Archive for September 2012

Black and White   2 comments

Best trivia question of the week:  Name the last African American to lead UCLA in passing for a season.

If you’ve been reading MowryJournal, you probably know I’m a simple guy.  I believe in the golden rule.  I believe people are good.  I believe people are smart.

With me so far?  ’cause those are big ideas, and they inform how I believe life should be lived.  That’s why I was so struck this week by two different examples of how people view the importance of race in America today.

Note:  I won’t be making angry political comments.  Please stick with me for a few ‘graphs and see if you can agree with my conclusion.

Alec Baldwin. Do you trust this man’s opinion about race relations?

Alec Baldwin tweeted this week that “If Obama was white, he’d be up by 17 points.”  I was astonished by this unfounded, inflammatory statement.  Mr. Baldwin had no research to support his tweet; it’s just another example of overblown partisan rhetoric.

Rush Limbaugh, “with talent on loan from God.”

And, of course, when a provocateur from one side of our political equation makes a bombastic statement, then we always hear from the other side.  It was later that day that Rush Limbaugh proclaimed that if Obama was white, then he would be losing by 20 points!  He also had no supporting data, of course … he also had no credibility.  In my humble opinion.

A much different, a much more positive comment on the state of race in today’s America was in this week’s LA Times.  Bill Plaschke wrote a wonderful article about UCLA’s new quarterback, Brett Hundley.  He is African American, hence the trivia question.

Name the last African American to lead UCLA in passing for a season.

The answer is Jackie Robinson.  Yes, THAT Jackie Robinson, who was a running back for UCLA in 1940.  He led the team in passing with 444 yards.

Jackie Robinson was a multi-sport athlete at UCLA; its baseball stadium is named for him. He later broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and his # 42 is the only number retired by Major League Baseball.  All baseball players wear his number on Jackie Robinson Day each year.  No other person in professional sports is accorded such an honor as this.

Plaschke’s article is a wonderful portrait of a young man at the beginning of his college football career … his hopes intertwined with the hopes of the Bruins Nation.

UCLA is not only one of America’s top universities, it is also recognized as being one of the leaders in campus racial diversity by US News & World Report, which publishes some of the most watched ranking lists for universities today.

Here’s my bottom line:

I live in the America where race is important as an indicator of how far we’ve come.  I have no interest in sniping about our President’s race and how that does or doesn’t affect his chances in the 2012 election.

I will root for Brett Hundley, and I root for UCLA.  For Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Limbaugh?  Not so much.

You still with me?

Brett Hundley is a redshirt freshman, and just might be the starting quarterback for UCLA for four years.

Muir Woods   2 comments

The Muir Woods National Monument is a little slice of paradise, located just a few miles north of San Francisco.

If you love trees, you need to go there.

This picture of ferns glistening in the sun is my favorite picture from a visit to Muir Woods. And the image wasn’t taken in the park; it was in a ditch at the edge of the parking lot. Beauty is all around us.

Reality Is Killing Television   2 comments

I detest reality shows.  I refuse to watch them.   They are awful, they are unwatchable.

Kim Kardashian, Reality TV Star

I do not watch reality shows.

When American Idol occasionally stops being about who can insult the singer most outrageously, I have watched the talent contest that remains.  I’ve stopped that entirely, though, because it’s still just a reality show.  And I’m truly disappointed that anyone cares about bachelors, bachelorettes, or who’s off the island.  I have dismissed this entire class of television — beloved by TV executives because it is cheaper to produce in quantity than traditional dramas and comedies.

My In-Laws have encouraged me to watch Storage Wars.  Velda has a creepy fascination with Hoarders.  Lauren has thankfully outgrown Jersey Shore, but she still flirts with a range of reality shows.  They shame me.

The Ionic columns are all that remain of the original University of Missouri Administration Hall that burned in 1892. These columns have come to symbolize Mizzou. Yes, the Ionic style began in ancient Greece.

I’m classically trained (and no one on earth has ever heard me say THAT!).  But there’s truth, here:  I have a genuine college degree from the University of Missouri in Speech & Dramatic Art.  During that course of study, I studied dramatic theory and Greek theater.  During that wonderful time as a Mizzou Tiger, I studied someone who became a big influence on my sense of the dramatic, Aeschylus.

