Sunday, July 31, 2011

Which way to the Nuclear Wessels?

Anybody can draw Spock. Draw a guy with pointy ears and there you have it. But there's nothing special about Ensign Chekov...

..except for his accent.


Friday, July 29, 2011

I prefer Hollywood on DVD

The best way to get your money’s worth out of seeing a new movie at the cinema is to wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it at home.

Of course some may say that watching a new release on a big screen is far superior than watching it on a small screen, but I dub those people as movie snobs and don’t associate with them. And by golly, if they dare say my 13-inch, 25-year-old TV is not good enough for Hollywood, then they’re saying I’m not good enough either, which may be the truth, but who’s counting?

I used to go to the cinema to watch movies, but that was during the heyday of neighborhood single-movie theater houses. I still remember the box office, the red carpet, the chandelier, the golden rope guarded by a bowtie-wearing usher who actually took your ticket; I remember the plush seats, the dimming of the lights, the raising of the curtain, and then cuddling up on the back row with my sweetheart until that usher guy came and shined a light in our faces, spoiling the whole mood.

Harold was his name. It was printed on his nametag. He had onion breath. I still have bad dreams about the whole incident and would rather not talk about it. In fact, I’ve said too much already.

I went to a movie the other day, against my better judgment, and the kid sitting next to me kept stepping on my toes every time he got up to go pee. Why he didn’t take care of his business before the movie started only his parents know because I wasn’t curious enough to ask.

And then I noticed that a lot of people were getting up to go pee during the movie, either that or getting more popcorn. People coming, people going, people stumbling up and down the stairs, people saying, “Excuse me,” and “I’m sorry,” and “I promise this is the last time,” children giggling, fathers cursing, babies having their noses blown, others talking, slurping their drinks, getting up to go pee again.

In the old days, the atmosphere of the theater was one of the things that made going to a movie so great. Today’s cinemas have the atmosphere of a crowded New York subway station in July, where the person beside you just picked your pocket and smells like he pooped his pants.

A movie on my own small screen is so much more relaxing (and aromatically pleasing).

First off, I know who sat in the chair before me. Me.

If I need more to eat or drink, the icebox is just a short walk away.

If I need to pee, I can pause the movie and restart it on my return.

And if I like the movie, I can watch it again without paying for another ticket.

Yes, I do miss cuddling up on the back row with some curvaceous brunette, but it’s not worth it these days – especially since my wife has a shotgun and excellent aim.

This is me standing outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
As you can tell, this photo was taken back in my much younger movie-going heyday!
Today I much prefer Netflix.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What was that again?

Putting together a newspaper, whether it be national or small-town, is a BIG JOB. Millions of words have to be spelled correctly, names have to be right, photos have to match stories, headlines have to entice the reader to read -- and all of these are subject to criticism by us, the reading public.

It's not right, but that's just how it is.

Speaking of headlines...I ran across a few headlines recently in my local daily that made me pause and ask, "What was that again?" They just hit me as funny, or confusing, and I thought I'd share:

orders 460
new airplanes

I thought to myself, "Holy cow, that must have been some wealthy American."

Preparedness net stretched taut across county

Shoot, how could I have missed THAT?

Hess remains
exhumed, then

Sounds to me like ole Hess escaped and didn't want to go back, but now he's cremated and that's that.

Bjorn roars in return to site of 2003 meltdown

Well, since I don't understand a WORD of that one, it must be sports related.

And finally, my favorite one of the week:

Orange man
gets prison time
for fatal crash

I thought as a society we were way beyond identifying people by race or color. It doesn't matter if the person is black, white, brown, yellow or orange. What matters is that the story tells us who, what, where, when and why, and in a manner that doesn't make us think, "Who is running this paper anyway -- third graders?"

(By the way, the man was from Orange, Texas, and wasn't really orange.)

Okay, I'll shut up now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hummingbirds Are Curious Things

On our recent trip to Colorado, I sat on the porch one day and took photographs of hummingbirds.

