Sunday, November 30, 2008


Canon EOS 40D, Canon 70-200mm 2.8L
1/200s f/11.0 at 200.0mm iso640

From a planter on our front porch.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Calling All Night Nurses

For those of you that work the night shift, share with us your strategy for getting a full night's sleep the next day. Do you go to sleep immediately when you get home and then wake up with a few hours before your next shift? Or do you stay up a few hours after getting home, then wake up right before your next shift? Do you block out all the light? Do you use any type of white noise? Ear plugs?

My wife comes home and gets ready for bed immediately. Sometimes she could stay up a couple hours, but most mornings she's pretty worthless by the time she gets into her PJ's and brushes her teeth. Then she gets up about 1530 and spends a few hours with the fam. We have heavy felt curtains for the windows in our bedroom, and she uses a oscillating fan for white noise. Most days she's sleeps pretty well. Sometimes not so much.

How about you?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bear & A Window

Canon EOS 350D, Canon 24mm 2.8
1/50s f/7.1 at 24.0mm iso100

Santa Fe, NM

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

My wife worked last night, so she's sleeping right now. I've been tip-toeing around the kitchen putting together a small Thanksgiving meal for when she wakes up. The 9 y/o is at her mom's house this Thanksgiving. But that's ok, that means she'll be with us for Christmas. The 2 y/o is happily clattering around the living room watching PBS and putting her baby dolls to bed. It's a good morning.

I'm thankful for all you bloggers out there that have made me feel welcome in the short 2 months life of this blog. It feels good to be read.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Busted. Big time.

I had a Nursing Concepts test today, and it went pretty well, so I rewarded myself with a Starbucks Chai Tea Frappuccino on the way home. I figured that the 2 y/o was napping and so was my wife because she went to work this evening (yay!), so I just sat down inside and enjoyed my drink.

Looking out the window, I just sat and enjoyed watching life unfold while I sipped my 'hand-crafted beverage'. There was flock of chickadees and sparrows battling over the choicest morsels on the sidewalk in front of me. Traffic was spasmodic in the road in front of me because a Firestone company pickup had broken down in the left turn lane creating a bottleneck. (I have to say, it's the ultimate FAIL to be sitting in a broken down pickup splashed with advertisements exhorting the benefits of preventative automotive maintenance, HAHA) Kids were scurrying around the playground at the daycare across the way.

And then I saw them. Four young black males, walking up the sidewalk. Hats pulled low, crotch bottom pants even lower, and black hoodies in the upright and locked position. My first thought was, "Dang, those guys are up to no good at all."

And so I watched them. I watched as they jay-walked across traffic to the median, causing people to slow down to keep from hitting them.

Yep, up to no good.

And I watched them. I watched as they walked up to the broken down truck, and spoke with the two female Firestone employees sitting inside. Then they all four got behind the pickup, and when the light turned green, they pushed it through the intersection to safety.


Just when I was sitting there so smug with my new-found cultural sensitivity, and I totally blew it. You see, I've been working so hard to learn about other cultures and to be more accepting of people in general.


It's hard for me to admit what happened today, and I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion over it. My one request is that it be kept respectful to all those involved.

PIH, or not...

We had a follow up visit this morning. She'd lost weight from the previous reading after the miraculous 7 lbs in 3 days weight gain. BP was 102/94... I have never seen a pulse pressure that narrow before--if I got a reading like that I'd have taken it again, but no, she was just happy to record it in the chart. *sigh* That's when we whipped out our home BP logs and handed them over. She made a copy and stuck them in the chart.

The midwife wasn't in the office, but the overseeing MD was, so we visited with him. Turns out he's the guy that caught our 2 y/o, pretty cool 'coincidence'. He looked through her chart, and looked over the labs. 24hr urine was negative. Creatinine clearance was just fine, as were all other labs. He took her BP himself, and of course it was elevated because she was worked up over the whole situation. But he said, "Ah, you're completely normal. We just make you nervous in here."

He wrote a note clearing her to return work, but to restrict her work schedule to two shifts a week. All this with the caveat that we're to monitor her BP and if it shows signs of going over 130 systolically (haha, is that a word?), and 85 diastolically, she's to limit her activity and catch the next available appointment.

All in all I think it's a reasonable solution. Allowing my wife back to work puts the control back in her hands, but gives us good guidelines to monitor too. It also buys us another 2 weeks of FMLA post partum for mommy time, which can only be a good thing.

