Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thematic Photographic: Max got kicked out of Home Depot.

I had my cover story down.  With my official school district I.D. dangling from my shirt I was ready to play the “I’m a junior high math teacher taking pictures of geometric shapes for my class” card.  It’s worked before, and I’m sure I’ll use it again.

I headed over to the garden center, figuring there would be fewer people there, fewer weird looks.

Other than the pictures out front, them’s was all the pictures I gots.

The paint section of the store is right by the garden center so I planned on getting a cool shot of the big display of those little color patch cards.

I was walking down the isle, the wall ‘o color in sight at the other end.

As I passed a Home Depot dude, he looks at me and asks, in a not-so-nice voice, “Are you taking pictures?”


“You’re not supposed to be taking pictures in here.”

Flashing him my official I.D. I ask “Even if they’re for a junior high math class?”

His manner takes a 180° turn, all of a sudden he becomes not only polite, but quite apologetic.

“Yeah, I’m sorry, we just don’t allow pictures in the store.”

I tell him that it’s no problem, that I understand and he thanks me for being so understanding.  I left with five pictures worth of  ill gotten booty, figuring that telling this story would be worth a thousand pictures.

Cats and politicians

Got this in an email (I used my own picture, mine’s better than theirs was.)

My cat sleeps about 20 hours a day.
He has his food prepared for him. He can eat ….whenever he wants.
His meals are provided at no cost to him.
He visits the Dr. once a year for his checkup, and ….again during the year if any medical needs arise.
For this he pays nothing, and nothing is required of ….him.
He lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is ….much larger than he needs, but he is not ….required to do any upkeep.
If he makes a mess, someone else cleans it up.
He has his choice of luxurious places to sleep.
He receives these accommodations absolutely free.
He is living like a King, and has absolutely no ….expenses whatsoever.
All of his costs are picked up by others who go out ….and earn a living every day.
I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it hit ….me like a brick in the head.......

I think my cat is a member of Congress.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lambs Canyon

I got to school the other day and the sunrise was phenomenal.  I got this picture, and a few others, but unfortunately I couldn’t get as good a picture of it as I wanted to.

I’ve found that it is best to use a manual lens with my camera set to manual for those kinds of pictures.  On automatic it goes for the average lighting, which usually washes out the sunset.  The only manual lens I carry around with me is the telephoto lens, so I wasn’t able to get the whole sunrise into the frame. 

Which got me to thinking; “Hmm, I have a manual lens on my old 35mm camera sitting on the shelf in the dining room.  I should stick that in the camera case for these kinds of shots.”

So I did.  And Sunday I went up Lambs Canyon, from my house it’s about 11 miles east on I-80, to do some comparison shots with the auto lens and the manual lens.  I resized and added the caption to the pictures, but other than that they are completely unedited.

The old, manual lens is not necessarily better for everyday shots, but I’m still going to pack it around all the time for any special light I want to capture.  There are no comparison shots for the ones in the gallery below, but as you’ll see, there are some that give a great effect because I could play with the light. (Those too were sized and copyrighted, but are otherwise untouched).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I’m a Publisher!

Ok, not really, but I did get a 6 hour lesson on how to publish a book for the Kindle.  Could have been a simple 3 hour lesson, if the directions hadn’t suggested the best way to format the book was in HTML.

I was helping Lisa Shafer get her book Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire formatted and uploaded onto the Amazon Kindle site.

After reading the instructions, which listed almost a dozen different formats you can send them, we decided to use HTML since they said that all formats would be changed into HTML anyhow.

So we spent the time centering, changing font sizes, figuring out how to insert page breaks and setting up the cover picture properly.  It all looked great when I opened it up in the browser.

The moment of truth.  Upload it to the site.  Enter title, author, genre, keywords, accidentally hit “backspace” at the wrong time and get sent back to the previous page, erasing all your entries.

Start all over again.  Be real careful not to tap the mouse wrong and backspace again.  Ooops.  Did it.  There goes everything.

Third time’s the charm, right?  Actually yes, because we got through the whole thing, just to preview the book and see that it certainly had uploaded it in HTML, as a matter of fact it was even showing it in HTML.

