Sad for my sister because of her student

My middle sister is a teacher of special ed students, and one of her students passed away today. The student did not come to school today and suffered an asthma attack at home. The family did not have an inhaler at home, and the child died before reaching the hospital.

My sister is really upset about it - she told me she loved all her students, as she sobbed on the phone. She called me at work today, which is not usual. And when I called her to check on her tonight, she was still sobbing. So I feel bad for her. There's not much I can do, except to tell her I am sorry she feels bad, and that there was nothing she could have done.

It's a shame the family didn't have an inhaler at home.

...

Got a little 15 mile ride in tonight -- it has been really hard for me to motivate myself to ride lately, but it feels really good to get out! I feel good right now that I was out.

I went downtown last night to take some night pictures. I'm not sure why I like pictures at night so much. I like light...but I think it's because the night pictures can be spooky and mysterious. And there is some skill to getting them edited well.

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I've been lusting after a 6D. Right now, I have a T4i, which is good, but it's an entry level consumer camera. I don't have the money to spare right now, and I'm thinking there will be a 'mark II' of the 6D some time next year, so I am forcing myself to wait. But really, a 6D would be nice!

Sunday

Got a 40 mile ride in with friends yesterday. I have some longer rides planned, so I really need to get some miles in. I was stiff and sore enough last night to take an Advil -- not a good sign for the upcoming longer rides! But it was a beautiful day -- like Fall! The clouds were beautifully fluffy!
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After a lot of enjoyable rides, I don't feel like sitting in the house -- I think it's because I like being outside so much on the ride, that when I get back in, it feels confining to me. That was how I felt yesterday, so I took my Advil fueled self down to Belle Isle. I posted one pic yesterday, and here are a few more.*a (1 of 1)-2

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Evoking emotions in a pic

I sent this pic of a random guy on Belle Isle to a friend tonight. He looked like a river rat -- stick, bandana and looking like he was planning on spending the night on the island.

The friend commented that the picture looked so lonely, and that my pictures have gotten much better, that they evoke emotions now. She asked if that was because of the photo workshop in June.

I told her not exactly, although the workshop helped me along. One reason the workshop helped is because it showed me the limitations of my camera -- I had the lowest end camera of the group...and my pictures still came out decent. I learned to work with the camera. The workshop also gave me confidence - if I could take decent pictures at 11,000 feet up, freezing from the cold and lightheaded from lack of O2, then I could take decent pictures anywhere.

One of the things I have learned lately is that I can manipulate viewers emotions depending on how I edit a picture. In this one below, I told her that I thought she felt isolation and loneliness from the picture because I had taken the clarity down, so that it became more daydream-like....or maybe more dreaming of days gone by. And he's sitting there all alone.

Truth be told, he did give off a lonely vibe. I can often feel others' emotions...and as soon as he climbed down onto the rocks, I felt him to my left walking by. I think that's what attracted me to take his pic.

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Picturama

Lots of pics from lately. Some of these have been on Flickr...some have not.

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Carytown

Headed over to Carytown to take some pics last night. I hardly ever get good pics there - there never seems to be a place for me to stand out of the way to take photos...or to get the angles that I like.

Last night though, I was pleased with this first pic. I like how grainy it is!

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Buddhism is about reducing & removing suffering. And suffering/pain is defined as being rooted in your attachments -- attachments to people, things, ideas, etc.

But...but...what if you like having your attachments? What if they give you pleasure...well, that is until they don't...? Then again, maybe that's really sort of the definition of an attachment.

My recent 'getting old' posts were very much related to my attachment to my house, and attachment to having roots in a place and an ordered, settled life, and attachment to enjoying my relationships to my friends and family and...if I keep typing, we could be here for days...

The pain reflected in the posts occurred when I threatened to break free of some of those attachments by making a life change (moving overseas) and feeling like I would not have time to recover (my beloved attachments).

In any event, a friend reminded me of the 5 remembrances, and he was spot on in quoting those to me. These are the 5 things you should remember about getting sick, getting old, etc. The translation he used was this one --
  1. I am of a nature to get sick. I cannot avoid illness.
  2. I am of a nature to grow old. I cannot avoid aging.
  3. I am of a nature to die. I cannot avoid death.
  4. All the things I love will eventually be separated from me.
  5. My actions are my own. I cannot avoid their consequences.
So, this is what I've been contemplating the last few days...and when I woke up tonight, this post was on my mind to write. I still have not decided whether to move overseas or not -- again, I rather like my attachments. But I don't want to be ruled by them, so there is an ongoing ... let's call it ... discussion about this amongst the committee that makes up my psyche.

