Sunday, November 29, 2015

Last Tuesday Night's Sunset...

Almost a week ago in the skies above the Salt Lake Valley, the firmament became a sea of colors. It was stunning. I was checking out some random Instagram photos this weekend and there were a lot of pictures of the same thing I saw. The sunset moved them to the point where they had to capture the moment on their phones and cameras. It also affected them so much, they had to share.

And so do I. For some sunsets, I'll take out my phone. For others, I'll grab the Nikon. And for the best sunsets, I'll not only get the Nikon, but I'll swap lenses. Last Tuesday night I did all three.

The phone pictures didn't really turn out as I hoped. When the entire sky's aflame, I try and get a panoramic shot. It's too bad it didn't work.

And the other phone pictures didn't fare much better. I couldn't capture the colors. I also don't do a lot of editing with the computer. I'm kind of a "take a picture of what I'm seeing, not what the computer can make amazing" kind of photographer, even though the art created by computers with the talents of others is incredible.

But the Nikon came through. The50- 200 mm zoom sees things that are unreal. The sky was so orange and red when I used that lens. 

But this sky needed the regular 55 mm. I set the perspective to catch as much sky as possible. I snapped a few pictures. I am grateful to live in a place that allows me to capture such beauty, and for a way to share.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mikael Short's "Crimson Oppression"...A Book Review


This past week I finished a debut novel that my friend Mikael wrote. It's called Crimson Oppression and it's about vampires. But, I don't believe it's a "typical" vampire story. Then again, I really can't say if it is or not. I've read so few.

The novel is told through two perspectives, Cisandra and Owen. Cisandra is a nineteen-year old from the East Coast who moves to Utah. She's fleeing her past and the awful memories that's driving her to leave the only life she's ever known behind. Owen is an accident-prone high school senior trying to deal with his parent's separation. When the two meet, Cisandra knows instantly something about Owen, something deadly.

There's a lot of things I liked about this book, but I should say, this is not a fast-paced, burn-through-it-in-one-sitting story. Mikael has created a world where the characters have time to develop, to percolate. I'm not saying there's no action in the story--there is, it's just we really get to know the characters as they begin this journey. Casandra is dealing with her disease, what's known as "The Virus." As one infected with the virus, she can detect it in other people. She moves to Utah thinking/hoping no one else has it. She's wrong.

The author has successfully combined the science fiction, horror and high school genres into one story. She successfully explains the disease in a way that's not only understandable but authentic, allowing the reader to learn with the characters. We get to know about the characters and why the do what they do. I've been reading a lot of books lately that rely heavily on quick plot lines, fast resolutions followed by just as fast perilous situations. This story slows down the process--think of it as a book you'll read by a fire with a warm beverage at your side.

As the book reached its end, I found myself nervous because I thought I knew what was coming. The final showdown involved a near-death experience and I found myself wondering if I really had to read it. But, of course, I did have to and I did read it.

If you like vampire stories, I suggest you give this one a shot, even though it's not as heavy on the things that are found in classic vampire lore. It's a wonderful example of what everyone of us can do with a never-say-quit attitude. Great job, Mikael!

Friday, November 27, 2015

I Turned 50 Today, And To Celebrate, Everybody Shopped...

It's not everyday you turn fifty-years old. But that's what happens when you keep eating and sleeping and have adequate shelter. Still, it's kind of a weird feeling, hitting fifty. 

I've written a couple of times this year about turning fifty-years old. I first blogged about it back in March of this year. I figured out exactly how old my father was when he passed away and I blogged on the day that I reached that mark. Surpassing the time my father lived was kind of a weird experience, too.

But today I turned a half a century. It's one of those plateaus that when you're young, it sounds SO old. I don't feel old--actually, that's not entirely true. I am very sore today because I ran/walked a few miles yesterday--something I haven't done in a long time. But normally, I don't feel the way I thought I'd feel when I got this age. Maybe it's just everyone else that's getting older.

There is one other aspect about hitting fifty and it's kind of a fun one for me. From the comments of others, I don't necessarily look as old as I am. I know some people look older than they actually are. I'm just the opposite. I have this theory that even though I've looked younger throughout the years, one day I'll wake up and look twenty years older. I'll have aged seemingly overnight. That may not happen, but I keep thinking it would be some sort of poetic justice.

So many friends have reached out to me today through social media and I'm so thankful for them and for my loving family and friends. They've not only made today special, but have affected my entire life. I am truly blessed. Thank you all.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Trotting With Turkeys...

I should say from the beginning that I did not trot this morning with turkeys, just great neighbors. Each Thanksgiving some in our neighborhood put on a little run. It's not "official;" it's just for fun. The starting time: 8am. I bundled up and drove to my neighbor's house. I thought there'd be more people to do a morning Thanksgiving Day run.

When I drove by, there were two.

I don't know how many years the neighbors have organized this little trot. I remember seeing Facebook posts last Thanksgiving from fellow neighbors celebrating the event and I thought how fun it would have been to participate. When I saw the invitation this year, I decided to join in.

I'm thinking conditions last year were more conducive to running. This year--cold. It was 29˚ with a brisk wind. Basically, it was freezing out there.

I parked the car and waited to see who else would join in the fun. The original two turned into seven, six adults and one child and we began our little run. I was a little apprehensive about doing any running seeing as how I haven't run since 2012. Before I showed up and when I thought there would be more people, I wasn't too worried about running. I figured there would be other non-runners with whom I could hang after the super runners left us in the dust.

With only seven of us, I realized that might not be the case.

We reached the bottom of our hill and the one child had had enough. One chose to take her back home and that left us with five, three women and two guys. Oh, did I mention that the women all run on a regular basis and participate in several races? I probably didn't mention that.