Yup, we had just published the code.  We also figured that although this might appeal to your average HTML freak, the average teenager, which the book is aimed at, would find it annoying to read.  For example, here are this post’s last two paragraphs in HTML:

<p align="justify">Third time’s the charm, right?&nbsp; Actually yes, because we got through the whole thing, just to preview the book and see that it certainly had uploaded it in HTML, as a matter of fact it was even showing it in HTML.</p>
<p align="justify">Yup, we had just published the code.&nbsp; We also figured that although this might appeal to your average HTML freak, the average teenager, which the book is aimed at, would find it annoying to read.&nbsp; For example, here are this post’s last two paragraphs in HTML:</p>

Fun, eh?  Not quite on the road to “bestseller”, so we gotta come up with a Plan B.

Microsoft Word.  The little blurb on uploading a Word document said that it would work fine, as long as there wasn’t any real complicated formatting and lots of photos in the manuscript.  Knowing it HAD to be better than what we had just seen, we took this route.

Copy, paste the entire thing.  Formatting took about a half hour, 45 minutes.  That included an Active Table of Contents (click on “Chapter 3”, go to chapter 3).

Uploaded (replacing the old HTML file) and checking out the preview, thing looked great!  All that is left is setting the price (99¢), checking all the “yes, I want to keep the copyrights to this” boxes and “SUBMIT”.

As frustrating as it was getting at times, all in all it was good to learn the process, next time it will be a snap.

And I got dinner at Ruth’s Diner for my troubles.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Commando Cats

The neighbors, an apartment complex, decided to trim my trees that hang over onto their property.  I have no problem with this, and even if I did they are well within their legal rights.  What was annoying was that the left the branches on my property for me to clean up.  Legally they can cut my trees that cross over the property line, but legally they are responsible for the trimmings.

But I just cleaned them up myself anyway.  Dragged them all into a pile in the driveway so I could chop them up and put them in my yard waste bin.

The cats loved this.  All of a sudden they had their own little wild jungle to climb through, hide and attack each other in.

My commando kitties.  And as their jungle dwindled it’s way into the big brown container, they kept looking at me as if to say “Hey?  What’s happening to our playground?”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reason #∑℮π I love teaching Jr. High.

Nutrition is not the reason I get my lunch in the Jr. High lunchroom.  Every now and then I like to go down there to interact with the students in an environment where I don’t need their undivided attention and they can just be themselves.

And there is no better time than during election season, the 3 days we allow the students to campaign for class offices.  Basically, the get to put up a single poster in the lunchroom.  Here’s three of them that I just couldn’t resist sharing. (With the appropriate stuff blurred out to protect the innocent).

And I thought mullets were sooooooo 1980’s (where they should stay!)

If truth in advertising laws applied to political campaigns, that would be EVERY single campaign slogan.

And finally, the one that inspired enough laughter that I got some weird looks from the kids there.

And no, his name is neither Merrill nor Cook.  But then again, maybe that’s where he got the idea?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


To see more vibrant pictures, click on the banner.

I had no clue what I was going to do for this theme when I walked past the 2nd floor landing that looks out into the commons area where our students have lunch.  After all, what’s more vibrant than 400 adolescents all hopped up on carb-heavy school lunch, candy and caffeinated drinks?

I purposely took these with my cell phone, I would have had to blur out a lot more faces if I had used my good camera.  But despite the non-professional pictures, I still wanted to use this for the theme because it fits.  And I have a really good punch line that goes with them.

I was standing here when another teacher came up the stairs and I looked at her and asked:

“Seriously, can you stand up here, look down there and not wish you had a dozen water balloons?”

The assistant principal just laughed when I told him my “idea” (in quotes because I have no intention of doing it, I really do like my job) and he just laughed, said he loved the idea but, like me, wants to keep his job.

The counselor I made the joke to wants to organize a voluntary water balloon toss for the kids at the end of the year.  She thought of putting little rubber tokens in every 3rd or 4th balloon, offering prizes for everyone who gets a token and then filling the area with students who get parental permission to get water thrown on them.

My principal has allowed some crazy things to be done in the 7 years I worked with her, but I don’t think this is going to fly.

Than again, you never know…

Monday, August 22, 2011

How to tell the sex of a fly.

A woman walked into the kitchen to find her husband stalking around with a fly swatter.

What are you doing? She asked.          

“Hunting Flies” He responded.

Oh. ! Killing any?  She asked.

“Yep, 3 males, 2 Females,” he replied .

Intrigued,  she asked. How can you tell them apart?

He responded, “3 were on a beer can and 2 were on the phone.”