I just want to say thank you to all of you that have commented and generally cared about Mrs. Drofen and Baby Boy Drofen. It's greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PIH Update

My wife delivered her 24hr specimen to the midwife's office yesterday. We decided she would go by herself rather than all of us go--including the 2 y/o teething her 2 y/o molars at the moment.

Her BP was elevated again, and was back to normal after resting for a few minutes. More alarming though was the fact that she had gained 7 lbs since Friday. There was no midwife in the office yesterday, so we have yet another appointment on Wednesday where I can only hope we can stave off admission. One note of good news is her UA dipstick showed no protein again, we'll see what the 24hr catch shows.

It's been very frustrating actually. My wife has been keeping meticulous records, (she IS a nurse after all.) Our scale at home has never varied from the office scale by more than 1 lb in the past. Yet when she got home yesterday, our scale read 4 lbs lighter than the office scale. Her wedding rings still fit. Her ankles aren't swollen, she has no evidence of edema anywhere. If someone had gained 7 lbs in 3 days, shouldn't there be at least some sign of water retention? Because even with a baby growing, it would certainly be difficult to gain that much weight that quickly anabolically.

I also took her BP immediately after she got home. She had been driving for 20 minutes, and picked up the 2 y/o on her arrival home--yet her blood pressure was totally normal--120's over 60's. I'm pretty comfortable taking BP's, it was a required element of our exams at school, so I've done it hundreds if not thousands of times...

The clinical picture we see at home is not what is showing up in the office. I don't understand why that is. And I'm afraid we're going to end up admitted which will for SURE get her stress level up, her BP up, our risk for many, many things up... I feel like we're on the apex of a slippery slope, one small slip and we'll set in motion the American intervention nightmare birth. And the worst part about it is those professionals that we selected to help us navigate this fine line between safety and a completely natural birth, instead of steadying us, are tugging and pushing at us trying to knock us off balance, or so it feels.

I have never doubted that I would always put my family's health foremost in our healthcare decision making. From my independent reading and research during chiro school I developed a serious sense of mistrust of the medical profession as a whole. I think a healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing. And I honestly think that in an emergency situation, there would be no hesitation on my part. But this experience with the midwives office has only strengthened my mistrust. It just feels like they are trying to funnel us into the baby mill machinery, which is exactly what we wanted to avoid.

But, is their scale off? I don't know, I didn't see her zero it. Are the intake nurse's BP readings really that inaccurate? I don't know, she was getting ridiculously low readings in the past, and no one has independently verified her readings... Even my wife who is notoriously willing to accept what she's told in a medical office without question, is telling me that in her gut she doesn't think she gained that much weight.

It's just a very scary thing, because this clinical picture they've assembled could very well get us admitted.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Canon EOS 40D, Canon 24mm 2.8
2s f/8.0 at 24.0mm iso200

Took this at twilight in the town center park in small town Tennessee.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Today was a good day--I made good steady progress on several projects.

Started the day at church this morning and today was the day to turn in our plastic bins with our Operation Christmas Child gifts. It was really kind of heartwarming to see the gargantunormous pile of bins waiting to go abroad. Our senior pastor is in the Holy Land right now with a small group of church members, so the sermon today was given by our missions pastor, who also just happens the father of a newly adopted Chinese son. He told the congregation about their journey to adopt, and challenged those that might be considering adopting to move forward.
This couple isn't the first of our friends to adopt from overseas. Another couple friend adopted a little girl from Taiwan.
I can't say I haven't thought long and hard about adopting. It's been on my mind, well, most of my life since I am adopted myself. My wife isn't nearly as excited about the thought as I am. I think she worries that despite her best efforts she will an adopted child differently. It's a valid worry I think, but probably an unfounded one. I know her capacity for love is much greater than she thinks.

After church my wife fixed lunch for us, a nice thing to come home to. (She stayed home because technically she's on bedrest.) Then I finally got to assemble my latest gun project after about 3 weeks painting and curing all the parts. For those that know, (or care,) it's a Howa 1500 in .308 Win in a Bell & Carson stock. For optics I chose an IOR 3-18x42 FFP MLR reticle. Anyway, here she is.