So, as we continued running, us guys started chatting (as guys are known to do...). Turns out he doesn't run either. We talked about where we grew up and how we both ended up in Farmington. As we talked and walked (and sometimes ran...), the women kept running and soon they were blocks ahead. Us guys decided to take a short cut (or a couple of short cuts...) as we continued our morning adventure.

As we returned home, two runners turned off as we passed their house. The other two women finished their jog by hiking to the top of the hill. I returned to my car where I checked the temperature--29˚--and drove home.

Like I said earlier, it's been years since I last ran or jogged or even walked more than a couple of miles. The good news is I made it. Of course, I didn't set any speed records, but I also didn't quit. I've been hoping to start exercising again and I thought I could begin after the play ends. Going on a short little trot with some of my neighbors is a good way to begin.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Oh, The Wisdom Espoused On Public Transportation...

"Yeah, There's the storm--it's finally here. It's about an hour late," the lady who boarded two stops after me said to the follow public transportation riders (myself included...) who rode the 470 bus bound for Ogden at 2:15pm on Thanksgiving  Eve, 2015.

I take public transportation to work every day. I do not, however, take the 470. It's not that the 470 is a bad bus. It's just I take the 473, which is an express bus. The express bus drives on the interstate and has internet service. The other bus drives through town and stops at almost every stop. There's other reasons why I take the 473, but those are the most important.

One other major difference between the two is on the express bus, usually no one talks. It's a silent ride. The same cannot be said for a trip on the 470. Maybe during rush hour, no one talks on the 470 either, but during the day...oh boy!

"Whatever you do," said another passenger. "Don't tell Donald Trump that they're immigrants. I think Donald Trump is an immigrant. What we ought to do is sent Donald Trump back to Ireland!"

"Hey--they tore down the K-Mart," another passenger say, though, to be honest, it could be the same one who believes Donald Trump should be forcibly removed and deposited to a land to where he is not a legal citizen, thus making the previous "immigrant" analogy meritless. "Yeah, they're going to move the Smiths (a local grocery store...) there. They'll have to close the one on the other side of the street, but where the K-Mart was is a better location."

From national politics and the closing and opting of stores, the conversation turned to a local issue. "Did you hear they denied Starbucks a liquor license?" Another passenger: "Yeah, they'll never get that passed. I mean, they don't make food at Starbucks--only sell pre-made food." As I considered that reasoning, another chimed in, "Yeah, can you imagine getting booze at a drive thru? The cops could just sit there and wait to bust you!" The term open carry was introduced and met with spirited laughter.

Three was a "Hey, there's NO eating on the bus!" warning, then a "the bus had to be stopped and the driver got out of his seat to address the food-eating violator" incident. It was another interesting exchange.

As we traveled farther away from downtown Salt Lake, the nuggets of wisdom came less frequently until as I drew close to home, only the sounds of the engine and tires on pavement could be heard. I pulled the cord and stepped from the bus that brought me home, leaving my fellow travelers to their own thoughts. Maybe once I left they began new and exciting conversations about such exotic topics as space/time continuums or the Kardashians. 

Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Great DWS Administration North Elevator Malfunction of 2015 ...

For the important things, sometimes you hear about them before you read about them. And so it went last week when all four elevators in our building at work decided to quit working at the same time. "The elevators shut down," we'd hear over cubicle walls. "All of them, or just a couple?"

"All of them."

Thankfully, no one was stuck inside when they broke down.

And so continued the "first-world problems" faced by a bunch of workers in a downtown Salt Lake City office building. Of course, it's easy for me to call this a "first-world problem." Others in my building might not agree. To them it was much more serious.

If you know SLC, you know we're not flush with tall buildings. I think the tallest structure (where the public can go...) is around thirty floors. The building I work in has six, and I work on three. Rarely do I use the elevators so the fact that they weren't working didn't cause me a lot of stress. Some of my co-workers, however, they felt the pain of each of the steps they needed to climb until they could get to work. And I know there are some with disabilities to the point where climbing up and down stairs is not an option. If they can't take an elevator, they can't get to work. I felt bad for them.

Through the day we received several e-mails updating us on the progress (or lack thereof...) technicians were having as they tried fixing the problem. We were notified when one was working (we have four total...), then another one was fixed. Then they all went out again. I'm no elevator maintenance technician so I have no idea what would knock out all the elevators at once. In my mind, I would think it would be like having a fleet of four delivery trucks that all decide on the same day to stop working. Those who know how these miracles of nineteenth century technology work probably know how all four could shut down at once. I apologize for my ignorance.

The Great DWS Administration North Elevator Malfunction of 2015 happened last week. Today, there are still reminders of the calamity. We're down to only three working. I hope one day we can remove the caution tape and be fully liberated at last.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Birthday Week...First Up, My Son

In the next seven days our family celebrates three birthdays, my son's, my brother's and mine. But it all begins with my son's. He turned seventeen today.

What a great son! I'm so honored to be his dad. This last year I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him. He and I worked at Lagoon together on a show during the regular summer season and then again during Frightmares. I've had the opportunity to spend time with my other kids, mostly because we've done community theater shows together, but this son's not so into the community theater.

And that's okay. If he doesn't want to do it, I'm not going to force him. No one should be forced to do community theater. I didn't think I'd get a chance to work with him on a show like that, but this summer we were able to and I'm so glad we could.

So, one birthday down, two more to go. I'm glad we get to begin our week of birthdays with my son's. He's got his whole life ahead of him--my brother and I...not so much.

Happy birthday, son! I sure do love you!