At the risk of quoting from a sect of Buddhism that considers itself to be true and other sects to be false (sigh...), I found this article states what I'm thinking way better than I can:
The challenge is not to rid oneself of attachments but, in the words of Nichiren, to become enlightened concerning them. The teachings of Nichiren thus stress the transformation, rather than the elimination, of desire. Desires and attachments fuel the quest for enlightenment. As he wrote: "Now Nichiren and others who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo . . . burn the firewood of earthly desires and behold the fire of enlightened wisdom..."

In their proper perspective--when we can see them clearly and master them rather than being mastered by them--desires and attachments enable us to lead interesting and significant lives. As SGI President Daisaku Ikeda says, "Our Buddhist practice enables us to discern their true nature and utilize them as the driving force to become happy."

It is our small ego, our "lesser self," that makes us slaves to our desires and causes us to suffer. Buddhist practice enables us to break out of the shell of our lesser self and awaken to the "greater self" of our inherent Buddha nature.

B&W Mood

I decided to make St. Francis looks spooky :)
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The rest of the pictures are from various places around town.
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For a bit of color, here are some wind chimes that a friend gave me as a gift --
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Active Weekend

Yesterday, I went with a friend to a get-together at the summer house of one of her former co-workers. The house is on a creek, but the creek has gotten so wide at this location that it really seems like a small river. It connects into much larger rivers just down the way.

I rode in a motorboat, and my friend got her first ride on a Jetski.
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Their dog is very comfortable riding in the boat!
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This week was also the annual Moonlight ride -- it's a night ride that happens near the full moon of August. I don't have any word on this year, but typical years see about 3500 riders.

The course was closed this year, meaning the streets were closed to traffic. That was SO much more fun, and much safer. Night riding is difficult in itself, and having to have all the riders scrunch into one lane was never great. This year was much better!

I took this picture of the baseball stadium when I walked over to pickup my ride packet the day before the ride. My edit is pretty 'Instgrammy', but I still like it.
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Friends after pic --
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People are encouraged to put lights on their bikes and to dress in costume. This was the best costume I saw during the ride.
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One other thing I did this weekend was to try out the mirror lens on a moon shot. The pic is not great - very soft. I can't decide if it's because that's just how a mirror lens is...or if it's because I have a hard time focusing it (it's manufactured kind of like a toy). I'm going to try again to make my final decision on it.
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One very interesting effect was when I was taking the picture, I noticed I could see the moon moving. It was actually a little hard to focus because at 500mm, the moon was very visibly moving across the LCD!

Ferguson, Syria

I think a police force is there to protect and serve the public...evidently, this police force thinks it's job is to keep the peace in Syria. The fuck is wrong with these cops?

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7ba_1407994303#wRatv7zso0B6JHDl.01

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown

Tags:

Random Pics from lately

I get so many mosquito bites and stuff when I'm out -- I'm out 9, 10, 11 PM near water, traipsing through grass, whereever...sometimes I forget the bug spray.

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Feeling old post...redux

I sent the previous post about feeling old to a bunch of friends, and I got several different kinds of responses from them.

The text below is how I answered one friend's response.

He wanted to know what I had expected from being in my 50s, and whether I was surprised at not being able to keep up with younger folks. He also wondered if not being partnered was playing into some of my feelings now. So, here's my response to him (slightly edited):


If it's a mid life crisis, then it's been happening since 2007 -- 7 years ago when I quit my job and went to Europe and Arizona!

I don't mind being in my 50s - the age doesn't bother me. But I do consider myself to be in the last 20 years of my life now. Men in my family usually die in their mid to late 60s...and my dad is now in his early 70s. So, if I assume I'll live to my early 70s, then that's 20 years from now.

That means that if the last 5 years are not very active, then suddenly, I only have 15 years left. Which means that decisions I make now (like selling the house...living overseas, etc.) are not easy (if possible at all) to recover from. Not having enough retirement funds now, I would hope to avoid having to eat Seafood Medley catfood when I get old and feeble!

I think that's what makes me feel old.

As for the boyfriend/partner thing -- I haven't been giving much thought to that lately. I would like to get laid soon -- because well, laid....but I don't want to have a lot of casual sex with odd people either.

But I hadn't thought about settling down much with anyone. I'm not averse to the idea, and I'm open to it, but I don't need to -- again, when I'm older and feeble, then it would be nice for someone to help with stuff around the house...but I'm pretty happy being by myself right now. Between my own baggage and the baggage everyone else has -- that's a lot of bags for one roof!

And you had a question about what I thought being in my 50s would be like and whether I thought I'd still be able to keep up with younger guys -- I think I didn't have any picture at all -- I don't think I thought much about change. Yea, it surprises me that I am slowing down...because I hadn't really thought about it being different!