Bust of Aeschylus from the Capitoline Museums, Rome. He won many first prizes at the city Dionysia.

Aeschylus is known as the “Father of Greek Tragedy,” and lived circa 525-455 BC.  When he began, theater was young — very young.  Dramatic presentations were basically long orations by one actor, with a chorus that delivered some messages in verse and did interpretive dance.  Aeschylus is credited with adding a 2nd actor to his dramas (imagine how startling it would have been to suddenly have two actors that actually spoke to each other in character!).  He also is credited with adding innovative costuming and the thick-soled footwear, called cothurni, that gave his actors a more domineering presence on stage.

Aeschylus won many prizes for his work.  His Orestia is the only trilogy of Greek tragedies that have survived (competitions had three tragedies and a shorter comedic piece called a satyr), and a description of the power of his drama is pretty amazing:

As they walked on stage in the first performance of the Eumenides, the chorus of Furies were so frightening in appearance that they caused young children to faint, patriarchs to urinate, and pregnant women to go into labor.

A mosaic of Orestes, the main character in the Orestia trilogy.

I’m pretty sure that has never happened while watching America’s Next Top Model.

Aeschylus did not accept “theater” as it existed before he became a dramatic poet.  Rather, he re-envisioned his art and decided that a dramatic piece should not just be a poem … it should be a dramatic event with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

And THAT is why I cannot stand reality shows.   I want my entertainment to go somewhere … it must engage my imagination and take me to another place.  That doesn’t mean that Oedipus has to kill Laius and marry Jocasta, but I want more than to simply watch human misery revealed on the small screen.  I don’t care what Howard or Simon might say, I don’t care if Apolo Ohno or Emmitt Smith can dance.

Given this base assumption, it’s all the more amazing that I enjoy — indeed, I endorse! — one show that is entertaining while still being scriptless and undramatic.

I also forgive Ree Drummond for being an alumni of USC. Class of ’91.

The show is fabulous:  Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman.

This show is the only cooking show that we record on “my” DVR; Velda and I watch it together.  I am not ashamed.

This show blends cooking, recipes, family events and Oklahoma ranch life.  I am not ashamed.

The recipe for Buttered Rosemary Rolls typifies Ree’s offerings: basic recipes, easy to make in quantity. Scrumptious.

When Ree’s second cookbook went on sale, I bought it for Velda immediately.  She found a recipe for “Buttered Rosemary Rolls” cooked in a cast iron skillet that was amazing.  They will set you free.  I am not ashamed.

And I am well fed.

It’s a given in our house that Velda watches cooking shows.  She’s a student of her art, and she cooks fabulous meals for our family many nights each week.  But even though she loves the Food Network, that doesn’t mean I have to be there when she watches.  That’s why we have a TV in another room just for her.

I’m really not sure exactly why I enjoy Pioneer Woman so much.  It’s not simply that it highlights a rural lifestyle or traditional ranch cooking … I’ve seen many other shows go there, and I didn’t care.

It’s also not because of my agrarian roots … believe me, the Drummond’s idyllic cattle ranch has little to do with the small, rustic farm that I grew up on.  And since I was the only boy in my high school that wasn’t a member of the FFA, it’s pretty hard to acuse me of wanting to be a farmer.  Or a rancher.

However, Ree mixes a little family fun with her own personal charm, stirs in some great recipes and new takes on old favorites … and the result is a show that both entertains and entices.

If you haven’t ventured onto the Food Network to watch this show, I heartily recommend it.  This slice of Americana will do you some good.

The Perfect Sunset   14 comments

In yesterday’s post, I talked about things you must do when visiting Maui.  Implicit in any itinerary is the search for the Perfect Sunset.

OK, not the perfect sunset, but definitely my best afternoon, under the umbrella reading on Ka’anapali Beach.

These young ladies were having a lot more fun than I sharing the sunset … immediately! The wonders of WiFi on the beach, creating instant jealousy among the friends back home.

Perhaps not the Perfect Sunset, but I’ll take it any day. Ka’anapali Beach, Maui.

