Booooooo… It’s Halloween

I completely forgot that it was Halloween when I walked into the drugstore.  There was a Frosty the Snowman at the register and I thought, “It’s a little early to be wearing a Christmas outfit.”

Then it hit me, it’s Halloween.

My brain must have been failing me because I went to the store to purchase candy for the trick-or-treat.  DUH!  I hate when that happens.

Hanson Street, which is like a little alley behind our house, was inundated with kids.  For about an hour, I’d hear them back there yelling, “Trick or treat!”, while nobody was coming to our front door.  Elizabethe and I finally settled down to watch some TV, and you guessed it, someone knocked on the door.

I opened the door and there stood two little boys with parents standing in the background.

The one boy stood there staring at me.  I stared back, and then raised my eyebrow.  In return, he raised his eyebrow.  It was a stare-out.

I finally asked, “Do you have something to say?”

“Oh, trick or treat”, he said as he shook his head as if to say, ‘I forgot I was supposed to say it.’

I smiled and gave them their treats.

After that, a stream of kids continued to the door for about 15 minutes.  That was it.  They were done.

New Temple President

Tonight at our shift I got a chance to meet our new temple president, President Brighton.  Most temple presidents are really nice guys, and President Brighton is no exception.  He and his wife just recently returned from serving as the directors of the Oakland Visitor’s Center.  We talked about a few mutual friends in the Bay Area.  I look forward to getting to know the Brightons better.

I’ve been working on putting together a workshop for posing and lighting.  I need to do better at getting the word out about these workshops.  That’s the hard part.  There’s a synergy created as more people get involved with the workshop.  So, any friends who can help get the word out, your efforts will be appreciated.

D. Brent Walton is a Certified Professional Photographer in Palmyra, New York.  Brent offers workshops and classes (visit http://www.palmyra-ny.com for details).  These workshops are affordable and informative.

Sandy and Musings About Education

Hurricane Sandy is supposed to be hitting us.  It’s windy (about 25 mph) and raining lightly.  So far, nothing really serious here in Palmyra.  This is a huge change when less than a week ago it was 80F here.

I was watching an ad on TV for a college.  They were offering courses in areas that Kiplinger reported as the “worst” degrees for your future.  (i.e. Graphic Design, Photography, Fine Arts, etc.)  They made it very clear that financial aid is available.

You’re probably thinking why a professional photographer is so against degrees in fine arts, photography, and so forth.  It’s two fold.  Part 1, your degree should help you if you cannot make it on your own.  You should be able to fall back on it, rely in it, and use it to help you get employed.  Part 2, your talents are talents.  Either you have it, or you don’t.  I’ve known people who for years have thought they could become a great photographer and they still take crappy photos.

But, I digress…

Colleges offering “junk” degrees and financial aid are creating a huge problem on all levels.  First, they lure naive kids into school and saddle them with debt.  As to grants, they saddle all of us with debts through our taxes.  As to the loans, if they don’t pay them back, again, we the consumers are saddled with the residual effects.  Second, they create a false sense of entitlement – you earned the degree you deserve the job.  Third, they devalue the meaning of a college degree.  There was a time when a college degree really meant something.  Nowadays, the college you graduate from is more important than the letters after your name.

There’s another aspect of the recent trend that “everyone deserves an education”.  With that, comes the implied, “everyone deserves a free education”.

Whatever happened to working your way through college?

Yes, I borrowed some money for college.  I also received a couple of grants, but most of my money came from me and my wife working, and when kids came along, it was mostly me.  I worked as an offset press operator.  I put in as many hours as I could, and had a boss who was understanding if I was standing at the counter with my calculus book and taking peeks at it between jobs.  Towards the end, I got a job tutoring on campus, and then a job at the computer center.   Then, after college, it took me 10 years to pay back my student loans in full.

Several years later, I was in a position of hiring and firing.  It was around the time that degree-deflation was starting.  I couldn’t believe some of the so-called college graduates I interviewed for jobs.  I saw straight A students with bachelor’s degrees who couldn’t write a decent cover letter for their resume.  But, what was worse, they came in to the interview dressed like they were going to their buddy’s house to play video games.

I interviewed one so-called college graduate with long, unkempt hair, wearing blue jeans, a sports shirt and Converse tennis shoes.  The message sent was that his school did not teach him respect for his future employer, and that he views this interview process as a joke.  But then, perhaps he wants to keep living with mom and sleeping on her couch.

