2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 4: Rule of Thirds / Toys & Games

FujiFilm XT-1, 35mm, Lightroom, Aurora HDR, Luminar

Just as soon as Eric posted this week’s theme, I knew what I wanted to capture. Our normally boring Central Coast weather has been so dynamic and beautiful. I knew that the Guadalupe Veteran’s Memorial was going to be my subject. The potential skyline drama, the numerous headstones with history and pop, I knew I might create something nice.



This post was originally posted at OurElement.org.

I’m reposting it here, to reach a broader audience outside of our church blog’s readership. If you’re from out of town, and am interested in contributing to our North Santa Barbara outreach, comment or get a hold of me. I can make that happen.

If you’re interested in getting something started like this in your own community, let me know and I can put you in touch with one or more of our local group’s leadership.

Here’s the article I wrote…

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40 ESV)

Take a moment to envision with me a common experience in any city in the US.

You’re in middle school and come home from school to find someone from Child Protective Services (CPS) and a police officer waiting for you. They tell you that your single parent made a mistake, and you’re going to have to go with CPS so that they can find you a safe place to sleep tonight.

Situations like this happen often, but there other times when the situation has no criminal or law enforcement element.

A teenager might have the wherewithal to know what to grab on the way out of the house. But what if it’s a crime scene now, and you cannot even enter your own home? What if all you have is your backpack for school and a skateboard?

Here in the Santa Maria Valley, we have this outreach that helps prepare people like the CPS staff with the most basic of items that they can have ready for situations just like this. They call them GoBags.

At Element, we’ve helped put together these GoBags in the past, and we’re doing it again. During the month of November, after each service, there will be a table set up where you can get any questions answered, and pick up a large zip lock bag with all the instructions. You can choose between making up a bag for an infant, toddler, school-aged child, or a teenager.

All we ask is that you go purchase the items on the list and return the bags to us within the month of November. These are regular items that you would need to make that first few nights not as bad as it could have been. The list has common items for their first nights such as: Pajamas, a Toothbrush, Socks, a Blanket, and a small toy or coloring book. We ask that these are new items for safety and hygiene reasons.

Then just bring the filled bag, along with the original instruction card, to the GoBag booth before or after the service you attend.

Again, we’ll be doing this all of November. Please take the time to consider how supporting children with GoBags can and does impact our community here in the Santa Maria Valley.

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 19:14 ESV

Here’s a nice article talking about the project a couple years ago

And here’s the GoBags Facebook page.

Oso Flaco

Went on a nice morning date with my wife today. We walked out to see the birds on the lake at Oso Flaco. Then we snuck up to the new Surfside Donuts in Pismo Beach, and had a pair of Lemon Custard and White Chocolate Icing donuts. Oh baby!

I took a time lapse with my iPhone and a handful of photos with my XT-1. Enjoy them below.





Bamboo Gardening

I know many of you detest bamboo. I forgive you. I have a special place in my heart for it! It’s smells great, brings the best green colors to a California Central Coast sand garden, and can really make the windy areas more palatable. (And it also makes for a possible alternate resource in a wide variety of situations, oft referred to as SHTF scenarios.)

A lot of the time detesting the bamboo has stemmed from not understanding how to grow and cultivate it. I’m not super interested in reeducating, to be fair. I’d prefer to just give it a gentle try, and let the results speak for themselves. I’d prefer to trial and error, and share all the results. 

Bamboo is just grass. Some of it is invasive, and spreads like weeds. Tends to be less desirable. You have to protect from it, wall off, raised bed, etc.

In spite of the fact that I’m misrepresenting the facts, there are basically two kinds of bamboo; fast growing (you must control and be prepared to deal with), aka spreading.

Second is the slower growing, oft more decorative and uniform to enjoy. I think cultivation is more of this gardening.

Horrible descriptions, I know. 

One thing I love about the series of tubes we call the internets, is how much I can share, be wrong, yet still learn something, and grow nice bamboo! And Pinterest can get all the glory it deserves and doesn’t!

What have I been up to?

So, this past week I’ve been kinda freed up. “How’s that?”, you may ask.

Well, first I’ve been taking a simple fast from Facebook and Twitter. I originally considered the entire internet, but I’m afraid the withdrawals would have put me in the hospital. It’s actually been kinda cool. A few times I started off to do something and immediately considered how cute I’d tweet the upcoming experience. But then I’d remember my fast.

However, I did struggle most of the morning today. Today was the day that it was announced that our illustrious President was being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I’d love to post all kinds of funny things, but I missed it cause I’m not on Facebook. I’ll let you all have the fun, cause I missed it.

I got a cool new iPod touch, just before I went on the FB/Twit-fast. It’s cool. I posted a few screen shots from apps I like on my Flickr page. Here’s one from a cool app called Assassin’s Creed:

Assassin's Creed

What else? Well, I’ve added a couple of cool pages to this blog. Look above, on the tabs just under the blog title. You’ll see two new ones, Shared Items and Photowalking. The Shared Items page is a constantly updating page of my shared items from Google Reader. I subscribe to 219 blogs, and I MUST use a sweet app like Google Reader to manage them all.

