Paterno discussion

All the how should we remember Joe Paterno discussion is getting a little old. It is simple. You remember the whole story. You celebrate the great man he was and all his good works. But you also remember that despite all that he was just a man. And as a man he was falable as we all are, and he made mistakes. So don’t rush to put men on pedastals as we are all human and fall short. I would also say when remembering a man’s mistakes “Judge not lest ye be judged”. How would any of us feel if no matter what we did in our lives, upon our deaths we would only be remembered for our biggest mistake or wrongdoing?

Its been a long day

My dog Mojo here is making it an interesting past 24 hours. He has always been a very unusual dog and has many peculiarities. One of these is that he does not like to come into the house on his own once he is outside. Another is that he doesn’t really like to just come up to people and let them pet him or handle him. He will come within arms length. Inside he will come and sit on the couch or come to us to be petted but it has to be on his terms. As we discovered these tendencies we have made sure that he is either on his leash connected to a tree or has a long lead attached so that we can get a hold of him. He has no problem going into the house or being near us once we have a hold of his leash or color. It is very strange. There must be something about doorways that scares him, but I have yet to figure it out.
Yesterday at approximately 6:00 PM Mojo somehow got off his leash. He has been outside ever since. We have tried everything we can think of to try to get him to come inside. I even stayed home from work today to keep an eye on him and try to get him to come in. I have been unsuccessful so far. Thankfully the weather has been mild for this time of year. However, Mojo is a Husky and likes the cold and rain and miserable weather. But I would feel much better if he would just come inside. We recently put a dog house outside for our dogs to use if they want while outside, but Mojo does not appear to have any interest in using it. I am sure he will decide to come in eventually. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.
Upon further inspection there appears to be nothing wrong with the leash. So we are still not sure how he got off.
If you have any advice on the situation please feel free to share. Thanks.

Movie / Inspiration

Today I watched a very good movie. My wife and I went to see “We Bought a Zoo”. It was the perfect movie for me to see at this point in my life. I found it pretty inspirational and moving. As my favorite photographer Moose Peterson often says about photography, this movie pulled all the right heartstrings for me. It was about love and passion and doing what you believe is right. It is about having that “20 seconds of courage”. If you believe in something and believe it is worth putting every ounce of effort into doing and you have passion for it you can make it part of your life.

For me this is a very personally relevant message. I have been pursuing my education my entire adult life and I am reaching the culmination of that dream. I have been doing it because I believe in my heart it is the right thing to do and it is what I want out of life. I am about to begin my comprehensive exam for my PhD program and after that the final step will be to write my dissertation. Then I will have achieved all my educational pursuits. But leading up to this point I have been having doubts about my abilities and my self confidence has been lacking. Seeing this movie has helped me just regain focus and know that if I put myself fully into this I can do it.

I have also been pursuing a career in photography. I have been making modest gains each year. I try to expand into something new each year. But at times I wonder if this will ever be something I can do on a regular basis as a professional. I love my photography and I feel like I learn something new in the field of photography and its business aspects on a regular basis. I know that if I keep trying and I am not afraid to make mistakes I can do it. I just need to take on the challenges and do what is needed to push through it.

On top of all these things I have a regular full time job that pays the bills. This is part of doing what is necessary to make this all work out. I am just glad that movies with such positive themes are still being made. I don’t know if this movie had as mush an impact on anybody else, but I am thankful it connected with me. Now just to read the book.

Remembering 2011

As 2012 begins I want to take a moment to reflect on 2011. I want to focus on some of the positive things that happened in my life in 2011.

1. I celebrated being in love with my wife for 11 years and being married for the last 7 of them.

2. Thanks to my wife I began volunteering at the local SPCA.

3. I became a member of a local arts association and started showing my photography in their art gallery on a regular basis.

4. Completed my final course in my PhD program.

5. Several newborn babies born into our family. (None of them mine, whew.)

6. Flew by myself for the first time.

7. Went out and took photos of nature on numerous occasions and experienced the wonders of this world.

8. Lost 50 lbs.

9. Began eating healthier and exercising more.

The commute.

