(mostly) daily photoblog

Archive for June, 2011

The Invincible Bob

Bob was pretty sure that he was at a disadvantage when it came to experience.  Captains Blackbeard, Sparrow and Barbossa all had a great deal more pirate experience than he did.  If it came down to a fair fight, he would lose.  Bob wasn’t even sure he was correctly holding the sword.  In fact, if he were to admit it, he was pretty sure he wasn’t holding it correctly.

He did, however, hold one distinct advantage over his opponents.  He was already dead.


Line of thinking…do people think in lines?

There’s a line in a poem by Taylor Mali (I think the poem is “Train of Thought”) wherein the speaker ponders whether people who think in “trains of thought” aren’t lacking creativity.  That people should be thinking in “dirigibles” and zeppelins.  They can go anywhere, back, forth, up, down, where train of thought thinkers can only move forward or back at a relatively slow pace.

Now that the school year is finally over, I’m happy to say that my line of thinking is less line-like than ever.

On the other hand, I seem to be gleefully moving toward summer and I’d like that line to be as short as possible.



I hereby present, to the world, my first triptych

I was playing with a bunch of photos of this helmeted guy – you can look at yesterday’s post if you want to see the photo all by itself.  I’ve been playing at different ways to present a photo and this offered the opportunity to play with perspective.  I tried to focus on the art and its context.  I also accidentally did the first one in grayscale instead of color, so below is the result of that.  What do you think?  Am I doing okay?

And, yes, I did play around with the composition of the triptych.  Which one worked better?

Whoever wears this helmet, if he be worthy…

…will possess the power of the mighty Thor.  No, wait.  That’s the hammer to which Odin was referring, not the helmet.  Sorry.  I got that all wrong.

On the other hand, given the mustache, this could be, say, Don Quixote.

Maybe a steampunk Iron Man, with Tony Stark circa 1981.  Actually, now that I think about it, that is much more interesting than the whole “Thor” thing.

It could be, however, that the artist who created this painting had nothing superhero-ish in mind at all.  Maybe it’s a comment on the way in which we’re all masked through our use of technology and that “nothing is but what is not.”  A sort of post-modern Macbeth-ian interpretation of our Facebooked, texted, Twittered society, wherein we guard ourselves against life by creating insular armor of emoticons and 140 character blurbs about our exercise regimens and bathroom habits.  Maybe the artist is begging us to embrace the humanity behind the armor, behind the guarded personalities we project through our use of smartphones and iPhones.

Or, maybe he just thought that a glowing aura helmet guy would look cool.


I wish I had mindreading powers…or…maybe not.

Imagine if you could read the minds of others.

I thought, at first, that it would be awesome.  I thought about being able to better understand other people through mind-reading.  To better meet others’ needs.  To be able to go past the “I’m fine” that is often offered when I ask the question “How are you?”  To be able to get the truth instead of the politically correct, socially acceptable half-truth.

Then I remembered that my thoughts are not always the most appropriate.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t want others to read my mind.

Mind-reading?  Meh.



It’s refreshing to see concern for others (weekly photo challenge)

I don’t know who this “Home Boy” is, but it’s nice to see that someone’s looking out for him.  I mean, it could be a personal message from one tagger to another, letting the homeboy know that his bro knows he’s lonesome.  It could be just an observation by an objective observer of the human condition.

On the other hand, it could be a lonesome home boy crying out to the world, letting everyone who sees this message know that he, the home boy, is lonesome.

I’m not sure what the point was, but someone felt a strong enough concern that the message had to be spray-painted on a wall.  I feel encouraged.



Urban Wilderness: Photo Friday

I’m particularly proud of this shot.  Well, it’s actually two shots.  I held the camera on the horizontal plane, then merged them in Photoshop.  I shot this with a Pentax A 50mm at f8; a higher aperture in order to get a deeper clarity.

As for the content, this is my favorite little spot, under the highway, near the WalMart in Abbotsford, BC.  I was just there three weeks ago and some ridiculous tagger left turtles everywhere.  Thankfully, it took less than three weeks for someone with real artistic vision to paint right over the turtle.  While I was down there, I shot this and a whole lot of other photos.  You’ll see them in the next week.