Education isn’t a right.  It’s something you earn.  The old adage that you get what you pay for applies.  If you don’t pay your dues in school, you won’t get a good return on your investment.  That is why so many kids are attracted to what sounds like the “easy” degrees.  Well, if the degree is easy, the pay is lousy, and the jobs are few.

So, if you really want to be a professional photographer, or graphic artist, or game designer… get a degree in something that makes you mentally sweat – something like bio-engineering, accounting, etc.  You can still be a game designer, but you’ll be the best darn game designer they ever saw because you know how to work and learn.

Will She, or Won’t She

Will she, or won’t she hit.  That is the question.  Hurricane Sandy is getting close and today we were asked to make sure we’re prepared.  I guess the biggest danger around here is some minor flooding and being without electricity for an extended period of time.

After church, Elizabethe and I prepared a meal that tried to use up all the produce we had in the fridge.  (It was getting old.)  So, we created an eggplant frittada.  We used up all the lettuce for a mandarin orange salad.  And, I prepared some garlic ginger chicken and some Julienne carrots.  We had all 6 missionaries for dinner and our tenant, Rudra.  We had zero leftovers, so it must have been good.

Times are getting bad.  I read in Mormon about Moroni’s trials as he is the lone survivor of the Nephites and wonder, “Could things get that bad these days?”

So, I see this announcement of a “bingo” night at a church.  At first, I thought, “This has to be some sort of a joke.”  But, when you see the web site, you’ll see it is no joke.  http://www.buffalogaybingo.com/  The Westminster Presbyterian Church, in Buffalo, next week has a theme of “Pimps and Hoes” for their bingo night.

I did some research on it.  It appears they are not the only church that has tried such an event to raise funds for AIDS.  (Personally, I think there are more Christ-like ways to raise funds for  worthy causes.  Gambling is not one of them, and neither is encouraging distasteful behavior.)  I like what one person said after viewing photos from a church’s “gay bingo night”.  He wrote, “it seems they want to celebrate the very behavior that causes AIDS in the first place.”

Strange and dangerous times we live in.

Spring for 2 Days

We had spring for two days and now it’s back to fall.  Thursday and Friday we enjoyed weather in the 70s and 80.  (Yes, it hit 80 in Rochester on Thursday, 10/25/2012.)  But, today, we have drizzle as we prepare for the outskirts of Hurricane Sandy to hit sometime mid-week next week.

Elizabethe and I spent the morning at the Bishop’s Storehouse helping getting food orders ready.  As usual, we packed a lot of food to go to surrounding stakes like Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Lancaster… to name a few.  It always amazes me how well the church’s welfare system works and what a dismal failure the Federal and state systems are.

The Palmyra Ward had a potluck dinner tonight.  It was very well attended.  I had made a squash soup and someone commented they normally don’t like squash but they liked my soup.  That was nice to hear.

4 Hours and Then…

I worked at mowing the lawn/sucking up the leaves for 4 hours, and then the wind came up and put more leaves on the ground.  It’s crazy.  In a week, I’ll be doing this all again.

This year’s leaves were not as dramatic as past years.  Now, most of them are on the ground.  There are a few trees that are still green (crazy, I know) while most have lost all their leaves.

I saw the most disgusting commercial put on by our very own U.S. President.  I was shocked.  Granted, it is being paid for by his campaign, and not our tax dollars, it uses metaphors for sex and losing one’s virginity to voting for Obama.  This would be enough for me to change my vote if I were voting for him.  (I’m not, and this commercial is a good example of why I am not.)

And, how does the president explain this commercial to his daughters?

Did he let them watch it?

Speaking of which, Donald Trump has offered 5 million dollars if President Obama produces his college financial aid applications and his passport applications.  I think if they were supportive of the president he would have produced them by now.  The longer he does not, the more it speaks to clandestine behaviors.

I feel like we’re living in a sci-fi movie made in the 1970s.  In the movie, they are watching TV and they see the Obama commercial followed by Trump’s announcement, and you say to yourself, “Yeah, right.  That’s so absurd.”

Well, we’re living it.  It shames me to say, this country has degraded that far.

Stained Glass

Elizabethe and I took a tour of a stained glass studio in Rochester.  This company has been around for 100 years and they have made all sorts of church windows throughout Upstate New York.  The owner is the grand-niece of the company’s founder and has been in the business her whole life.

watercolor
Scale Watercolor Painting
details
Stained Glass Details

They take the scale drawing, and then create a detailed full sized drawing.  A copy is made of it and cut up.  The cut up one serves as a pattern for cutting the glass.  The original as a pattern for laying it out.  This is all done on a sheet of plywood with nails holding things tight (like a pin-board).

