Friday, July 01, 2022


At the delivery center on June 6, 2019
I realize deep attachment to "things" may not be the healthiest attribute I possess.  But I cannot help it in this moment, as I sit within the tangible feeling of regret in my soul as think about what I did this week.

I said goodbye to Petra.  My most perfect Tesla Model 3, who over the past three years, bandied me about as I took kids to school, drove to work, and kept up an engagement over state borders.  She barely gave me any trouble until the end, when her brain seized up and she required a new one.  It was an expensive repair.  That, coupled with the extended miles I placed upon her for the duration, prompted me to foolishly abandon her to someone else.

The miles multiplied quickly for so many reasons, other than noted above.  She was exhilarating to drive. I went to Payson, Flagstaff, Tucson, Utah, California, and so many other places, it's hard to keep track.  And it was always so cheap.  Road trips were a cinch when you only paid $8 to get there.  Foolishly, I let the wear and tear accumulate too rapidly.  

I also realize that this will probably be the first and last Tesla I ever own, as they have grown prohibitively expensive over the last few years.  I have proudly explained in the past that I purchased her for $36k, before the $4000 reward from the federal government for purchasing an electric vehicle.  That same vehicle now costs $49k now, with no rebates, and costs still rising.  

Astoundingly, she was sold for $33k with a ton of miles racked up.  I am sure she will bring the next owner a lot of joy once she is all fixed up and has some new shoes on her.  She only brought me joy, that's for damn sure.  

 June 29, 2022.  Battle damage included, she's still a beauty

And while this story is laden with undeniable privilege, irony, and hyperbole (which I will not deny and am truly ashamed for), it's also punctuated by the fact that the car I purchased to replace her with is already in the repair shop, having landed there a mere 15 miles after picking her up from the dealership.  

I am confident still that when I truly drive my next car, she will help calm my feelings of regret.  But for now, everything is exacerbated by the fact that the car I chose to replace Petra with has already fallen ill due to a small manufacturing defect.  

Crossing my fingers that things go smoothly in the days ahead.

Monday, June 27, 2022

The bad news first

It's just a real shame.  A rotten, crying shame.  There I was in Utah, happily snapping pics of family and nature, none the wiser.  But upon close inspection of the photos, I noticed streaks of light all over the place.  Figuring there was something disturbing the lens on my phone, I turned the phone over, and saw the culprit immediately: my 26mm, seven-element, f/1.5 wide lens' sapphire cap was totally and utterly destroyed.

And it's only gotten worse with time.  Further cracks have appeared, branching outward from the unfortunate impact site.  It's my opinion that the sapphire protecting these cameras is utterly too thin, especially considering how prominent this camera bulge is now.  

I haven't a clue when this happened, but is has sure put a damper on my lust for shooting.  And yeah, my previous post (over a month and a half ago, natch) was an effusive post about how I had grand plans to shoot with this iPhone 5S I found in a drawer.  And while I have taken a few shots here and there, I underestimated how unlikely I am to carry around two phones with me, regardless of the size and shape of the secondary unit.  It also got really hot outside, really quick. Arizona summers are wearing on me in a way I didn't foresee.

Luckily, the other two lenses are intact and in good health.  I took a lovely shot of the Gilbert LDS Temple the other day with the zoom lens on a beautiful rainy day that I just may post when I have the desire.  Until then, just know where I've been, and know that I am not paying the prescribed $440 that Apple wants for this repair.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Five Ess

I found this old iPhone 5s in a drawer at work the other day, in new pristine condition.  It had been meticulously cared for by its previous owner, that was obvious.  Always in a case, and never without a screen protector.  This phone is considered ancient, in terms of cell phones...this model was released in September of 2013 (almost 9 years ago!). 

The battery doesn't work well anymore, which I suppose is expected.  Software is well out of date, too.  It won't run the latest apps, as most contemporary apps require iOS 14 and above (this phone runs 12.5.5, and no further).

But what I noticed when I picked it up was how *tiny* it feels in my hand.  What's more, it's tremendously convenient to carry around as a 2nd device, which gave me the idea to load Hipstamatic on there.  So, for the next few weeks, I will give this near-decade old iPhone a proper send off, using it to capture pictures for this blog.

