The Contrast

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In Portland, Oregon lies a cemetery that we visited on our trip there in July. I love to roam old cemeteries and read the epitaphs and see the various art on the tombs.

As we were walking through this particular cemetery, there were numerous graves which had tombstones with pictures on them. Some were of the images of those who lay underneath the grass, embraced in slumber. Others were scenes taken from nature.

When we were almost done walking through the cemetery, my eyes spotted the stone in today’s photo. The lighting was just perfect as it filtered down through the trees, highlighting certain parts of the engraved image just where they should be lit up. I simply had to stop and take some images. It looks great in black and white, too.

Apparently there was a large historical population foreigners who lived in Portland in years gone by and this type of stone seems to be a common style of stones among them in this cemetery. I don’t recall their nationality, and I couldn’t read it, but I could appreciate the beauty of the stones.

The contrast on this stone, the white/black, dark/bright…reminded me of the contrast of life and death itself. And that only made it all the more intriguing.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1984, Ed Gein, a serial killer infamous for skinning human corpses, died of complications from cancer in a Wisconsin prison at age 77. Gein served as the inspiration for writer Robert Bloch’s character Norman Bates in the 1959 novel “Psycho,” which in 1960 was turned into a film starring Anthony Perkins and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Edward Theodore Gein was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on July 27, 1906, to an alcoholic father and domineering mother, who taught her son that women and sex were evil. Gein was raised, along with an older brother, on an isolated farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin. After Gein’s father died in 1940, the future killer’s brother died under mysterious circumstances during a fire in 1944 and his beloved mother passed away from health problems in 1945. Gein remained on the farm by himself.

In November 1957, police found the headless, gutted body of a missing store clerk, Bernice Worden, at Gein’s farmhouse. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered a collection of human skulls along with furniture and clothing, including a suit, made from human body parts and skin. Gein told police he had dug up the graves of recently buried women who reminded him of his mother. Investigators found the remains of 10 women in Gein’s home, but he was ultimately linked to just two murders: Bernice Worden and another local woman, Mary Hogan.

Gein was declared mentally unfit to stand trial and was sent to a state hospital in Wisconsin. His farm attracted crowds of curiosity seekers before it burned down in 1958, most likely in a blaze set by an arsonist. In 1968, Gein was deemed sane enough to stand trial, but a judge ultimately found him guilty by reason of insanity and he spent the rest of his days in a state facility.

In addition to “Psycho,” films including “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Silence of the Lambs” were said to be loosely based on Gein’s crimes.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The most decorated unit ever in U.S. history is the 442nd regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke.” It consisted of Japanese-American volunteers. Together they won 4,667 major medals, awards, and citations, including 560 Silver Stars (28 of which had oak-leaf clusters), 4,000 Bronze Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and one Medal of Honor, plus 54 other decorations. It also held the distinction of never having a case of desertion.

Boss Dude

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There are always bosses, aren’t there?  It is an inescapable situation…even if you are self-employed or own your own business, there’s a myriad of tax and regulatory agencies that that you’d swear are your bosses. If you work for someone else, you have a boss, a manager, a supervisor (even if in California you can’t call them that any more because it might make employees feel inferior in some way or another.)

Not all bosses are bad. Some are wonderful! I’ve been fortunate that almost all the bosses I’ve had in my life were wonderful people.  There’s only really one that I thought was bad…and I won’t mention his name, but after he got fired from the company I worked for, we learned that at his prior place of employment, when he got fired there that the people in the office stood up and cheered as he was walking out. That is enough to give you an idea of what he was like!

This dog seem to me that he’s got a-t-i-t-u-d-e…he seems to know that he’s the boss and wants everyone else to know it. In his case, it’s not bad…in fact, I think it’s cute!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1911, American archeologist Hiram Bingham got his first look at Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a summer retreat for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years afterwards, its existence was a secret known only to the peasants living in the region. That all changed in the summer of 1911, when Bingham arrived with a small team of explorers to search for the famous “lost” cities of the Incas.