Boy are they fast.

Hummingbird don't fly away, fly away

Hummingbirds Are Curious Things

By Tracy D. Farr

Hummingbirds are curious things,
they’d rather hum instead of sing
or whistle, scream, shout and shriek
like humans do, and I believe
that if those hummers perservered
to sing a song, and let us hear,
it would not sound like rap or rock,
or country western, blues or pop,
but sound it would like angels singing,
rivers flowing, love birds winging
through the sky and out beyond
the flower grove, out way beyond
where you and I can ever hear
the songs they sing, but will not share.
Instead, they hum, they do not sing.
Which makes us think they're curious things.


Shared with World Bird Wednesday

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hiking around Big Meadows Reservoir

I stood there looking at the trail around Big Meadows Reservoir and thought to myself, "Piece of cake. Take us 30-45 minutes. We'll be back in the car and heading back to the river to fish in no time."

Let's Take Pictures
Looking from the trailhead, you can see all the way around the lake -- and that's what makes the length of the trail look deceptively short. But I didn't know that at the time. All I was thinking of was the family and I were about to enjoy a "walk in the park."

These two yahoos are part of my family. Daughter and son. The rock their standing on is the same rock I stood on as a kid, getting MY photo taken, and it's the same rock THEY stood on when THEY were little, with me taking THEIR photo, but now somehow the world is turned upside down and THEY are taking a photo of ME, and I must end this paragraph because we're wasting good hiking-story time.

Big Meadows Reservoir is in southern Colorado, 11 miles west of South Fork and before you get to Wolf Creek Pass. It is a 600-acre lake, which includes a campground (which is closed until 2012 for renovations according to the USDA Forest Service), a lot of wildflowers, good fishing, and a six-mile hiking trail.

It took us a couple of hours to hike, but it was so enjoyable I would have never guessed that it was that long. (Please understand, I'm new to this hiking and getting out to commune with nature thing, and even though six miles may not seem a lot to YOU, it sounds like forever to me.)

We're following the leader, the leader...

Every trip that I have ever taken to Colorado has included a trip to Big Meadows, but I'd never actually hiked around it. And now that I have, I'm putting it on our agenda for every time we return.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weather Update 24 July 2011

I'm tired of this stinkin' hot weather.

Today it was 104. Yesterday it was 100. So far, the temperature has been above 100 degrees every day in July. That's 24 days.

If we talk about "the streak," it's been above 100 for 27 days. June saw 15 days above 100, and all the rest were 95 or above.

Of course this hasn't beat any records.

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, 1980 was the year "the streak" went 69 days with above-100-degree temperatures.


I've already told my family that if this year gets anywhere NEAR to breaking that record, we're moving to Alaska....

....or Antarctica.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Captain America Saves Family From Heat Wave

The thermometer read 100 degrees Friday, the 25th day in a row of above-100-degree temperature here in East Texas. In total, June and July has seen 38 days of three-digit temperatures and all the other days have been 95 or above.

To say it's been hot is an understatement.

But then Captain America came to the rescue.

"Dad, you want to go see a movie?" asked my daughter Becky.

Movies mean darkness and air conditioning. Movies mean forgetting how hot it is for a few hours. And who else better to save us from the wretched heat than Captain America?

I wasn't a huge comic book fan growing up. I read comics, but I was nowhere near as fanatical about it as some people. Some people I know collect them, store them in little baggies and don't let their closest friends even breathe on them.

To me, they're comic books. Buy them, read them, stick 'em in a drawer or throw them under the bed.

But I really wanted to see the new Captain America movie. I even bought some Captain America comic books just to see what it was all about.

And I wasn't disappointed with the movie.

Of course I'm not going to tell you anything about it because that will spoil YOUR fun if you ever plan to go see it, but I will tell you this...

The greatest thing you can do in the world is take you kids to the movies. Becky and I had some good father/daughter bonding, and that in itself was worth the price of admission.

