Drive Time

21 hours on the road this past 2 weeks just going to work and back. I should be used to it, over 30 years driving to Williamsport to work. It’s getting so it’s harder every year. I’ve started a new job finally and have to drive to Towanda for a while for training, then will be based mostly in Mansfield. Looking forward to that 16 minute drive at last!

Rebuilt

Well, it’s taken long enough to finish this project. My home when it sat across the creek on the hill across from where it stands now. This is the oldest picture we have, with Aunt Betsy coming out the back shed door. Hard to tell how old she is. Her parents, Thomas and Ann Evans, settled in this house in 1832. I don’t know if they built it or bought it. Another trip to the court house is in order. The restoration of the photo was fun but took a long time to rebuild details where little was available.

BEFORE


AFTER
SamEvansHouse-restored


Back in line.

Almost 3 years? That’s not a good track record for this blog is it? I’m ready to try again, push myself to post more often. I have appreciation for people who have the gift to write well and often. I’m not a prolific writer at all, even though I would like to be able to express myself this way.

I am finally getting out of the photography studio business. 33 years now in the industry and the edge is gone! I still love good photography and the digital side of it. Photoshop is still a lot of fun to work in and I’ll continue to stay with it. Looking forward to rekindling the spark that first interested me and doing some personal work. I haven’t even carried a camera with me for a while, I’ll have to work myself back into the habit again.

Come again, maybe you can force some words from me!



Got a minute? ... or 25?

I’m trying the Pomodoro technique at work. It’s a work productivity technique to increase productivity and time management by increasing your focus and concentration on what you are doing. It’s pretty simple, set a timer (either a kitchen timer or a software timer on your desktop) for 25 minutes and work diligently for that 25 minutes. Then you get a 5 minute break, then return for the next 25 minute session. So far it works well as long as you make the choice to commit to it. One of my problems is I am easily distracted by other tasks, mind wandering and shiny objects. We’ll see how long I can keep this up!!

"Keep Looking Up!"

On August 20th one of the most recognized PBS voices was silenced. “Jack Horkheimer, Star Gazer” was and is a 5 minute show on the weekly astronomy events that can be seen during the week, with his quirky humor and stories thrown in to help explain the historical and scientific side.

He was on TV since 1976 every week, a showman and executive director of the planetarium at the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit. I don’t think he had any formal training in Astronomy, but was an enthusiastic teacher of the sky. We’ll miss you Jack, “Keep looking up!”

I used to see the show and would tease Erika, she was little, There’s your boyfriend!”




Here’s a link to his last show.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8m_pmPTvgk&feature=player_embedded

Movies, movies, movies!

I really like movies! I guess it’s my lifelong fascination with fantasy and story. Thinking back, I sometimes wish I had stayed in California in ’74 and tried to get a job in the film industry. I really appreciate the film making art and love a really good, well made film. Netflix is spoiling me, I never thought I would use a service like that and avoided it for several years. But you should see my “viewed” list, It’s great!

A Swell Time

Well, it’s about time I posted this. Mom asked when I was going to do what I said I was going to do and expound on our trip to Pittsburgh. On May 18th (see how late I am with this) Lindsay took me to Pittsburgh for my birthday gift to see our current favorite musicians, The Swell Season. What a great show, I’ve been to a lot of concerts over the years and this was the best. No gimmicks, no smoke, just pure musical talent.



The opening act was Mark Digman, a childhood mate of Glen Hansard from Dublin who now lives in Pittsburgh. A little different presentation, but the same hard, all in, emotional style.

Marketa opened the set with “If You Want Me” and had several feature songs during the show. She is so wonderfully shy on stage and has a beautiful voice.



Glen, on the other hand cannot be classified as bashful, his up front personality is made for the stage and his voice ranges from a whisper to a scream. Their songs are a mix of ballads to hard hitting emotional soul rock like “Leave”.



We had great seats just 4 rows back and I just had a great time, as did Lindsay. They ended the set with “Falling Slowly”, their Academy Award winning song, and came back to a rousing encore with 6 more songs. It was a great evening, thanks Lindsay.