Traveling on foot and by mule, Bingham and his team made their way from Cuzco into the Urubamba Valley, where a local farmer told them of some ruins located at the top of a nearby mountain. The farmer called the mountain Machu Picchu, which meant “Old Peak” in the native Quechua language. The next day–July 24–after a tough climb to the mountain’s ridge in cold and drizzly weather, Bingham met a small group of peasants who showed him the rest of the way. Led by an 11-year-old boy, Bingham got his first glimpse of the intricate network of stone terraces marking the entrance to Machu Picchu.

The excited Bingham spread the word about his discovery in a best-selling book, sending hordes of eager tourists flocking to Peru to follow in his footsteps up the Inca trail. The site itself stretches an impressive five miles, with over 3,000 stone steps linking its many different levels. Today, more than 300,000 people tramp through Machu Picchu every year, braving crowds and landslides to see the sun set over the towering stone monuments of the “Sacred City” and marvel at the mysterious splendor of one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the biological sign for the female, a circle placed on top of a small cross, is also the symbol for the planet Venus. The symbol is believed to be a stylized representation of the Roman goddess Venus’ hand mirror.

Take the Plunge!

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I love waterfalls. I am terrified of getting into the water above a falls as I’ve read the book about deaths in Yosemite National Park of boneheads who got into the pools above Mist or Vernal or Yosemite or Bridalveil Falls and were swept over the falls to their death on the rocks below. Surprisingly, it sometimes takes weeks (or longer!) for the bodies to be found. So, I’m content to just look at falls an photograph them from various vantage points.

I shot today’s photo at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. This is South Falls and it is the second highest falls in the park at 177 feet…but it is also the longest single drop of any falls in the park. It’s very easy to get to, and you can hike down a trail and pass behind the falls as you can see from the picture. Notice the railing…and if you look closely, you can make out some people standing behind the fence behind the waterfalls.

We were there when the water wasn’t flowing very heavily (in fact, some falls pretty much dry up there during the “dry” season (bet you didn’t know there was such a thing in Oregon, did you?).  Still, I thought it was beautiful.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1865, in what may be the first true western showdown, Wild Bill Hickok shot Dave Tutt dead in the market square of Springfield, Missouri.

Hollywood movies and dime novels notwithstanding, the classic western showdown–also called a walkdown–happened only rarely in the American West. Rather than coolly confronting each other on a dusty street in a deadly game of quick draw, most men began shooting at each other in drunken brawls or spontaneous arguments. Ambushes and cowardly attacks were far more common than noble showdowns.

Nonetheless, southern emigrants brought to the West a crude form of the “code duello,” a highly formalized means of solving disputes between gentlemen with swords or guns that had its origins in European chivalry. By the second half of the 19th century, few Americans still fought duels to solve their problems. Yet, the concept of the duel surely influenced the informal western code of what constituted a legitimate-and legal-gun battle. Above all, the western code required that a man resort to his six-gun only in defense of his honor or life, and only if his opponent was also armed. Likewise, a western jury was unlikely to convict a man in a shooting provided witnesses testified that his opponent had been the aggressor.

The best-known example of a true western duel occurred on this day in 1865. Wild Bill Hickok, a skilled gunman with a formidable reputation, was eking out a living as a professional gambler in Springfield, Missouri. He quarreled with Dave Tutt, a former Union soldier, but it is unclear what caused the dispute. Some people say it was over a card game while others say they fought over a woman. Whatever the cause, the two men agreed to a duel.

The showdown took place the following day with crowd of onlookers watching as Hickok and Tutt confronted each other from opposite sides of the town square. When Tutt was about 75 yards away, Hickok shouted, “Don’t come any closer, Dave.” Tutt nervously drew his revolver and fired a shot that went wild. Hickok, by contrast, remained cool. He steadied his own revolver in his left hand and shot Tutt dead with a bullet through the chest.