Go see the movie. Take your kids if you have any. Take someone else's kids if you don't. (But make sure you ask, first. I'd hate for the police to think you're a pervert and yank you out of the theater in handcuffs.)

Photo courtesy of Andy Roth at Flickr

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dress up your desktop like I do

This little squib isn't about me. Usually it's ALWAYS about me, but not this time. This is about Trey Ratcliff.

Trey Ratcliff is an amazing photographer. His work is truly stellar, and you can find it at Stuck In Customs. I use his photos to liven up my desktop. This is the photograph that is currently on my computer:

I peruse his site every day just to see what new and exciting photographs he posts. A lot of them end up on my desktop, and he's okay with that. His works are governed under the Creative Commons copyright model, and as long as you don't use his photos in a commercial manner, you're free to use them.

One of these days I hope to take photographs like Trey Ratcliff. But until then, I'll enjoy Stuck In Customs.

And YOU should TOO!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Poetry contest results

I recently participated in a poetry contest at Writing With Shelly, and out of 70-odd entries I got an Honorable Mention!

Thanks, Shelly. I didn't deserve it, but I'll take it anyway!

These are the two poems I entered:

I'm Cold

By Tracy D. Farr

My feet are cold, my ears are cold,
My elbows, knees and nose are froze.
To sneeze would really not be nice.
I'd shatter into chunks of ice.

Little Sally Rode the Bus

By Tracy D. Farr

Little Sally rode
the bus
to school every morning
without fuss,
even though it
was bumpy,
and smelly,
and hot in the summer,
and cold in the winter,
because Josh,
who sat in seat 7,
was so cute,
and Little Sally was in love.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bad News

The other day, I was sitting in my living room counting up all the things that are busted or need repairing around my house -- the roof, the yard, the truck -- when my wife said there was something wrong with the dishwasher.

And then she told me the computer was infected with a virus.

And then I thought up this poem.

Bad News

By Tracy D. Farr

My shingle roof has sprung a leak,
The dryer isn't drying.
My truck won't start, the starter's bad,
The stovetop isn't frying.
I dropped my cellphone in the toilet
now it's fried for good.
I'd buy another only if I could.

My motorcycle needs new tires,
The doorbell isn't dinging.
The TV set is on the blink,
The ice box isn't freezing.
The computer has a virus
and the VCR won't play.
My goats just climbed the fence and ran away.

But that's not the bad news.

My girl she don't love me no more.
She packed her bags and walked out the door.
She met a guy from Abilene, and just waved goodbye to me.
My girl she don't love me no more.

My bathroom mirror's cracked,
And the front door doesn't close.
My ceiling fans run backwards
How that happened, no one knows.
My coffee maker's on the fritz,
The microwave is dead,
And now they say my pipes are full of lead.

But that's not the bad news.

My girl she don't love me no more.
She packed her bags and walked out the door.
She met a guy from Abilene, and just waved goodbye to me.
My girl she don't love me no more.

I should have fixed the toilet when it went to overflowing,
Mowed the yard before the whole darn place was overgrowing.
I bet this guy from Abilene is a handy with his hands,
'Cause that's the only thing she understands.

I used to own a monkey wrench,
a shovel and a hoe.
Somewhere I have a screwdriver,
but where, I wouldn't know.
If I have a tool box, it's nowhere to be found.
It might be somewhere rusting on the ground.

But that's not the bad news.

My girl she don't love me no more.
She packed her bags and walked out the door
She met a guy from Abilene, and just waved goodbye to me.
My girl she don't love me no more.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hiking the Lake Bob Sandlin trail

Lake Bob Sandlin
I think the ranger was just trying to make me feel better.

"Yep, it happenss all the time," he said.

That "it" he was talking about was getting lost, turned around, taking the wrong path, getting disoriented, and trying to find your way out of situation before it becomes an even worse situation.

I hate to admit it, but I got lost on the trail at Lake Bob Sandlin State Park near Pittsburg, Texas.

