Sunday, October 26, 2014

When night falls–Thematic Photographic.

I love taking pictures in low light.  You can’t just point and shoot, not if you want to capture the colors of a sunset or the detail in the evening.  It takes a lot of planning, practice and trial and error.  Especially before the digital age, when you had to wait to see the results.

The sunset above is not digitally enhanced, that’s just the way I took the picture back in 1980.  I had to use the light meter on the camera as a guide and adjust the aperture and shutter speed to the best of my knowledge.  I wouldn’t be sure I had captured what I wanted until week later, when the photographs were developed by the local photo shop. 

Even with black and white photography it took some planning.  Would you get so much light that everything came out looking blurry, or not enough light so you wouldn’t see any detail.  How much detail did you want.  The picture above is of “The Aves” in salt Lake City.  The picture below was taken at the University of Utah, an assignment for my Photography class there.  I don’t know who that car belongs to, but it was just like the first car I owned.

And sometimes, by accident, you get something completely abstract, something that you didn’t expect. 

In today’s digital photography world, it is a lot easier.  Not that it still doesn’t take planning and trial and error, but in that you can see the results immediately.  That gives you the power to adjust right then and there, you don’t go away wondering if you caught what you wanted to.  Not to mention the number of pictures you can take is only limited by the size of your flash drive, the cost is the same if you take 1 picture or 1,000.

That’s Saltair, out on the Great Salt Lake.  I wanted to get a picture with the sun shining through the windows.   Thanks to my digital camera, I was able to see the first picture, realize I was too far to the left so I moved to the right and got the shot.

We also have the ability to enhance the pictures when we get home.  Yes, I could do that with film, as I developed the pictures in my darkroom, but there was no “undo” button and if I didn’t get it exactly right I just wasted some expensive paper.  The picture above is not digitally enhanced, the one below I adjusted the brightness and contrast.

About 5 years before I got into high school, there was a fire that almost burned Saltair to the ground.  I heard a lot about it and we would go out there at dusk for the eerie atmosphere.  In this picture I wanted the light from the sunset coming through the windows to look like what it might have looked like during the fire of 1970.

Click the link at the top to see more night fall pictures.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

This week.

At lunch, I was talking to a small group of 8th grade boys. “T” was speaking when his voice cracked and he commented “Ain’t puberty great?” I said something about how everybody goes through it and he responded “I’m not going through puberty - puberty is going through me!

Earlier in the week another student was telling me about what he had done over the long weekend.  He had gone to his grandparent’s farm and helped prepare the live poultry for dinner.  Since he had to grab them by the throat he referred to it as “choking the chicken.”  I had to hold in the laughter because I honestly believe he did not know the other meaning of that phrase.  Neither did any of the other students hanging around, not even a snicker from any of them. 

And finally – I keep saying that there is a reason I teach math and not English.  But according to a Facebook online quiz (which are totally reliable and accurate), maybe I should be teaching English.

Mebbe not.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Intersection from hell.

I wrote about an incident at the intersection of 21st South and 13th East that happened last Saturday.  I got onto Facebook today and a friend of mine who is the manager at the Chevron there wrote:
That's bad intersection, today at the same intersection someone was hit by a car.  The same guy (butt crack boy) in fact.

And then just about an hour later he posted:
 And now this happens because they have the intersection blocked off, smh.

 I'd love to avoid this intersection, but unfortunately I have to go through it twice a day to get to work and home.  Either that or go 20 blocks out of my way.
Crazy stuff.

Update:  Here's the article on

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How things have changed.

I saw this 4-Runner on the way home from dropping off payroll today.  Considering how I had to special order my Wrangler to get a manual transmission, it amazed me how much things have changed from when an automatic was so novel that they advertised it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bizarre Morning.

Whoda thunk just filling up the Wrangler could be such an exciting event? [Note: “the other guy”, “the maniac” and “the crazy guy” are all referring to the same person – butt crack boy who started the whole thing.]

On my was to the Chevron this morning, while I was waiting at the intersection of 21st South and 13th East, I saw what I thought was a homeless man going up to cars stopped and asking for money.  It was obvious he was being aggressive, at least in the sense that none of the people in the cars had called him over to give him money.  They kept their windows up and took off as soon as the light let them.

As I was filling up I looked over to see if he was still going out into the road to harass drivers, and saw him (he’s the one with the blue hoodie on and butt crack showing in the first picture) at the driver’s window of a red Mercedes.  It caught my attention when he started banging on the window.

By the time the Wrangler was filled up, he had started punching and kicking the car.  I went to the front door of the Chevron where one of the workers I knew was standing and asked if anyone was calling the cops, I had no idea who was in the car and things were escalating.

A customer coming out of the Chevron was on the phone, and told us that he was calling the police.  By this time the driver of the car (he’s the one in the blue shorts and neon yellow shirt) had gotten out and was trying to keep the assailant from further damaging it.

The driver was trying real hard to keep his cool, but the other guy was swearing at him, insulting his family and continuing to kick the car.  Finally the driver had had enough, got in between the other guy and the car, trying to keep the other guy from doing any more damage.

The other guy wasn’t having anything of it, and tried to push past him to get back at the car.  At this point a brawl started.  It had been 10 minutes since the police were contacted and still no sign of them, even though the guy on the phone (and the driver was on the phone to them also) was encouraging them to get there fast before someone got badly hurt.

The other guy’s buddy, who was yelling things about the world coming to an end (I’m not making this up, honestly), pulled him away from the driver, things would deescalate for minute, then the other guy would head back towards the car, the driver would get in the way and the brawl would start over again.  This repeated itself several times, and still the comps were nowhere to be seen (it took them a full 20 minutes to get there).

A crowd had gathered, people had their cell phones out taking pictures (obviously I was one of them) and video of the whole event.  The Chevron parking lot was packed.

A young lady unknowingly pulled up behind the red Mercedes in her Honda Element.  She started taking a video of what was going on in front of her, the other guy noticed her (and for some reason he didn’t notice the other dozen people with their phones out).  I watched as he kicked her front bumper and then went up to her window, yelling at her to stop.   When he started pounding on her window a bunch of us started yelling at him and moving towards the Honda.  A guy across the street, in the white pickup, grabbed a 6’ pole out of the back of his truck and got the other guy’s attention away from the Honda.

I will never forget the look of sheer terror on the lady’s face as she jumped out of the driver’s seat into the passenger seat to get away from the maniac banging on her window.

The guy with the pole really didn’t want to fight, so when the other guy came towards him, the guy with the pole led him around the white truck away from the young lady, who took this opportunity to climb out the passenger side of her Honda and blend in with the rest of the crowd.

At this point I’m not sure what happened, but we noticed that the crazy guy had calmed down and was hugging his buddy who had pulled him away from the fights earlier.  Finally, the police showed up.  No lights, no sirens, no hurry.  The paramedics beat them there by a minute or so, at first we thought they had just happened across the scene.  The crazy guy was sitting calmly on the back bumper of the ambulance being looked over by the paramedics when I (and a couple other witnesses) went over to the driver to give him my name and phone number in case he needed witnesses.  I saw the police putting the other guy into the back of the police car as I waited at the left turn light on my way home.

And the whole time my good camera was sitting on the table in the garage.  Gotta learn to never leave that thing at home.

And I’m still wondering how the driver is going to explain all this to his insurance company.

Friday, October 17, 2014

So much for compliance

I was coming out of my school’s driveway on Wednesday and stopped at the red light.  (My school is on a main road, so the exit has a stop light.)   When the light turned green, I was looking to the left and saw the car coming towards me come to a stop, so I proceeded through the light.  I glanced to the right and saw an SUV with yellow flashing lights coming towards the intersection.   I figured that since there was no audible siren, and the lights were not red and blue, that the vehicle was not an emergency vehicle so it would stop at the red light.  Imagine my surprise when it just sailed right through the intersection, forcing me into the middle lane to stomp on my brakes.  One block past the intersection they turned off their lights and proceeded like nothing was wrong.

Now, maybe I’m wrong, but I thought there was a reason certain public vehicles were not given the blue and red flashing light bars with loud, obnoxious sirens.  Yellow flashing lights are supposed to mean “Watch out for me, I’m here parked on the side of the road checking to make sure this sewer is not backing up.” and red (with or without blue) flashing lights mean “Get the hell out of my way, I’m trying to save someone’s life.”

I was even more surprised when I saw the tag on the back.

Guess they only need to make sure everyone else is in compliance, not themselves.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shoulda been an Art Teacher.