I completely fail to understand the psychology of people who choose to drive recklessly. I have a 1 hr commute each way to work. I leave my house at 6 AM to head to work. This time of year the sun is just begining to rise as I drive to work. Visibility is an issue. Headlights are still necessary and often in this area there is significant fog causing visibility to be minimal. Due to construction on our main 2 lane highway I have been choosing to take our more rural routes that are single lane highways until I am past the construction area. Often deer are present along the road. Yesterday as I am driving to work along this rural route I am going the speed limit but 2 cars continue to tailgate me. I see a deer run across the road ahead of me. I also see another deer on the left side of the road begining to cross the road as well. I slam on my brakes to avoid a collission. What do the cars behind me do? Not slow down. They passed me on the left side of the road in an area where there isn’t even passing allowed. People do not generally slam on there brakes in the middle of a highway without warning for no reason other than some type of road hazard. Why would these people think it is safe to pass me? I am often left wondering what these drivers must be thinking to make this type of decision. Then this morning on the 2 lane highway the same thing occured. At least on this road passing is allowed, but the deer was so close that you could clearly see it was a large buck and see its antlers. Why would a driver choose not to slow down? I simply fail to comprehend the thoughts and actions of many drivers around me.

So I am going to try a little bit of an experiment. Below is a very short very rough draft of an excerpt from a very long term project I have been working on. I am in the process of writing a book about my life with dogs. I hope you enjoy.  Feel free to make comments, critiques, or suggestions. I am also including a few photos of the subjects of the book.

My dogs love me so much they even help me in my career work.  They inspire me to write.  They inspire me to get outside and experience things.  They even sit nicely for me so I can photograph them.  Well maybe that last one is a bit of an exaggeration.  What they do is run around the yard like crazy people.  They do whatever suites them for the most part totally ignoring me.  That is they ignore me until I see them sitting still in a nice pose with nice light.  I have to be very cautious.  It’s almost like trying not to scare a wild animal.  I can’t let the dog know that I am paying attention to them.  I can usually get some nice shots if they don’t notice me too much.  Sometimes I really want to get a specific shot.  If this shot requires me to kneel or squat down in front of my subject, one of my dogs, then I have to be fast.  Kneeling or squatting is interpreted by my dogs as me saying, “Here I am.  Come and get me.” And they come running right at me ruining my shot I had just lined up.  Ironically enough, if I actually say come and get me the dogs just ignore me and stay sitting, laying, or generally ignore me. 

Dogs, birds, photos, fun

I had a fun morning today.  I threw on some sweats and a sweatshirt to go out into the yard and play with my four dogs and maybe work on some training.  I grabbed the treat bag and figured I’d take my camera just in case I decided I wanted to take some photos of the dogs while we were outside.  I also decided I’d put some bird food out since the feeders were empty.

The dogs and I played, explored the sights and smells of the yard (They explored the smells much more than I did.), and we worked on some simple training. We have been working with our husky Mojo a lot lately.  He is very aloof and does not like to be approached and petted.  He will approach you and let you pet him on his terms but backs away if he is approached. We are trying to condition him to be more comfortable around people and be more willing to approach people.  So that is what today’s training focused on.  
After playing and working on training for a while I decided that since there was good light and I hadn’t photographed the dogs lately I would get out the camera and take some shots.  I usually photograph the dogs with my 300mm and 1.4 teleconverter.  That way I can back off and just capture them in the moment just being dogs.  Plus if I am close and kneel down or anything they typically charge at me wanting to play.
Then I decided to turn my attention to the birds that were now arriving due to the fresh supply of bird seed.  I actually did not end up photographing any of the birds that were at the feeders.  I noticed that there was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings in the top of one of my trees eating the wild grapes from the vines that entangled the branches.  I was able to get some photos of them as they ate.
Then something surprising happened.  I was photographing Mojo from one side of the yard when I heard the call of a Pileated Woodpecker.  That is not too uncommon. I often hear them in the distance at my house. What took me by surprise was when the Pileated woodpecker came bursting out of  the woods at full speed and flew right over Mojo only about ten feet in the air.  Apparently the woodpecker was also aware of the wild grapes that grew on the edge of my yard as that was directly where it went. It flew back and forth between the trees a few times before finally settling in and eating the grapes while suspended almost upside down by only a small trig of a tree branch. Honestly, in retrospect I am a little disappointed as I should have been able to take some nice images of the woodpecker in flight but I didn’t even attempt a single shot of it in flight.  I was too mesmerized by the speed and grace of this unusual visitor to my backyard.  I was just grateful to be there in the right place at the right time to bear witness to natures wonders.
I am very appreciative of all that nature has to show me in right in my own backyard.

Talking photography, dogs, and life.

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