I can understand getting lost out in the Rockies, taking a wrong path and being found years later by hikers who just happened to be walking by -- you wearing buckskins that you made yourself, your beard unruly and full of leaves, them wrinkling up their noses because you haven't washed in years. But getting lost at Lake Bob Sandlin? How embarrassing.

Lake Bob Sandlin

I started out on this 4.5 mile hike at 7:45 in the morning. The temperature was already muggy and in the lower 80s, but at least I had a water bottle. I thought I'd take a leisurely hike through the woods, find the trout pond, and make it out in about a couple of hours. I had a map, the trail was well groomed -- peace of cake.

Lake Bob Sandlin

The trail was easy to follow, leading through the woods, over a few wooden bridges that spanned waterless creek beds, up some steps, down some slopes, and I never saw another soul -- probably because of the heat.

But then I took a left (on a firebreak) when I should have kept going straight, and before I knew it I was trekking through wilderness, around downed trees and thorn bushes, and the only thing I was happy about was that I still had some water. And my cellphone.

I dialed my wife's number but hung up before it went through. I could NOT call her up and say, "Honey, having a great time, can you find the number for the rangers out here, I'm a bit lost, nothing to worry about though, I have water and there are no reports of bears or escaped convicts in the area."

No need to freak her out.

Then I remembered the map. The map had a telephone number on it, so I called it.

"Howdy, I'm out here on your trail and I seem to have gotten turned around. I took a left at a Y and now I'm following a barbed wire fence trying to look for the trout pond. Any suggestions?"

Boy did I feel like an idiot.

Backtracking back to the Y was the answer, and when I got there, I went the other direction. Within minutes I found a sign that would have saved me a lot of grief and embarrassment if I'd just kept going straight.

Lake Bob Sandlin

I could have gone on to the trout pond, but I was hot, tired, my water had run out, and I had had enough.

NEXT time I hike the Lake Bob Sandlin trail, I'll know. I'll know to keep going until I see the sign, and I'll know to hike the trail in much cooler temperatures.

Did I have a good time despite the mishap? You bet. Will I tell anybody about my little misadventure? Heck no, except for you. I know you'll keep my secret.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Think Happy Thoughts

Instead of dwelling on the oppressive Texas heat, I shall spend today thinking about...


Finding Summitville

and Mule Deer...

Mule Deer

and Aspen groves...


and Chicago flowers.


Take THAT Mr. Sun!

Photos shared with Creative Exchange

Friday, July 15, 2011

No pain, no gain

I've been battling with some back pains for about a week.

During the last storm, a dead tree fell down on our driveway -- a tree covered with poison ivy -- and I tried to clear it out of the way; you know, be the man of the house, the provider, the handyman that can take care of the dishes, the roof, the AC, the automobiles, and still have time to mow the yard, feed the goats, take out the trash, and "oh, honey, if you're going to Wal-Mart anyways, could you pick up a few grocery items? I have a list."

So I went out with chainsaw in hand, did some chopping and sawing, and pulled a back muscle.

For the past week, everybody's been so kind -- asking what I need, am I comfortable, need the lights on, off, how about another drink, another pillow, need anything from the store, how about a beer?

Shoot, I should have pulled a back muscle YEARS ago!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

We got some Texas-sized heat going on

The greatest thing about Texas summertime weather is that it's consistent and easy to predict. For example:

Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 101. Heat index values as high as 109. South wind around 5 mph.

Thursday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny and hot, with a high near 99. Heat index values as high as 104. Southwest wind around 5 mph.

Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny and hot, with a high near 99. South wind around 5 mph.

Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny and hot, with a high near 100.

Sunday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny and hot, with a high near 99.

Monday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny and hot, with a high near 99.

Tuesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny and hot, with a high near 99

This was the forecast for this week. Next week looks the same. Last week looked the same. Two weeks ago looked the same. I've heard this will be the forecast until December.

For once, I hope the forecasters are wrong.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Out of Service

Out of Service

I never thought I'd see the day when the "Out of Service" sign would be posted on Bus No. 6.

For buses, that sign is the kiss of the death.

It's like having the mechanic take one look at your car and declare it's cheaper to buy a new one than to fix it.

It's like hearing your soon-to-be inlaws whisper to your soon-to-be wife, "You do this, and we're cutting you out of our will."

It's like your doctor saying you have only six weeks to live, but it might be just one.

Bus No. 6, out of service. Who knows if it's just a termporary thing or permanent? If the mechanics know, they're not talking.

All I know is that if this is the end, there's still a silver lining to this cloud. As soon as the mechanics pronounce my bus is beyond all hope...

...I'm buying it and parking it in my backyard.

I'm going to turn it into my clubhouse.

No girls allowed.

(You can read more about Bus No. 6 at

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hiking the Lake Fork Trail

We were an hour up the mountain when we realized we had no idea how much further the trail would go, and that we were out of water.

To be truthful, mom and dad had waterbottles, but son and daughter didn't. They started the hike thinking we were carrying theirs, and we were doing nothing of the kind.

You're responsible for your own water, was my thinking. Their thinking was, "Can we have some of yours?"

We shared, of course.

The Trailhead

This was the Lake Fork Trail, located on Highway 160, halfway between South Fork, Colorado, and Wolf Creek Pass. The trailhead led up into a grove of Aspen trees, then took a turn to the right. The path led us to a bridge that crossed a mountain stream -- snow meltoff from high above. It was our first real trail hike, and we were immediately hooked.

The photographs I took of the stream could not do it justice, but just imagine: a fast-running river, cascading down through the mountains, around bolders, over rocks, making mini waterfalls and small pools. Not wide enough to kayake on but wider than you'd want to cross. Not a meandering stream, but a stream with purpose and direction.

The trail itself was very easy to follow. At times it went through a cover of trees that kept the temperature refreshing; at times it opened up with sloping meadows on one side or dropoffs on the other; and then there was the fallen rock, the scree, with the trail leading right through it.

And all the time the river kept flowing within earshot and eyesight.

Are We Lost?

It was at this point that I realized I was enjoying myself. Me. Mr. Lazy. And I couldn't imagine that this and other trails had always been there, waiting to be explored, but I just didn't have sense enough to know it.

While my wife took photographs of wild flowers, I imagined a new life of hiking on the weekends, taking photographs, discovering new places, coming upon plateaus with breathtaking overlooks.

I vowed that this might be my first, but it wouldn't be my last.

Off Trail

An hour into the hike, we decided to turn around and head back down. I assume that at some point we would have reached Lake Fork, but we had no idea how much further that would be. And when you're running low on water, it's better to be safe than sorry.

On The Trail Again

But we will return one day. We will be more prepared. And who knows -- maybe we'll find the end.

More than likely we'll find a new beginning.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hailing Frequencies Open

Continuing with my Star Trek cartoon-fest, I decided to try a more life-like version of Lt. Uhura, but after several hours of gloom, despair, and agony on me, all I could came up with was something that sort of looked like her, if you squinted your eyes and stood way, way back – with the lights off.

Lt. Uhura

The only thing that’s recognizable as being Lt. Uhura-ish is the thing that’s sticking out of her ear.

My son came home and said, “Hey Dad, that’s a pretty good Lt. Uhura.”

I said, “Really? You actually think it looks like her?”

He said, “No, but I could tell it was her because of that thing sticking out of her ear.”

Oh well.

So I set out to do a different version of her, more of a caricature, and within 30 minutes I came up with this:

Hailing Frequencies Open

I took it to my son and asked what he thought.

“Yep. Lt. Uhura. I’d recognize that thing in her ear anywhere.”

Oh well. I give up.

Sorry, Nichelle. I did my best.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dishwasher philosophy

I actually don't mind washing dishes by hand.

Good thing, seeing that our dishwasher is broke.

There you are, just you and the dishes, letting warm soapy water flow through your fingers, and before you know it you start having ideas. Ideas about life, about living, about goals, about the past and future.

I betcha a lot of great ideas and inventions throughout history were first visualized right at the kitchen sink.

Einstein probably thought of relativity while scrubbing spaghetti sauce from his flatware.

Beethoven probably heard the 9th while rinsing his soup bowls.

Gates probably envisioned personal computers while drying his sippy cup.

And it goes without saying that the inventor of the dishwasher thought it up right there at the kitchen sink.

Like I said, I don't mind washing the dishes. And maybe someday I'll come up with a great idea of my own.

Like how to keep dishwashers from breaking.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Like Pie

I have a friend named Cindy.

Cindy loves to bake pies.

Cindy bakes all of her pies from scratch, from the pie crust to the fillings.

They are the best pies in the world.

When Cindy’s oldest daughter got married, I took the wedding pictures and she paid me in a couple of pies.

To be honest, she overpaid me.

Ever since that day, whenever she bakes an extra pie, whether it be apple, pecan or buttermilk, she always calls me up to see if I want it.

I always say yes.

Cindy gave me a buttermilk pie a few days ago, and this is a photo of it exactly 57 minutes after I brought it home.

Good gracious, but it was delicious!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Twitter Babe on the Prowl

Twitter Babe

I did it again. I caved in. I went against my better judgment and set myself up for a lifetime of ruing the day I did what I’m about to share with you.

I let my daughter have a Twitter account.

“Daddy, oh please can I have a Twitter account?”


“But Daddy I really want one.”

“No, but why?”

“Because a girl I met at church camp has a Twitter account and I want to be able to talk to her.”

I said, “No. Where? Church camp? Why isn’t she on Facebook? I let you sign up for Facebook.”

Letting my daughter have a Facebook account was my first mistake.

“I don’t know why she isn’t on Facebook, but she’s on Twitter. So can I?”

“She doesn’t do Facebook? Probably her parents are smarter than me and didn’t ALLOW their precious daughter to get on that nasty thing.”

Pregnant pause.

“But Daddy,” she said, “you’re on Facebook and Twitter, why can’t I be?”

Really fat pregnant pause.

“Because you’re not 18.”

Jaw drop. Hers, not mine.

“Eighteen? Are you serious?”

“Okay, you can have one when you’re 17, but that’s as low as I go. Why don’t you just text her?”

Letting my daughter have a cellphone with unlimited texting was my second mistake.

“Please Daddy? Pretty please?”

Pouty face. Again, hers, not mine.

“Let me think about it,” I said.

Face of resignation and defeat. Mine, not hers.

Five minutes later, I helped her sign up for a Twitter account.

Why, oh why, do I keep creating problems for myself?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Aliens & Zombies on 'Super 8'

Well, the wife and I went to the local cinema to see “Super 8” because the kids had been imploring us to go see it, so we did…and we loved it.

It was sort of a mix between “E.T,” “War Games,” “War of the Worlds,” and “Night of the Living Dead,” with plenty of kids putting one over on “the man,” and enough sentimentality at the end to make you want to cry, but you dare not if you’re out with the boys, but since I wasn’t, I gave it some thought, but chose to remain wet-face free for dignity’s sake.

By the way, it’s a zombie/space alien movie, and it’s practically a sin to get all weepy-eyed in one of those.

I like zombie and space alien movies. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if an alien from outer space landed on Earth tomorrow and shook things up a bit. You know, make us question our place in the universe, not hunt us down and make hamburger patties out of us.

Zombies I can do without. They make great subjects for Hollywood movies, but I’d rather not see a herd of them stampeding down the street, looking for a neck to nibble on.

Can you imagine what would happen if aliens actually did land on Earth? There would be pandemonium. Our total belief system would be smashed to pieces. Some people would jump off buildings, some would find religion or give it up. Politicians and scientists would try to exploit them for their own purposes, and we would never look at the stars the same way again.