New Roof

I haven’t had a lot of time to work on the old house picture, but here is the back shed roof before and after rebuilding the shingles. I guess the next thing is the siding.

This is going to take a while!!!



Cars!

A friend of mine has just purchased a 1967 Mustang to restore. Nice project to work on in the slow times.

However, it has made me think again of my own favorite car from my youth, 1967 Firebird. Green metalflake paint, 350 HO with 4 barrel carb outputting 360 HP, factory Hurst shift. Sweet ride! I know that I’m at the age where men tend to want to relive their youth or try to “prove” something, that they aren’t really getting old, maybe that’s part of it. I just would really love to have that car again!

Dream on, old man, dream on!



Trivial?

How can you get through life and not know “things” that are all around you? I run across people all the time who don’t have a clue and don’t desire any clues. I guess I have always been interested in knowing about most things I see, leaving out those that are just too stupid to give any time to. I realize this can border on obsession but I feel I really need to know that zebras are really white stripes on black not black on white.

I guess my goal has been to know a lot about some things and a little about a lot of things.

And that’s all I know about that!

Summer Jam

It’s been 36 years now since Chuck, Albert and I decided to go to Watkins Glen for the rock festival that was billed as “Summer Jam” in 1973. The promoters had expected 100,000 people at the most, but as the week drew down it was obvious that something was happening and we just “had to be there”. Chuck had been to Woodstock, and I was fascinated with his experience there, so there was no way I was going to miss this! By the time the actual concert started on Saturday, there were 600,000 rock & roll fans there, a record for attendance at a single event.



We got there on Friday and got closer with the car than I expected we would. Roads were clogged and in some cases blocked. There were cars parked alongside the road up to 30 miles away. We ditched the car somewhere near the raceway, I remember thinking “I have to remember where the car is”, and walked in. The fences were down and everyone was getting in for free by that time. State cops were around, but being friendly and there was no trouble. We worked our way to a place that was actually pretty good, relatively close to the stage, on a slight slope and planted ourselves. Except for a few trips to find water, we pretty much stayed there. A trip to the line of 1000 porta potties could take you an hour or two. I had packed in my backpack a blanket, space blanket and a jug of wine. I guess that’s all I needed, what more could you want? That night when it rained, I just covered up with the space blanket.

As a music event, it wasn’t all that memorable. The experience was the thing for me. The Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, and The Band were all great bands, but being a part of what to me was an important event in my life was better than the music. The sound check on Friday night turned into a 5 hour long concert in itself with all three bands playing. It was a less politically charged and more laid back party atmosphere than other previous events. The war had ended, Watergate was in full swing, we just wanted to have fun and party and listen to music. It was the last of the rock festivals of it’s kind. The only regret I have is that we left early, I guess we wanted to beat the crowds getting out, I don’t remember.


Not conclusive proof that I was there, but it sure looks a lot like me at that time.

Recycling Blues

The time has come! My old friend, my first Mac, is going to the recycling bin at last. The IIci was, in it’s time, the fastest Mac in the lineup. But old age and the learing insult of having been on a storage shelf for many years has taken the life out of it.

We Mac users have a habit of holding on to our machines like you hold on to those things from your childhood that you will never play with again, but just can’t seem to let go of. Look at them on the shelf and say, “remember when?” We also give our computers names, as if they were real. We’re a little nuts, but happy about it.

So, farewell, rest in peace, or pieces as it were, return again as a plastic bag or metal part and just “remember”.




In Concert

Tonight we hosted the Chi Rho Conference Choir at church for a concert. There is not much that can beat 35 United Methodist Pastors singing from the heart. I've seen them sing many times and this was no disappointment. Our church has great acoustics for large group singing, mics were used for the soloists but none were needed for the whole choir.

It put me in mind of the funeral of former District Superintendent Vic Meredith. The sanctuary was filled, mostly Pastors who knew and loved him. The singing that day was so inspiring, filling the space. That time and once while singing at the 2004 Annual Conference were times that I physically felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, WOW!

Music, song, inspiring lyrics. All in all a great night!