Cue the sailboat….

The Haleakala Adventure   5 comments

We wanted our first trip to Maui to be special, so we did our research.

I told Velda one option was to watch the sun rise above the Haleakala volcano, knowing that Velda would never approve that idea.  I’m the early riser.  She’s the late riser.  So on vacation, would she want to get up early enough to see the sun rise?

This is one of a series of guidebooks that I highly recommend to anyone planning a trip to Hawaii. Andrew Doughty has a book about each of the islands, and he’s an entertaining read as well as an informative one. You need these books. About $15 on Amazon.

Absolutely.

If you’re going to Maui, I think this is one of the 5 things you MUST do.  Here are the 5:

  1. Go find the World’s Best Banana Bread
  2. Take the Road to Hanna
  3. Eat at Lahaina Grill
  4. Go to Warren & Annabelle’s Magic Show
  5. See the sun rise over the Hale’akala Volcano

Now, of course, there are many, many other things you should do.  Cook fresh fish on the grill, drink your favorite beverage on the beach, see every gorgeous sunset (which is every one) … many things to do.  But this is the story of Haleakala.

Velda was blanket-wrapped with multiple layers, including her UCLA hoodie. She regretted not having gloves, and wearing Capris instead of long pants.

To enjoy the trip, it’s all about the prep.  Know this:  it will be cold at the summit.  Bring layers of clothing.  Long pants, gloves, hat, heavy socks, shoes.  Yes, you’re going to a tropical paradise, but the summit of Haleakala is 10,023′ above that paradise.  You’ll be in the dark, faced into a stiff wind, and it will be bone cold.  Be prepared, or you won’t enjoy this wonder.

Get the car ready the day before, with a full tank of gas.  Have breakfast preset, or eat in the car.  We got up at 2:30 am in order to get to the summit before sunrise, and we did not get there any too early.  We had time to get there, figure out what we should be doing, take a bathroom break, and then claim our spot on the observation rail.

When you arrive, the parking lot is pitch black.  You really just have to know where you’re going.  You can just go to the east … which is the larger, lower observation position.  There’s also a gate that’s opened a few minutes before sunrise, allowing you to go to the upper observation area near the Haleakala Observatory.  It’s higher, but the view of the sunrise is pretty comparable.  (After sunrise, make sure you go there to see the silverswords.)

I brought a monopod to steady my DSLR.  I held it steady against the metal handrail (I was there in time to get in the front row).  Some of the photographers did bring tripods, but I was fine on the monopod; the slowest exposure below is the first one, which was 1/30 of a second.  The pictures below are not color enhanced.

You watch the sun rise above the edge of the Haleakala crater.  You stand above the clouds, and watch the sunrise.    The views are simply astonishing.

The first view across the crater, above the clouds.

# 2. All shots taken with a Nikon D7000.

# 3. Close up view of the brilliant colors around the sun. I used a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Telephoto Lens.

# 4. It just keeps getting better.

# 5.

# 6. With the sun fully risen, the clouds below covering the crater are fully revealed.  Wide shots taken with a Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX.

Apple: The Ugly Face of Big Business   1 comment

The LA Times said today that Apple’s illegal acts to conspire with publishers to fix the price of e-books was “a sign of an industry grappling with disruptive change.”  Hogwash.

Here’s what it is:  an illegal act by our country’s highest valued business.  Apple decided that it couldn’t compete legally with Amazon.com’s Kindle, so it conspired with 5 leading book publishers to fix prices at what these unlawful actors decided was “a fair price.”  I don’t know about you, but any time a bunch of fat cat bureaucrats have secret meetings to decide what they think is a fair price, I’m offended.  I am always offended by illegal activity.

Apple was on the other side of the problem when it helped bring an end to the old school music industry.  I was more than a passive consumer in this process:  Apple’s mandate that they would sell recorded music at 99 cents for a single was one of the signposts on the highway that lead to the closing of the business that employed me for 22 years.  Apple was in the right then … they told fat cat record label execs that they would not allow iTunes to support the bloated CD prices of the day.  Remember paying $17.99 for a CD?  Remember CDs being more expensive that hit movie DVDs?  Thankfully, those days are gone.