My wife says this is a film we need in our DVD collection, solely because it’s set in the late 70s during our growing-up years. The cars, clothes, music, and household furnishings were all so 70-ish, and it was really nostalgic for her.

I’m just glad that aliens didn’t come visit us back then. They would have heard the Bee Gees singing “Staying Alive,” and probably vaporized us right then and there.

Gibbous: of, by or pertaining to a Bee Gee

And I wouldn't have blamed them.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America

Navy Pier's Fireworks
I never take a lot of fireworks photos because I never like how they come out, I always forget to bring my tripod, and I hate messing around with camera settings when I should be enjoying the full razzle-dazzle effect of the show.

Having said that, I took this fireworks shot last year from Chicago's Navy Pier and it didn't come out half bad. But, like I said, I don't remember a darn thing about the show because of having to deal with the camera.

Now, if you REALLY want to see what I consider one of the most awe-inspiring fireworks photos of all time, check out Trey Ratcliff's photo of Fourth of July on Lake Austin (below) -- but don't just look at it on MY silly webpage. You'll find it here on his website (take a look at his other work while your at it) and I suggest saving it to your desktop. You'll be glad you did.

Trey transforms his photographs using High Dynamic Range photography. And he does it well.

Fourth on Lake Austin

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Are Sunday Comics dead?

I do not believe journalism will die. We need people to tell us stories.

I do not believe local newspapers will die. We are perversely interested in all the things our neighbors do.

I do not believe cartoons or comic strips will die. We need to laugh, especially during trying times.

But I DO believe that when a local daily newspaper (like mine) eliminates its Sunday-morning comics section on the grounds of cutting costs (which they did), leaving the paper's patrons to find their favorite strips on the internet (you can find more than you ever thought possible), then those same patrons will discover that "all the news they can use" can ALSO be freely found floating within the Internet Cloud -- let's emphasize the word FREELY -- and might choose to discontinue their subscription to the local paper.

But alas, we don't, because how would we ever find out which of our neighbors is getting married, who had a baby, who was put in jail, or who died this week?

The bean counters have us over a barrel, and it ain't pretty.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hiking Poage Lake - a love story

John and Toni were in love.
John and Toni

At least they were when they carved their names on an Aspen tree back in ’09.

I found the tree while I was hiking around a mountain lake high up in the San Juan Mountains, the same lake where I took my newly-wedded bride on our honeymoon 26 years ago. Back then we didn’t carve our names into any tree. We just took photographs of the beautiful lake and enjoyed the freedom of beginning our very own adventure.

Poage Lake is not hard to get to. Just drive past Beaver Creek Reservoir outside of South Fork, Colorado, go 15 miles up a twisty, gravel, one-lane mountain road for what seems like forever, and try not worry about the thousand-foot dropoffs that could make for a bad day if you aren’t paying attention.

At the end of the road is a parking place. You can’t even see the lake. But if you hike through the woods a bit – maybe 10 or 15 minutes – the lake opens up in front of you and it’s then that you notice how still and quiet everything is.

Somewhere a stream is running into the lake. Somewhere a woodpecker is notching out a hole in a dead tree. A fish plops out of the water, leaving only ripples behind. But other than those sounds, the area is calm and still.

Two fishermen are throwing out their lines on the other side of the lake. A young family with two toddlers are having a picnic. Two fathers and their two sons are fishing off the dam. And then there’s us – mom, dad, brother and sister – trying to walk the trail around the lake, sometimes stepping through knee-deep snow mounds, sometimes fording little streams, sometimes just sitting to relax and catch our breath.

I found the carved Aspen tree while we were sitting.

Maybe John and Toni were newlyweds. Maybe they were just high school sweethearts. Maybe they’ve gone their separate ways and ended up half way around the world from each other, with different mates, different lives.

One thing’s for certain, though. They were in love with each other on this mountain, in front of this lake, way back in ’09. And even if they’ve forgotten about it, the mountains know.

The mountains never forget.

Poage Lake 2011