This shot is more of the urban wilderness that exists in the hidden parts of the city.  This week’s Photo Friday challenge is “Wilderness” and this is my interpretation.  What do you think?



Hey. New Photo! I did it!

I took this photo while I was at school today.  In fact, I’m still at school.  My friend Kris and I will be attending a scholarship dinner tonight in Abbotsford, so we decided to stay late, get some work done (or in this case, some photography), go to dinner, then go home.

This is a “lug” on the side of a conga drum in our band room.  I, once upon a time, wanted to be a drummer.  What I found was that my feet work or my hands work, but they don’t like to work together.  Yes, I can walk and move my arms, but anything more demanding than that and all heck breaks loose.  So I accepted my lack of coordination and moved on.  My obsession with things that make loud noises, however, has never been stronger.

Anyway, I’m off to Indian food for dinner.  Or, in other words, I’m off to show my stomach who’s boss and ingest more butter chicken and rice and naan bread than I really should.


Hi…and, uh…sorry.

There will be no photograph tonight.  I am working on the very final marks for my classes this year.  I’m pleased to say that I’m nearly finished, but I do not have the time to shoot a photo, let alone process one.

I will be back to the norm tomorrow, maybe Friday.  Until then…smile and have fun.

Street cred is wha…ahhh…I’m too tired for this.

I really am too tired.  I’ve not taught a student this week and I’m more tired than ever.  I’m currently moving my classroom from the third to first floor (at my request) and I’ve been moving the better part of twelve years of teaching around my school.  And…ho-ley craaaaaap have I accumulated stuff.  I’m using this as a time to cull the stuff I don’t use, but I still have to move it, whether I cull it or not.  Yay!  Now I know how Sisyphus felt.

Needless to say (so I won’t – haha), I’ve not had a great amount of time to take new photos.  Above is a photo from last week’s graffiti photo-fest.   I found this one buried among the other photos.

WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Worn (out)

These are my son’s jeans.  They are worn out – in the knees, anyway.  My wife, with her wonderful sensibility, has relegated these jeans to only certain jobs, like washing the car, working or playing in the yard, and (maybe) visiting family on the weekend.  Definitely not church or school functions.

For me, they bring me back to my style of clothing in twelfth grade.  My “uniform” in my grad year was worn-out, torn jeans and offensive t-shirts, somewhat hidden under plaid, flannel shirts.  I looked like a refugee from a Nirvana concert.  Yup, so cool.

Oh, and this week’s photo challenge on WordPress is Worn.  Check it out.


Happy Father’s Day!

Today was Father’s Day.  I got to watch my son and daughter sing on stage at church.  I had barbecued burgers for lunch.  We all went to the driving range to knock out a few buckets of golf balls.  Then I came home and had a nap for, like, an hour.  It was a great day.

The photo above is of my son.  He decided, a few days ago, that if he was going to sing in front of the entire church, he was going to need a tie.  He went with the black shirt/tie combo, which is pretty much my uniform when it comes to formal attire, so we dressed alike today:  blue jeans, black button front shirt, black and grey tie.  I have to say, I’m pretty proud.

Thanks, family, for the awesome day.  It was a happy day for this father.


Being in the church building…

…makes you a believer as much as standing in your garage makes you a car.

This analogy works for a lot of buildings – going to school makes you a students as much as…going in to work makes you a worker as much as…working in a school makes you a teacher as much as…

But the appeal in this analogy to me is that who you are is a choice, not a geographical position.  I think a great number of people I know believe that being in a place makes you something related to the place.  This is not true.  Not that being in a certain place is not inspirational, but there is a long way from inspiration to change.

Great googly-moogly!

Did you ever have a pet rock when you were a kid?  The ones with the googly eyes on them?  The ones that, if you kept it long enough, had the one eye that would get stuck and just stare at you while the other eye freely moved around and stared at whatever the heck it wanted to?

For whatever reason, my end-of-the-school-year fevered brain saw googly eyes when I took this photo.  And I thought, “Great Googly Moogly!”