Apple’s 99 cent singles were very low priced — but remember the context.  When the iPod was released in 2001, seemingly every high school and college student was stealing their music with downloads from illegal sites like Kazaa or Napster.  Some people are still illegally downloading, and many court cases are still in process.  Those thieves should be punished.  I am always offended by illegal activity.

Understand, I’m a big fan of free enterprise.  If music retailers can get you to pay $17.99 for a CD, then I’m all for it.  On the other hand, it would be illegal for retailers & music labels to collude with each other to ensure that those CD prices were always $17.99.  That’s criminal conspiracy — which is exactly what the book publishers did with Apple.

Who would have thought that Apple would have been so right with music retailing and so wrong with book retailing?

I love my Kindle, and have read over 200 books on it.

Why did Apple engage in these criminal acts?  You’re going to read a lot of whining by the book publishers that they need to be able to pay authors “fairly.”  That whining will include statements that Amazon’s pricing policies are “too low” and “unfair.”  Hogwash.

Authors should be paid by their publishers as much as possible, given what readers are willing to pay for their books.  I’ve happily paid $10.99 for a paperback.  I’ve happily paid $15.99 for an e-book.  If I didn’t want to pay that much, then I didn’t have to buy that book.  That’s fair.

It’s certainly true book retailers are under no obligation to sell their e-books through Amazon.  Amazon charges substantially for publishers to sell their books directly through their portal (typically 30% of retail).  Some publishers, like Baen Books, do not use Amazon for e-books, and “force” consumers to buy electronic books exclusively through their own website, and then upload their books into your mobile device by hand.  That way, Baen gets to keep 100% of the revenue … but they make uploading the books much more difficult.  Their choice.

Personally, I wish that Baen didn’t do it that way.  But they have authors I like to read, so I go jump through their hoops so I can read about the Liaden Universe, or get the newest sci fi by John Ringo or David Weber on my Kindle.

I am a voracious reader, and being a consumer, I don’t want to over pay for the books I read.  When I got my Kindle, it literally changed the way I read.  I used to carry 5 paperbacks with me on business trips, and I had to buy more at many airport bookstores.  Today I only carry my Kindle (which has 27 books on it waiting to be read).

There is no doubt that the court approval of the settlement with the book publishers and Apple will change the way that books are retailed.  When the music business lowered their prices, they had less money to pay new artists.  If book publishers can’t illegally set high prices with Apple, then they will have fewer resources to develop new authors, and less money to buy promotional campaigns for established authors.

However, new authors will seize the opportunity to embrace their marketplace in new ways.  Hugh Howey, author of Wool and the Molly Fyde saga, is an incessant promoter on Facebook.  His mastery of social media is fueling his career … and his passion is not matched by the marketing methods of traditional publishers for best selling authors in your brick & mortar bookstore.

The bottom line is clear:  the rule of law prevailed and punished book publishers and Apple.  Consumers win.  Readers win.  You win.

Here’s my office desk … can you tell that I’m a reader?

Ultimate Family Event   2 comments

When you set a goal, it should be challenging.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  If the goal is easily, quickly obtained, then it’s not a good goal.  Don’t waste your time “working” to meet a goal that you can do with your eyes closed.  When you’re going to go to all of the trouble of saying you have a goal, working towards it … make sure that it’s worth the effort so that when you get there, it’s going to be worth the effort to celebrate!

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

In business, it has been called a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  If you can get every member of your organization to buy in to a seemingly impossible goal … then you can achieve amazing things.

will.i.am

Setting big goals isn’t a new idea, of course.  It’s a pop culture phenomenon, too:  will.i.am got NASA to help him premiere his new song, “Reach for the Stars,” which became the first song broadcast from another planet when it was beamed back from Mars this year.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Why they say the sky is the limit

When I’ve seen the footprints on the moon

And I know the sky might be high

But baby it ain’t really that high

And I know that mars might be far

But baby it ain’t really that far

Let’s reach for the stars

What’s this got to do with the Ultimate Family Event, you ask?  EVERYTHING!

