October 18--The incredible journey

So it's been kind of stressful lately, though the self-doubt I encountered last week pretty much disappeared after a day or so. There's a lot going on at work, with all sorts of looming deadlines. And preceptorships, which are always a pain in the butt. And cats.

After I made dinner last night, I decided to open the door a bit to let in some air. As soon as I started to open it, one of our indoor cats, Chocko, took off between my legs and out the door, chasing that pesky black cat that is always hanging around. They tussled for a second, then both took off across the yard and over the fence, and disappeared.

Chocko has never really been outside other than once or twice nosing around outside the door, so I was pretty worried. I walked up and down the neighborhood looking for her. I talked to all the neighbors and asked them to keep an eye out. Malida came home and we went out again together looking for her.

Once we got back, I sat out in the back yard in case she came back. After about 45 minutes, I saw Gemma, the other friendly neighbor cat, walking along the fence. Chocko was following her. We got Chocko inside again, and she looked fine. I was kind of fascinated by the idea that Gemma would bring Chocko home.

I took a look at my now-cold dinner and threw it in the trash.

The photo department here at school is having a photography contest for students, and I am entering some pictures. A few from the last class, and a few from earlier. The grand prize is a pretty nice Canon camera.


I found one that I made when I was in Paris about 4 years ago, and fooled with it a bit. It was taken on a rainy day up on the top of Notre Dame, looking out over Paris. It was way cool to be up there, even with the rain. I think it's a winner. Maybe.

We are going up to the mountains for the weekend, to take in the fall colors. It's good that we will be out doing stuff, because otherwise I would just sit around and stress about the work stuff that needs to be done, but probably not doing anything constructive about it. I know myself. Next week I am in San Diego for three or four days for an education conference. I'm looking forward to that, and to seeing my niece Candyd, who lives down there.

Ok, time to make a list!

October 13--Good night, sleep tight...

I slept fitfully last night. My dreams were like waking life, though I don't quite remember what they were. I think I finally got some good sleep after 2 am. No big deal, as I can always take a nap this afternoon, and don't have much going on during the day. Interestingly, my subject line has nothing to do with my fitful sleep.

Today is the final landscape photography class, where we get to see each other's work. I'm looking forward to seeing what other people saw. One of my friends, who I spent some time with up there, had a card failure and lost all his pictures. Very disappointing for him.

I'm still second-guessing my choices for the portfolio, even though it doesn't really make any difference. They will be up on the screen for a couple of minutes, and then gone, so who cares? Me.

I was on Twitter yesterday, and Jason Isbell posted something about David Crosby. I used to see David Crosby's tweets all the time, and then they disappeared. I went to his twitter site, and discovered that I was banned from the site. I have no idea why, as I don't remember ever interacting with any of his tweets.

I had the strangest response to that. My heart started pounding and I could feel my face become flushed. I wondered what I had done wrong. At the same time, I recognized that it likely had nothing at all to do with me, and that it was an insignificant thing that meant nothing, really. And yet I was having this reaction.

Rejection. It's still such a powerful motivator in my subconscious. Sometimes I think it isn't there anymore, and then it almost overwhelms me. I begin to think that everything I have ever accomplished is just a thin veneer over a mass of failure, and could be washed away at any moment.

That feeling doesn't last long, generally, but it is unsettling, and makes me doubt myself sometimes. Usually it passes and then I don't think about it. That's what I'm waiting for now.

tufa sunset

The last of the Mono Lake shots. This was going to be in my portfolio, but got bumped at the last moment. It was shot about an hour after the sun set, when it became dark enough to capture the stars, though you can still see some light in the west, coming from behind the mountains. It is a 20-second exposure, which is long enough to let the light in, but not so long that you see movement in the stars.

Malida and I are going back up that way next weekend to see if we can capture the fall color. I scoped out all sorts of places when I was last up there, where there are aspens that should be turning. This weekend would probably be better, but we have other plans.

October 11--The other side to this life

It was a nice day. I went in to work at about 6 am and was the only one there for most of the day. My boss came over a few times to chat about stuff, and I walked over to her office once to go over some stuff we are working on, but other than that, I had the day to myself. I made a new list of things I need to do in the next couple of weeks, before I leave for San Diego for a conference. I worked on the stuff my boss needed me to work on. I had a big salad for lunch.


I finished up the last of the muesli I brought back from Thailand. It's not the muesli her cousin brought me direct from Germany--it's stuff they sell in the big market in Malida's home town. They have a lot of stuff from Europe, and I always buy muesli before I come home. I can't find good European muesli here. The next time I'm there I'm filling up a suitcase with muesli and Lao coffee.

I picked up the prints I made yesterday. Surprisingly, the new Costco doesn't have a photo center, so I had to go to the old Costco, which was less crowded than I have ever seen it. The photo center guy told me they are phasing out the photo centers. Too bad--they do a pretty good job.

The prints turned out ok. The best of the rock prints was the one that I posted first--the sepia-toned one that looks like an alligator. But the best overall print was one that I didn't even include in the portfolio or post here. It's of the tufas at sunrise. I think it looks better as a print than it looks on the computer screen.

tufa process

I ran it through all sorts of filters to see what I could come up with, and this is what I ended up with. I made an 8x12 print, but will make a bigger one and hang it somewhere. I keep saying that, but I have all sorts of photographsI have printed, still stacked up on the dining room table.

Yesterday was my dad's 89th birthday. I called him and we talked for a bit. We will see him on Sunday when we all meet up for his birthday lunch at the Fish Market. As I was falling asleep last night, I reflected that he is now older than his father was, when he died at age 88. If I live to be 89, I hope I am still taking pictures. Or whatever it is people are doing then.

I'm trying to think of something to get my dad for his birthday. His house is full of stuff he has collected from his trips all over the world, he likes to wear his old clothes, has a stack of gift cards an inch high sitting on his counter, and doesn't eat candy. Any suggestions?
  • Current Music
    Fred Neil--Other Side of This Life

October 10--Everyone's made of wood.

I'm sitting out in the little patio area at the hospital, waiting for my students to decide which patients they will take care of tomorrow. The adjunct who supervises them on Thursdays and Fridays can't be here on Wednesdays, so I come on over and hang out for a while. I was in class until almost 9 pm last night, so I didn't go in to the campus--just came here at 10 after a relaxing morning at home.

I was going to sit outside at home earlier, but it was overcast and in the mid 50s, so I sat inside and got caught up on my email. I switched email accounts about 10 years ago because my old one was getting too much junk. I took a look the other day and it now has in excess of 10,000 emails in the inbox.

I had a dream the other night where there was some sort of texture laid over everything. I think it was corn based. Nobody was made of wood, but everything had a sort of yellowish glow. In the dream, I had a nice conversation with the wife of my sister's 4th grade teacher.

abstract 3

Here is the third in the series of rocks in water that I used for my triptych. I took this one up at May Lake on my way home from the photo trip. By then I had a clear idea of what I was going to do with the triptych, which was supposed to be "abstract". I think this qualifies as abstract. The triptych is below.


Although I like the photos individually, I also like the idea of a triptych. There is a certain challenge to taking (or selecting) three images that will go together in some sort of a theme, and trying to balance them out in such a way that they make a pleasing whole. I am thinking about printing these up and hanging them in my office at home. Maybe not printed as a triptych, but as three separate images, hung next to each other.

I only have one student who hasn't yet finished up. Once she is done, I am going to the Greek place and get a gyro. I can already taste it!

October 9--The improbable history of the Waldorf Salad

I was looking at other people's posts today and saw one where someone had made a series of questions specific for that person to answer. I wanted to answer them all here, even though they have nothing to do with me, but I forget where I saw them.

The one I can sort of remember asked something along the lines of "If you were kidnapped, and your captors insisted that you keep making a journal entry every day in your normal style, how would you subtly clue people in that something was amiss?" Or something along those lines.

I thought about it, and decided what I would do is make up crazy, meaningless subject lines. Either that or start writing about the dogs I don't have. I was going to say more, but the dogs were barking for their walk, and I got distracted.

I'm still at work, waiting to do some tutoring with the evening class. We are about three weeks from being done, other than their preceptorships, and I am really looking forward to not having to do this anymore. It was a lot more work than I expected it to be, and I'm kind of tired of doing both that and teaching my regular coursework.

I woke up yesterday morning and realized I had hit the wall this semester. It was probably a good time to hit it. I have been working off these little lists all semester, and I finally finished them all up on Monday, so I am caught up with everything. I still have a lot to do, but the gargoyles aren't breathing down my neck, at least for the moment. I will sleep in tomorrow and not come in until I have to go to the hospital at 10.

moonrise over half dome

The moon over Half Dome. This was taken at about 9:30 at night, well after the sun had set. I used the light of the moon to illuminate the granite landscape. Had the moon not been there, you would have been able to see the Milky Way over Half Dome. It was pretty cold up there, but beautiful.

Milky way

The Milky Way over some tufas the previous night.

As soon as I wrote above about finishing off all my lists, I started thinking about all sorts of stuff I need to add to a new list. Dang.

rock water2

Finally, the second of the three rocks in water pictures that made up one of my two triptychs. I'll post the triptych later this week.

