Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado - NYTimes.com

It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado - NYTimes.com:
"DURANGO, Colo. — For the first time since territorial days, rain will be free for the catching here, as more and more thirsty states part ways with one of the most entrenched codes of the West.

Precipitation, every last drop or flake, was assigned ownership from the moment it fell in many Western states, making scofflaws of people who scooped rainfall from their own gutters. In some instances, the rights to that water were assigned a century or more ago. ..."
Anglers have been familiar with the morass of water laws in the western states for some time, as they deal with streams that run dry during the best months for fishing because upstream impoundments refuse to release even a minimal flow. Politics and economics clash with human and environmental needs to the point where silly laws, like the ones that were superseded by Colorado's recent action, made technical criminals of many landowners.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Robert Bruce Addresses The Scots

On this date in 1314 the forces of Scotland defeated the English near Bannock Burn, a stream near Stirling. Among the legends that grew out of the decisive event in the wars for Scottish Independence was a motivational speech Robert the Bruce, Robert I of Scotland, gave to his soldiers. Centuries later Robert Burns would put his imagining of Bruce's speech into verse:
Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie!

Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front o’ battle lour:
See approach proud Edward’s pow’r—
Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor-knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave!
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland’s king and law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa’,
Let him follow me!

By oppression’s woes and pains!
By our sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!—
Let us do or die!

-Robert Burns, September 1793
This is generally sung to a traditional Scottish tune which was used by Max Bruch in the last section of his Scottish Fantasy. Hector Berlioz also used it in his Rob Roy Overture.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kodak winds last rolls of Kodachrome | Crave - CNET

Kodak winds last rolls of Kodachrome | Crave - CNET:
"First we said good-bye to Polaroid, now it's Kodachrome. What's a film sentimentalist to do? After 74 years of making the color film used by many of photography's greats, Kodak announced Monday that it's ending Kodachrome's production.

Kodachrome makes up less than 1 percent of Kodak's total sales for still film, according to the company. Digital cameras are obviously the main culprit contributing to Kodachrome's demise, but photographers are also using newer kinds of color film that are easier to process. Only one photofinishing lab in the world still processes Kodachrome--Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kan. ..."
This is, of course, not unexpected since most other roll films for amateur photographers have been phased out. It seems a shame, nevertheless, to see Kodachrome disappear.

One of my favorite stories is that of William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) whose iconic photographs of the Yellowstone area in Wyoming were instrumental in its designation as Yellowstone National Park. For these photographs he lugged heavy equipment to make wet plates for exposure in large cameras. In the last several years of his life, he dabbled in a new film called Kodachrome.

On a personal note Kodachrome was the first 35mm color film I used, after having begun with 120 roll film in black and white. I still have many of those slides from the 1960s. My last camera system was a Nikon 8008 and when I made the switch to digital over between 2001 and 2005 I chose a Nikon D-70 SLR, since it would take all my older lenses. I still kept a Nikkormat and a Yashica 120 camera for those times when I wanted a little more nostalgia as I took photos. And besides, both would work with or without batteries.

Now I have two 35mm and 120 film cameras, an Omega B-22 enlarger and associated darkroom equipment -- all rapidly becoming relics of another era. Sounds like I'm getting to officially be an old codger.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


A 21-year-old man died Monday evening in a motorcycle accident. Ryan was the eldest of a family of three children who, with their parents, were active for several years in our local congregation. They moved to another congregation, but maintained ties with Trinity. Their daughter is in the same class as our son, but we have not seen the family much in the past couple years. It often takes a tragedy to bring people back together.

We watched this young man go through adolescence during the time they were active in our congregation and that makes it doubly hard to accept this tragedy. It just isn't supposed to happen this way. It was obvious at the visitation last night that they have the support of two communities of faith as well as a large number of the young man's friends from high school and college, and I hope this helps the family through this tragic death. They are going to be on a lot of people's prayer lists.

Over the past few months I joined Facebook, mainly at first to see what it was that was occupying my son's time. Within a week I had become "friends" with people whose paths had crossed with mine when I was a teacher at Sterling College. Even an old friend from the 1960s emerged. Facebook can be a useful tool in keeping up with people from the past and present. I am saddened that a few of my former students and friends have died in the past 30 years, but I am quite happy to hear from all the people who have sought me out, or who have answered my "friend requests".

Forty years ago a group of over 400 Juniors from J.E.B Stuart High School began the summer recess before their Senior year. Many of these I first became acquainted with at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School when I transferred in during my 6th grade year. We went mostly to Ellen Glasgow Intermediate School where I stayed until the US Army stationed my dad in Heidelberg, Germany. I spent the last couple months of 8th grade through about the same point in my 11th grade year. We then returned to Northern Virginia, and I resumed my friendships with the people I had known three years before. While Heidelberg American High School was an important factor in my life, I feel more of an affinity for my former community in Northern Virginia.

Anyway, the past few weeks have brought a flurry of emails involving a list of about 100 people who have been able to be located. Along with the re-emergence of familiar names, there has been a steadily growing list of those who have died from the Class of 1970. This list stands at about 20, and has been a bit of a shock to me, but remember that we are in our late 50s. Still, this number is about 20% of those accounted for (which is only about 25% of our graduation class).

Three reunions arising from different reasons -- and all three present an opportunity to experience and show God's love. Ryan's' death makes no human sense, but God was there to receive him and God is there to strengthen and comfort his family and friends. And we, in turn, can provide each other with comfort, support, and fellowship during this difficult time.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

I'm Still Around...

Just a quick update -- My surgery incision had been slow to close in one pesky spot where the toe meets the main part of the foot, but it is now closed. The problem of my 2nd metatarsal pushing down on a persistent blister seems to have been solved to where that lesion has all but closed over with normal skin.

Other than that, I have been pretty busy at work and rather tired when I get home, so I have had trouble motivating myself to update my blog on a regular basis.

I'll try to be a little more attentive to blogging....