Our family tradition was to go camping every Memorial Day in the sequoias.  There’s a pair of adjacent National Parks, the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, that are about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.  Our family built big memories there.  When we went camping one year, we had to set Lauren’s playpen up in a snowdrift (it is not warm in May at 7,000 feet!).  Another year, the kids got their first (unsuccessful) fishing experience.  We explored caves.  We saw really, really big trees.  Every year we did it, and every year it was great.

The Mowry family, ready to GO! Kings Canyon National Park, 1995.

In 1995, I wanted the family to go hiking.  By this time, Christopher was well into Boy Scouts, Michael was a Bear in Cub Scouts … and our Cub Scout Pack regularly went hiking locally.  But it was our big annual vacation in the Sequoias, and I wanted to push the envelope.

Two things happened during this vacation that became legendary in the family.  The first was Velda’s immortal announcement during our first dinner, “Look at that big dog!”  The “dog,” of course, was not a “dog,” it was a “deer.”  And so began Velda’s reputation for, uh, having trouble identifying wildlife.

The important thing that happened, though, was that we had a wonderful hiking experience.

It was in Kings Canyon National Park, and it started, appropriately enough, at “Road’s End.”  From there, we did a 9 mile loop hike to Mist Falls, which is the entrance to Paradise Valley.  Sounds gorgeous, right?  Yup.

John Muir is famous for his love of and passion for the California wilderness. His packing advice couldn’t have been simpler: “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” I don’t think he was traveling with a 5 year old, however.

Here’s the hitch:  Lauren was 5 years old.

5 years old.  9 mile hike.  At altitude.  Really?  Yup.  Let’s reach for the stars.

That was our family’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  We began talking about this hike weeks in advance.  The kids were always excited to go to the Sequoias, and were absolutely excited about the big hike we had planned.  They wanted to go.  They wanted to see Mist Falls.  We were going to conquer a 9 mile hike, and we were going to do it together with a kindergartner.

The morning went great.  The forest was lovely, the trail very well maintained, the King’s River was splashing merrily along with snow melt.  It was really a gorgeous hike.  We had lunch on the granite rocks overlooking Mist Falls.

And then it began to rain.   We were about 4 miles from the car.  This was a great mountain rain, with a quick temperature drop of 30* and grand claps of thunder in the thin mountain air that sounded like the world was ending.  There were guys on the trail in shorts & a t-shirt that were fighting hypothermia as they ran for their cars … which were 4 miles away.  “Road’s End,” remember?

The Scouting motto was and is key to our preparation for family outings.  Be prepared, indeed.  We had layers of warm clothing, and we had ponchos for everyone.  The temperature was not an issue, and the rain was not an issue.

Except for our kindergartner.  The poncho was actually too long for her short legs.  She had to be very careful; it was often a trip hazard when walking uphill.  She had to hold the poncho up, or it would drag on the ground.  No problem.  She looked like a yellow ghost as she chewed up miles of trail in the rain.

Did she hike 9 miles — 4 in the rain?  Absolutely.  There was never really a question in anyone’s mind, and the family achieved that big, impossible goal.

With poncho held high, the Mist Falls trek proved to be one of the best parts of this great family vacation in Kings Canyon National Park.

Digitizing Family Photos   6 comments

This Civil War-era tintype photograph is one of the earliest photos in our collection … and the original tintype is slowly fading to black. Luckily, we could capture the original digitally and enhance the photo.

Piles of photos.  Shelves full of albums.  And what are all of those photos doing?  Fading.

Color prints made before 1990 can fade in just a few decades.  Later prints last longer … but they will always fade.  Put them in a bad environment … on sticky pages, in sunlight, stored in the attic or the garage … and the photos go away much quicker.  Here’s how the National Archives explains the problem.

There are 2 real solutions:  store the photos in a better way, which will slow — not halt — the photographic decay.  That leaves the only real solution:  digitize the photos, color correct them as necessary, and then store those digitized files redundantly.

