January 16--HR4437

Today was the first day for our students. They seem like a lively group, which I love. One of my colleagues said, "I miss the old group," which we always do for a while, until the new group is the old group.

I spent most of the morning working on all the compliance stuff that the students need to complete to go to the hospital rotation. We used to have a bit of a grace period for it, but this year there is another group that really blew it, and now it has to be complete before we can set foot the hospital. This other group also put one of my rotations at risk, and I was kind of pissed as I drove home.

I was still kind of pissed when the phone rang. It was someone from my care provider's office wanting to talk with me about my blood pressure. I guess they could sense it was boiling. It was a pharmacist/case manager who noted that I had a couple of high readings the last time I was there, and wanted to offer some suggestions. I told him I was a nurse, and we talked for a while anyway. It was actually calming.

Malida had her first photography class today. I looked at her syllabus, and remembered when I took the same class back in 2005 or so. I remembered many of the pictures I shot for my portfolio, and went digging in my archives. I couldn't find most of them, but did find one that was kind of a defining moment for me.

It was at an immigration rally on May 1, 2005. My professor had suggested it might be a good place to get some pictures, so I went. There were a lot of people there--maybe more than 10,000. At first I just kind of stood way back. Eventually I saw someone who looked like a professional photographer and started watching what she did, and followed her. She was constantly moving around, looking for shots. Turns out she was a professional photographer--Renee Byer, who later won a Pulitzer prize.

Eventually I followed her to the front of the rally, just below where the speakers were on the steps of the state capitol. I took some pictures of the speakers, then turned toward the crowd, scanning through my viewfinder. At some point I stopped thinking about specific pictures, and just started photographing.

si si puede

It was this image that marked my transition from being someone who took pictures to a being a photographer. I think it also kind of marks the beginning of my movement towards documentary photography as opposed to fine art photography. Capturing a moment rather than creating one.

I love how this woman's face looks directly at me from among a sea of faces. I had a print of it up on my wall for a long time. I think I took it down when I painted and have no idea where it is now. I should dig it out and re-hang it.

The thing I love about photography is being in the moment. When I am photographing an event or a story, I am in a place where I am not really thinking about it--I'm just doing it. I would always be nervous before I started photographing, but once I started I was on another level. I've noticed that feeling again as I have been out with my new camera and taking a lot more pictures. Not sure I am really able to adequately describe it.

I googled that rally to see what it was about. It was to protest a bill in Congress called the "Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005". The bill proposed (among other things) to build a border fence along the US-Mexico border, eliminate the green card lottery, and deny federal grants for sanctuary cities. It passed in the House, but not in the Senate.

Sounds kind of familiar.
  • Current Music
    Glen Hansard--Roll on Slow

January 15--Keeping the dream alive

Even though it was a holiday for me, I got up early so I could be downtown at 7:30. One of my old night shift ICU friends was leaving the ICU to work elsewhere, and they were having a going-away breakfast for him. I didn't want to miss it.


I've known John pretty much since I have been a nurse. He used to work upstairs on the urology floor, and was known to be able to insert a foley catheter in anyone. He was the guy we called when we couldn't do it. Someone today dubbed him the "penis whisperer". Later, John came down to the ICU and I became his supervisor. He tended to get in hot water in those days, but eventually settled down.

Our friendship was cemented when he lost his oldest soon at the same time I lost my first wife. We talked a lot in those days, and it was comforting for me to be able to tell someone how it really felt, who knew exactly how it felt.


Some of the old ICU crew. Two of these are my former students. One is also now a nursing educator. Two of them ended up getting married. One irons his scrubs and wears blue shoes. It was good to see all of them.

I was planning to go to the big MLK march, but missed the start, so came home and did chores. In the afternoon, I headed over to our local library, where there was supposed to be a small local MLK march, in response to some racist stuff that has been popping up in our town.

It looked at first as if no one was there, but eventually people started showing up, and we ended up with a group of about 60-70. We marched into old town and back to the library, and some people spoke. I'm glad I went.