That phrase, googly moogly, has been ringing around my head lately.  Maybe because I’m sitting in the middle of the convocation of the twelfth graduating class of my career.  Maybe because, once again, I’m watching some amazing human beings walk across that stage and out of sight into a life they’ve not yet even dreamed of and I, once again, will have the summer off and do this jamboree all over again next year.  Maybe because I like antiquated and ridiculous phrases (I have been known to say “gravy” instead of great, “cool beans” when I’m happy with things and speak Mandalorian phrases with some of my geekiest students).  Maybe because, every once in a while, silly things must be shouted at the top of one’s lungs.

It doesn’t matter.  GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY!


Awkward Turtle: the Donald Trump of street art

I took these two photos back on Monday.  What struck me as odd is that this turtle is showing up in so many different places around Abbotsford, BC (where I work).  These two identical looking turtles are both in the railway underpass where so many of my graffiti photos have been taken.  But, while I was driving home from West Abbotsford on Tuesday, I noticed two more of these guys on the new highway overpass that connects South and Central Abbotsford.  Someone’s marking his or her territory with a frightfully cute tag mascot.  Just taking over other pieces of art and tags, like some sort of Donald Trump-like street art reptile.

I’m used to seeing tags and street art depicting the hellish and torturous nature of trying to live a life “on the street” and survive.  This turtle, as the saying goes, is the “awkward turtle.”  I don’t know why he’s showing up where he does, but he is too cute to be tough.

On a side note, this is my first diptych and I think it turned out alright.  What do you think?

Forgive us our trespasses…

…as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Boy, are those words ingrained in my head.  When I was a kid, we used to say the Lord’s Prayer in school every morning.  We had to recite it in the King James Version as well, so Shakespeare came quite easily to me (thanks, King James).  As I said yesterday, repetition holds importance for me, so I’ve had this locked away in the back of my brain since a very young age.  When I said it 180 times a year, for the first five years of school, it stuck in my memory.

So when I trespassed on BC Rail property on Monday afternoon, this phrase came ringing to the forefront of my consciousness.  I had already crossed one set of tracks, then a makeshift bridge over a small creek, but as I gained ground I was met with this at eye-level.  NO TRESPASSING.  The Lord’s Prayer rang through, but then another thought jumped in right afterward.  Someone had to paint that on the rail.  It was someone’s job to get down on hands and knees and spray-paint that message right there, where hundreds, maybe thousands, of people have walked.  I believe that it’s the railway company’s way of saying that, “If you get hit by a train here, we tried to warn you.”

Still, that still, small voice in my conscience, the one born of repetition of a King James phrased memorization regimen, spoke to me.





I teach high school English.  This means that I teach poetry.  Well, more accurately, I introduce poetry to my students, teach them how to approach poetry and then let them do with it what they can.  I never liked the approach most of my teachers used on me:  the hunting method of reading poetry.  I often imitate Elmer Fudd in my approach to poetry to illustrate the way many teachers teach poetry.  They take their students on a hunting trip, during which the students are expected to track down the metaphors, personification and rhyme scheme (if there is one) and then fill in the blanks on a sheet.  I feel sad when my students tell me this.

Poetry is about life and when you’ve lived as little as they have, they will not understand what the poem is about.  I am always shocked by what a poem says and how it says it and how, years from now, I will re-read a poem I’m teaching right now and see all new things in it. Because by that time I may have lived the content of the poem and now it means something to me.

What does this all have to do with the photo?  I love repetition.  Repetition can make an element stand out, as it does above.  Or it can make an element sound silly (try saying, “Unique New York,” five times).  Or it can make you feel reassured, as when my children tell me they love me.  Or…well, I think you get the “picture”.

Photo Friday, three days late.

I have had no time to get out and shoot anything lately, so today I took off from work at 3:00 and went to a place where I find a nice feeling of nothingness.  I was particularly frustrated today, as I have some 12th grade students who don’t seem to care at all about their final exam.  It’s the last week of classes and the 12 grade English exam is worth 40% of the year’s mark.  Yes, that’s stupid, or at least short sighted.  But it’s the reality that my students have to deal with, or ignore, in the case of these girls.  So I needed to find some zen nothingness.  Empty my mind and concentrate on the void.

As for the photo, Photo Friday’s challenge this week is Shade.  I thought this matched up with the challenge pretty well.  I have yet to master HDR so I don’t try.  I don’t love the super-bright foreground with the properly exposed middle ground and the over-exposed background, but the photo still captures what I love about this place.



Um…no thank you.

Sally didn’t care how many times Dave told her that they were practically wearing the same thing and that, “Great minds think alike.”  If he took one step closer, she was going to set up a special meeting between Dave and her briefcase.

Plus, he was wearing a windsurfing shirt and she could barely bring herself to remember that fateful day at Harrison Lake…

Um…I don’t know where that’s going, so I’m going to leave it alone.  G’night.


WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

Perhaps if every morning started with the words “Magic Morning”, every morning would be a great morning.

This photo was taken, as I’m sure most of you’ve guessed, outside Disneyland’s entrance.  When the Family B visited Disneyland last March, we had a five day flexpass and we were given the choice of mornings to go in an hour earlier than the general ticket buying public.  We did this on my son’s birthday so we could get to certain rides before everyone else – the submarine ride, Space Mountain.

It really was magic.



Busy, busy, busy…sorry this is late.

I could make a bunch of jokes, like:  “I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.”  Or, “I’m leaving no stone unturned.”  Or…actually, maybe that’s all I could come up with.  I just got back in from my school’s awards night and I have ten hours before I have to be teaching again and I’ve had no time to take new photos.

Oh, and I am writing almost exclusively in run-on sentences now so forgive the lateness of this post and I hope to be remedying the situation shortly.  Either that or I’ll have a nervous breakdown.



Oh.  The photo?  It’s a big crack in a mountain in Manning Park.


Happy place…go to my happy place.

The Canucks are (currently) losing the fourth game of the Stanley Cup.  The score, right now, is 3-0.  I am currently thinking words I haven’t thought since I was working in landscaping in the rain.  I hate Boston right now.  Hate is a strong word, but I’m not sure it’s strong enough right now.  I mean the Bruins, but where my brain is at this moment makes me also hate the Red Sox and the Patriots…what the heck – the whole city.  They’ve played a cheap game since game 1, but the Canucks have stopped playing the type of game that got them the President’s Cup.

I obviously don’t hate the whole city, but I’m ready for the cheap-shotting, injury faking (Horton obviously excluded) Bruins to go away.  Now.  Please.

It’s also June and I’ve got a week and half left of instruction and I’m ready for a vacation.  The stresses of my job along with the stresses of watching the Stanley Cup series has got me wishing I was on the Oregon Coast with little to nothing on my mind.  Nothing at all.  Nothing.


music geek (self-portrait)

I am not the person who likes to put himself in front of the camera.  I smile uncomfortably.  I rarely get a shot of myself that I appreciate.  I blink at the inopportune moment.  I don’t like photographing myself.

So this shot, above, is a departure from the norm.  I set up the shot, changed the aperture, shutter speed, white balance and got the focus just right and handed the camera to my friend Ali.  She snapped my shot of me, pointing at the Nirvana exhibit window treatment at  the EMP.

I have to admit to a certain geeky joy, a geeky emotional response to my high school grunge heroes.  That smile looks painted on, but is as real as could possibly be.

Bettie is a guitar girl

In the entrance to the EMP (and, yes, this will probably be the last post about it) is a gigantic cyclone of guitars and other musical instruments – a few keyboards, an accordian or two.  It is an impressive bit of modern, uh…sculpture?  It’s incredible, but what I really liked was that they’ve mounted these focal points, like Bettie Blue here, in amongst the rest of the instruments.

I don’t know who Bobby Ray is, but Bettie Blue looks like Bettie Page.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she is Bettie Page.  She was a pinup model back in the 1950’s.  That guitar looks like something a rockabilly band would use, like Brian Setzer and his band The Stray Cats or Reverend Horton Heat.  It’s just a great looking guitar.



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