Epson 4490

You’ll need a flat bed scanner and a digital camera.  I found that Epson scanners suited me the best; I used a 4490 for many of my scans — I actually bought 3 of them!  Since my family was in the Missouri/Illinois area, I kept one scanner at my mother’s house (and then another at my in-law’s house).  When my office unit had scanned its last photo, I switched to a V700.  Both were great.  I used the included software, which was perfectly adequate for me.  I investigated the highly recommended pro software, SilverFast SE, and decided it wasn’t worth the cost.  For me; your mileage may vary.

You’ll need a digital camera for a couple of reasons:  you’ll want to take pictures of your relatives when you visit them, and you’ll have to shoot the pictures that are larger than your flat bed scanner.  I started with a simple Sony point & shoot which wasn’t adequate for archive quality shots, IMHO.  I soon upgraded to a Nikon D90, and then a D7000.  I used a tripod for pictures when I could.  With long distance travel to relative’s homes, I definitely had to travel heavy.

The Epson V700 is a newer model, and produces great scans of negatives, color slides, or printed photographs.

I did very high resolution scanning.  Probably too high, honestly, but I was dealing with family heirloom photos; I’m certain I’ll never see many of the originals again.  So, I had one scan to get it right.  Higher resolution scans capture more detail.  You can’t make a low res scan more detailed.  You can always downgrade a high res scan to a lower resolution, smaller file.

After editing by this enthusiastic amateur, the scan became much brighter and clearer. The photo could have been cleaned up more … but don’t the marks and “noise” in the photo add to its authenticity?

Files were made using a minimum of 600 dpi (dots per inch) … which means I could blow up the picture on the printed page, if that’s what I chose to do.  I generally scanned any 5×7 or smaller at 600 dpi, and 8x10s at 300 dpi (as I wasn’t going to enlarge them).  Laser printers often print at 300 dpi, so if I had a 8×10 scanned at 300 dpi, I could print that as a full 8-1/2 x 11″ page with minimal loss of quality.

Files were saved as .tif files.  I did not use .bmp or the more common .jpg format.  It’s really simple:  you can edit .tif files without a loss of quality.  When you edit the other formats, you lose quality every time you re-save the file.  So, when you can avoid a .jpg, avoid it.  Simple.

When I was scanning in someone’s home, I was often scanning 100 or more photos in a  single session.  With that kind of volume, you need to label the scans immediately, or you’ll never correctly identify all of the kids & adults in the photo.  I did this 2 ways:  1) large group photos got a key identifying every person in the photo.  Sometimes I scanned the back of the photo if it was labeled well.  Other times, I would print the photo and then write directly on the print with the names of the people.  In every case, I named the photo for easy referral, using this sort of format:

Mowry, Henry, 2006
Mowry, Henry, blue shirt
Mowry Family, Henry, 2010
Mowry Wedding, Christopher and Alley, kiss
Xmas 2006, tree

This Lance family snapshot – as originally scanned – is one of my favorite pictures in the collection. It’s SO 1976! On the other hand, this photo is heavily water damaged and discolored. I spent several hours with editing software to restore the picture as best I could to original coloration.

It doesn’t really matter how you label the pictures, but they need to be labeled immediately, or you will misidentify people when you process the photos.  Come up with conventions, and stick to them.  In advance, figure out how you’re going to deal with maiden names, changing last names, group shots … and what kind of file structure the photos will be saved in.  By date?  Family?  Location?  No wrong answers, but get an opinion, and stick to it.

You’ll also find there are several programs made to help you organize your photo collection.  Photoshop Elements is a relatively inexpensive solution; Adobe Lightroom is a more robust, expensive solution.  I prefer Lightroom.  It lets you tag/sort photos in multiple ways.  It automatically saves photos to multiple locations when you upload from the camera … it’s a great tool.

You’ll need photo editing software as well.  There’s a huge array of options here … but always save the original scan as is.  Some software will save versions for you as you edit the photos; I typically added “v2,” “v3,” etc to file names in the early days.  Later, I took to adding “RT” to scans that were retouched.  Again, no wrong answers here, but save your original scans, and save your work as you go, and you’ll not get yourself into trouble.

