So, on Friday night we graduated 21 seniors from our school of roughly 100. That's a large graduation. Staff set up 350 seats, created a stage, showed baby photos, had a reception area and put on quite a show. The Superintendent, assistant superintendent and a couple of school board members were in attendance. The community came out and passed out in excess of $50,000 in scholarships. It was a pretty amazing evening. Full senior activities and photos are available here.
A new era in May
So I did something I never expected. I installed a locking mailbox at the request of my mail delivery person.
Several years ago someone blew up my last mailbox with an M-80. It is now stacked behind my kayak rack.
I have always trusted my neighbors, but there is a row of mailboxes across the street and they have been broken into in the early morning. I consented to have a night vision camcorder placed in one of my trees to monitor evening activity. But he said that wasn't enough. So I went on line, looked at reviews and bought a large clunker of a box at Home Depot.
The new box has a key, but small hands or simply removing it makes security a mild deterrent, nothing to put much trust in.
As I look at my previous box standing by the fern garden with apparently no future I have to reflect on the state of things where we have to lock our rural boxes which rarely deliver anything of real value other than credit cards. I am also having to get use to the tall black box that requires me to now carry a key to get my mail.
Back In The Saddle.
Today the sun peeked out so I took my first bike ride of the season. My road bike is a Specialized Allez which hangs in the garage from a hook.
But to ride you first get dressed when you are an old guy. That means padded underwear which I skipped, cycling pants and jacket, a helmet and a mini rear view mirror that attaches to glasses. This all went well. Then you pump up the tires, do a quick visual inspection of tires, brakes, seat and chain. All was good so I was ready.
You would think jumping on and riding toward the sunset would be easy. It was awkward. Shifting didn't feel natural. Balance came back gradually. And the traffic seemed heavy. However, after about a mile I was twenty years younger and could sense I was flying.
Unfortunately to the casual observer I was just one more over weight guy trying to stay upright in a world designed for cars.
I wasn’t intending to write about turning 73 so I won’t. But I did want to share walking through Tacoma on the first full day after. The sun came out to transform downtown Tacoma. Beth and I had decided to walk through the University of Washington Campus at Tacoma. We found the architecture and the tie in with the former historic buildings uplifting. The campus is in a part of town where as a kid I attended dances at the Swiss Hall, went shopping for shoes with my mother, hauled malt from the breweries to the cows back on the farm, and eventually purchased construction hardware and materials for building. It is difficult to imagine how city streets could be transformed into quiet conversation nooks that one expects at university.
The photo below is of Chihuly glass and Beth on the bridge across the freeway. It was a beautiful day, even for those of us older than dirt.
Closing out December
Yesterday my mother turned 99 years young. On the way to her home I stopped by the family burial plot. My father was laid to rest there 18 years ago. Standing at the foot of his grave I shot this picture. The school in the background is where I teach and the windows in the center on the second story look into my room where I am now typing this. How strange is that? We travel through life and five hundred feet away from my place of work, across the freeway is my father's grave. My mother told me they chose it for the view. She was referencing the water and Mount Rainier view. Who knew they would be able to see my school as well.
November is all about "Misty"
Meet Jack and Misty. Misty is a miniature Australian Shepherd puppy. Jack is one of her best friends and even Jack is starting to warm up to that irrepressible, in your face, play with me cause I'm so wonderful kid of a pup attitude.
Misty is our replacement Aussie to replace Sky. Sky was also a blue merle and died of cancer this past summer. Previous to Sky we boarded Zeke who was my son's dog, raised Max who was my mother's Aussie, and, of course, it all started with Tucker who was the first. However, Misty is not the only dog in the dog house.
When we acquired Misty there was a nine year old dog who was being picked on by the rest of the kennel dogs. He is a 75 pound Australian shepherd we call Dex. Dex is primarily an outside dog. He was matted and saturated with fleas, but today he is all cleaned up and loves his new home. Below is a photo of Dex and Misty together.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. First, it was my father's birthday so he was always in a good mood that day and we could actually joke about it and the joke was on him.