WWYD

I just finished a small book loaned to me by our Pastor, "Dinner With A Perfect Stranger" by David Gregory. It's premise is a businessman who receives an invitation to dinner from "Jesus". He is skeptical and believes it is a prank from his co-workers, but goes anyway. The rest is the conversations they have and his slow realization that this man really is Jesus. He has a lot of questions to answer, doubts to address, and Jesus brings him along toward making decisions about his work and home life.

So, the question is placed in the reader's heart, What would we do if we had an intimate "real life" conversation with Jesus? I'm sure we all would have questions and concerns enough to fill all the time we had.

Rebuilding

I've given myself a project for this year. This is a photo of my house probably around 1840-50???, not really sure when it was taken. Sam Evans was the brother of my Great Great Grandmother, Dianna. In the picture is his sister, Aunt Betsey (Elizabeth). I don't know if they built the house or purchased it, it looks well "used" so I think he must have purchased it. Sam immigrated to this country in 1830.

So, my task is to restore this photo. It's going to take quite a while and it will be interesting to see what it will look like.
I'll post updates once in a while to show the progress.



That's the way it is, Cuz.

First cousin, second cousin, twice removed? What's it all mean, Grandpa?
Sometimes if it gets too far down the family tree it becomes way too complicated. Genealogy.com has a good article here that explains some of it and has a chart to figure some of your relationships. Basically, my first cousin's kids are second cousins to my kids, and are first cousins once removed from me. OK, I guess it would be easier to just claim us all as "cousins".

Look-Alikes

Take a look at these two, isn't it great how much they look alike?
Lindsay (Mom) and Bridgett (daughter)



Genes, Maybe??

Once again

Last night after the Super Bowl (Yay Steelers!) I didn't feel like going to bed yet, so I switched through channels, and found a great surprise. On PBS, the Austin City Limits program had Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova in concert. They are touring as "The Swell Season" and have become some of my favorite singers. The movie "Once" that they starred in was the first time I had heard them and the music is really moving to me. You can hear selections on the band website or their mySpace page.

Sorry, gotta go watch the movie again!

Benny and the press

In reading the book "Benjamin Franklin" by Walter Isaacson, I just came to the section about his autobiography. He started to write this when he was 65 years old, in 1771. Being away so much representing our young country before the revolution, he was thinking of family and wanted to reflect on his life. He began the first page with "Dear Son" to his son William, but the book was obviously written for the general reading public.

It reminded me that I have an 1824 printing of this book, so I got it out to look at it again. It's about 3x5 in size, leather bound, we would call it a "pocket size" book. On the front flyleaf are two inscriptions: Sally Stevens' Book, March 18th, 1827 and G H Stevens, Keeneyville, Tioga Co, Pa, Jan. 17, 1892. On the back flyleaf, an elegant hand wrote: Albany March 18th 1827. In earlier years people had a much more intimate relationship with their books, they meant much more to them than they do today. Thomas Jefferson took his library with him when he was in France and increased it when there. Look at yard sales, flea markets, etc. and see all the books that people are trying to unload for a couple of bucks. I've always had a great respect for the books that I owned. Most of them are still with me, and I reread them over time.

In what I'm reading about Ben Franklin, I don't think he would be surprised that his autobiography has been passed down through family members. He seemed to have a philosophy that reached into the future, knowing that what he wrote or printed through his printing business was meant to stand the test of time. Many of his endeavors were more for the future than his own time. These blogs and all the internet content we take advantage of today will never mean as much or last as well as a good book passed to your kids or grandkids. In my mind anyway!

Fixups in the Cloud

"Cloud Computing" You'll hear that more and more, What it means is using storage space or online applications that don't reside on your own computer, controlling it over the internet. You already may use it if you use services like Shutterfly or Flickr.

If you're looking for a way to correct some Christmas photos or want to make a good photo better, check out some of the available online photo editors. These are lower on the "complication" scale than Photoshop, but many offer decent abilities to work on your photos.

Some that offer many of the same tools as Photoshop are "
pixlr", "splashup", "Phoenix" by Aviary, and "Sumopaint"
These have a similar tool set as Photoshop or Elements but are of course slower due to working over the internet connection. You can still get some decent effects, do some layered imaging, etc.