I’m trying to inspire my students to enjoy and understand mathematics, but instead I seem to be their artistical muse.

One of my students drew this on the back of her test:

And another student, in another period, drew this on his notes:

I was talking about why scientists sometime leave square roots in this form: 2√3 instead of calculating it out in decimal form and rounding it off to 3.5. The idea being that if you are sending a rocket to Mars and doing thousands of calculations, all those rounding-offs would cause a huge margin of error, and you could end up missing Mars by hundreds of thousands of miles.

At least he was paying attention to the lesson.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thematic Photographic : Patterns.

I went back out to Skull Valley, where I wrote about the apocalyptic scene I saw out there.   I really wanted to see if there would be any cars still out there after 2 weeks.  Nope, not a one.  But I did find a lot of patterns.

Patterns in the dried mud that only 14 days ago was so wet and mucky even 4 wheel drive vehicles got stuck in it.
Patterns on a clutch plate that been out there for who knows how long.  And how did it get out of the vehicle it was in?
Patterns from vehicles when they finally got to make their exodus.
and finally, patterns in the mountains caused by spring runoff.  You can also see the shoreline of the late, great Lake Bonneville that used to fill most of Utah with water.
Check out Thematic Photographic to see more on patterns.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Shirley

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bad words at lunch.

A kid in a group of 7th grade boys eating lunch called me over to tell me that someone in the group was saying a bad word. When I was told that the word was “penis”, I said that it wasn’t a bad word, after all it’s just a body part, like heart or lungs. His response?

“Yeah, but you don’t have sex with your lungs.”

Ahh, the innocence (sort of) of 7th graders.

On the flip side, sometimes their bluntness is helpful.

Friday on the drive to school, it seems the wind made a mess of my hair.  I had no idea and talked to at least two other teachers before school started.  Nobody said anything.

The first kid in the door for first period looks at me and says “Nice hair!”  He’s a nice kid, so it wasn’t meant to be rude, but simply an 8th grader making an observation.

Thanks, teachers.  If it hadn’t been for the bluntness of the kids, I would have gone through an entire day with my hair standing on end.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Happy Birthday Amy

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Happy Birthday Jim

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Gone to the dogs.

Today at church it was Saint Francis of Assisi Celebration Day, and since he is the patron saint of animals and the environment, everyone was invited to bring their dogs today (other animals may have been invited, but only dogs showed up, probably because they are the most travelable pets).  With at least a fourth of the population being dogs, it was quite interesting.

Instead of just getting up and shaking hands, “Passing the Peace” mostly involved the petting of dogs.  People just had to laugh when many of them joined in with us singing “He’s got the whole world”.  And right before communion for the humans, we had blessing lines for the animals, including several stuffed animals brought up by the kids.

Great day at church today.

Saturday, October 04, 2014


Frost on the P.E. field Thursday morning.

Yup, winter is just around the corner.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Somebody stole my license plate.

At one point my two brothers and I all had older Jeep Wagoneers.  The three of us are also big fans of Edward Abbey’s book “The Monkey Wrench Gang”, which is why we named out property in Duchesne “Back of Beyond Ranch”.   And to mesh the three things together, we got personalized license plates for the three Jeeps.  My older brother got BEYOND1, I got BEYOND2 and my little brother got BEYOND3.   At some point my older brother and I both had two 4-wheel drive vehicles, so he took BEYOND2, and I got BEYOND4 and BEYOND5.

Well, the last time I had BEYOND5 on a registered vehicle was in 2011, my Subaru Impreza.

Last month my brother posted on Facebook this picture he took, it seems that someone had acquired my BEYOND5 plate while it was unregistered.

We didn’t know what to think about it, we didn’t think anyone else have the same confluence of life choices that would make that plate relevant. 

As it turns out they probably don’t – since it could have a completely different meaning.  One of my teacher friends at another school commented on it on Facebook, and today I asked her what her comment was all about.  Seems that one of her ex-students is part of a Boy-band named Beyond5.

Yeah, somebody stole my license plate in order to honor a boy band.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  But I was under the impression that a personalized license plate had to be dormant for more than just a couple years before it could be snatched up by someone else.  It’s not a big deal, but I’m still a little curious, so I think I’m going to contact the DMV and find out exactly what the rules are.

Either way, I still have the old BEYOND5 plates, so I can still display them in my garage and retell this story every now and again.