One of the organizers speaks in front of a business where some racist messages were left for the owner. The owner also spoke, and I got a chance to talk with her a bit.

MLK march

It was a diverse crowd, with lots of young people. Good to see. My hope is that it will become a yearly event.


The students are back tomorrow. I feel like I have had a full break and am ready to go!

January 14--Beauty and the beet

We talked about going for a drive somewhere today, and it came down to a choice between San Francisco, and heading up into the Sierras to see if there was any snow up there. We opted for the latter. Malida said, "Wake me up so we can go early! Set your alarm!" So I did, and when I attempted to wake her, she muttered, "30 more minutes".

So I got up and made some coffee and listened to music, which is always a pleasant thing to do on a Sunday morning. Once she got up, we did our respective chores--I cleaned the kitchen and she took care of the cat litter box. An equitable distribution. We got ready and headed out at about 9, which is pretty much what we had planned.

As we headed up, we noted the places we had seen (and played in) snow in previous years. None this year. We did have that good rainstorm last week, but it was a fairly warm storm, and not much snow at lower elevations. We didn't actually see snow until we hit the 8000 foot level, and not too much.

ice fishermen

Some ice fisher people on Caples Lake, which is about 8000 feet. Normally there would be at least 2-3 feet of snow on the ice this time of year. The ice looked kind of dicey too--I don't think I would have been out there. Maybe it just looks dicey because there is no snow on top of it.

pinecones in the ice

Some pinecones in the ice. It was around 50 degrees up there, and I didn't even need a jacket. A few years back it was 8 degrees with some wind, and that really felt cold. We are expecting some storms to come in this week, so hopefully we will get some more snow up there.

malida and the carson river

Malida contemplates the Carson River. She noted, optimistically, that the snow usually prevents us from walking around much here in the winter. We had a good time walking along the river and taking pictures.

river lowered down

I brought my tripod and neutral density filter and played around with some longish exposures. It was too bright to get some really long 2 minute-plus exposures, but I did get to play around with my remote shutter release, and it worked like a champ. I am planning some long exposures at Point Reyes, and it will come in handy.

On our way home we stopped at our favorite old roadside restaurant (a former stage stop), which has 33 different kinds of hamburgers. I had the mushroom burger and Malida had the one with pineapple. Both were delicious, and served as both lunch and dinner.
  • Current Music
    Jimmy LaFave--Oh, Sister

January 13--Thinking of oatmeal bread

Malida got up before me to get ready for her Pilates class. I was in no hurry for anything, so I got up and had a leisurely cup of coffee. After she got back, I got ready, and we had a nice walk along the creek trail.

malida in the park

Malida sits in the park at the far end of the trail, amused by something, while I capture a portal. While we were walking, we came across a little girl and her parents. the girl was fascinated by everything she saw. "Look! It's a turtle! Look--a squirrel!" It was delightful to see her delight in the things we see every day.

After the walk we went to eat at the Korea BBQ place. It was crowded, but we got in pretty quickly and had our fill. After we got home, Malida took a nap and I worked on school stuff.

In the evening, I went to a relatively new brewery place to hear a band that is led by the son of one of my former ICU co-workers. He is only 18, but already on his way. I enjoyed the show and got a chance to talk with him a bit. He is both humble and grateful for his success thus far.

zach waters

Zach Waters
  • Current Music
    Trevor Sensor--Nothing is Fair

January 12--Convocation

I really didn't want to have to get up to go to convocation this morning. The campus where it was being held was a 45 minute drive, and I just wasn't into it, but I got up and went anyway. I left kind of early to avoid all the traffic, and got there about an hour early. I wandered around the campus playing ingress until I got cold and headed for the gym, where the meeting was to be held.

Convocation is the gathering of faculty and staff at the beginning of the semester where the District Chancellor, College President, Academic Senate President, etc., lay out the short and long term challenges we face as a community college. This time, all four colleges met together for a district-wide convocation.