Splashup


Pixlr

Then there are the more simple applications that are limited as to the effects you can accomplish. Many still offer enough to be useful and don't take any time at all to learn how to use them. Just upload your picture and go to work on it. Save it back to a folder on your hard drive when you're done, and it's ready for you to print it out for an album or to give to your favorite "art critic". Some of these are "Picnik", "PicMagick", "FotoFlexer", "pixer"


Picnik

Even Adobe is in on the bandwagon with its "Photoshop.com" which I've found to be way too slow and kludgey to use yet. Just keep in mind with any of these programs that upload time, speed, and mouse response time are greatly increased over a native program on your own computer. If you're willing to put up with a slower yet Free option, then by all means check these out, choose the one you like best and go to work. Also, many of them will link into your online photo storage such as Flickr or Facebook.

(note: links will open in a new window)

Hurry up!! ...or not!

I know I've slowed down my life the last few years, out of necessity for my sanity. It gives you a better perspective on what's important.

The other day I was in Dunkin Donuts waiting patiently in line. You can see out the drive through window from the counter and a lady jumped out of the passenger side of a car and ran inside, barged right up to the counter and proclaimed - "I'm the next car in the line and I don't have time to wait!" She got her TWO donuts and ran back out, hopped in the car and they took off.

Number 1: I wouldn't have served her if I was the counter person, I'd have made her wait in the inside line.

Number 2: If you are in such a hurry, why in the world are you stopping for donuts!

So many people just can't wait, speed by to get two car lengths ahead before the 5 miles of one lane construction zone! I used to be like them, sure am happy to be on the other side now!

Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving.

Even from the depths of despair, you can find at least one thing to be thankful for.

"The Book Of Wonders"

I have quite a few old books I've collected over the years. One is a 1914 "The Book Of Wonders". If I remember correctly (and there's no guarantee of that!) I might have received this book from my old lady friend and relative, Mildred Edwards, who lived a couple miles away in a cute little house by the woods. As a young boy, I used to ride my bike to her house to hear stories, sometimes have a meal, and occasionally come home with a small momento of some sort. She was also proud of our Welsh heritage and family.

This book is filled with 600 pages of "the latest "in "modern" technology and explanations of "how things work". Very interesting then and even now, to look at it in light of the technology of today. Written just a few short years after the Wright Brothers first flight, the section on the "flying machines" or "aeroplane" now read as pretty primitive to us. Several pages tell the story of how sugar is made from the sugar beet. Automobiles; well that speaks for itself, 20 to 30 miles an hour to us is painful. Why is the sky blue? 11 pages on how rope is made. The Wonderful Electric Telegraph System.

How far we have come since the advancements of this time! Our capacity for invention, improvement, technology seems almost insatiable. We are used to the 18 month cycle of "twice as good for the same or less price" in our electronics, we look forward to the "next great thing".

I'm reminded of the way we have become totally reliant on our technology every time we lose electric during a winter storm. How inconvenient! How are we going to SURVIVE? I don't let it bother me too much, just throw on a warm coat, light a candle or two and settle in to read a good book. But how can I check my email??? It'll be there, don't worry. I "fondly" remember week long stretches when we were snowed in and had to wait for the one and only snow blower in the county to dig us out. I would go out in the summer and ride my bike all over the area, I'm not sure my parents even knew I was so far away from home.

I guess the whole point of this post is to remember to take ourselves less seriously once in a while, get back to basics, take a ride on a bike and just breathe.

Tumbling Down

The big Silver Maple tree closest to the house met it's demise yesterday. It has been slowly rotting away in the heart of it for several years, becoming a threat to one corner of the house if we get another ice storm. A few years ago when a severe ice storm came through, many large branches came down with a crash during the night. So, as much as I hate to see it go, down it came.



It reminded me of one of grandma's poems written because we kids had to play in a lawn with no trees, shrubs and shade when we were little.

ARBOR DAY THOUGHTS

The little farmhouse sits alone
There in the glaring sun;
No shrub or tree to offer shade–
No place for having fun.
Those children in the summer heat,
Where shall their haven be?
No hideout to climb into here–
A fellow needs a tree!

A tree from which to hang a swing;
Bushes for "hide and seek,"
With nesting birds for wonderment;
Lilacs a'smelling sweet.
And what's to tempt the butterfly
Or lure the wandering bee?
And where can all the pirates lurk?
A kiddie needs a tree!

©1973 HB Stevens

Grandpa S.

This is in response to my sister's excellent caricature about our Grandmother on her blog and her not having many memories of Grandpa.

Grandpa was an auto mechanic by trade and a Jack-Of-All-Trades beyond that. He had his own business at the family home, and I can still remember the sights, smells and sounds when we would visit the Garage. The floor with years of grease and oil forming almost a hard shell over the concrete in the auto bay. The smells of the tools on the bench along the wall. I have some of his hand tools, which I still use and cherish. He had an office and counter area in a separate room that always fascinated me. The office was cordoned off with a rail and swinging rail gate (I wish we had a picture) The glass case counter held CANDY among other items for sale. I always requested a roll of Necco candy as often as I was allowed.

Grandpa would walk up to the house from the garage, wearing the bib overalls and what I would call an engineer's cap, and remove his shoes and hang up his jacket. The back sink was where he would clean up, I do remember his hands, mechanics hands with the traces of grease under the fingernails. As much as I can remember, I never heard him call Grandma anything but "hey!". I'm sure he meant no disrespect, just the way he called her.

He built several things over the years that I remember so well. The rowboat that he built was special when he would get it down from where it hung from the rafters in the car garage, and we got to row around the small pond in the back yard. We also fished for bass in that pond, always threw them back in when we caught any. And the little red motorized car that he built, what fun! I can see him stepping on the outside lever that started the engine, then reaching down under the dash area to put it in gear for us. Off we'd go to ride around the lawn!

He would bring out the movie camera at Christmas and family occasions, plug in the strip of flood lights to illuminate us and film us opening packages. Then on other visits we got to see the movies and slides. As I got older the word became "endure" the slides. Now, what would we give to recapture those times! Grandpa was hard working, enjoyed his other interests and I think he enjoyed having us come to visit.

This is Funny...

Here's a funny clip of a barbershop quartet.




Imagine...

One of my favorite praise songs is "I Can Only Imagine"

[Chorus:]
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine


Just trying to think of what life will be like in Heaven can be overwhelming and comforting at the same time. As humans we want to know everything ahead of time, so we can plan what to pack, I guess. I'm comforted just to know I'll be there at the feet of Jesus. I can wait for the awe and wonder to reveal itself in God's time.

Imagination & creativity are unique gifts from God to us, proof to me that we are created in His image. They say that the church should be the most creative place on earth. Our imagination sparks our entertainment, education, why not our service?

I've always enjoyed radio dramas. I remember listening to them as a kid at the kitchen radio. I'll admit I still listen to them today, even kids shows. One of the best is "Adventures in Odyssey". It's a place where kid's imagination can take them to places and events in the bible or learn life lessons along with their favorite characters.

Imagination - Don't leave home without it!

Pushin' Pixels

Over the years I've sometimes been hard put to explain to people what it is that I do for a living. Even when I was a commercial photographer it wasn't readily understood. Where did they think all those photographs in their catalogs and magazines came from? Now that practically everything I do is on the computer and over the internet, it has become an enigma to some. Basically I "Push Pixels". Most if not all of my day is spent in Photoshop. I also use many other programs, depending on the job at hand, but Photoshop is my main tool. Retouching and manipulating images simply means changing the information at the base pixel level to achieve a more pleasing image, remove facial flaws, affect lighting changes, and replacing parts or adding other images to produce a final photograph that meets the need of the client. Most of it right now for me involves retouching photos of High School seniors, families, and babies. I hope to get back into some commercial and restoration work someday.

Back again

Back again to try to keep up with a blog. It seems everyone is blogging, twittering, on some kind of social network. Not being an exceptionally social person, it's more difficult to share, but I'll try. It will be more of a fluid site now, I'm building it with RapidWeaver, a Mac only program, and will be experimenting with all the various options over time. So, keep returning, there will be changes occasionally.