The Photowalking page is dedicated to the multi-year effort myself and many others have made to getting the word out to the awesome activity that is photowalking. I have managed and owned the Photowalking.org website since March, 2007. Since that time I’ve helped many others get photowalking groups started in their area. There are groups in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Washington, and many others. There’s also groups in a few countries around the world as well. When I launched Photowalking.org not too many people had heard of “photowalking”. Many photographers had been doing it, just not calling it, “photowalking”. Since then thousands of people have joined in the fun!

I’ve decided to bring my influence, through Photowalking.org, to a close. I’ve had fun, and it has introduced me to some wonderful people. Unfortunately, I think it has run it’s course. I’m not sad. In fact, I’m blessed to have been a part of the early days of the photowalking trend.

So as a little homage to the once proud Photowalking.org, I’ll keep the Photowalking page running above. The URL will eventually roll over to it as well.

What else? Well, I’ve settled back into night shift, at work. I’ve always liked the  night shift. Most importantly, it has freed up my Sunday’s for church. Yeah! I’ve really missed our new church.

Element Church is completely awesome! Pastor Aaron teaches from the actual Bible, kinda foreign to some churches in America these days. He also is relevant, without watering down the message. Just wonderful. I’ve been enjoying all the new people I’m getting to know. Hopefully over the next few months, we can connect with even more. We’ll also be connecting with folks in a small group soon. Yeah!

Our move to the Central Coast has really been wonderful for us. Not only is our church great, but we’re really enjoying the new scenery, much better weather, slower lifestyle, and the rest it affords. I think we’ll stay.

With the holiday season coming up, we’re expecting some good travel, since we don’t live near any of our family. So, if you live near our extended family, we might just be in your area in the coming months. Keep watch for us on Facebook and Twitter, if you want to catch us.

Loving the Central Coast…

By now, you’ve figured out that we moved up to the Central Coast of California. My job hasn’t changed, I just commute southward bound instead of northward bound.

We’re now genuine Central Coast residents and we’re loving it! There’s so much to do and see and we’re loving every bit of each new discovery. We just got an annual membership the Santa Barbara Zoo, thanks to the in-laws, so we’ll be able to go there as much as we want. We’ve also visited state park, Montana del Oro, twice. It’s a beautiful park, on the coast, just south of Morro Bay.

Without going into a huge post, detailing all the wonderful destinations available to us now, I’ll just share some photos from the last two. Our recent trip to Montana del Oro and the SB Zoo.

Below are a few shots from Montana del Oro:

DSC_5293DSC_5389DSC_5380DSC_5351DSC_5355Family PhotoDSC_5414DSC_5310

Below are a few shots from the SB Zoo:

My 4 kids.Family PhotoHmm, that fat guy looks like two meals...DSC_5982Are you talking to me?DSC_6149DSC_5524DSC_5753

The little sniper…turned into Thomas the teenage Sniper

The Sniper at work


Update: The Sniper has grown quite a bit. He’s the teenage Sniper now.

In recent months, my interest in firearms and the possibility of hunting has been growing and growing. Earlier this year, my grandfather gave loaned me a wonderful Remington .22 bolt action rifle. He had bought it when he was about 14 years old, and had kept it in great working order since then.

Going back a few months before, I had begun looking for a very inexpensive bolt action .22 rifle, to use in instructing my kids about the safety and importance of firearms. My own experience in the Boy Scouts of America had been a good one, and I wanted to pass that off onto my own kids.

Remembering those sweet old bolt action .22’s we used at summer camp, I started looking around. Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with a low priced option.DSC_5284

Fast-forward to my grandfather’s offer for his own, near perfect rifle. This rifle was exactly what I was looking to use with my kids. Its characteristics include; bolt action, .22, single shot, and iron sights. Just what I was looking for! In fact, those sights aren’t just plain old iron sights. They’re aperture sights, which are really nice, and great for learning.

So the first chance I had, I had that rifle cleaned and examined, just because of its age. Then I got my oldest son and we headed out to the firing range. Near my home there is a great club, the San Luis Obispo Sportsman’s Association. My wife’s step-father also went with us. We were shooting during Thanksgiving week. What a wonderful time we had. I took my own handgun, and my father-in-law took a older .32 Colt semi-auto.

I set up my son, commonly referred to as The Padawan, on the sit down bench. He was excited and ready. With his hands properly placed, he is just large enough to use this rifle safely. We went over the important safety information, and I demonstrated a few example shots.

At 25 yards, The Padawan was immediately capable of hitting a standard 14″ x 24″ target. His understanding of “grouping” is still a work in progress, but he was hitting the target with each round.