I think I could get into the watercolor paints used to create these windows, but I could not handle cutting the glass, the lead, and laying it all out.  They lay these out and put the lead between the glass, solder it, and then apply a putty to seal the lead to the glass.  It definitely requires patience.

What It’s Not

Well, it’s not cancer.  It is not a bladder stone.  And, it is not scar tissue.  It is simply an enlarged prostate.  As the latter is a normal sign of aging, I’m quite thankful I do not have to undergo any surgeries.

You’ve got to love the names of these drugs:  Rapaflo, Flomax…    Do people get paid to sit around and think of these?

I’m sure I could come up with a few.  Put me on the payroll.

One of the biggest causes of an enlarged prostate, besides aging, is too much caffeine.  I see these young men downing Red Bull, and energy drinks like that (which are loaded with caffeine) and I think, “Wow, are they going to be hurting in a few years.”  caffeine has a double-whammy effect on the prostate.  First, it irritates the bladder and causes the prostate to swell.  If that isn’t bad enough, secondly, it is a diuretic which means it makes you urinate more.

So, if you’re a teenaged guy, downing a few energy drinks a day, let me paint a picture for you…

One day, you wake up and you need to pee.  You can’t.  You have the urge, but nothing comes out.  As the day progresses, your bladder gets more full, and you finally decide you better get to the doctors.  When you get there, you’re embarrassed because they give you a cup to pee in, and you can’t.  At that point, one of two things happen.  One, you stand around until you can, or, two, they put a catheter in you.  (That’s a little tube they run inside you until it reaches the bladder allowing it to drain.)

I’ve read that there is no conclusive link to caffeine and prostate cancer, but there is a conclusive link that it does contribute to prostate problems.  (One doctor is claiming coffee can prevent prostate cancer.  Of course, there are many people who tried a coffee enema to prevent/cure cancer and who have died from cancer – not as a result of the enema, but as a hope to cure cancer.  P.T. Barnum was right.)  Other things that irritate the prostate include alcoholic beverages, obesity and certain drugs.

The good news is, I don’t have to go back to see the doctor for 3 months.   I’m counting my blessings tonight.

Writing for Publication

Writing for publication is difficult.  I hated writing as a student.  It was my least favorite thing.  Now, I find myself doing this difficult task to get gain.  Why do I punish myself?

I’ve got a couple of articles in the works plus a couple of books.  For the magazine articles, you have to write at about a 6th grade level.  I find that part easy.  The difficult part is getting the story to flow so you don’t confuse the reader.  For the books, it is even harder.  My wife keeps pointing out that I need to “show” not “tell” the readers.  A narrative (tell) is so much easier than painting a picture with words.

I spent most of the day working on one of my articles.  Writing for the newspaper was much easier.  Those articles were short.  A magazine demands more, and it also requires photos to go with the story.  Came the end of the day, I wasn’t quite ready to stop writing because I didn’t want to lose that momentum.

Tonight at the temple was the Tanner’s last Tuesday night.  I’m glad they live close enough that we can still visit and see them.  Next Tuesday, the new presidency will be in place.

Autumn Leaves

Old Tractors and Heavy Equipment

Paul sends me a text and invited me to go on a hike with them.  I figured, why not.  I could use the fresh air.

He directed me to this place where this guy has this surreal collection of old tractors, military vehicles and heavy equipment.  While we were taking pictures, a guy on the property said, “Hi”, so I asked if this was a collection or if he fixes them up and sells them.  He told me there is no market for the stuff, so he just collects them and fixes them up as time and money allows.

Farmall Tractor

Many people have never even seen a steam shovel.  Well, this guy has one.  He has stuff that must date back to the 1910s.

Steam Shovel

He was telling me a neighbor called code enforcement on him.  I’m thinking, “why?”.  The guy’s yard is nicely maintained and it its an outdoor museum.  This guy’s collection is really cool.  (In general, I think code-enforcement is what police-states do – especially when it comes to harmless stuff like an outdoor collection of old tractors, bottle trees, gnomes, or whatever.  Someone may not like how it looks, but that’s their problem.)

Old Army Truck Under a Tarp
Inside Army Ambulance