After putting my rifle together, I shifted gears and worked on the nursery. Last weekend I got the chair rail hung, and the wall beneath the chair rail painted. This afternoon I managed to get the crown moulding hung, and caulked into place. Hanging the moulding went surprising well. Crown is notoriously complicated because of all the compound angles involved, but this afternoon went really very well. In fact I didn't have any gaps that the caulk couldn't take care of. When I'm finished I'll take pictures of all the kids bedrooms and share.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Radio Blackout Update

For those of you on the edge of your seat (ha!) wondering about our travels around the dark side of the moon, we now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this breaking news.

I've told my wife where this blog is located before, and I certainly wasn't trying to keep anything secret from her, but I wasn't sure whether or not she actually read it regularly. Well, after the radio blackout post, if she wasn't regularly reading before, she is now! Which is all well and good for me, (hi sweetie!*wave*)

One might think that after my very public, (albeit relatively anonymous,) airing of our, eh, technical difficulties, we'd have had a long heart-to-heart talk about all our marital challenges, and then fallen to the floor like rabbits making up for lost time. But that didn't happen. In fact the conversation went a little something like this:

Wife: "I read your blog."

Drofen: "Oh....yeah?"

Wife: "Yep."

Drofen: "...."

Wife: "So, what time did the 2 y/o go down last night?"

As you can see, nothing earth-shattering. But what has happened is much, much better. Instead, I've noticed a distinct increase in, and more creative, maintenance programs. Heck, we even managed to slip in (haha) a transmission with ground control, even though we're around the dark side of the moon. Let me tell you, it was good to hear from mission control...

All in all,, space travel is still hard work, but let's just say the flight crew is much happier right now...

(Thank you sweetie!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

36 Weeks--Temporary Bedrest

Well, our midwife appointment started ok this morning, but then went straight down the tubes.

We started off in the sono suite getting our long awaited critical sonogram which showed that...the placenta is "well away from the cervix" and did not pose a problem. Interesting--much like we've been telling our midwife all along, but I digress.

We then walked across the street to the midwife's office, and I could feel my wife getting more and more anxious. There had been some discussion about wanting to do a pap smear at this visit, even though we'd expressed multiple times it wasn't something we were comfortable with. Especially since she had one only a year ago, and completely normal. She was nervous because they are usually pretty uncomfortable for her, not to mention she was probably tying herself in knots for the verbal fireworks that were sure to come.

Add into the mix that our babysitter had to cancel at the very last moment with sick kiddos, so our 2 y/o was along, and she was robustly expressing her...well, 2-ness.

Anyway the intake nurse took my wife's vitals, and of course her blood pressure was 128/90. The midwife on rotation came in, took GBS samples, and luckily she was of the opinion there was absolutely no reason to do a pap smear (did I mention I like this particular midwife?) Then we talked things through. She was willing to let us go home if we took a second BP and it was within an acceptable range. So she gave us a few minutes for my wife to relax and lay down. I managed to calm the 2 y/o to a mild simmer. I gave my wife a cervical adjustment (good for a 10-15mmHg drop, instantaneously. I know, that's cheating...)

After about 10 minutes the second BP came back at 100/76. Whew. The last thing we needed was an admission at this point.

We didn't escape unscathed though. The midwife put my wife on temporary bed rest pending the results of a 24 urine catch we start on Sunday morning. We're trying to have my wife work as long as possible because FMLA is only 12 weeks, and we'd sure like the vast majority of those 12 short weeks to be on the back end--post partum! Each weekend she can be on the schedule at work buys us another whole week...

Anyway, send good thoughts our way if you don't mind!

Golden Gate

Canon Rebel G2, Tanquaray 28-90mm
FujiFilm 200 Not sure on the camera settings.

Took this on the trip to San Francisco during which I proposed to my wife.


"Oh thank goodness, it [poop] only got on the leather..."

Heard recently during a "code brown" in the car...

See more funny TINTINTS moments at Mom-in-Scrubs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I KNEW it.

Too much fun. Grabbed this from Mom In Scrubs

Pure Nerd
83 % Nerd, 26% Geek, 30% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Find Out For Yourself: Nerd, Geek, Dork Test

By the way, I totally noticed that the percentages don't add up to 100%. Does that make me a Nerd, Geek, or Dork??

Post Secret

I'm sure there's not many of you that don't know of the famous Post Secret blog. The premise is simple, one creates a postcard revealing the deepest secrets that couldn't possibly be shared with people already known, and then mails them to the creator of Post Secret. Each Sunday he selects several and posts them to the blog. It's been fascinating to watch this phenomenon grow like wildfire. I've been following the blog for about 2 years now, and the it's grown to be HUGE. There are multiple Post Secret books published and there are regular nationwide Post Secret events. Most recently Post Secret has hit Myspace, but with a twist.

While the Post Secret Myspace blog shows 6 different secrets than the main blog, that isn't what's made it such a huge hit. Instead, viewers are encouraged to leave their cell phone numbers in the comment sections, and people are texting their secrets back and forth with total strangers. It's created a huge buzz, some good, some bad. Myspace is freaking out wondering what their liability is if someone gets hurt as a result of posting their personal info for the world to see. Most are astounded at the depth of honesty and community the act of confessing secrets to a total stranger creates.

I'm an adventurous guy, so I did it. I posted my cell number. And I've been texted by several different people. And in two of the cases, a running conversation resulted that I think was therapeutic for both parties involved. It's been an interesting experience for sure.

I'll probably do it again.

And because I know you're dying to check it out: Post Secret on Myspace.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Last Kiss

The Last Kiss was released in the Fall of 2006, but I hadn't heard of it until it was recommended to me by Netflix's crystal ball. The basic premise here is one that's been played out time and time again. The movie follows the shenanigan's of a group of fellas in various places in their lives. I do have to say that this movie was very smooth about it however, I hardly felt stuffed into the boxed walls of a well known plot. Thankfully the movie doesn't relish in being a group drama, and spends little time trumpeting that fact, which I love. The movie just gets down to brass tacks.

Straight out of the blocks I would be remiss if I didn't mention Rachel Bilson. While she isn't the main character here, I think she's absolutely stunning, and have thought so ever since I first saw her in Jumper. And once again, I think she's done an absolutely effortless job of playing her character in such an open and honest manner that I scarcely noticed she was acting. Either she's been this character in real life, or she's the real deal with excellent clarity and subtlety in her acting skills. I think of all the characters in this film, I felt for her the most.

I haven't really been a big Zach Braff fan. I mean, he's OK in Scrubs, but that part was basically written for him. I have a hard time taking him seriously in drama roles, and this role is no different. He isn't particularly bad. But not particularly good either. I can identify with his character somewhat, but mostly because I've struggled with some of the things he does in the movie, not because he brings the character to life. All in all, I'd say his performance is only so-so, but that doesn't surprise me in the least. Sorry Zach, I'm just not that much of a fan. It's nothing personal.

A third actor I've really enjoyed watching lately is Casey Affleck. He's grown up as an actor overshadowed by his brother Ben. Ben's blockbuster star power when pairing with Matt Damon is undeniable. And honestly Bounce and Jersey Girl (yes I liked it,) show some of Ben's depth. But believe it or not, I think Casey is a far better actor. He's a scrapper, and he earns an audience's respect in each an every role he plays in each and every film. I particularly like his character in Good Will Hunting, and it's a perfect illustration: No one ever expects much from him, but movie after movie he turns in A+ performances with little to no Affleck/Damon hullabaloo.

Be aware this film explores relationships and sexuality is a constant theme. Several characters have sex on camera and there is a copious amount of nudity. The movie was originally billed as a romantic comedy, but I think it really is more of a drama. The viewer is privvy to the details of the ugly disintegration of several relationships, and that my friends is no laughing matter. The movie isn't perfect, but neither is life. And believe me, this film has plenty of life. Real. Stark. Life. In the end though, I was better for the experience of having watched it.

I give the movie a B+.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seven Quirks

Got this distraction from Shrtstormtrooper, you should go check out her blog. :)

Seven Quirks

1. I really, really dislike living in Texas (usually), so one of my favorite pastimes is find a children's hospital somewhere else in the country that my wife and I could work at after I get out of nursing school. Then I search real estate listings and find houses close by that we could live in. Then I'll check out the schools in the area to decide whether my girls will go to public school or private. Sometimes I'll even go so far as to calculate the mileage to get there, and decide where we'd stay the night on the way with our stuff packed in moving vans.

2. I made All-state Choir my 4 years of high-school. In fact I began my college education pursuing a music composition degree. I used to write all my girl friends songs, several of which have come back to haunt me. I also wrote a piece that the men's quartet at my high school performed.

3. I am a pretty good cook. I do most, (all) the cooking in our household. I rarely use recipes, other than for general ideas. So, my dishes tend to be very unpretentious, very approachable, and ultimately easy to eat. My newest creations lately have all been vegetarian since we've stopped eating meat. My goal is to create meals where nobody realizes that there isn't any meat present. I really enjoy when we have guests for dinner, that's usually the biggest test. If I've done well I don't hear, "Aren't we going to have any meat?"

4. I'm somewhat of a social chameleon. I can talk semi intelligently about a wide variety of topics, and I'm equally comfortable in a red-neck garage beer night or a black tie string quartet concert. I count among my friends homeless day laborers, engineers, professional musicians, police officers, and even a VP of financial operations of one of the largest companies in the US. I guess really it's a testament to all life experiences I've had.

5. I am adopted. I recently found my birth mother. We're still getting to know each other. I hope to possibly adopt a child in the future. My wife and I are still talking about it.

6. One of my goals in life is to become a published fiction writer. I have two ideas for novels, and two or three children's books floating around in my head. I only need to put them on paper.

7. I tend to do very, very well on standardized tests. I once was accused of cheating on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam because I scored a perfect score. They made me retake it in a room by myself with a very serious-faced Army recruiter, and I did it again. My ACT score earned me half scholarships to Yale and Stanford both. Too bad I still couldn't afford either one of them, haha!

Taos Pueblo

Canon EOS 350D, Canon 24mm 2.8
1/100s f/13.0 at 24.0mm iso100

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crazy 8's

So, not much meaningful going on today I guess. Just cleaning the house for our small group to come over this evening. I mopped the kitchen last night, and I mean REALLY mopped it. Turns out our kitchen tile is white...not grey. Who knew? I have a brisket smoking, and I've got to figure out something for desert. We're packing our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and praying over them tonight. Probably need to figure out some way to play some Christmas music, ha!

Anyway, here's a meme that's been going around, I got it from Kirsten, thanks!

Crazy Eights

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch:

1. M*A*S*H
2. House Hunter's International
3. ER
4. House
5. CSI
6. Cold Case
7. Rick Steve's Europe
8. Without A Trace

8 Favorite Restaurants:

1. Macaroni Grill
2. Salt Grass Steak House
3. Iron Cactus (Awesome tequila selection!)
4. Old Timer's Cafe, Durango, CO
5. Big Buck's Steakhouse
6. Rico Hotel & Restaurant, Rico, CO
7. El Pinto, Albuquerque, NM
8. Scoma's Fisherman Wharf, San Francisco, CA

8 Things that Happened Today:

1. Woke up with sore hands from painting and cleaning yesterday.
2. 2 y/o has a new molar that's come in since last Wednesday when we were at the dentist.
3. Checked email.
4. Went to Country Meat Market to get a brisket for tonight's small group dinner.
5. Forgot to eat breakfast.
6. Made lunch for the 2 y/o, (cinnamon toast and scrambled eggs, before you ask.)
7. Bought flowers for my wife--because I love her.
8. Washed the rice cooker that my wife used last night in a fit of pregnancy cravings--because I love her.

8 Things I Look Forward To:

1. The birth of my son!
2. Becoming a nurse!
3. Being done with school so I can get a job that pays enough to pay off my student loans.
4. A well crafted beer.
5. A well crafted Scotch.
6. A well crafted wine.
7. A well crafted meal.
8. Christmas!

8 Things on My Wishlist

1. A happy, healthy birth for my son.
2. A happier marriage.
3. A happier 9 y/o.
4. Canon 5d
5. Canon 24-70mm 2.8L
6. Canon 17-40mm 4.0L
7. GAP .338 Lapua Magnum in a McMillan A5
8. Patriot Arms 7mm WSM in a McMillan A5

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I just filled my tank with gasoline at $1.73/gallon.

What the heck is going on?

While I appreciate the low prices, it makes me very, very nervous as to what lies ahead. How high are the prices going to rebound?

I'm still carefully watching how many miles I drive, much like when gasoline was well over $4.00/gallon on the off chance that reduced demand really is all that's behind the lower prices.

I feel something much more sinister lying in wait though...

Manhattan Skyline

Canon EOS 20D, Canon 18-55mm
5s f/16.0 at 21.0mm iso200

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Canon EOS 40D, Canon 17-40mm L, 1/160s f/8.0 at 40.0mm iso125

Bad Day, And It's Only 0940...

I thought I was doing ok this morning, and then I went to my dentist appointment.

I like our dentist ok, and the staff are always polite. They always take my blood pressure before they start, and this morning mine was 149/97. They repeated it 3 times, and they were all about the same. I guess this shouldn't come as a shock since a couple weeks ago when I gave blood they measured me at 160/90. I attributed that to the anatomy test I had literally just finished 5 minutes prior. But now, 2 independent readings are tough to ignore.

And that's how it started.

I told my wife by text, and got an immediate phone call--obviously she was concerned. So we tried to figure out how to fix this. I could exercise more, that's for sure, but on the other hand because of school I've been walking at least 30 minutes a day just getting from remote parking to class and back. So I'm actually in better shape now than when I was a few months ago. Can't really modify my diet much--I'm a vegetarian, although I've been slipping a little lately.

So that brings up stress. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about that. I've got $200,000.00 in student loan debt that I have no way of paying right now. The degree that money bought is worthless to me to earn even enough to make the payments for that loan. Even if I were to declare bankruptcy because I can't pay my bills and have no real prospects of paying my bills, those student loans would remain. How is it that people can run up $200,000 in credit card debt and then go debt free with a quick and easy bankruptcy, but those of us that have tried to better ourselves by going to school have no help when things don't work out as planned? No way out. It was then that I realized the only resource I have right now that has the potential to earn me enough money to pay back my student loan debt?

My life insurance policy.

It's a disheartening thing when you are worth more dead than alive. And that my friends is how a bad day starts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cast over the edge into the world,
Alone, conceived to learn to 'be'
Armed with the mantra warning
Be only anything you want to be.

Seductive dreams call the wild, while,
Siren's song beautifully deceives.
Reason's expectations creates: this life,
This world, this existence I almost believed.

Bathed in the searing sun-bright scrutiny;
Of life's crucible, temper brings.
Breaking down to drown in dripping
Wax flowing from Icarus' wings.

Plummeting from the sky, spiraling
Downward in smoky flaming screams.
Waging immortality's battle to rise again,
Borne up on fiery Phoenix wings.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fashionably Green

One of the things I've noticed upon my return to campus is how trendy being 'green' is. Several of the schools on campus have gone with electronic syllabi. There are recycling bins around every corner. Everyone carries either laptops or notebooks made with recycled paper. Graphic tee's abound exhorting every imaginable green slogan. It's all very noble, and quite trendy.


Every morning as I walk in from remote parking (I need the exercise) I cut through several parking lots and weave my way through idling cars--people get here early and then sit with their cars running. Did you know the an idling car produces about the same emissions as a car that is driving? (Older cars actually produce more emissions idling than driving.) Did you that an idling car can actually consume more gas than one that is driving? The weather is not hot or cold right now, and if it were, the climate controlled campus buildings are only a short walk away...

Every day, everywhere on campus disposable plastic water bottles are the trend. I get that people want a cleaner source of drinking water--I'm the same. But did you know that it takes 700 years before a plastic water bottle starts decomposing in a landfill? Did you know that 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles will end up in a landfill? Did you know it takes about 1,500,000 barrels of oil to produce enough water bottles for a year at our current rate of consumption? For reference, that's enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars for a year. How about filtering water at home and bringing it in a reusable container? The same can be said with food items--so many people buy their lunch here--all packaged in disposable containers.

The litter on campus is atrocious. It's everywhere. And much of it is university sponsored material, like the daily newspaper, flyers, and posters that hang around to be blown away.

I think there is a prevailing attitude that as long as something is recycled it's fine to continue consuming it unchecked. But recycling takes energy, and we have precious little of that these days. Recycling isn't lateral either, usually the material undergoes downcycling--meaning the products of recycling can't be used to make the same product over again, it must be used to make something lower in quality or purity.

As important as recycling is, it is not the cure all. The true way to impact our consumption is to consume less in the first place. We Americans have long clung to our consumer lifestyle. Now we're starting to feel the effects, neatly disguised as higher energy costs, food costs, and a less profitable economy. And while many will complain about the current state of our nation, few will start looking for ways to truly make our lives more efficient.

How long did we think we could continue on before we had to start paying back the piper?

I only hope that my fellow students here at UTA will take the initiative to educate themselves, rather than just following popular trends. Unfortunately, past history teaches this won't be the case.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Canon EOS 40D, Canon 17-40mm L, 1/200s f/8.0 at 36.0mm iso125

Friday, November 7, 2008

Balancing Act

As you may have suspected, my 9 y/o is from a previous marriage. My wife and I have primary custody of her which is almost unheard of in TX, but we try and split her time between our house and her mom's house fairly evenly.

As she's growing older, she's starting to understand more the implications of living in two houses. I know that she has the fantasies of our households combining so she wouldn't have to split time, but the two households couldn't be further apart in atmosphere. Her mom and new husband are very emotionally volatile people, and the environment over there can get pretty toxic fairly quickly. On the other hand, that means they have wildly good times as well. It isn't the most stable of situations for a 9 y/o to be in, and she knows it. But, it's her mom. And so she reflexively compensates for her mom, glossing over the multiple times mom's let her down.

At our house, it's all about getting your homework done and making sure you're ready to face the world the next day. Don't get me wrong, we do fun things also, but only after our responsibilities are taken care of. It can be frustrating at times because who wouldn't rather spend time at the care-free let's-have-fun all-night tavern? She knows she feels better when she's at our house, but she still makes the choice to spend time at her mom's house as well.

For instance, take this past two weeks. The way the schedule fell because we switched some days around, she's been at her mom's almost continuously. Unfortunately this coincided with the multiplication blitz in her math class at school. She passed her 0's & 1's timed test, but badly failed her 2's & 3's, 4's & 5's, and 6's & 7's. By the time I saw her again, she had her 8's & 9's the next morning. She had not studied at her mom's house for any of the tests at all. She also hadn't done her weekly reading--100 minutes--also due the next morning. And then she informed me she had a book project due the next morning that she had neither started on, nor knew where the assignment instructions were. So we busted hump from 1530 when she got home until 2100 when I made her go to bed. Somehow we miraculously got everything done. She squeaked past her 8's & 9's test. Another 6 hours of solid hard work after school and the following day she passed her 10's & 11's and made up the rest of her tests, only dropping 6's & 7's.

And that was Halloween, so she went back to her mom's house to go trick-or-treating and to spend the weekend.

I got short with her and told her how unfair it was to us that she shirk her work at her mom's house and then make us take up the slack. And that it was hurtful to us that she chooses to go have fun at her mom's house and acts like she'd rather not hang at our house because we make her take care of her responsibilities.

She was heart-broken.

It's hard to talk with her about this stuff because she's still dealing with the divorce (5 years later) and it makes her very emotional. I think she's afraid that one or both of her new families will choose to leave her out and move on with a new life. Her mom's actually done that to her several times, so her fear is not unfounded on that side of the coin.

Finally I had to take a deep breath and figure out a way to make her feel like she had more control over her situation. Also it was important to help her know that she was being fair with her time, so she wouldn't have to feel guilty about being at one house or the other. I decided to have her help me make up a schedule for November and December. I think it was a good thing to have her part of the process.

She's back at our house for this week and next, making up for lost time, and I'm so glad to have her home. She is an amazing child, and it hurts my soul to see her damaged by my mistakes with my ex-wife.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First Kiss

Canon EOS 40D, Canon 17-40mm L, 1/160s f/8.0 at 31.0mm iso125

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I watched this movie last night, even though I wasn't really in the mood to sit still. I was entertained enough by the film that I did sit and watch the whole thing through, so that's a big plus. I even wished the movie was a little longer--it's only 90 minutes long--and therein lies the rub for me. It's such an incredible concept, but it just wasn't developed as well as it deserved. I mean to me, this concept, (and really the execution of the jumps,) are on the level of The Matrix, but it was treated so poorly in my opinion.

I went ahead and watched the behind the scenes show on the movie magic of "Jumping" and the director stated he wanted the movie to be more than a special effects show. He stated that they treated the jumps within the script as matter-of-factly as possible rather than trying to make them the showcase of the film. I agree, and appreciated this approach. But where he failed was the absence of character and plot development to fill the void of downplaying the special effects. The film could have been so much more! Take for example in The Matrix, even though the film was an action film, it was truly a love story. And while there is a beautiful love interest in Jumper, I never really invested in the characters. So frustrating!

Hayden Christensen plays the main character who, after falling through the ice of a frozen river, discovers that he can essentially teleport. Of course this ability brings certain benefits to life, but it also alienates him from the rest of the "normal" people. And as it turns out, it also sets him diametrically opposed to a secret society that thinks people with the ability to jump should be rooted out and destroyed, a la witch hunt. And thus we have the major plot premise. The bad guy is played by Samuel L. Jackson--not my favorite film of his. He was tolerable, but the role was tired on him. I think a new face would really have helped stabilize the movie.

Rachel Bilson provides the lovely love interest, and she really steps to the plate. She's probably my favorite character in the film. Delightfully grounded, and ever so easy on the eyes, she does a great job of bringing life to Christensen's girlfriend. As a mere mortal, her life is in danger as the bad guys try to get to the good guys through her. Does she survive? You'll have to watch and see!

I'd love to see more Jumper films, and maybe with a little more depth.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pattycake, Pattycake

Next in the series. Canon EOS 40D, Canon 17-40mm L, 1/160s f/8.0 at 36.0mm iso125, click for fullsize.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

5 Annoying Things In Life Right Now

1. Our 2 y/o has taken to calling me by my first name. No doubt she's picked it up from my wife's exasperated exclamations, which has been happening pretty often lately. The 2 y/o has also started reflexively saying, "Huh??" every time someone speaks to her.

2. It's November and it's 82*. I had to turn the A/C back on for goodness sake!

3. The mail people can't decide on a time to deliver the mail, so I've missed getting bills sent out two days in a row. After having a check stolen and washed we don't let our outgoing bills sit in the mailbox now.

4. Our leader for a group project in one of my required pre-nursing classes has apparently bitten off more than she can chew. I get that people are busy, but if you've got more on your plate than you can eat, then let someone else handle the leadership roles. This project is a hefty portion of my grade in a class my nursing school acceptance is conditional on, and she's taking our submission down to the wire. I hate that. Things can go wrong. Things DO go wrong.

5. My local Kroger had 3 cashiers working this evening. One on the self check, one on the 15 items line, and one on a regular register. That made me #6 in line with $150 in groceries and a 2 y/o in the cart...

Sam Adams Irish Red

Here we have the 2nd of 3 beers offered in the Sam Adams Brewmaster's pack, and Sam Adam's version of a red Irish Lager. I think at some point most Americans that begin their beer drinking days with mass produced macro-brews, and then begin to refine their tastes, drink George Killian's Red. I know I did. (Incidently, after some research, Killian's Red is a Coors product...) Sam Adams Irish Red is so much better than Killian's Red.

This beer pours easily with a beautiful chestnut brown hue. Hold this beer to the light and the deep red fairly glows. Medium head and moderately intricate lacing round out a really nice presentation.

On the nose the carmel malted hops jump to the forefront with warm roasted nuttiness. Many people tell of a fruity or citrus scent, but I found it to be more like the smell of freshly brewed sun tea--you know, the big glass jar mom set on the back porch in the heat of July days.

First sip brings mellow nut tones, with the sweetness of the caramel hops nicely balancing the moderate carbonation. Sun tea warmness is especially evident at swallow, and the beer finishes with a proper lager crispness.

I paired this beer with roasted corn calzones--the corn complemented the caramel tastes, and the crisp lager carbonation cut the acidic pasta sauce nicely.

I think I will try a bottle of this beer at cool room temperature in true Irish fashion to see if it will develop more of the nutty tones.

Overall I give this beer an A-.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Which One?

So I've decided to start doing some photowork as a source of spending money. I have a couple of very expensive hobbies, photography and precision shooting. I'm pretty sure now that I'm back in school and don't have a regular job (yet) my play money fund is going to dry up like well-salted slug. It would be nice if my hobbies were self sufficient. I just don't see precision shooting paying for itself in the near future, (barring a widespread zombie outbreak,) so photowork it is. I've put together some quick logos here. If you don't mind, which do you prefer?


Future Nurse?

Took a few pics yesterday of my wife and 2 y/o, combination of 2 yr pictures for my daughter, and maternity pics for my wife. I took some of each of them by themselves, but I thought I'd share the ones of them together.

Here's my 2 y/o assessing baby brother's heart rate. She knows hearts sound lub-dub lub-dub lub-dub already, smart girl.Canon EOS 40D, Canon 17-40mm L,1/160s f/8.0 at 26.0mm iso125

Look for more pics to come, and as always, click for the fullsize!

New Blogger

I love the updated version of Blogger. I started blogging in 2003 and the older versions of Blogger were a little tougher to use, and many bloggers jumped ship for WordPress and other services. But now, the widgets are cool and easy to use, the autosave rules, and I love, love, love that I can schedule posts to publish automatically in the future. That allows me to write my beer and movie reviews and photography posts on the weekend and post them throughout the week, even if I'm too busy to get to the computer.

And that frees me up to write pertinent personal posts about life and school when as they happen. So convenient, and I think it helps me be a more regular blogger because it isn't so overwhelming to keep up with!