I like convocation in general, and always feel motivated by it. It reminds me of why I teach, and always orients the students at the center of that. This convocation was probably the best I have attended, and I am so glad I got up and went.

We had some dynamic speakers who laid out who the elite universities serve (the 1%) and who we serve, and why what we do is so important. We give people a chance to build a successful life. I am a product of the community college system, and I know what it did for me.

At the end of the presentation, the Chancellor of our district and the President of the State University had a conversation about the partnership between the community colleges and the University. It was great to see that they are both committed to the idea that we are partners in educating the community. At the end, they both strongly rejected the racist sentiments coming out of Washington, which really moved me.

At lunch, our nursing faculty sat down with the only other nursing program faculty in our district. We mostly talked about the disparity between nursing faculty pay and what nurses make. We will make a group to put together a presentation for our union.

I was so engaged in the program, that I didn't take any pictures. Luckily, I have a random picture in reserve. It is of our land in Thailand, just after the trucks delivered the soil upon which our house will eventually be built. Malida's mom is going to plant some fruit trees for us so it doesn't look so barren.

  • Current Music
    Dhanni Harrison--Admiral of Upside Down

January 11--The Daily Possum

Getting up isn't so much the problem--it's more getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. I woke up just before my alarm went off at 6, and gave some thought to resetting the alarm to 7, but got up anyway and got ready to go to work. I got there by 7, which was my goal.

Amazingly, no one other than our nice part-time receptionist came in all morning, and I got all sorts of stuff done. I emailed my new students about their clinical assignments, and got an impassioned email back from one about why she wants to be an ICU nurse. She noted at the end that "I am young and have no kids, so I can do anything I want to do". She's an early candidate for favorite student.

Before I left the office to go to the hospital to take care of some clinical stuff, I walked over to the photo department to say hi to my friend Paul, and show him my new camera. He will be teaching the coastal landscaping class I am taking, and we talked a lot about the Point Reyes area, and different places to shoot. I am really looking forward to it. He invited me to bring Malida along with me, but I'm not sure she wants to traipse around day and night searching for the perfect photograph. She's thinking about it.

I went over to the hospital to see how things are there. About half the floors I have students on have new managers, so I got their names and will introduce myself to them next week. I found the LVN program instructor there and talked to her for a while. We will have students on the same units for the first few weeks, so we figured that out.

I ended up talking with her for close to an hour. It turns out we have some experiences in common, including losing our spouses at a fairly young age, and the ways we worked through that. In that hour she became a whole different person than the person I assumed she was. Amazing what can happen when people sit down and talk.

I came home in the afternoon and checked on my own compliance stuff for clinical. I have to meet all sorts of requirements in order to bring students into the hospital. I was surprised to learn that the drug screen I took in September was never reported out, either to the place that handles our compliance, or to our own HR department. I called the compliance place and they said they never heard of me. I called HR and they said, "talk to the compliance place--we have nothing to do with it". I called the lab and they said "we can't talk to you--only your employer".

It was kind of frustrating. I finally wrote a long email to the HR department summarizing the situation and cc'ing it to my boss. The HR person called back and said she would call the lab and see what they said, but I would probably have to take the test again.

Somebody lost a test that had a chain of custody. That inspires confidence.

We are having a big district-wide convocation tomorrow at one of our sister schools. It is an 8-hour meeting. This is the first time that all 4 schools have come together like this. Should be....interesting.

and guy

Somebody moved Ant Guy next to a tree. I like it.
  • Current Music
    Jason Isbelll and the 400 Unit--White Man's World.

January 10--Do you know?

I got up at 8, just after Malida left for work. It was cloudy out, but not raining, which was perfect for my anticipated walk with [personal profile] gracegiver. I was in no hurry to get going, and dwelled over a cup of coffee as I listened to some music.

staring cats

The cats chose to just stare at me for a while. No idea what they are thinking about, but the last time they looked at me like this, I ended up with a busted toe.