A few comparisons between my working phone and this 5s:

13 Pro Camera: Pro 12MP camera system (Telephoto (ƒ/2.8 aperture), Wide (ƒ/1.5 aperture), and Ultra Wide (ƒ/1.8 aperture)

5s Camera: Single 8MP Wide camera (ƒ/2.2 aperture)

There are no image stabilization features on the 5s, no night mode, no neural image processing (Deep Fusion), no optical zoom, and no portrait mode.  On the plus side, the 5s retains some semblance of HDR capture, as well as a true-tone flash for low light.  

The fun part about this comparison is that due to the way Hipstamatic utilizes the iPhone APIs, none of this might matter.  I do not believe the Hipstamatic app utilizes any neural image processing features, it does not use anything but the 12MP wide camera, and it disregards the image stabilization features.  What will matter is the amount of light the lens can gather (ƒ/1.5 vs ƒ/2.2).

I am curious to see some side by side shots soon.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Palms in the sky

Not much to say, I'm afraid.  Been a busy few weeks since the wife and I returned from Disneyland.  Mirroring my latest post to Instagram, this was a shot I took near my place of work during a walk around the block.  

The hotel property in which these palms belong is being renovated to become some sort of long-term housing. Not sure how well that'll go over.  The place might be haunted.  It's a long story.

Thanks for visiting, as always.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

No devil in these details

Lighting seen while in line for "Rise of the Resistance"

Disney's Imagineers are well-known for their attention to the tiniest and most insignificant of details. As I have grown older, Disneyland (with its little brother, California Adventure) has rapidly expanded with new rides and lands that pay homage to their newer IP. In my mind, I see the shift to contemporary details began with Bug's Land, which sadly no longer exists but within the memories of Disney fandom.  

Walking into Bug's Land back in 2000 was transformative; from the entrance, you were transported to a world where everything was bigger than you. It wasn't just sights, but the sensation of touch and smell that pulled this magic together.

Just one example of Cars Land

Fast forward another decade, when Cars Land was launched to critical acclaim.  Before going, I read article after article, and saw countless pictures posted to both social media and professional journalism sites, but nothing prepared me for what I encountered upon my arrival.  

I don't know the level of collaboration that exists between Disney/Pixar's film studios and Disney's park organization, and frankly, I don't want to know...but it was mind blowing to see Cars Land in person.  Again, every sensory faculty attached to my human frame was catered to with remarkable precision.  This was Disney's Imagineering with all of its intended magic and might.  

If you've ever wondered why some people are such zealots when it comes to Disneyland, perhaps my overly verbose descriptions and sumptuous fawning can give you some idea.

Which brings me to my final word for the day; Star Wars Land: Galaxy's Edge.  It launched nearly three years ago, during which time I've seen countless pictures and listened to the reveling of friends, relatives, and others.  I prepared myself accordingly.  Expectations were set to be blown away by what I would see.

Yep, that's a full-sized Falcon

I still couldn't believe my own eyes.  As opposed to Cars Land, where Radiator Springs was the blueprint whereupon the Imagineers set their sights, Galaxy's Edge is an unknown quantity; a brand new planet within the Star Wars universe.  Yet you know upon walking inside this land that you are a part of the Star Wars experience.  Every single detail, even down to the custom Coca-Cola bottles commissioned for this area of the park, screams of an immediate transportation to Batuu.  

On the final day, the wife and I spent one of our final hours there.  We didn't ride any rides, didn't eat any food; we just sat or walked around.  Life is complicated, fraught with stress, drama, and enough heartache to fill the Millennium Falcon.  So, to be able to escape to this tiny land within a small park in what was once tracts of orange groves in Anaheim California, the mindless wander amongst the fruits of some of the world's best designers was a welcome respite.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

From somewhere, who knows...