Thanks for your response! Other friends also responded -- giving very different responses from you and from each other. That part of this has been interesting!

New Mirror Lens

Rather than put beaucoup mula into a longer zoom lens, I thought I would try a cheap 'mirror lens'. Mirror lenses are made differently than reflex lenses -- not quite as clear, manual focus (and hard to focus because the control is so tight), cheaply made, but for the price, it was hard not to try one.

The lens looks very odd! It's a 500mm, f/6.3.
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I got the lens specifically to try some moon shots, but since it was cloudy last night, I took it out to get some snaps of the Memory statue at the War Memorial. I like the light in the pictures.
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For the first time...I feel old...

I don't mind being in my 50s. I've never really worried about age, and I have usually been able to do whatever I wanted to do. I was pretty physically INactive until I started biking and hiking in my 40s, so I have felt pretty good about myself for the last decade or so.

When I was 39 and broke my ankle, I recovered. Not fully, and there are issues I have always had to deal with (like when my ankle swoll up like a cantaloupe when I was in Bangkok!)

And I taught myself Portuguese (or a little bit of it) in the last few years. And I took up photography as a hobby -- and I think I do pretty damned well at it!

But lately...lately...I have started to feel old. Lately....I hear the echos of time. Lately, memories of suddenly dearly remembered, departed relatives hover in the back of my mind.

Lately, having young guys approach me because they are looking for a daddy...flattering, but...but...what? When did this happen? And...hesitating because they seem so fricken young...all I feel like doing is patting them on the head and hugging their cute little asses off....

Part of it is that I am stiffer after rides than I used to be. And I have less motivation. And I have younger friends whom I have trouble keeping up with...but would love to hang out with...but I just can't put 30 lbs on my back and hike 13 miles. Maybe 10 lbs and 8 miles...but I can't keep up with them. So I feel like I miss out on hiking with some younger friends.

But I think the biggest reason is that decisions I make now are non-reversable. A friend and I talked about dropping everything and moving overseas to teach English as a second language. It's an exciting idea...and I think I'd be good at it since I always wanted to be a teacher. And I love to learn new cultures and to meet new people. And don't get me started on languages!

But I like my house. I'd like to keep it...but I don't have the money socked away to maintain it for a year while I'm away -- thank you, AC unit and porch...and Bangkok, Asheville, Sierra Nevadas, Utah and new Honda and camera lenses. I could probably let the house out while I'm gone...but renters tear stuff up.... And I'm a Southern boy, born and bred -- that is my cultural upbringing, and it is difficult to separate from family.

When you're 20, any decision can be fixed...but not when you're in your 50s. The answer about whether to do this is not an easy one for me!

So, I'm just feeling old for the first time!

Goldfinches

I went over to the local school -- there are gardens and gardens of sunflowers, which attract goldfinches. Goldfinches love them some sunflower seeds!

I did not have my long zoom, so these are my regular everyday lens (max 85mm), cropped heavily and then processed heavily. That's why the birds seem a little like they are pasted onto the picture.
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I walked back over today with my longer zoom.
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I like this one because of the setting sunlight.
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The females really do get the short stick in the color department, right?
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Family Lunch today

I took the family out to lunch today.

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Blue theme!
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This edit makes us look like a zombie family!
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Still life

I get a bi-weekly delivery of veggies and fruit from a local CSA organization.

The delivery this week included some Japanese eggplants...the curled up green leaves TOTALLY looked like the wig of an English lawyer to me, and I had this urge to put a face on the eggplants...but I also would like to eat them, so I ended up using them in a still life.

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"Explored" photo in Flickr

Flickr has this thing called 'Explore' -- basically it's a gallery of the most interesting pictures on Flickr. According to this posting, the invitation to add your picture to Explore is an automated process.

Once your picture ends up in Explore, it gets a lot, and I do mean a lot of views.

The picture below of Main Street Station, which I took 2 nights ago in Shockoe Bottom, was my first picture to be invited to Explore. As of right now, the picture has received over 4300 views and has had 48 people mark it as a fave -- those are huge numbers for me, compared to my usual numbers.

It's been kind of fun to have a pic get so much attention!
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Now that he fountain at the Slavery Reconciliation Monument is fixed, I wanted to try my hand at taking this picture again --
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The fountain in Shockoe Slip is always interesting to me -- the sad faces at the 4 corners -- I guess they are like the 4 winds, except they dribble water instead of blow wind -- are always favorite subjects for me.
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Celtic Knot
karmicdragonfly
Karmic-Dragonfly

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In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow — and that is likely to hurt.

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