I met up with [personal profile] gracegiver and we decided to walk across an old railroad bridge and along a trail that follows the American River. she warned me that it wasn't the most glamorous trail, but it was a place I had never walked before, and that was good enough for me. We ended up figuring out a loop that was a bit longer than 5 miles.


Do you know?

homeless camp

There are lots of homeless camps along the river and the surrounding parkway. This was one of the larger camps, with a number of people. Sacramento has a significant homeless population, and no one seems to have an idea about how to approach it, although the new mayor seems earnest about trying to figure it out.

no alcohol

Curious sign along the trail.

tree fungus

A fungus growing on a tree. Probably my favorite picture of the day.

It was a nice walk and we had a great chat along the way. We had some delicious meatloaf, and then I headed home to do house stuff in anticipation of starting back to work tomorrow.

I have yet to build a sufficient head of enthusiasm for returning to work. Maybe once I get there and see everyone. I guess some people were so anxious to get back that they started today, as my email box had close to 30 new emails. Counting the days until summer break!
  • Current Music
    Sons of Murphy--Dreadnoughts

January 9--Hospital Corners

It was another rainy day today, which we can use. It rained enough overnight to flood out the walking trail in the park, which is a good sign. I didn't walk today because of the rain, but spent a little time on the treadmill, though it's not the same as being out on a trail or path somewhere.

I took my car in for routine service. I have it pretty well timed out so that my service reminders fall during the winter and summer break, when I have time to take the car in. While I waited for Malida to come pick me up, I watched a bit of The Price is Right. I was transported back in time to my first job as a nurse in a medical telemetry unit. Every morning The Price is Right would come on, and almost every tv in every patient room was tuned in to it. I never really watched it, but the odd random sounds and bells that signified certain events on the show have kind of stayed with me.

Completely unrelated to that, as I was putting new sheets on the bed, I reflected that I still make the bed the way I was taught to make a bed in basic training, which was later reinforced and expanded upon in nursing school. In basic training, the penalty for not making your bed correctly was to have the entire bed flipped upside-down by the TI. Nobody wants that.

In nursing school, we were taught not only to make "hospital corners", which is where you fold up the bottom part of the sheet and tuck it in so that the lower part, uh...google it. We were also taught that the sheet seam should always face away from the patient's skin, lest the seam cause skin breakdown, creating a portal of entry for bacteria, potentially leading to a critical illness. In nursing school, the penalty for not making your patient's bed correctly was that you might kill your patient with an errant sheet seam. Nobody wants that either.

I have no idea if that's what they still teach. I'll have to ask one of the first semester instructors. And, freak out my 4th semester students by referencing bed inspections when I review the syllabus with them next week.

eta: an excellent essay on hospital corners that actually becomes an even more excellent look at bullying in nursing

After Malida picked me up, we headed downtown to finally close our credit union account. I was served by the branch manager, who never smiled, and didn't ask why I was closing my account after having been a customer for 27 years. In contrast, when we went to our new credit union to deposit the check, the manager smiled and waved from her office, and the teller was nothing but smiles. Such a difference. Anyway, done.

We had lunch at our favorite Japanese place. I've been going there since just after I graduated from nursing school. It was always a great 2nd or 3rd date place. There was a notice on the door about a transfer of ownership, and I wondered what was in store. Turns out the couple who have been running it since the late 70s are retiring, and turning it over to their son, who has worked there for years. Good.

I picked up my car and came home and made some scrambled eggs for dinner. I retired to my office to look at stuff, and Malida put on her Korean soap opera, and was soon joined by the cats.

the tribe

Happy family.
  • Current Music
    Son Volt--Live Free

January 8--Reconquering the privileges of delirium

I had plans to go out adventuring with a friend today, but the forecast said rain, so we rescheduled for Wednesday. The forecast was correct--it rained pretty much the entire day, and not just a light rain. It was a good rain. So I adjusted my plans and went in to work to get ready for the upcoming semester.

A few of my colleagues were there. One stopped by to lobby me on one of the possible textbooks we are thinking about changing too. Last semester I made a very impassioned argument in favor of one, and she doesn't like it. She sent me a two-page email over the holiday, breaking down chapter by chapter what she doesn't like. I like it because it is up-to-date on the newer concepts, and is about 1/3 the cost to students of the other book. Anyway, it will be decided by the entire faculty, not just her and me. Anything will be better than the book we currently use.

I find I am becoming more savvy about academic politics. At first, after a career in the hospital, it was a big mystery to me, Now I think I have a fairly good handle on it, though I mostly stay out of it, unless it is something I am passionate about.

I talked with my awesome boss for a while. She was able to procure funding for a few of us to go to an academic conference up in Yosemite in the spring. I am looking forward to it, as it will be my first academic conference, and...Yosemite! I have already made reservations, and will stay an extra day so I can enjoy the scenery.


I took this photo over by the art building when I went to use the bathroom. I love how even our immediate environment is an ever-changing landscape, always surprising in both small and big ways.
  • Current Music
    David Bowie--Where are we Now

January 7--Oprah for president.

Malida expressed a strong interest in going to the farmers market this morning, so I attempted to wake her when my alarm went off at 7. "No", was her only response. So I went and got the stuff we need for the week. It is the time where a lot of vendors drop off for a while, but they will return in the spring. My go-to for beets wasn't there, so no beets this week.


The radishes looked good, but I don't like radishes, so let them be.


The cauliflower looked interesting, kind of like a moonscape. I like cauliflower, but don't really ever prepare it, or really understand it, so I let it be.


The mandarins looked good. I like mandarins, so I bought a bunch of them. I believe a grouping of mandarins is called a "green mile".

Somehow I got the idea in my head that I wanted to make crab cakes. I've never made them, but have eaten them a few times, good and bad. The best I ever had was up in Bandon Oregon last year, at some stand that made them fresh from crabs just caught.

There were no fresh-caught crabs today, so I used canned crab, from Thailand. I added a bunch of stuff and used the rest of the corn bread I made the other day. Once I assembled them, they looked like they were waiting for the first opportunity to fall apart, so I put them in the oven rather than trying to fry them up.

crab cakes

They were pretty good, but could have been better. Usually I have an idea of what I can do to make something better the next time around, but I was at a loss with the crab cakes. Maybe use fresh crab. I'll try it again when the dungeness crabs are back in season next year.

While we were eating, Malida commented that one of the reasons she thinks I am better than other husbands is because I am willing to try new things. She ate two crab cakes and almost all the scallops. It takes three sentences to make a paragraph.

This evening I pulled up my course website, and noticed that the page for the photography class I am taking this semester was active. I read the syllabus and the general requirements. It's a half-semester course on California coastal landscape photography, with a focus on the Point Reyes area.

I've been going to Point Reyes since I was a kid, and all the potential photography sites are familiar to me--places I have photographed many times. As I read the syllabus, I decided I was going to go off the beaten path a bit, and photograph some of the less popular spots and challenge myself in different ways.

I spent a couple hours making a list of places I could photograph, at various times of the day. It's all about the light. Our portfolio has to include one sunrise photo and one sunset, and I have all sorts of ideas for where I can go to get these.

I thought about New Years Eve, 1984, when I drove up to a place called Mount Vision, which overlooks most of the Point Reyes area, and photographed the sunset. I was high on acid, and it was really the most spectacular sunset ever. I shot two rolls of film, which I misplaced, and they were never developed. I always wondered what they would have shown. So that's on my list, sans LSD.

The weather in Point Reyes is completely unpredictable. It can be sunny inland, and fogged in over Point Reyes, or the opposite, or something else completely. That's what I love about the place. It is a world out of time. I'm planning for every eventuality. I am so excited about this class!
  • Current Music
    The Church--North South East West