I can no longer count
The beats of my heart
For as the night slackens
My caged chest quickens its pace

Reaching beyond what I know
Peeling back the course layers of daily memory
I touch the raw, contaminate night
Anxious to repair, desperate to acknowledge

And gazing up at the waxing moon
Not remembering the last time it waned, never mind
Light bursts forth from the lesser guard
As it follows its path across the velvet sky

I feel it tenderly-
I belong here, have always felt that comfort
The bewildering entanglement, the drama, the trembling
The solitary yet strongest portion of my soul

The stars remain circular-
Forever moving from their perch
The whole night remains my audience
Whispering the unprotected wind into my ears

The desert's nocturnal footsteps are invisible
Only to the blind in heart
(I fear we all must find ourselves longing)
This is the lesson I learned
From this penultimate and confused winter night

Friday, March 11, 2022

Scattered wildflowers

Had quite a few interesting conversations with the people who surround my every day life.  My wife, my children, and co-workers represent those who I interact with most often.  We've discussed leadership, photography, religion, politics, food, and many other topics that run the gamut.

This particular picture came up a few times as I waffled about my next post.  As I am want to do, I like to post a favorite recently taken photo with my meandering thoughts.  I was torn between two very similar shots, and asked several people which spoke to them the most.

The picture above invariably was the pick of the litter each time (can a litter be a selection of just two? Who knows).  The main difference between this one and the other was the focus; where the flowers in the background here are in focus, the other picture simply had the main flower in focus with the background blurred out.

When pressed for the "why", one particular person said, "The picture I chose spoke to a sense of community.  It focused on the many, rather than the one".  I loved that, and wondered to myself if that's why the other people I spoke to also chose this picture.  There's often a common thread that runs through our lives, and I like to think the people closest to me have an enduring, visceral ability to empathize, and to look toward others and focus on their needs, wants, and doubts.

I'm a very lucky person to have these people around me.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Rain storm

Today, while juggling tasks that run the gamut, I expressed my frustration with the non-eponymous phrase "Heavens to Betsy".  Can't say that I can adequately recall the last time I said such an idiom, and saying it out of turn today caused me to race to the Internet to find its etymology.  

Turns out, it doesn't have a classical definition that fits easily inside traceable history.  Could be an alternative to 'hell's bells", which is another fantastic favorite of mine.  Always makes me think of the raging tank from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams.  

I may continue to use it.  Nope.  I will continue to use both.  And maybe I will throw a "heavens to murgatroyd" in there for blessed measure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Ye olde house

There's a landing midway up the staircase inside my house.  During the day, I find myself looking upward through the blinds to stare at the clouds as they pass overhead.  I angled the shades specifically so I had this view; in an otherwise artificially lighted corridor, it's a welcome relief to have this perspective.

I love my house.  It means so much more to me than I ever anticipated.  It was a slow ascension, too.  When I moved in as a single father back in 2019, it was all I could afford.  Pickings were so few and far between for my budget.  But I do remember a sensation of familiarity when I walked in the first time.  Rooms and windows were laid about just *so*, as to provide that intimate awareness.  Sure, the paint color was obnoxious, the stucco was (and still is) pock-marked by errant golf balls, and the carpet was abundant with various stains of unknown origin.  But it was mine.

Some days, I feel we might never leave this house.  But life's only surety is the uncertainty of all things. For my part, I can imagine staring upward at the kaleidoscopic sky for the rest of my life; or at least for as long as my legs will propel me up the stairs.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Days of travel, past

About a year ago, it seemed I was traveling to California every other weekend to see my wife (née fiancé), whether by car or plane.  But my gosh, was air travel ever preferable.  I am reminded that in California, public restrooms have been considered a massive luxury since the pandemic started, so it made the electric driving miles tantamount to medieval torture as I stopped for 20-30 minutes every 200 miles.  

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Friday, January 14, 2022

Blue Heron

[Originally published March 30, 2012]

He seemed amicable enough. I would take two steps, he would shuffle a few to the left. His gaze never left mine, and when he flew, he never gained more than a few yards' advantage.

It almost seemed a game; the heron daring me to try again before taking flight. People stopped and stared at my vain attempts at closer shots. Ultimately, I chose to halt what could have been a real annoyance to this poor bird.

Doesn't make him any less beautiful. And my pops thinks he was just a baby, too. He seemed big enough to me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Stop the car

I spend a lot of time in my car, if I'm honest.  I drive to work, children's schools, church, work errands, and personal stuff.  I love road trips, preferring them to flighty excursions across the country.  And while the majority of miles on my car are from my 54 mile round trip to work five days a week, I count numerous journeys to California, Utah, and local AZ hotspots amongst the nearly 67,000 miles on my 2019 car.  