Having adhered to the code of the West, Hickok was acquitted of manslaughter charges. Eleven years later, however, Hickok died in a fashion far more typical of the violence of the day: a young gunslinger shot him in the back of the head while he played cards. Legend says that the hand Hickok was holding at the time of his death was two pair–black aces and black eights. The hand would forever be known as the “dead man’s hand.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In early 2010, amateur astronomers spotted a massive ammonia blizzard raging on Saturn. The monster storm is five times larger than “Snowmageddon,” the snowstorm that shut down Washington D.C. in February 2010.

Stalking the Elusive Bird

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Sparrows are everywhere, aren’t they? But there are many different kinds of sparrows. This is a box sparrow (or so my wife tells me.) I took this picture in Steigerwald Wildlife Preservation Area. I didn’t have the leans I would have liked for this shot (my 70-300mm telephoto) so I shot it with my 18-270mm lens. It would have been even better with the longer lens, but when I saw this and saw the bird’s beak open and singing a song, I was thrilled with this shot. It made me feel like singing, too!

Enjoy!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1879, Doc Holliday commited his first murder, killing a man for shooting up his New Mexico saloon.

Despite his formidable reputation as a deadly gunslinger, Doc Holliday only engaged in eight shootouts during his life, and it has only been verified that he killed two men. Still, the smartly dressed ex-dentist from Atlanta had a remarkably fearless attitude toward death and danger, perhaps because he was slowly dying from tuberculosis.

In 1879, Holliday settled in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he opened a saloon with a partner. Holliday spent his evenings gambling in the saloon and he seemed determined to stress his health condition by heavy drinking. A notorious cad, Holliday also enjoyed the company of the dance hall girls that the partners hired to entertain the customers–which sometimes sparked trouble.

On this day in 1879, a former army scout named Mike Gordon tried to persuade one of Holliday’s saloon girls to quit her job and run away with him. When she refused, Gordon became infuriated. He went out to the street and began to fire bullets randomly into the saloon. He didn’t have a chance to do much damage–after the second shot, Holliday calmly stepped out of the saloon and dropped Gordon with a single bullet. Gordon died the next day.

The following year, Holliday abandoned the saloon business and joined his old friend Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona. There he would kill his second victim, during the famous “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” in October 1881. During the subsequent six years, Holliday assisted at several other killings and wounded a number of men in gun battles. His hard drinking and tuberculosis eventually caught up with him, and he retired to a Colorado health resort where he died in 1887. Struck by the irony of such a peaceful end to a violent life, his last words reportedly were “This is funny.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In early 1917, British cryptographers deciphered a telegram from German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Germany’s minister in Mexico. The telegraph encouraged Mexico to invade U.S. territory. The British kept it a secret from the U.S. for more than a month. They wanted to show it to the U.S. at the right time to help draw the U.S into the war on their side.

Living the Wild Life

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On our recent trip to visit out oldest son in Oregon, we went for a nice hike one day at a  national wildlife refuge. A portion of the refuge borders on the Columbia River. It was a peaceful place and it was mostly an overcast day with occasional splotches of sun breaking through.

There are lots of grasses, brush, trees, birds, turtles, rabbits and other critters in the preserve, though we didn’t see some of the more obscure ones. The birdsong filled the air and though at times they weren’t visible, their songs were lovely.

At the end of the hike on the side of the outhouses is a board where people can list the animals that they saw. My wife added some bird species to her “life list” and to the board. Not to be outdone, I added that we’d seen a bigfoot…but I wasn’t able to get a picture because I had put my shoes back on!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1938, Douglas Corrigan, the last of the early glory-seeking fliers, took off from Floyd Bennett field in Brooklyn, New York, on a flight that would finally win him a place in aviation history.

Eleven years earlier, American Charles A. Lindbergh had become an international celebrity with his solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Corrigan was among the mechanics who had worked on Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, but that mere footnote in the history of flight was not enough for the Texas-born aviator. In 1938, he bought a 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft off a trash heap, rebuilt it, and modified it for long-distance flight. In July 1938, Corrigan piloted the single-engine plane nonstop from California to New York. Although the transcontinental flight was far from unprecedented, Corrigan received national attention simply because the press was amazed that his rattletrap aircraft had survived the journey.