DSC_5292I started out standing over The Padawan and assisting him with everything but pulling the trigger. I was opening the bolt, placing the next round, and closing the bolt. Then I would cock the gun, when he was ready. Within minutes he wanted to open the bolt, then he wanted to close the bolt. It didn’t take long for him to be doing everything but cocking the rifle. (That takes a bit more strength than his 6 year old hands have.)

I was really impressed with his willingness to try and learn each of the mechanical steps necessary to fire the rifle. But more than that, his patience and attention to detail was clearly paying off in accuracy, from the beginning!

So, with 25 yards clearly a bit easy, I decided to have him try 50 yards. Since the range was still hot, and we couldn’t go down range to change the target’s distance, I quickly had The Padawan switch to a farther target of a short run of steel gongs. These steel targets are about 10 or 12 inches in diameter, and hang from a stand that has 5 or 6 targets. I instructed The Padawan in where to shoot, and where to aim at the painted white target.

His first shot ended with a ping! Then the next. This continued until he slowly began to show that he was accurate about 50% of the time. I was so proud! So, I’d like to take this opportunity to let you all know that The Padawan has been promoted; he will now be known at The Sniper. Those sweet aperture sights seem to work really well for him.

It was a great day and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to head out and push his limits even further. My hope is to have him grow and learn, without discouraging him with too difficult of a distance.

I’ve been shopping for a deer rifle, for myself, and I don’t think it will be too long before a .22 isn’t enough for The Sniper. I’m looking for a .30-06, but we’ll make a few more stops along the ballistic journey before he gets there.

Clinging to my guns, NASCAR, and my Bible…

Clinging to my guns, NASCAR, and my Bible…What are you going to do about it, Barry?

Today I went to a local shooting range with a friend. We took two of his rifles; a nice old .243 bolt-action and his .30-06 bolt-action hunting rifle. He needed to sight-in the hunting rifle, as he had an unsuccessful deer hunting trip a few weeks back.Smith & Wesson M&P 40C

We had a great time, and I enjoyed the opportunity to not only help a friend, but to shoot one of his rifles. This trip only solidified my desire to get one of my own, soon. It’s so much fun, just going to the range for a few hours and shooting at targets. I can’t imagine the fun of actually getting out and hunting.

As we were walking up the range, to tape up our targets, I looked down and realized that I was wearing a NASCAR t-shirt. No one would think twice about seeing a NASCAR shirt, at a shooting range. Then I considered that I should have brought along a small pocket Bible. That way, I could have been the perfect opposite of Obama’s America.

Fairlane Dad

Ale, of the American kindIt goes like this.

I pull up to my parking spot at the local supermarket, for a quick trip inside. As I get out of my car, I notice a sweet looking 1968 Ford Fairlane pull up in front of me. Real clean. Walking by the white beauty, I hear the teenaged daughter ask her 50ish dad, “Can I drive it home daddy, pleeeeease?”

“Sure honey.” I head inside.

I walk towards the beer aisle, looking for that new Budweiser, American Ale. I hadn’t tried it yet, and thought I’d give it a chance. Not bad, but that’s another story.

Searching for the bad-beer-maker’s-attempt-at-good-beer, I realize that the Fairlane Dad is standing near me. He too wants beer. Just then, a pair of high school aged boys appear on our aisle. They were not remarkable until they decide to grace us with their small vocabularies and ignorant view of appropriate alcohol intake. “Oh f##k, I’d love to get s##t-faced tonight!”

Without hesitation, Fairlane Dad has turned and barked, “Watch your mouth! That’s not appropriate.” Score one for Fairlane Dad. I think I’m going to like it here on California’s Central Coast. The boys scamper off.

I found my selection and wandered to the capitalist altar, the cash register. Who stepped behind me in line? Fairlane Dad. Just beer, too. As I’m paying, the potty-mouths arrive, and realize too late that they’re directly behind the Fairlane Dad. They have a tag-along. She says, “Brian, mom said I could get a soda.” I don’t think Brian was intending on purchasing her a soda.

“I’m not getting that for you, bitch!” Brian did not learn his lesson.

As if he has decided that Brian’s dad clearly forgot something, Fairlane Dad turns quite rapidly, “I cannot believe that you just spoke that way to your sister! Who do you think you are! If I was your father, I’d take you out and kick the crap out of you.” Everyone is looking, Fairlane Dad has yelled, and he doesn’t care. I like Fairlane Dad. Brian is red, only red. Oh yeah, and he’s quiet.

As things turn back to normal, I leaned back and said, “Is that your Fairlane I saw you climb out of?” Fairlane Dad, “Sure is, it’s a ’68.” I added, “It’s real nice.” He thanked me, and off I went, home toImpulse Shopper try my beer, thinking, “There should be just a few more Fairlane Dads. Makes things a bit better.”

Oh yeah, it wasn’t just beer for me. I’m an impulse shopper. I grabbed that low priced Hershey’s package of individually wrapped chocolate. It was a great price, get off my back.