October 7--Baby born with a peg leg!

I'm sitting outside on a beautiful fall day. It really does feel like fall. The air is cool(ish), and it is windy. My app tells me the winds are at 20 mph. The wind chimes are happy.

I'm drinking some of the Lao coffee I have put away for days like today. A day where I can sit and enjoy it. A windy day. It feels like....Chicago or something. I've never been to Chicago, but I have heard it called The Windy City. I almost headed for Chicago when I was in Terre Haute, but turned west instead, and ended up in South Dakota.

It was a busy week for me at work. I spent a lot of time working on pieces of our accreditation self-study. One of the outcomes of looking so closely at what we do is that we have identified a bunch of processes that we need to re-write so that they actually reflect what we do. We have about a 100% Licensure exam pass rate for our students, so what we are doing works, but we could do better at describing it. We don't have to rewrite it before our accreditation visit, but we do have to describe what we plan to do.


The new Costco near our house opened last week, and we went by to take a look. It looks like a Costco, but the aisles are a little wider than the old one, and parking is a lot easier. I bought some batteries and a few bags of stuff I didn't really need.

yosemite pano

I turned in my portfolio for my photo class yesterday. I had some good shots, but was generally displeased with what I ended up with. I need to change my approach to landscape photography. I think I take way too many pictures, and don't spend enough time with each shot. I was talking to another guy in the class, and he spends a lot of time setting up each shot, and only takes a few. Much more like in the film days. I'm not sure I have that kind of patience.

ghost ship

This one reminds me of a ghost ship. Maybe because I have been watching the Ken Burns series on the Second World War, which I finished last night. I remember watching parts of it when it first came out back in 2007, but not the whole thing. I lack the patience to sit through a whole series in one go, but I managed to watch this over two weeks.

It's an amazing series. Burns is a master storyteller, and knows how to build up drama. He did a great job of illustrating the human cost of the war, and the sacrifices it took to win it. I'll watch his other two series (what is the plural of series?) on Vietnam and the Civil War eventually, but I think I need a break for a bit.


One-third of the triptych I did with rocks in the water.

September 30--Atomic Wallabys

I guess the last time I sat down to write here was last Monday, a pretty big gap for someone who generally writes pretty much every day. It was a busy week, and there were all sorts of distractions. Part of it is that it is getting colder outside now in the early mornings and evenings, so more difficult to sit out here and write. It's kind of cold this morning, and I tried writing inside, but it's not the same. So I am sitting out here in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, with a nice warm cup of coffee. Malida tells me it is National Coffee Day, and used that to justify her claiming the coffee cup I wanted to use. So I'm using one of the second string cups, as all my favorites are in the dish washer.

I spent a good part of the week working our our accreditation stuff for the nursing program. We are knee-deep in revising our student learning outcomes (SLOs) so that they show clear progression through the program, and trying to identify the objective measures we use to demonstrate that they are met. It's kind of confusing. So much easier to just say, "yeah, it seems to be working fine," and leave it at that, but the accreditation people aren't really on board with that approach.


This way to Jennifer

The other interesting thing I did this week was to meet with our union rep to start making the case for them to negotiate better pay for the nursing faculty. Our rep is a science teacher, and seems more than willing to work on this with me. He also roasts his own coffee, and brewed some up for our meeting, which was way cool. Part of this process will be to document all the things we do that are above and beyond what most teachers do, which is difficult, because most teachers go above and beyond anyway. Most of them don't do 9+ hour lab days, though, and that is what we are focusing on.


One of my grade school friends posted something on facebook about schnitzel, and it inspired me to make some the other night.

I went to photo class yesterday and made a bunch of prints. We only have to make two prints for the course, but I like to see what they look like all printed up. I still have done very little towards putting together my portfolio, which is due next week, but at least I have the prints out of the way.


I printed this one up, though I'm not sure I will include it in the portfolio. I took it up at an abandoned camp in the mountains above Mono Lake. I was sitting on a log bench just taking in the afternoon and watching these guys flying around. I was taking a pic of one of them sitting on a flower, and he took off just as I took the picture.

Today's gonna be an easy day before it all starts up again tomorrow.
  • Current Music

September 24--She drove a Plymouth Satellite, faster than the speed of light

I'm sitting out in the yard at twilight. There is a smell of smoke in the air, like there is a grass fire somewhere close. We are not yet out of the fire season, and really don't need any more big fires. The temps are still in the 90s, though it is cooling down in the evenings, and it is a lovely 75 degrees right now.


This is that guy who was harassing me yesterday for hanging out near his feeder. He looks kind of mean, and is giving me the side-eye.

I had an almost perfect day at work today. I went in early, and there was no one else there. I looked at my to-do lists and knocked out a bunch of stuff before having some breakfast. A few people wandered in, but they were quiet people, so I got more done. One of the big things on the list has to be put off for a few days because the other person responsible isn't there for a few days. I finished things up at about 10:45, and decided to try and fix the clock that stopped working in my classroom.


It had stopped working, and didn't start up again after I replaced the battery. It has all sorts of little buttons on the back. I finally pushed the "reset"button and it came to life. The hands raced around the dial, and stoped at high noon. I tried it again, and they did the same thing. I finally googled it, and the clock has some sort of radio controller (radio controlled!) that sets it to THE ATOMIC CLOCK that sits under a mountain somewhere in Wyoming or something.

The thing is, it can only receive the signal at night, for whatever reason, so it stops at noon and waits patiently. And it has to be near a west-facing window. My classroom has no west-facing windows, or east or north or south. So I finally figured out how to set it manually, and now it is working. Having accomplished everything on my list, I went home and made a nice lunch and enjoyed the afternoon.

Tomorrow is a long day--I have to be there early, and have to teach in the evening until 9 pm again. I will try to come home and take a nap. The evening class is pretty laid-back, and it is the second half of the kidney lecture, so shouldn't be too bad.

flower stand

The flower stall at the farmers market. This is just across from where my friend Allie plays his stand-up bass, and it is a great spot for just sitting and watching people go by.

September 23--"...and that dog hit the wall."

It's back to the regular Sunday routine around here. Feels good to relax a bit. I even slept in until 6:30, after having a dream that featured my great aunt and her house on the hill. In the dream, she looked a lot like my mom, and I remember telling her that. My great aunt was a crazy cat lady, but there were no cats in the dream. There was some sort of buffet, though.

I had photography class yesterday, and worked on the photographs I took on last week's trip. I'm at the "don't like any of them" phase, which will pass, and then I'll get down to editing the ones I do end up liking. For now I'm letting them be. I have a week before I have to turn them in.

I'm sitting out in the back yard, and got up to take a picture of a hibiscus flower. I was standing next to the hummingbird feeder, and a hummingbird came up and hovered about 8 inches from my face and looked at me for a few seconds, before flying off and chattering something about "get away from my feeder." Ok. He intimidated me.

allie red

Last night I went out and photographed my friend Allie and his country band at the Eagles club. Or Aerie, I guess. It was mostly a bunch of old folks listening and dancing, and having a good time. Between sets they played bingo. The music was good, and it was fun to watch the old folks dance.


After the farmers market this morning, we went out and walked along the creek trail. The weather was about perfect--mid 70s, though it is getting warmer this week. We don't believe in fall around here I guess.

September 18--The password is "Aspen"

I arrived home to a super busy week here in the salt mines. I had (mostly nonproductive) meetings all day yesterday. TodayI am teaching until 9 pm, though the first two hours is an exam, which the students are now taking as I pound these keys noisily. I was smart enough to not schedule anything until 10 tomorrow, so I am planning on sleeping in for a while and having coffee in my back yard before heading out to the hospital for a few hours.

My photo trip was a lot of fun. We spent the last evening out on the granite in the Yosemite high country, watching the sun set and waiting for the stars. The moon was pretty bright, and it kind of ruined the stars, but illuminated the granite, which was cool. I haven't done anything with all the pictures I took yet--I probably won't get to take a look until later in the week when things settle down.

On my way home, I stopped to take a short hike up to the May Lake High Sierra Camp. It's a nice little spot at the confluence of a number of high Sierra trails. During the summer months they have a camp where you can get a shower and a hot meal. It had just closed for the season last weekend.

May Lake

When I was 17, I went on a backpacking trip up that way for a high school summer class. It was 12 of us and a teacher. We were out on the trail and saw a storm coming in, and decided to make for the May Lake camp. The storm arrived before we made the camp, and it started snowing fairly heavily (in July!).

We eventually found the camp, but it hadn't opened for the season yet. We were cold and wet, and ended up huddling in a wood shed overnight. One of my fellow students pulled two bottles of champagne out of his backpack and we got drunk, and someone else had some weed, so we got stoned. Our teacher, who had pretty much given up on us by this point, huddled in his own corner and pulled at his flask. IN the morning the rangers came up and brought us down to Tuolumne Meadows, where we stayed in tent cabins and frolicked for a day or so until our school bus came to retrieve us.

May Lake

May Lake. I want to come back up this way later in the fall to see the aspens when they are golden.

The first student just finished their exam after 25 minutes, with a fairly high score. I think I made it too easy.