Almost immediately after arriving in New York, he filed plans for a transatlantic flight, but aviation authorities deemed it a suicide flight, and he was promptly denied. Instead, they would allow Corrigan to fly back to the West Coast, and on July 17 he took off from Floyd Bennett field, ostentatiously pointed west. However, a few minutes later, he made a 180-degree turn and vanished into a cloudbank to the puzzlement of a few onlookers.

Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, “Just got in from New York. Where am I?” He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned. The authorities didn’t buy the story and suspended his license, but Corrigan stuck to it to the amusement of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time “Wrong Way” Corrigan and his crated plane returned to New York by ship, his license suspension had been lifted, he was a national celebrity, and a mob of autograph seekers met him on the gangway.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Elias Howe (1819-1867) said one inspiration for his invention of the sewing machine came from a nightmare he had about being attacked by cannibals bearing spears that looked like the needle he then designed.

I Won’t Do It, but I Appreciate It

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Today’s photo was also shot in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, USA.  I have to tell you that I hate yard work – always have, always will. I don’t have a green thumb…if anything, my thumbs would at best be described as poisonous when it comes to dealing with plants. If I try to plant a plant, it’s a sure bet that it’ll die.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t appreciate a beautiful garden such as this one – and I admire the amount of work it must take to maintain it. I am glad that there are people in this world who love plants and love to arrange and form landscapes where before there was perhaps nothing but dirt.

Just don’t ask me to do yard work if you want your plants to live and thrive!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1882, John Ringo, the famous gun-fighting gentleman, was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona.

Romanticized in both life and death, John Ringo was supposedly a Shakespeare-quoting gentleman whose wit was as quick as his gun. Some believed he was college educated, and his sense of honor and courage was sometimes compared to that of a British lord. In truth, Ringo was not a formally educated man, and he came from a struggling working-class Indiana family that gave him few advantages. Yet, he does appear to have been better read than most of his associates, and he clearly cultivated an image as a refined gentleman.

By the time he was 12, Ringo was already a crack shot with either a pistol or rifle. He left home when he was 19, eventually ending up in Texas, where in 1875 he became involved in a local feud known as the “Hoodoo War.” He killed at least two men, but seems to have either escaped prosecution, or when arrested, escaped his jail cell. By 1878, he was described as “one of the most desperate men in the frontier counties” of Texas, and he decided it was time to leave the state.

In 1879, Ringo resurfaced in southeastern Arizona, where he joined the motley ranks of outlaws and gunslingers hanging around the booming mining town of Tombstone. Nicknamed “Dutch,” Ringo had a reputation for being a reserved loner who was dangerous with a gun. He haunted the saloons of Tombstone and was probably an alcoholic. Not long after he arrived, Ringo shot a man dead for refusing to join him in a drink. Somehow, he again managed to avoid imprisonment by temporarily leaving town. He was not involved in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881, but he did later challenge Doc Holliday (one of the survivors of the O.K. Corral fight) to a shootout. Holliday declined and citizens disarmed both men.

The manner of Ringo’s demise remains something of a mystery. He seems to have become despondent in 1882, perhaps because his family had treated him coldly when he had earlier visited them in San Jose. Witnesses reported that he began drinking even more heavily than usual. On this day in 1882, he was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon outside of Tombstone. It looked as if Ringo had shot himself in the head and the official ruling was that he had committed suicide. Some believed, however, that he had been murdered either by his drinking friend Frank “Buckskin” Leslie or a young gambler named “Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce.” To complicate matters further, Wyatt Earp later claimed that he had killed Ringo. The truth remains obscure to this day.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: President James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other hand simultaneously. (Now there’s a skill that’ll really make someone rich, right?!?!?!)

Tea Garden, San Francisco

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Toward the eastern end of Golden Gate Park in the “City by the Bay” (San Francisco), is a Japanese Tea Garden. You have to pay to get in, but on my birthday near the end of June, I was on vacation and was asked what I wanted to do for my birthday and I said I wanted to take some pictures. I suggested we go to the Tea Garden as I’d not been there for for some time.

It was at least as beautiful as I recalled – maybe more so. in spite of the grayness of the seemingly ever-present fog in San Francisco in the mornings. In some of the photos I shot, the wear and tear of the San Francisco weather on the paint on this building was quite obvious, but from a distance it was still quite beautiful.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I have since learned that this is the oldest Japanese Tea Garden in the United States. According to their web site, “Originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the site originally spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden.  When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity.  He became caretaker of the property, pouring all of his personal wealth, passion, and creative talents into creating a garden of utmost perfection.  Mr. Hagiwara expanded the garden to its current size of approximately 5 acres where he and his family lived for many years until 1942 when they, along with approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, were forced to evacuate their homes and move into internment camps.  When the war was over, the Hagiwara family was not allowed to return to their home at the tea garden and in subsequent years, many Hagiwara family treasures were removed and new additions were made.

Today, the Japanese Tea Garden endures as one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, featuring classic elements such as an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, serene koi ponds and a zen garden.  Cherry blossom trees bloom throughout the garden in March and April.

I encourage you to visit if you are ever in the area. It truly is a peaceful, tranquil setting.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1866, Colonel Henry Carrington begas construction on Fort Phil Kearny, the most important army outpost guarding the Bozeman Trail.

In 1863, a Georgia-born frontiersman named John Bozeman blazed a wagon road that branched off from the Oregon Trail and headed northwest to the gold fields of western Montana. The trail passed through the traditional hunting grounds of the Sioux, and Chief Red Cloud attacked several wagon trains to try to stop the violation of Indian Territory. Despite the questionable legality of the Bozeman Trail, the U.S. government decided to keep it open and began building a series of protective army forts along the route.

Colonel Henry Carrington was assigned the task of designing and building the largest and most important of these outposts, Fort Phil Kearny. A talented strategist and designer, Carrington planned the fort with care. He selected a site in northern Wyoming that was near a source of water and commanded a view over a good section of the Bozeman Trail. He began building on this day in 1866, setting up a timbering operation and sawmill to supply the thousands of logs needed for construction.

By fall, Carrington had erected an imposing symbol of American military power. A tall wooden palisade surrounded a compound the size of three football fields. Inside the walls, Carrington built nearly 30 buildings, including everything from barracks and mess halls to a stage for the regimental band. Only the most massive and determined Indian attack would have been capable of taking Fort Phil Kearny.

Unfortunately, Carrington’s mighty fortress had one important flaw: the nearest stands of timber lay several miles away. To obtain the wood essential for heating and further construction, a detachment had to leave the confines of the fort every day. The Indians naturally began to prey on these “wood trains.” In December, a massive Indian ambush wiped out a force of 80 soldiers under the command of Captain William Fetterman.

Despite this weakness, Fort Phil Kearny was still a highly effective garrison. Nonetheless, the U.S. Army found it nearly impossible to halt completely the Indian attacks along the trail. In 1868, the government agreed to abandon all of the forts and close the trail in exchange for peace with the Indians. Immediately after the soldiers left, the Indians burned Carrington’s mighty fortress to the ground.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Pharaoh Pepi II (2246-2152 B.C.) had the longest reign in history—94 years. He became Egypt’s king when he was only 6 years old.

Soap Bubble Girl

I suspect that every grandparent has nicknames for their grand kids.  I know I do.  They don’t necessarily all love the nicknames that I have for them, but I love to tease them with their nicknames. And they have nicknames for me, too!

One other thing to set the stage for today’s photo: kids love to blow bubbles. In fact, so do grown-ups, right?!  I mean, it’s just plain fun!

We recently hosted our youngest son’s family for a BBQ and we had purchased bubble making stuff for each of those present.  It didn’t take long for the smiles to break out all over the place!  Bubbles were flying everywhere and laughter rang through the trees. What a great time we had!

Now, for the connection between nicknames and soap bubbles. This particular grandchild that is featured in today’s photo has the nickname “Soap Bubble Coconut Head Monkey”.  The last three words were because she used to call me a “Coconut Head Monkey”, but the first two, I told her, were because she was so bright and shiny and fun like a soap bubble! So, world, meet Soap Bubble Coconut Head Monkey girl!  She’s so full of joy and life and I love her so much!

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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1963, sixteen-year-old Pauline Reade is abducted while on her way to a dance near her home in Gorton, England, by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the so-called “Moors Murderers,” launching a crime spree that would last for over two years. Reade’s body was not discovered until 1987, after Brady confessed to the murder during an interview with reporters while in a mental hospital.

Brady and Hindley met in Manchester in 1961. The shy girl quickly became infatuated with Brady, a self-styled Nazi, who had a substantial library of Nazi literature and an obsession with sadistic sex. After photographing Hindley, Brady sold his amateur pornography to the public.

In order to satisfy their sadistic impulses, Brady and Hindley began abducting and killing young men and women. After Pauline Reade, they kidnapped 12-year-old John Kilbride in November and Keith Bennett, also 12, in June the next year. The day after Christmas in 1964, Leslie Ann Downey, a 10-year-old from Manchester, was abducted.

In 1965, the couple killed a 17-year-old boy with a hatchet in front of Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith, perhaps in an attempt to recruit him for future murders. This apparently crossed the line for Smith, who then went to the police.

Inside Brady’s apartment, police found luggage tickets that led them to two suitcases in Manchester Central Station. They contained photos of Leslie Ann Downey being tortured along with audiotapes of her pleading for her life. Other photos depicted Hindley and Brady in a desolate area of England known as Saddleworth Moor. There, police found the body of John Kilbride.

The Moors Murderers were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1966. Their notoriety continued after it was revealed that a guard at Holloway women’s prison had fallen for Hindley and had an affair with her. For his part, Brady continued to confess to other murders, but police have been unable to confirm the validity of his confessions.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: To die honorably, the defeated Roman gladiator would grasp the thigh of his victor who would then hold his opponent’s head or helmet and plunge a sword in his neck. To make sure the gladiator was not faking his death, an attendant dressed as Mercury would touch him with a hot iron rod and another attendant dressed as Charon would hit him with a mallet.

Upper North Falls

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I’m just back from vacation. We were gone for two weeks and spent one week of that with our daughter and her family in the east Bay Area of California and then another week with our oldest son and his family in Oregon.

Did I take my camera? Of course! And one of the places we went was Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. We also visited Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls (photos of at least the latter will follow one of these days soon – perhaps even tomorrow), but today’s photo is of Upper North Falls in the state park in Oregon.

This waterfall is only .2 mile off the road that runs through the park and it is very easy to get to it. The falls are 65 feet high and were quite beautiful. I would imagine that it would be even more beautiful if there were more water flowing over the falls.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1914, in his major league debut, George Herman “Babe” Ruth pitched seven strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians, 4-3.

George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, where his father worked as a saloon keeper on the waterfront. He was the first of eight children, but only he and a sister survived infancy. The young George, known as “Gig” (pronounced jij) to his family, was a magnet for trouble from an early age. At seven, his truancy from school led his parents to declare him incorrigible, and he was sent to an orphanage, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Ruth lived there until he was 19 in 1914, when he was signed as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles.

That same summer, Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox. His teammates called him “Babe” for his naiveté, but his talent was already maturing. In his debut game against the Indians, the 19-year-old Ruth gave up just five hits over the first six innings. In the seventh, the Indians managed two runs on three singles and a sacrifice and Ruth was relieved. His hitting prowess, however, was not on display that first night–he went 0 for 2 at the plate.

Ruth developed quickly as a pitcher and as a hitter. When the Red Sox made the World Series in 1916 and 1918, Ruth starred, setting a record with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play. His career record as a pitcher for the Red Sox was 89-46.

To the great dismay of Boston fans, Ruth’s contract was sold to the New York Yankees before the 1920 season by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, so that Frazee could finance the musical No, No, Nanette. Ruth switched to the outfield with the Yankees, and hit more home runs than the entire Red Sox team in 10 of the next 12 seasons. “The Sultan of Swat” or “The Bambino,” as he was alternately known, was the greatest gate attraction in baseball until his retirement as a player in 1935. During his career with the New York Yankees, the team won four World Series and seven American League pennants. After getting rid of Ruth, the Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004, an 85-year drought known to Red Sox fans as “the Curse of the Bambino.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the unofficial anthem of American baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is traditionally sung during the middle of the 7th inning. It was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer, both of whom had never been to a baseball game.

A Perfect Calm

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Well, today is my birthday. We are on vacation and are presently staying with our daughter and her family before heading up the west coast to visit our oldest son and his family. When we got here, our daughter said she was taking my birthday off work and what would I like to do on my birthday? My response didn’t take long: I’d like to go somewhere so I can shoot some photos. She asked where, and all I could think of was the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. She graciously agreed and so today we all piled in the car and headed into the city.

It was a nearly perfect day for shooting in the city: it was overcast with that San Francisco fog bank that sometimes lingers all day. The sky was “high” (meaning bright), but still overcast. I would have been nice if it had been a tad darker, but I surely couldn’t complain. When it’s been a loooonnngggg time since I’ve shot I sometimes forget how much I love photography and this was a perfect reminder.

We wandered around the garden shooting. Even though there were quite a few people there, I was reminded of the peace that can be found in a garden. I’m not into growing flowers, but I can appreciate a beautiful garden.

After we’d wandered the garden, we stopped by the little gift shop and while everyone else was inside, I wandered around looking for something else to shoot. And on the other side of the shop was where I found a stone boat with a bamboo fountain that poured water into it…and that’s where I got today’s shot.

Dang…I love photography!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1995, the American space shuttle Atlantis docked with the Russian space station Mir to form the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit the Earth.

This historic moment of cooperation between former rival space programs was also the 100th human space mission in American history. At the time, Daniel Goldin, chief of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), called it the beginning of “a new era of friendship and cooperation” between the U.S. and Russia. With millions of viewers watching on television,Atlantis blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in eastern Florida on June 27, 1995.

Just after 6 a.m. on June 29, Atlantis and its seven crew members approached Mir as both crafts orbited the Earth some 245 miles above Central Asia, near the Russian-Mongolian border. When they spotted the shuttle, the three cosmonauts on Mir broadcast Russian folk songs to Atlantis to welcome them. Over the next two hours, the shuttle’s commander, Robert “Hoot” Gibson expertly maneuvered his craft towards the space station. To make the docking, Gibson had to steer the 100-ton shuttle to within three inches of Mir at a closing rate of no more than one foot every 10 seconds.

The docking went perfectly and was completed at 8 a.m., just two seconds off the targeted arrival time and using 200 pounds less fuel than had been anticipated. Combined, Atlantis and the 123-ton Mir formed the largest spacecraft ever in orbit. It was only the second time ships from two countries had linked up in space; the first was in June 1975, when an American Apollo capsule and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft briefly joined in orbit.

Once the docking was completed, Gibson and Mir’s commander, Vladimir Dezhurov, greeted each other by clasping hands in a victorious celebration of the historic moment. A formal exchange of gifts followed, with the Atlantiscrew bringing chocolate, fruit and flowers and the Mir cosmonauts offering traditional Russian welcoming gifts of bread and salt. Atlantis remained docked with Mir for five days before returning to Earth, leaving two fresh Russian cosmonauts on the space station. The three veteran Mir crew members returned with the shuttle, including two Russians and Norman Thagard, a U.S. astronaut who rode a Russian rocket to the space station in mid-March 1995 and spent over 100 days in space, a U.S. endurance record. NASA’s Shuttle-Mir program continued for 11 missions and was a crucial step towards the construction of the International Space Station now in orbit.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 2007, a dog named Rocco discovered a truffle in Tuscany that weighed 3.3 pounds. It sold at auction for $333,000 (USD), a world record for a truffle. A Mir trifle, I say….

Pictures and Thoughts from a Day in Galen Dalrymple's Life

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