fear.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


195 days into my 365...

...I have a thought process for coming up with pictures for the day. Hopefully, something about the day inspired me to think about taking a picture, or hopefully something about the day before got me thinking ahead...but generally, it becomes evening and I haven't gotten a picture and I don't have a plan. In this case I look around the house, get bored with my thoughts of what to snap, and since it's summer and there is a lot of daylight, I typically head outside and up the street to see what's there, what the light is doing, and grasp desperately at anything that shows a hint of pulse over "boredom".

I always walk out of my courtyard and walk up the street. I turn left. Sometimes I cross the street, but usually I stay on the left.

It took me until 195 days into this project to wonder what would happen if I walked out of my courtyard and turned RIGHT.

Holy shit, people.

Nearly 200 days, how much boredom and skipped days for lack of inspiration, when all I had to do was look the other way?

The complete impact and meaning of this simple, basic thing, is staggering to me. Not just the 365 project. But how many times, every day, in every situation, in every relationship, do we have such a pattern of approach or perspective that it doesn't even occur to us to do something different? How many situations or life paths do we go down not even thinking we could go the other way (let alone blaze our own trail) even when it is right in front of us? (Or behind us, or to the right of us as we turn left, or across the street, or...)

Turning right, down to the light on the highway, then I can go right, or left, or across the street, and go right, left or forward...each path leading to a different path and different choices...I always turned left.

I know why I turned left. Turning right goes toward the traffic and crossing the major street. It takes 3 minutes to wait for the light to change. It takes longer. And really, generally doesn't seem quite as interesting. But as I walked up the street to take my pictures, soon walking 2 blocks didn't warrant any new sights or settings, so I walked 4 blocks, then 6...and then, waiting 3 minutes each way for the light might not be so bad, and just for something new.

Like most things, as soon as I turned right, more opportunities showed up, and new opportunities got me thinking of new things. Try a soft focus, try something urban, ooooh, how about a series of themes...

...I'm still absorbing this, translating it, understanding all it means...basic concepts can be so profound.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I love these two pictures together:
I didn't intend to mirror the mug from my morning's coffee when I took the picture of the shadow on the pavement this afternoon, nor did I recognize the repetition of the pattern until I looked at the picture on my computer later. I was focused on how black and white the shadows on the asphalt were, much, ironically, the same way I appreciated the soft monotone of the leaves on the mug in the morning.

The depth of symmetry is what strikes me most - not the leaf pattern, but the appreciation of the simplicity of the monotone image that stuck with me throughout the day. I can find similar symmetry in most of my writing when I look back over the years. Every so often the same theme emerges, with similar images, similar focus, but slightly different perspective. Sometimes its an identical concept, but the focus inverted - instead of the developed "picture", it's the film "negative" version of the same idea. Instead of writing about sound, in the same way, I write about silence. 

It is interesting.

...and yet, it is not surprising. The more I think about it, it's really not surprising at all. Some concepts capture us, for whatever reason, perhaps unique to each concept, and I think some concepts weave themselves through our lives, coming and going, presenting themselves in different ways. They always strike me with a certain element of "magic", and yet, when I really think about them, I realize that they are just my themes.

Black and white, shades of grey, stillness and peace...these concepts will always be things that resurface for me. They captivate and inspire me.

Photo Essay, Theme: Captions

"measured out in coffee spoons..."

The warning on my thoughts

Sometimes you're just a number.

The grass will be greener...

Someday when I grow up...

I might be hidden in the overgrowth

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I was eating shrimp salad, just chomping away. Big, giant prawns (previously frozen), chomping and devouring in one bite, bite after bite. Giant prawn - down you go. Chomp. Another. And another.

American gluttony? Another prawn. Yes, I think I tasted that one. Ooh, I'll try better on the next.

Chomp - yum! Mmmmm, prawn. Yup, that was tasty. Yummy little prawn...momentary once were alive. Swimming. I chomped you in one bite - your whole life for my one bite. I definitely did not enjoy that bite enough for your whole life. Even if you didn't really have sentience.

Another bite, another prawn. I eat a lot of other lives - chicken, shellfish, salmon - and generally try not to think about the sentient animal behind it. Why this prawn? Oooooh tasty, and the next (CHOMP!) Maybe because I suddenly became aware of the callousness of my chomping compared to the very poignant meaning of an entire life in that single bite (whereas a chicken takes a lot more bites).

Then, because I live in Seattle, as another prawn got chomped (this salad was FULL of prawns - thank you, Costco) I wondered about the sustainability of prawns....while barely giving a thought to consuming this life, what about everything that was sacrificed to put these prawns (shelled, tail on, frozen) into a 3 lb bag for me to buy without thinking at the bulk food store freezer section? What are the fishing practices? Do fishermen lose their lives so I can mindlessly chomp prawns in a salad on my deck in the summer? What other seafood is sacrificed in pursuit of the singular goal of "prawn"? One day, will we fish out all the prawns?

I assumed the answers were all dire - and I was a bit disappointed that I didn't know the answers. Some discussion of the merits of farmed vs. wild salmon were discussed, and logic hypothetically applied to the vague concept of prawn fishing, in combination with some assessment of "Deadliest Catch" and whether that also applied to prawn fishing, and guiltily I actually chewed a prawn (hey, they were ALREADY IN the salad - no point wasting them!) and realized I should look into it more, so at least, if I am going to choose to eat them, it is while accepting the direct and collateral impacts of them.

Some people find unity in considering how their food reaches their plates - thinking of the farmers who grow the food and benefit from selling it, then the vast numbers of people who benefit from the transportation, supply chain and ultimate sale of the food, uniting the global community, and instead, guiltily I was considering the opposite angle of the global impacts of the food I was eating....

I did some research, and found that yes, typically prawn harvesting is not sustainable, and that there is no actual measurement of sustainability that you can look for (no federal regulation or symbol, like for organic, or meat quality), other than doing research into companies that only use sustainable practices. There are some, mostly located in the arctic Atlantic, so it IS possible.

Doing some additional research, I did find that Costco specifically is focusing on transitioning to sustainable seafood supply, and has reduced or eliminated supplying non-sustainable species, and that by the end of the year, they plan to make sure their seafood is all sustainable (

I have to admit to being somewhat of a sustainability nut, and have been for as long as I can remember (yeah, I was THAT kid) and now being an adult, I try to mostly be ok with the reality that not everything  can be saved, and that I have to make decisions about the lifestyle I want and the level of advocacy that I can effectively have while having that lifestyle, and yet, I still think about it a lot. Every time I go to the store - buy local or buy organic? Buy recycled or recyclable? Sustainable or conservation? The choices now are ever so much more complicated, and the supply of information ever so much more overwhelming, political and sensationalistic. Finding clear, concise, unbiased information is challenging and keeping up to speed with it is....something I can't even realistically consider.

The positive and uplifting thing is that there are enough people who care (even a little - like me) that the information is out there, and that more and more companies are creating and supplying sustainable items. Even if one choice is more or less good overall and I can't tell, at least I have choices that are better than where we were 15 years ago when nothing was recycled, recycling was for crazy liberal people, and the seas should be fished clean of tuna because no one realized dolphins were dying from it.

Somewhere, someone in Georgia just shook their head because they do think recycling is for crazy people, and that I'm just a liberal freak from Seattle. It's ok. My prawns are going to be sustainable so they can eat some too.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


The fence was there long before I came along, on this walk that by happenstance delivered me to this field. Across the field in waist high grass, my feet sinking into grass-padded mud I trudged.

Falling down, in disrepair, rust had claimed the strength of this fence and with it's remaining grip, it barely supported the wires and crossmembers. Overgrown with the same grass covering the field, I wondered about the fence's intent - originally to keep something in, or something but a marker of a barrier that meant something once and now needs little reminder. Sharp, rusted corners of failing barbed wire contrast with the sparse construction overall - an interesting juxtaposition of frailty armed with aggressive intent.

I walk along, my dog and I, still sinking in the mud, and I wonder how many fences, similarly frail and sharp, I have hidden in the overgrowth of my own mind and heart, what I originally built them for, and if they still have any meaning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Near my house is an old, abandoned Swedish graveyard dating back to the late 1800's. It sits on a hillside, nestled between housing developments in a mostly unimproved grove of trees. It is fenced with a split rail fence, now falling down, though not clearly resulting from the elements of nature or the elements of humanity.

Beer cans and soda bottles litter the graveyard, trash accumulating against the trees and gravestones. Teenagers have taken to hanging out, seeking solitude for their solitary group escapes from the rest of society. I wonder how much thought they give to the uninvited guests laying below them, and whether there is an implicit invitation...suspecting the answer is a bravado joke or lack of thought at all; certainly there is no respect for this place I seek for quiet contemplation.

The headstones are old, and looking at how the moss covers and owns them, destroying the identifying engraving differentiating one life from another, I realize how impermanent even the most permanent seeming things are. We seek to immortalize ourselves in one final, lasting way, and within a century, even the most lasting thing we come up with: carving into a solid rock, we are washed away - a mere blink in the moment of universal time. Standing here, my body - this "me" - is even less lasting.

I tend to stop here on my longer runs. Perhaps it is simply a lazy way to take a quick break and catch my breath, but in the gentle stream of thoughts in my head, it serves as punctuation. I recognize the juxtaposition of my living, my exerted breathing, with the lack of breath...a brief acknowledgment of my final destination beyond this run and the next, a bit of reminder to actually live in the time between now and then, and several moments of gratefulness that I am here, now, doing this, thinking this, being lucky enough to stop and think these thoughts and have these feelings.

I share this moment, and the next, I snap a few pictures, trying to capture these thoughts in a visual 1000 words, but for once, the picture cannot nearly convey all the thoughts I bring, and so I add these words.

Monday, April 11, 2011

100 Days: 365 project

I've been shooting a picture a day (more or less - I've missed about 4 days) for 100 days. I thought it was momentous at 90 days, but now easily arriving at 100 days...

I didn't have much faith when I started this process. I didn't know how how inanely shooting one picture a day could really make me any better than where I was, shooting sporadically.

What I didn't understand is what happens, over's not that I suddenly got amazing, or suddenly learned amazing things. It wasn't even like you can look at picture by picture and see incremental improvement.

I don't know what it is exactly that works, or how everything is coming together. Still, when I look at a photo I've taken, or a subject I want to capture, I realize how much more I want to learn and how much longer this journey really is. That horizon never moves, but there winds up so much path behind that adds up to some sort of accomplishment, skill and reward.

I find I pick up my camera more confidently. I swap flash for no flash, manual to aperture priority to automatic when necessary. I have an idea to start with on an approach instead of abject fear and blankness. I like what I'm producing more often, and it's getting me excited to do more. I carry my camera everywhere now.

I can ask questions now to learn - that's a big step: being able to put it in words and ask, and understand at least parts of the answer that comes back and begin a conversation. Ironically, it makes it easier to ask "dumb" questions and admit how little I know. I love feeling the intimidation fade away.

How many of my goals have I accomplished? Found a new lens, understand some things about the differences, capture some different kinds of bokeh, I'm even starting to understand when using a small aperture is harming the picture I'm trying to take. I am so excited.

The magic in picking up that camera every day is something I could only have faith in. Even at the beginning, I found that once I picked it up, I found new angles, new ways to compose the picture, new ways to try to capture, new ways to look at the things around me. One desperate shot begets another and another, and finally something pretty cool. I guess it's no different than any other kind of creativity that way.

I can't wait for the next 100!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Photographical philosophy

Sometimes it is hard for me to put my finger on exactly what I want to get out of this journey - how far do I want to go, how dedicated do I want or need to be, perhaps even, how dedicated is too much and how do I know if I want it to take over my life?

I find myself flipping through Flickr - photostream to photostream, looking at images that intrigue me, analyzing why. What is it that I like? Is it the composition, the color, the tone, the texture, the subject? There are so many that are trite, and yet so many that are lasting, and sometimes the difference must be very slight. In fact, sometimes I think the differences is merely my own cynicism growing as I look at all these photographs.

I find myself questioning quality - if I borrow someone's "style", or compose a picture of my own after something I saw in someone else's portfolio, I find I discount it in my mind. While I look at other work for inspiration, then I irrationally eliminate it from what I feel is ok to use it for...

I see explanations from people of using someone's specific presets in their photo processing application and I wonder, if I use something someone else came up with to make my photo look a certain way, is that quality? Is that authentic? Isn't it just another form of copying something I didn't do? If I record my voice and make it sound like Mariah Carey, is that still me?

And I suppose somewhere deep inside it would be me, whether I sound fakely like Mariah Carey or my photos look like copies of Soup and Sunday's photo stream, I will have learned something in the process, and made a compelling photograph.

How much originality does artistry really require, and in the process of learning, what difference should that make at all? The devil on that shoulder - I think she speaks with the voice of my mother; I cannot characterize the voice on my other shoulder, perhaps because it is generally too quiet. Perhaps that voice is my own.

Monday, April 4, 2011

100 Words: Tired

An ache...

Something in me weighs me down, Kryptonite in my veins. I know it will drain slowly as I drag myself from bed to bathroom counter, but the momentary agony pulls my eyes closed one more time…just 5 more minutes of eyes shut denial of morning and the new week and all that it brings with it…just 5 more minutes of the cozy warmth of my bed: down comforter, pillow, sateen sheets pulled up to my ears…

…5 minutes gone…and now for real…

I hear the alarm one more time, and turn off feeling, flip the blankets back and rise.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


A bike ride, a fairly typical early training ride, yet a bit more than I'm ready for, but I decided I was ready for the challenge and to push it a bit more than normal due to being so "behind" where I want to be with my training. I don't mind being at this distance, but I'd like to have more miles behind me and feel more solid.

The weather was iffy, the day cooler than previous, and despite a late night last night, we set out...

Along the way, I surprised myself. The ride is hilly - really hilly. It starts with my commute to work, and then adds more hills, totaling 35 miles...I didn't fool myself about how hard it would be, given the most biking I've done is a sporadic flat ride of 25 miles.

What I found was a strength I didn't expect - not a lot of extra power, but some - more though, an ability to persevere, and while not a lot of power, a surprising lack of pain.

This, however disappeared immediately following the surprising discovery that the paved trail home was closed due to a downed tree. I wound up hiking up a vertical driveway after discovering I could not balance both wheels on the ground due to the extreme incline. If I put my weight on the back wheel to keep traction in the slippery rain, the front wheel came up, threatening to spill me over backwards; if I put my weight on the front wheel, my back would spin without the weight for traction. I walked my bike - and as much as riding up hills sucks, the only thing that sucks more than RIDING up hills is WALKING your bike up hills.

It wasn't that hill that cracked me, or the vertical hill after that, or even being lost. It was, fortunately, what turned out to be the last hill that had me crying for mercy. Cold, soaked through, having doubled the overall elevation of the ride, I was done and at the end of the good nature I had left. I muttered all the positive self motivation I could, I think ultimately resolving that I would never get home if I didn't persevere when I crested the hill, passing the final stop sign. It was down hill home from there, although still 5 miles away.

Despite the pain, I'm happy. I feel good - I toughed it out, I felt stronger than I expected, and I endured. I am loving feeling myself come back. I haven't enjoyed that in the past - always comparing where I am now to where I ended the year before and feeling like I couldn't measure up. This year I have a new perspective, and I love feeling strength return; I am loving the feeling of improvement.

So here's to a great year, for persevering through a rough start, to grow and build on what I discovered last year. Hard as it is, I am damn excited to see what unfolds.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


How many times have I callously, daringly, seriously joked about volunteering for a severance package to get away from corporate America, dive into my own dreams or even look for another angle on the corporate package?

Now the news comes that yes, there will be a merger. Is it a merger? A buy out? Apparently we were bought. I don't know what it means - there are regulatory hurdles, monopoly accusations to assuage, red tape, bureaucracy and negotiations between now and that eventuality, but the invisible ink on the walls is become much more clear.

I'm off to Tampa tomorrow, to meet with my team and leadership - separate, and awkward but potentially fortuitous timing - it feels odd to pack knowing there is a 12 month timeline on "life as we know it", knowing that life as we know it has already ended. Annual goals about issue management and issue SLA suddenly seem out of focus...

Having jumped online and read the news, logged into my webmail and read the communications from our CEO, it is not a done deal, but the hit is done. The perspective has changed; there will be other changes - we just don't know when.

I sit here, rather stunned. The news is the news - and I grasp at what it means: to me, to our life, to my team. I wonder about the job market; I wonder about the job market with 30, 000 of us hitting it at the same time. I wonder who will be kept and why. I jump to the worst conclusion - corporate nepotism knows no bounds.

Our CEO encourages us to leverage the corporate values as we continue to provide excellent service but don't we all know how futile it is to expect people who are scared and willing to do whatever they have to in order to protect themselves to abide by some higher value, especially something imposed by a "government" that has little loyalty to them. Obviously. Little loyalty.


My Boy reaches in the cabinet, pulling out a wishbone. "It's probably a good time for this," he says. As I reach for it, I realize I don't know what to wish for. To keep my job? Is that really what I want? For everything to turn out ok? What is that anyway?

We put the wishbone away. I will wish when I know what I want.

For now?

The unknown; change.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I set out nicely, with my camera in hand, new lens affixed firmly, in a quest for bokeh (a cool effect with lights turning to fuzzy dots in - typically - the background of a photo). It's dark, here in Atlanta, at 9:00 pm, but near a shopping area, and in a hotel, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to stalk and capture elusive bokeh - at least thus far elusive to me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Lens!

I finally did it: got a new autofocus lens for the Nikon. Bring on the 50mm 1.4 lens, baby! Too bad they sold the used one YESTERDAY! I wound up having to go with a brand new one, and did decide (with some encouragement from my support crew) to spend the extra money on to get the 1.4 instead of the half as expensive 1.8, but I think I'll be happier with it. I'm loving the bigger aperture and have been messing with settings, focus, autofocus and the flash all afternoon.

I think I might be hooked.

Lord Hill Trail Run



Jesus H. Christ.

Is that Jesus' middle initial? Because I'm kind of thinking it should be F. As in Lord F*ing Hill.

Today was the Lord Hill Trail Run, in the 4th Dimension Pacific Northwest Trail Running series. All week, I've been down for the count with a cold, and with the demands this week at work, staying home to sleep and get well was not an option. Result? Barely well enough to consider a trail run, let alone what this thing turned out to be.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

February Mosaic for 365 Project

Another month on the books! Again, pleased to have only missed one day (which I cheated on and filled in with an extra picture from vacation). And, I have determined which lens I am going to get for the camera!

Here is the month at a glance!


 How about a quick rundown of what our vacation was like in Mexico?

Day 1: arrive. eat chips and guac. drink beer. check in. go to beach. eat more chips and guac. drink more beer. drink fruity drinks. drink something in a coconut. eat more chips and guac. go get ready for dinner. go eat delicious dinner. drink margaritas. drink mayan coffees. damn tired. go to bed at 9 pm.

Day 2. sleep in. wake up eventually. eat breakfast. go lay on beach with books. drink beer. eat chips and guac. drink beer. eat lunch. drink tropical drinks. drink beer. eat more chips and guac. more beer. move to pool. drink margaritas. drink beer. drink margaritas. teach bartender to make side cars. teach bartender to make malibu drinks. drink "mistake" versions. get ready and go eat delicious dinner. drink sake with sushi. drink more sake. and more sake. drink after dinner drinks....

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Looking down the darkened hallway, I see the crack of a door, light pouring from it's tiny opening on the bare floor. My own door creaks as I realize I am leaning on the knob as I furtively peer around it's half closed concealment. My bare feet feel the floor; could I stealthily creep down the hallway to investigate? I try to recall the creaks and cracks, sparing a few words to my undetailed memory.

I risk it, feeling the floor beneath my feet, rolling silently and slowly through my toes step by step along the corridor. The light becomes bigger and darkens the dark around me. I hear small nothings in the room, deafened by the sound of my attempted silence, breathing, and thoughts.

More now than before, the curiosity owns me and compels me forward. I know not what I would do or say if discovered; resigned, I realize the truth is my closest ally: curiosity.

What is behind the door? What compels me forward this day, this night?


I am always on the outside; I keep to the outside.

It's freedom and it's isolation - wanting to be included but staying aloof.

It's a choice and a rejection and I can never be sure which came first and begot the other, or if they are like two sides of the same coin, entwined so completely one could not separate them into their many parts. It must be of many parts because composition is never one thing and another, singularly, rather, always: one thing and many others all interdependent, holding each other up while keeping each other down.

So every time I linger on the edge of something - parties, work events, flickr photo groups and work discussions - I wonder who I'm waiting for permission from, while knowing that it's only me and my dance with rejection ~ staying safe in isolation and pondering the hazard of committing to participation.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

January Mosaic for 365 Photo Project

And just a small sense of accomplishment for completing the whole month, despite travel, procrastination, lack of inspiration and even being sick.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


"In the case of the Department of Pharmaceutics vs. the Boy, in the crime of being qualified to graduate, would the defendant please rise?"

The defendant rises.

"State your case."

"I submit the following as evidence: The role of the nucleoside transporters in the absorption and distribution of the nucleoside drugs ribavirin and gemcitabine." The defendant drops bound book of research on the table in front of the panel of judges.

The defendant walks to the front of the room and begins to speak.

"...and in summary..." He finally concludes.

The judges confer. Question the defendant. They retire to deliberate. After interminable time, they return, somber faced and stern, entering in single file, one by one.

The verdict: "GUILTY as charged!" They proclaim.

"Case closed. The defendant is free to go. Collect your declaration of parole at the door. Bailiff, release the defendant from his shackles."

The defendant rises, feeling his shackles fall away, stands taller than he ever has as the weight of the world slides off his shoulders. He collects his belongings and walks out the door into the bright sunshine of the rest of his life - the future is indeed bright.

Boy - you are a graduate.
That's DOCTOR Boy to you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Various memories of my mother’s birthday creep into my mind: of wrapping Windham Hill instrumental CDs in aluminum foil and decorating with Sharpie pens for creative wrapping paper, to surreptitiously stalking the perfect fake fish aquarium at the teeny-bopper store in the mall to surprise her with. I would sneak off on my bike to the nearby store to buy her flowers and a card, trying to think of something nice for her birthday and trying not to raise suspicions by being gone too long. When we lived in Spokane, Grandma would cook her dinner – for some reason I am remembering pork chops but cannot confer with anyone to confirm, now that Grandma is gone too.

Always a maraschino cherry cake – that was always her favorite. Grandma always made them for her, except one year after she had moved over here and I entertained in my condo and had to make the maraschino cherry cake for the first time. I remember being incredulous at the recipe, for some reason. I don’t know why I didn’t believe that what she was telling me was accurate, and I remember remarking at the cost of the extra ingredients and more complex process. And the 7 minute icing, or was it called Dream Whip?

So Mom, wherever you are, happy 65th – or, happy anniversary of your appearance here on this plant 65 years ago. I do wish that I had the opportunity to have made you that cake again this year. I think you would have really appreciated that your birthday was on the eve of the Boy’s defense, and even now, I think you’d appreciate that you are still part of our lives, how we celebrate, how we remember and how we honor.

Monday, January 17, 2011



I loved you. I really did. You had weather alerts, and would send them to my phone to let me know when snow was in the forecast so that I didn't have to watch the weather all the time, and knew when to bring my computer home to work from home. I was in love! You were so helpful!

Something happened though, and I don't know what it was. It started this fall, and at first it was only mildly annoying, but it has grown, like an enormous hangnail causing a canker sore: your weather alerts come ALL the time!

I understand that alerts could come more often when severe weather is in queue, and with a severe winter, there could be multiple alerts. But you've gone beyond merely alerting me. You're stalking me; you're assaulting me with the battery of your incessant alerting.

One alert that there is a flood warning - fine. Two, one to differentiate between the immediate warning and the overall "watch", I can understand that too. Even sending them periodically once per day as a reminder - this makes logical sense to me.

But you have sent me 36 text messages about the same warning within the last 24 hours (between 4:43 pm 1/16/11 and 4:50 1/17/11). That is more than one per hour, and I will tell you that the worst part of it is not one to two messages per hour. No, it is the 5 in a row at 12:21 am, followed by 10 in a row at 3:57 am, followed by another at 4:09 am...

Yes, I am still aware it may be flooding, but these conditions do not change significantly once they start, and I do not need momentary updates, on par with 10 per minute. Mind you, you are also sending me messages through my phone weather app as well....

You have assaulted my sleep for the last time, annoyed my co-workers who are used to my system downtime text message barrage for the last time. It's time we parted ways, and because I suspect you won't understand the meaning behind my simple "unsubscribe" request, I wanted to take some extra time to make it clear just how much your actions have bothered me, and those sleeping in the same home.

Please. Don't call. Don't write.

For god's sake, don't fucking text me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." --Lao Tzu

Or for me, with a single click of the shutter.

Another translation of the quote is that, "even the longest journey must begin where you stand."

I stand here, holding few photography skills, four cameras I know little about how to use, a robust but inscrutable photo processing application I have yet to tackle learning, and a wealth of information at my fingertips on the vast expanse of the interwebs. It seems I have everything I need for this journey.

Just a moment ago, I felt I had nothing with which to start this journey, looking into my viewfinder and seeing naught but the bleakness of my skill - or is that the vision of what I'd like to create if only I had mastered my tools?

Suffice it to say, I realize I have the tools, but not the skills. And that is what this journey is about - the long road to acquiring those skills. I've been wishing for them for years now, and never dedicated the time to really work on them, always wishing that it were easier. Jim Rohn says, "don't wish it were easier, wish you were better," and I do. At the same time, wishing doesn't amount to much progress.

I have dutifully clicked my way through 16 days of my 365 project, and like most things, probably like most people, already I'm looking to see some sort of miraculous growth. I don't see it. All I see is yet more areas where I could be better, things that would make my images better if I only knew how. So once again, I'm back on the internet, searching for things like "photo workflow in aperture", and once again, most of the time I'm completely overwhelmed with what I find and read. But I read it, and I know that as I keep doing this, more and more will make sense to me.

I wish I had a mentor at this point - someone who could tell me what I should be investing my time in the most, someone who could help me overcome by biggest frustrations and move on, rather than stewing along, not knowing how to solve the problem I'm looking to solve. Why, for god's sake, can I not seem to make aperture priority work on my Nikon dSLR? Do I not understand the basic purpose of it? Is that why I can't seem to get the dials to move the numbers in the way I think they should go? (Lower, in case you're wondering - that's the way I want them to go.) Or is it that my premise of framing the shot is so wrong that the strategy won't work and that's why I can't get the camera to make the numbers do what I think I want them to?

I am a member on Flickr now, and I've looked through the meet up seems easy - join the group, go meet up, talk photography...I just have to get over this intimidation factor. I imagine myself sitting with capable photographers, deer in the headlights, as rapid-fire discussions of various numbers go flying right over my head. So I sit, with my 365 photostream, and no friends. No conversation for fear of being completely stupid, completely clueless. Well, I am that; nothing to fear.

You know what I need? I need a private photography teacher - like a piano teacher, but for photography - for $30 or $45 an hour or something, have someone who will teach me something, give me an assignment, and then review/critique it and help me get better. It would be everything from technicals, to composition, to godforsaken processing which so overwhelms me. Someone I could sit down with, over a beer or a cup of coffee or a sandwich, laptop on the table, camera in hand and show me what to do with the equipment to make it work. Someone who could take me out and determine the actual root cause of my frustration.

I wonder if I could find something like that? Just thinking about it made it feel so much more possible. I bet I could - either the couple of people I know who are decent photographers to start, or even hitting up some of the pros at the camera shop down the street. I bet I could drum up something.

Sometimes, the next step of the journey becomes obvious by just talking it out.

Thanks for listening.


Saturday, January 15, 2011


We just won the lottery.

No, not Powerball or MegaMillions or whatever those lottery games are all called, but really, it's like winning the lottery.

It is NOT like winning the lottery in that someone, a certain Boy, had to work really hard and slave away and be miserable for almost 7 years and I had to do my best not to become frustrated and let my head explode for those same almost 7 years to get here. It's definitely earned.

Maybe I should have started it off with "we just earned the lottery," but that really doesn't make much sense, or speak to the concept I've been thinking about, which is how often people really do ever get that big surge of money that they can use to put fuel behind their dreams, and the fact that we are about to be able to do just that, and how rare that really is.

Most people, I tend to think, work jobs (either for themselves or for someone else) and slowly make incremental improvements in their salary - 5% here, 10-15% there for a promotion or move to a new company. People dream of the day they can get enough money together to go on that dream vacation, buy that dream car, figure out how to remodel the house or upgrade the flooring/appliances. And it's sad, but I think what happens mostly is those dreams never get the fuel they need to happen - the money never quite accrues like that.

Throughout this grad school experience, I kept my job despite wanting to leave it several times, paid most of the bills, and we have lived nicely. We have a nice nest egg in savings and retirement, and have been able to do much of what we wanted. There are, however, those same dreams for our lives that we have thought up in the last 7 years - the dream vacation at the end of school, some electronics, an upgrade to my laptop, a new TV, maybe even cable, the hardwood floors we put off when my job quit paying bonuses. There were times, when the bleakness of the undefined graduate school timeline stretches off past the horizon, that I wondered if it would ever happen - was graduation really even possible? And if it was, would it somehow be less than we were dreaming in terms of making the future we wanted possible?

I tend to not believe in crazy changes; life has a way of evening things out so that there are few instances where you really do fall off a cliff (metaphorically speaking), or say, suddenly win the lottery. And when they do happen, they come with enough strings and red tape that they wind up not being as wild as you would have thought them to be originally ("I won a million dollars in the lottery!" for example becomes, "oh, I get paid out $20,000 a year for the next 10 years and owe half of it in taxes...").

Now, though, standing at the precipice of the end of grad school, the Boy will actually graduate (in 4 days, no less!!) and within a month, we will essentially win the lottery and be able to enjoy making those things possible.

I'm not saying this to brag about how great we're doing - not at all. I'm saying that I realize not many people get to do what we get to do, and I'm immensely awed by it, now that it is becoming real. I feel that I need to recognize it, and be mindful of what a rare opportunity we have. While we worked hard for it (him in particular), I am spending some time reflecting on it because it certainly should not pass unnoticed or be taken for granted.

I am also immensely glad I've always taken time to think through what I would do if I won a million dollars. I already have a plan....

Monday, January 10, 2011


It is time to get back to it - life, the real world, real expectations.

The holidays are over and slammed right into January. It's a rude awakening, and I'm trying not to be rude while dealing with others and dealing with myself.

It's tough - having thoroughly enjoyed my 3 weeks without work, into a holiday week and then an in between holiday week where no one in their right mind expected any work to be done. The training season was over and I found myself opening a beer at 2 pm just because I could and enjoying consecutive bottles clear through whenever I decided I wanted to go to bed. I reminded myself to enjoy, rather than succumb to the guilt I feel at neglecting my routine, of going soft and losing what athletic edge I labored so hard for over the prior months.

I am getting better. I have experienced the ability to get back on the horse, to come back from time off. I've learned to lose the weight and to get back to self discipline. And, more than that, I'm realizing this year that I have learned to start to enjoy that too. Getting my legs pumping is fueling me to get them pumping more, rather than comparing to what I "lost". I've learned enough to know that by taking this time, mentally and physically, I'll be more ready to go - and I'll go farther (faster).

The most wonderful thing, as I have discovered over and over, is the exponential effect of my training. All of the things I do, when done "together", become so much more than they are independently. Taking the time off dedicated to doing these other things and enjoying beer at 2 pm actually helps me enjoy the things I'm taking the time off for. Maybe that sounded obvious, or redundant, but the experience is anything but.