Outside of El Paso, TX...a monsoon squall crashes into the desert
But more to the point of this entry, I tend to see things.  "Golden Hour" is, more often than not, the exact time I find myself going to and from work each day.  The sun casts its shimmery flaxen light over fields of alfalfa near the reservation on Queen Creek.  It bounces off the rain soaked roofs across rows of suburban tract housing in Chandler. It passes through the leaves of an assortment of trees, both evergreen and deciduous.  The Superstition Mountains, with its numerous crags and peaks, gets an especially astonishing treatment in the evening hours, especially when clouds create stationary silhouettes across the red rock of the hills.

So, I see beauty.  I experience a visual embellishment in the world each day, but I am usually going 55+ MPH.  Rarely do I stop.  I feel a constant tug to keep moving toward the next appointment, class, destination, etc.  But each time I pass something by, I feel remiss.  And I do understand the notion of living in the moment, thereby granting mindfulness and gratitude for the immediacy of life.  But I nevertheless have a longstanding and conflicting love of photography that simply demands that moments of beauty be preserved.

Preserved, and if I am honest, shared for others to see.  I think I have a little bit to contribute to this crazy world.  To that end, I've made a promise to myself to stop my car just a little more often.  It's a matter of slowing down a tiny bit.  I took a look in the mirror today and saw an abundance of gray staring back at me.  It seem that, in a momentary blink, two decades have rushed past me, leaving little imprint to immediate recollection.

It is said that one way to slow time is to constantly learn.  It feels immensely rewarding to be learning and creating again.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

The magical world of non-destructive edits

iPhone 6 Plus ~ 4.15mm ~ ƒ/2.2
Lately, it's been tricky finding time to shoot.  Generally speaking, inspiration hasn't been the dilemma; in fact, I am quite grateful that the urge to take a picture materializes more often than not.  It's a feeling I've missed, part and parcel with the writings that used to be common fare on this site.  Time and energy it is that stops me nowadays.

So I decided to take a quick journey on my iPhone today, utilizing the [Search] function built into the Photos app.  (Side note: Try it.  Seriously.  Search for anything; flowers, mountains, a person, a color, etc.  My library is over 27,000 pictures strong.  What I find with search is staggering)

Anyway, back to what I was doing.  A quick search popped up this glorious shot of a jutted rock in Newport, CA.  But sadly, it didn't look like this first image with rocky details and creamy morning sand. 

Shot w/Hipstamatic ~ badly
Instead, it looked like this.  It was a hastily snapped picture, taken with my favorite app, Hipstamatic. And thanks to the magic of non-destructive edits, I was able to turn back the hands of time by six years and uncover the virgin, unedited picture with a few taps of my finger.  

Hipstamatic doesn't always do what I wish it would.  But that's part of the appeal, in a way.  Harkening back to the days of disposable point and shoots, when one would never know what result would come until the day of development, Hipstamatic brings a little bit of risk back into digital photography. 

But I digress; such is no longer the case.  I remember reading years ago when the developers added non-destructive edits, but I believe I only scoffed when I saw that news.  I probably figured it would tarnish what I believed to be a perfect app.

But I've grown up a bit, and today's photo brings me a bit of excitement.  Because buried within the 27,000+ photos in my library is the possibility of a few more gems worth re-editing.  And that will tide me over quite well until I can get back out on the road and capture a few new shots.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

A rose by any other name...


What a ride.  This season was absolutely bonkers from start to finish.  Losing to BYU was the worst blow, maybe even worse than tonight's narrow loss to Ohio State.  

You have to hand it to OSU for their ability to make adjustments after halftime.  I was never quite comfortable with our lead, even when we seemed firmly in control.  But in retrospect...were we ever in control?  It seemed like the nerves kept us in check.  Even when our specialties shown through, we weren't able to get off our heels.  

It sure would have been nice to ring in the new year with a Rose Bowl victory to cap this otherwise outstanding season.  

Next season, boys.  Next season.