It was also the biggest event of the year at Givens Elementary School. It was CARNIVAL in all ways. There were balloons to pop with darts, silent movies, auctions, dramatizations, and lots of games of chance. I think my favorite event centered around the classic silent films. Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Keystone Cops--those were hilarious. I still remember a car chase where two headlights are coming at you on a bridge. You expect to have a head on collision but instead they are the headlights of two motorcycles that go on either side of the car you are in. Another favorite image is from a Keystone Cop film where a Model T convertible is driving with it's wheels on either side of a ditch. There are convicts in the ditch with pick axes. As they bend over to pick the car drives over the top. The last convict in line raises his pick to quick, it engages the bumper of the Ford and he is swung up and lands in the back seat.
To this day I marvel at that stunt and how they pulled it off.
Anyway, Henderson is a place where we seem to celebrate the season. There are lots of skeletons and creepy things around. It's almost enough to make me want to dress up. Almost. Maybe next year.
A Different Way
Huloima Wehut (Hue-low-ma Way hut) -- Chinook Jargon for "A different way"
Yesterday I uncovered the original name for Henderson Bay High School. It was Huloima Wehut and was located in 1972 on Key Peninsula at the current site of the Civic Center. Henderson Bay later moved to portables at the district office, then onto the Peninsula High School campus by the tennis courts. Eventually HBHS was moved to the location of the current city hall. Then, they were housed at Gig Harbor High School, and finally in 2002 the current site became the home of Henderson.
After two weeks of getting to know staff and doing intake interviews we finally opened today as the first official school day of the year. I have to say I am very impressed with the caring nature of the staff and the quality of the students who have walked through my door. This really is a unique place for students and a place that wears its original name well.
Fast Moving Photography
Four years ago I taught photography. So my benchmark thinking is DSLR digital cameras are far superior to most other choices and certainly superior to phone photography. It was several years ago at a Mariner game that I mistakenly observed foolish people photographing the game with their cell phones. On closer observation, they were not documenting the game but rather their presence at the game with selfies. So I turned out to be the foolish one.
Elsewhere on this site is a page I started when I moved from android to apple 5s cell phone. I was favorably impressed with what the phone could do with close ups, scenery and low light shooting. After my cat kicked the iphone into the toilet and I replaced it with a Samsung S5 I became even more impressed with the quality of photos. Recently I assisted my wife in photographing a 1.2 million dollar waterfront listing. I used and expensive flash, a digital camera, and I used my cell phone under varying lighting conditions. I have to say, although I got some outstanding pictures with the tripod, flash, and special camera I also achieved some amazing shots with the S5.
The speed of change in the photography world moving to digital was impressive. The speed of improvement in cell phone photography and video is equally impressive and moving much more quickly than most of us old school photographers quite realize. Here is a link to the video I put together with the pictures taken, both digital and phone style.
End of an ERA
With a changing world comes changing opportunity.
Since giving up yearbook I've been the fill-in teacher here at Peninsula High School. In addition to covering technology I have been the person with the certification that grandfathers me to teach anything K-12 except special ed. The personal joke is I'm the 21st Century Paladin--'Have Cert, Will Travel."
Next year I will not be in the same room I've populated for the past 17 years. That may mean a move across the street to the old wood shop, teaching in 7000 square feet of industrial education history to teach woods, small engines and robotics or traveling cross town to bring technology to kids on another campus.
Whatever unfolds, I next year will be one of the more challenging yet. The best part is I have choices and the choices are all good. Can hardly wait to see what I post next month.
The video below was produced in sketch up and shows our campus. My room is behind the bleachers on the left side on the second story.
UPDATE: I am the new English/Technology teacher at Henderson Bay High School. I will be teaching two classes of English, photography, graphics, and architecture. This is an alternative school where I meet students four days a week with class sizes between 10 and 15 students. I will miss my friends at Peninsula High School, but am looking forward to building friendships on a new campus.
John Alfred Riebli