I'm still a bit grouchy with demands - particularly at work where there is more external pressure than internal - but I'm getting better at that too.


Sunday, January 9, 2011


I have never made a pork chop. I have never stuffed meat, save a series of turkeys annually beginning in 2004. I have never used a dutch oven. I only recently realized I in fact HAVE a dutch oven.

What better way to handle that than by tackling them all at once?

"Perhaps you should start with one new thing at a time," you might be thinking. But this is not my style. No, I decided I should conquer all of them in a quest to make a recipe a friend of ours related to us at about 10:30 pm one night after 2 six-packs of beers and what amounted to the most delicious midnight snack ever: stuffed pork chops, and three desserts.

"Well, at least you have a recipe," you might be saying. But you'd be wrong. Take note of the time of day, as well as the beer supply. Some of you might add in the fact that my memory is tantamount to the rumored memory of a goldfish...

I jotted a quick shopping list of what I'd need to make the recipe in my mind. The Boy and I went to the store. He asked me what was on my list.

"Pork chops, an onion, golden mushroom soup and rice," I answered. He looked at me funny. I looked back at him funny.

"Why all that stuff?" He asked. Clearly there was a disconnect.

"Well, pork chops obviously, and the onion and rice for the stuffing, and the soup because that was Big Bad Bode's secret ingredient we'd never heard of. We already have mushrooms and garlic for the stuffing." I answered.

"Bode bought the pork chops stuffed." The Boy answered. I had not remembered this. I had a rock solid idea of exactly what the stuffing should be like. And it was not "pre stuffed"...

It was then that I realized my rock solid recipe was not so solid. In fact, what WAS in the stuffing? Suddenly neither of us could remember. Nor could we remember how many cans of soup he used, or how hot he cooked it and for how long...and was there celery in the stuffing?

A reasonable person might have consulted with the internet recipe lore, but by now, I was well on my way to an adventure in cooking.

We bought our supplies and headed home.

Upon arriving home, I glanced over at my computer, sitting idly on the couch, ready for a quick recipe consult, but in abject defiance I refused and began cooking. Here are the results:

My version of Big Bad Bode's stuffed chops:
3 thick pork chops
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 TBS olive oil (I like extra virgin)
1 TBS sage
1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 carton of sliced mushrooms
1 pouch of "cook in bag" brown rice
1 can of golden mushroom soup (condensed)

Slice garlic; dice onion. Saute in a small amount of olive oil in the dutch oven until translucent; add a tablespoon of sage and salt to onion/garlic mix.
Add carton of sliced mushrooms; cook until lightly brown and reduced in size.
Nuke pouch of rice (I usually would make the rice myself, but didn't have time)
Preheat oven to 350
Transfer about 3/4 of the onion/mushroom mix to mixing bowl, combine with rice.
Slice pork chops (butterfly style) to create pocket. Cram full of as much rice/mushroom mix as possible. Smoosh it more, try to pack more in, attempt to seal shut with toothpick (probably didn't really need this)
Place pork chops in dutch oven
Dump can of golden mushroom soup on chops. Add one can of water, per instructions. (I did not mix this - it seemed to mix while cooking.)
Cover with dutch oven lid and put in oven for 60 minutes.

I added the leftover mushroom/onion mix to the remaining unused stuffing, and used that as a serving base for the pork chops when they were done. It absorbed the delicious soupy gravy at the end, and there's no such thing as enough stuffing in the tiny little chop anyway.

This was one of the easiest recipes I've made, and I didn't even make a mess in the kitchen!

I also made sauteed asparagus with it, which is really simple: snap ends off asparagus, rinse. Heat skillet with EVOO, throw asparagus in it, saute until brown streaks appear on the pan side of asparagus. Rotate. Cook to taste, add salt/pepper.

Needless to say, my completely made up recipe turned out awesome, and I also snapped my first ever awesome food picture for my 365 project!

2011 Goals

365 – the concept: take a photo every day. Why? Because the best way to learn is to do it every day. Get in the habit of looking for photo ops, practice and improve workflow ideas, learn my cameras, deal with crappy lighting, no ideas, etc. Learn my tools – Aperture, Flickr, Picasa, social support, file organization and strategy. Be more committed. This is the ultimate in commitment. You will see these in my 365 Project photostream (more to come on that)
Keep blogging. Keep adding drawings to the blog. Write more creatively – styles, topics, stories, poems. Friday Fiction? There’s an idea. Maybe add some readers, re-engage some others.
Do some house redecorating. Imagine what we want. Go find it. Make it so.
Try new places, new beers, new vacations, new parties, new concerts, cook new recipes, learn new techniques. Discover.
Be courageous.
Save, save, save! And get around to investing what we save. That’s not very measurable. Let’s say “overdouble what we did last year”. That should cover it.
This is it! The year I do a half Ironman. 70.3 miles, all in one shot: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a half marathon. Yikes and YAY!
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. Run faster. Reach that next target, PR some races.
Home related
Hardwoods – we’ve been dreaming about this for years. We were about to do it just before the economy tanked and my company quit paying bonuses. Now, we can!
Closet clean-out – why? Because closets can always be cleaned out and improved. We’ll improve the Boy’s closet for sure, clean out stuff from the other ones, too.
Kitchen upgrades – sink, garbage disposal, dishwasher…
Garage revamp – I never thought we’d be a 3 car family, but here we are. The least we can do is get all the cars in our allotted parking spots: 2 in the garage and one in the driveway. It means cleaning out the garage, reorganizing, maybe painting and treating the floor, and getting another car in there.
Redecorate – yeah yeah, I know I’m double dipping on this one, but it does count under both, and for valid reasons!
There are some goals I’m neglecting…you may notice (if you’ve been reading a while) that I don’t have my “reading” goal and that I’m a lot less specific. I’ll say – I’m focusing on a few areas. I feel almost obligated to have some of these, but even now, as I write this, my heart’s not in it. My heart is in my dreaming goals, my 365, my creativity. I think this will breathe life into everything and force me to keep that focus, even when breathing is hard, as we all know it can be at certain times.
My 3 weeks of time off really gave me that opportunity to unwind, and be left to my own devices. They went creative on me, and I have to take a hint from that. Sure enough, back to work, and I start doubting all my urges, all my passion (especially since it was the “off season” for racing). I can’t live this way. That is what these goals are about this year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Books 2010

  • American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (again, do re-reads count?)
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (do re-reads count?)
  • Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
  • Catfish & Mandala, Andrew Pham
  • SuperFreakonomics, Stephen Leavitt
  • Over the Edge, Michael Bane
  • The Piano Teacher, Janice Y. K. Lee
  • The Book of Eleanor: A Novel of Eleanor of Acquitaine, Pamela Kaufman
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
  • Born To Run, Christopher McDougall
  • Freakonomics, Stephen Leavitt
  • Passage to Juneau, Jonathan Raban

By far, the best fiction books were Jane Eyre, Anansi Boys, Catfish and Mandala and American Gods. Anansi Boys renewed my love of reading, Jane Eyre had me waking up expecting to be in a field of heather, disoriented to find myself in my own bed. Catfish and Mandala made me see the world differently, through slanty eyes, from a bicycle, where one race more racist toward themselves than those of other colors...and yet find a beauty one can only find through introspection and being utterly alone to reflect on everything a person could live through.
I have to give a huge credit also to Born to Run, which brought my running together and helped me figure out how to DO all the things I knew I should be doing, and finally, how to find the love in running that I have been chasing all these years I dreamed of running.
I shouldn’t be shocked at the magic of books, but listing them out that way...books change lives.

Saturday, January 1, 2011



Moving - money - job - opportunity - lifestyle - housing - biking - socializing

The choice would get hard, and then sometimes it was easier but we were waiting on more information from somewhere and then it would all change. I would be excited about moving - excited about warm weather and sunshine and then read the relo package  and feel like I wanted to throw up. Were we really doing this?

Irvine - it was coming down to Irvine. The weather, the job was great, and they would be paying more of the associated moving costs in a significant "housing differential" bonus paid on signing. We could go surfing. It was 85 degrees and sunny. Everywhere has it's drawbacks - even if traffic was sucky, the sun would make up for it. We were on the verge.

Looking at the options, we were still torn. The people at the company in Boston had held the position, kept from interviewing other candidates while we waited to decide. It was a great opportunity. It eventually also became the lowest paying one. The job in Philly would eventually come through, but the timing wasn't working out. Gaithersburg had just turned out to be weird and fell off the list as quickly as it had come by it's placing in the first place. The team in Irvine was cool - the Boy was excited to work with them. He was practically already part of it...on the verge.

All we had to do was sign.

And then Seattle happened.

He had been having ongoing discussions with a company close to our house - one he'd been following even before going back to grad school. It was small, it was amazing, and they were insanely selective. Getting a job there is difficult to say the least, and with their reputation, their product pipeline, and the supply of available jobs (hardly any) in their company, they can have their pick of the best of the best of the best. The combination of a job becoming available at the right time for him, as well as them needing someone with his skills, and then picking him right out of school over someone with a lot more experience doing what he all seemed like such a long shot. 

We had decided to make the decision by Christmas, and it was now the week of Christmas. He was in Gaithersburg, and we were preparing to take the Irvine offer.

"I haven't heard from the Seattle company," he said, as we weighed our options.

"Can you talk to them again?" I asked, feeling like it was worth another ask, as long as it didn't put him in the "stalker" category with them.

"Yeah," said the Boy, "but I don't think they can meet my timeline, even if the job did work out." With a stack of offers arriving, he had to tell these companies something other than "just keep waiting."

When he got back from Gaithersburg, he contacted the Seattle company. They had finally gotten approval for the position they were interested in him for, but it hadn't been approved to start until July. We couldn't wait that long. 

They called him back that day. They had gotten the VP to approve the position for January. We still didn't think it would meet our timeline, since they'd only start interviewing in January, and that takes a while, and the offers would need to be answered by then. They called him back again. "Could you come in for an interview tomorrow?" they asked. It was Wednesday, December 22.

He spent all day Thursday interviewing him. On Friday, Christmas Eve, they called him. The CEO had to approve any hiring decisions. They had not had time to interview anyone else. Apparently, they had pestered the CEO into the evening, and he granted his approval. They were calling to offer him a job. Here, in Seattle. Through a quick negotiation, they matched the other salaries. There would be no moving costs.

On the table: 3 awesome job offers. All paying about the same. All with great opportunities, unique and compelling attributes, small tradeoffs. One in Irvine, one in Boston, and one right here at home.

He signed the Seattle offer.

We are going to stay.