I principally used 2 editing programs:  Photoshop Elements (the home version) and Adobe Photoshop (just like the professionals use).  Photoshop is amazing software, and you’ll need to devote many hours to learning how to best use it.  Elements is very intuitive … it’s really point & click easy.  Both can work.  How much time do you want to devote to photo editing?  It you just want to crop photos and straighten crooked scans, get Elements.  If you want to do some exacting work, get the full Photoshop.

My father, Robert Mowry, shot by a photographer in his studio in Maryville, MO.

For photographs I shoot, I generally use Nikon’s Capture NX2.  This software handles RAW files (better cameras allow you to use this unprocessed, uncompressed file type that varies by camera), and allows some pretty amazing and quick edits.  Not as robust as Photoshop, but easier and quicker, I’ve found.  NX2 also edits .jpg files, but as discussed earlier, the results are not as good, since photo quality is lost each time you save a .jpg file.

My mother, Letha Shull, shot by that same photographer with that same white table. Who knew these two pictures would be united in one family years later?

Once you have the files, you need redundant backups to make sure that you don’t lose these heirlooms that you’ve worked so hard to scan, edit and store.  Keep files on your computer’s hard drive … and then make a copy on an external hard drive.  Be very good and make a third copy which is kept offsite, either in the cloud or at a relative’s house.  Some people keep a backup hard drive at the office in a desk drawer.  Go old school:  keep it in your safety deposit box.  Use an online service for backups such as Norton (expensive) or Carbonite (which I recommend).

I know one thing about the computer that holds your photo collection: it will die.  I don’t know when, but I do know that all machines will die.  Therefore, plan beginning TODAY for the failure of the primary storage device for your photos.  After all, where can you get another copy of that perfect family photo?

We Love the Disneyland Half Marathon   Leave a comment

Here I am with Michael at the race that started it all: the 2006 Disneyland Half Marathon.

While my username may be MrsMowry, I am not the wife of Henry, but his daughter-in-law, Brianna. Many years ago I met Henry’s son, Michael, and have made his family my own (that is a story for a later time). Henry asked me if I would like to guest-write on his blog and I accepted! So now…on to running.

When I was a girl, running was always a fun thing to do…as part of playing street hockey, chasing my brothers on bicycles, playing princess and pirates…you know…normal kid stuff. In phys ed I wasn’t at the top of my class, but I enjoyed Red Laps (running day). What I had in leaps and bounds, however, was endurance. I could run as slow as a turtle for many, many miles. This would later come in very handy when Henry got an email for the newest, happiest half marathon on Earth: The Disneyland Half Marathon.

I am a Disney freak, to put it lightly. Michael and I have had Annual Passes for many years. We have celebrated many rainy Tuesdays gallivanting around Main Street and screaming on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Our first wedding anniversary will be spent at Club 33 (dreams coming true, right there). So, once Henry forwarded the email around, nearly the whole family was in. This began my love of running for life.

Like Henry mentioned in I Could Not Run, the training process was slow. Luckily, Henry had the experience to push Michael, Lauren, Velda, and myself to be smart runners. We listened to our bodies, being careful to avoid injury. We ran 5 to 7 miles, 4 days a week. We were in excellent physical shape and we rocked our first half marathon.

Since that day, Michael and I have become Legacy Runners of the Disneyland Half; we haven’t missed a single race. In 7 years, each race has posed a different challenge. The funny thing about running a half marathon is the fact that nothing matters until the morning you wake up for that race. Swollen ankles, blistered feet, upset stomach, shin splints, etc. Any small ailment can ruin a run. After finding out about a heart condition earlier this week, I had to force myself to walk today’s half. There is nothing more torturous than having the energy, strength, and drive to run a race and be completely held back by poor health. But, good news. There will ALWAYS be another race. I may have finished 13.1 miles today in well over 3 1/2 hours, but my PR is 2 hours and 16 minutes. I know that today’s problems will not be next year’s problems. So after a few days of rest, it’s back to pounding pavement. The trick to being good at running marathons is not necessarily in your body, but in your mind. You can’t let one small mishap during one race ruin your entire career. Get back to it! There is always time for running, only you can tell yourself there isn’t.

Brianna at the 2nd Annual Disneyland Half Marathon.

Posted September 5, 2012 by mrsmowry in California, Running

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: