NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Yellowstone Flashback - Geysers Galore

When you think Yellowstone, you think geysers.  The geysers were definitely Wayne's favorite thing about our 2009 trip to Yellowstone National Park.  Click on any picture below to see them all in better focus.  Not only are they larger but for some reason much sharper that way.

The geyser above is called Beehive.  When we arrived at the Old Faithful area of the park, we stopped at the Visitor Center to see what was going on.  We planned to hook up with a ranger led hike of the area, but when we went inside we were told that if we hurried we could catch the Beehive erupting.  Since it only goes twice a day we started jogging down the boardwalk to make it there and arrived just in time for it to start.  It erupts for 4-5 minutes (after a few minutes I was wondering why we rushed as much as we did!) and the water can reach a height of 190 feet!  It was pretty impressive, truthfully I enjoyed it more than Old Faithful.

Illustration showing how beehive Geyser works.

If you plan to visit the geysers, get to the Visitor Center early in the day and find out what's erupting when.  I know next time we got we'll plan ahead so we can see a variety of geysers.  We made our way back to the Visitor Center in time to join the tour of the Upper Geyser Basin.

Interactive Map of the Old Faithful Area Online Tour

After we toured most of the South section's hot springs with the group we split off and started making the rounds of the North section ourselves.  My favorite stop of the whole tour was Grotto Geyser.

I loved it's sculpted shape, and the way the steam made little clouds around it.  The shape may be due to geyserite covering trunks of trees that were once there. Cool!

There aren't many geysers in the North section, mostly pools which were very lovely.  I'll save those for another post.  If you notice on the map there is a bike trail that runs through the area.  I think next time we're there we'll see it that way.

Interactive map of the northern section of the Old Faithful area

When we made our way back to the South section we were just in time to see the tail end of Castle geyser's eruption. It erupts every 10-12 hours and lasts as long as 20 minutes.  The water is then followed by a noisy steam phase that lasts for 30-40 minutes.  That would be cool just before dark.  Kind of spooky maybe.

But you're wondering about the big show, right?  Old Faithful draws quite a crowd. It's not the biggest or the most regular geyser in the park, but it's the biggest most regular geyser.  Does that make sense?

It starts out kind of playfully, teasing you with the force about to be unleashed.

The eruption lasts 1.5 to 5 minutes and expels 3,700 - 8,400 gallons of boiling water!  Ouch!

It's not very photogenic though.  The crowd ate it up.  Everyone oohed, ahhed, clapped and most got in their cars and left.  Tourists!  Looking back I should have photographed it from a distance with the crowd next to it.  Next time.

After we left the Upper Geyser Basin we moved on down the road to the Lower Geyser Basin.  We wanted to catch the Great Fountain Geyser which was due to erupt.  But we enjoyed the other stops along the way, including cute little Firehole Spring.  It's a perpetual spouter that bubbles constantly.  I kept waiting for more to happen...that's what happens when you don't get all your info ahead of time!

We got a good seat at Great Fountain and it was nice to see its slow build up.  This one was even harder to photograph because it is HUGE!  The eruption lasts 1 to 2 hours, displaying in seven separate bursts.  The first burst is the longest and strongest.  The water can reach 220 feet.  I didn't bring a tape measure in my purse so I can't tell you how high this one was.

Once it really gets going its kinda messy with all that water and steam obliterating everything in the vicinity, so we moved on again with a final stop at neighboring White Dome Geyser.  We had seen it erupting from a distance so knew it was inactive.  The cone is one of the largest in the park, indicating that the spring has been active for a very long time.  Though the cone is very large the vent itself is only 5 by 7 inches.  It was a nice display from afar, and its on my list for our next visit.

That's the flashback post for today.  I had my esophageal ablation last Friday.  So far it seems to have gone well.  Swallowing is still a little difficult, I'm on soft food and medication to help protect my newly emerged lining.  It didn't take long to lose some weight, but now that I'm eating soft baked goods my calorie count is back up a little.  Not crazy about all the fat and sugar I'm getting, but calories are needed to prevent muscle from being lost along with fat.

We got the vacation schedule finalized this week too.  Turns out that big southwest adventure I had planned won't happen this year after all.  We're a few days short for such an undertaking.  Also, the trip will have to be all in October, not into November like we originally had wanted.  I haven't decided where we'll go instead.  Northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina along the coast?  Down to Anahuac NWR and then swinging over to New Orleans? A fall color trip that starts in Vermont and then progresses south before turning back?  All places we haven't been in a much more reasonable drive for us.  The southwest will be there another year.  Any suggestions from the seasoned travelers out there?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fish on the Fence

Saw this mural for my contribution to Monday Mural on an alley fence in Reno.  Cory was the one who spotted the mountains as fins on his back.

I've got new camera equipment on the way, a Canon 70D and a new lens that I'm hoping will help me with murals and architecture.  Details to come, of course!

This mural puts me in mind of one of my favorite Disney songs.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Valentine

I know it's a little late to be talking about Valentine's Day.  But I uploaded the pictures from the camera that my husband borrowed last weekend and I could not resist.

Every year for Valentine's Day some of the gentlemen in town get together and take an ice fishing trip.  A few ladies sometimes go along.  I've never been tempted.  Cold and ice, beer and cigarettes and fish stories?  No thank you!

Wayne in the green shirt

This year 8 guys were supposed to go but 4 cancelled at the last minute.  They got a 5 bedroom house all to themselves to get up to mischief in.  I got called to ask how to set the timer on the camera to take the group picture.  Didn't really know how to reply, like anything you do often you just do it without thinking about it.  Obviously they figured it out.

One year he called me to tell me about the cute kitten who was wandering around the frozen lake without a home.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  was my firm answer to that.  This year when they were loading up in the driveway I said, "Don't even think about bringing home any stray kittens...or puppies or anything else!"

Next year they're renting a shanty for the ice.  Even Wayne conceded it was just too cold with nothing but a portable shelter out there.  Not much fish were caught, but fun was had anyway.

I spent my Valentine's weekend comparing cameras at the camera store and buying warm pajamas at the mall.  I even had a couple of chocolate covered strawberries my mom gave me and watched the movie "50/50" without anyone complaining about how "stupid" it was.  Sometimes time apart is what makes romance really work.

Today the wind is gusting up to 42 mph around here.  It was above freezing for the last 3 days so a little bit of snow melted, but it also means we have a skating rink at the bottom of the driveway!  The romantic plan for today includes my esophageal ablation treatment.  Wayne gets to take care of me after sedation and then work third shift tonight.  In sickness and in health!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Last Night I Had the Photographer's Dream

In the minutes before waking, here is the dream I had.  I'll supplement with some photos from my collection.

I'm hiking on what is most likely an old loggers' road somewhere with mountains peeking just out a bit in the distance beyond where the trail leads into the woods and the day is starting to fade.  The light is that perfect gold that is never happening when I'm anyplace really good.  I stop and look around, desperate for something to shoot in such a glorious moment.  There is a little pond nearby, so I move down a slight incline through some ankle high plants to see if a nice shot comes into view down there.

I still don't see anything hopeful but decide I'll take a few shots anyway.  As I put down my camera bag I suddenly realize I smell animal feces.  I look around, keep sniffing.  Something dog-like?  I see a pile on the trail and move back a bit toward it.  Definitely not anything large and scary like bear or bison scat.

I turn back toward my camera bag on the ground just as a small coyote or maybe fox-like animal with dark fur around the face comes into view from behind a dip in the landscape.  He moves towards my bag, gives me a warning bark/growl and then proceeds to STAY THERE and alternate between investigating my bag and eyeing me.

I fumble with the camera in my hands.  Oh no!  It's covered in a layer of hardened-on sand.  (Talk about a nightmare!)  I gently but quickly brush it away and try to take a shot.  No go, lens motor makes an unhappy little sound.  I clean it up some more and try again.  My elation has turned to anxiety.  The animal is still around, but how much longer can I expect it to stay and the light to hold?

The camera is now clean but for some reason the lens is drooping off the front and I can't get it reattached properly.  It's at this point that I start to wake up and if I wasn't so sleepy I'd be laughing out loud.  I've just had the wildlife photographer's equivalent of a young man's dream of being propositioned by Scarlett Johannson and not being able to perform!

I'm wondering, does this mean I'm a "real" photographer now?  Usually my dreams are about mundane things like washing dishes or being at work answering patient's questions or helping them choose eyewear. (I know, it's just awful to wake up from those things, let me tell ya.)  Since I tend to dream about what I do and not what I want to do, photography must be what I "do".

Most people I've heard talk about dreams have strange sequences of out-of-this-world events transpire in their nighttime landscape.  What kind of dreams do you wake up from?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Portal of Evolution

My first morning in Reno I lucked upon a beautiful sculpture called Portal of Evolution by artist Bryan Tedrick.  It was first displayed at Burning Man in 2009 and is designed to turn in the wind, though I doubt it does that often at this sheltered location.  It would spin like a top in Chicago!

The base is meant to represent a cocoon, the entire sculpture of course representing transformation.

I wish the weather would start evolving into something resembling spring around here.

 My car when I left work on Monday

Growing, changing, transforming, evolving...a process we're all involved in throughout our lives.  Some of us fight it, some revel in it.  Most of the time I consciously seek it.  Except when it comes to things like joint pain and wrinkles!  I am perfectly fine with gray hair and wisdom through experiences though.

How about you?  Do you fight change or embrace it?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love me Some Johnny!

Have you been watching the Olympics?  I've only seen what's been on the morning news shows while on the treadmill at the gym.  I was shocked when I saw Evgeni Plushenko's face onscreen.  Four Olympics!  Unheard of in figure skating, the demands of all those triples, not to mention quads in the mens event is devastating to the human body.  Don't believe me?  Ask Tara Lipinsky about her hips sometime.  Better yet, ask Evgeni about his back.  He had to withdraw due to what he thought was his plastic disc in his back cracking when he landed a jump in the warm-up.  I kid you not.

But, I'm not really here to talk about Evgeni.  I will take a moment to rant about what has happened to the sport of figure skating since the implementation of the new scoring system.  If they were going to take everything beautiful out of the sport why did they just not make it like all the other sports and do away with the music completely?  It's painful to watch them out there struggling to contort themselves into awkward positions and execute slow ungainly spins all in the name of more points for increased difficulty.  I do like the increased amount of footwork, but there is so much focus on intervening stepwork that there isn't time for much expression besides the aimless flailing of arms. Figure skating is supposed to be difficult and yet beautiful, whether due to its explosive raw power or elegant lines. And most of all I always felt it should interpret the music chosen.  Now all the programs look exactly the same and the music matters not at all so if you're watching you might as well put it on mute, it might work better that way.  I stopped watching after the last Olympics, it just broke my heart.

Ladies long program in 1996, Michelle Kwan at Trophee Lalique.  She's got artistry down to her fintertips, literally, not to mention her shoulders and even eye movements.

But, on to the topic at hand.  Tell me, how is it possible not to love Johnny Weir?

He's changed little since the last Olympics - he's always been a slave to the fashion statement, on or off the ice.  I loved his TV show "Be Good Johnny Weir" detailing his journey to make it to the 2010 Olympics.


Don't know all about Johnny?  Watch the video and get to know him. (He's a fan of the artistry of Michelle Kwan and Evgeni Plushenko too!)

After watching the video I have a sneaky suspicion nonconformist, dive-into-your-passions-Johnny might be an INTJ.  What do you think?

Johnny also spoke out on CNN about the anti-gay law in Russia and the presence of LGBT Olympians in Sochi.  Johnny Weir, fighting for human rights just by not being afraid to be himself.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Not Just Grafitti

back of building

I've often admired the urban grafritti some of the Monday Mural posters get to display.  Everyone has their opinion on the validity of the its worthiness as "art".  Me, I think it has its place and I love it as much as the rest of the murals.  I like that even the higher minded stuff originated on a back alley with a kid and a vision perhaps.

This was one long wall, a whole block long, that I saw from the main road in Midtown Reno as we drove by.  When we pulled behind the building and I got a really good look I was shocked at the complexity. I can't decide whether each "panel" was done by a different artist or the same artist portraying different ideas.

side of building, section 1

I love the graveyard and the cityscape in the background of this one.

section 2

section 3

section 4

Pretty neat, huh?  Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

INTJ and Proud!

Perhaps you've already taken the personality test and knew what I was talking about in the title.

The validity of the Briggs-Myers Personality test and similar Jungian based tests like the one I took here are questionable.  So, if you take the test, do it in the spirit of fun.  If it doesn't sound like you then don't sweat it.  Katrina and I took the quick test and agreed with the outcome.

Katrina is an INFJ- only 1.5% of the population is this personality type, in theory.  Katrina is now calling herself "The One Percent".  What percentage of the population is INTJ...only 2-4%.  My personal experience leads me to agree with that conclusion, which is why I never seem to find friends who think like me.  I know part of the problem is I'm not looking in the right places due to limited rural options.

Here's a look at some of the key descriptions of my personality type, according to the test results:

  • Depict an aura of self-confidence which is specific and not general in nature - in areas of their own expertise they can tell you right away whether or not they can help you.  Ask anyone who's come into my office with a pair of mangled eyeglasses, I am not shy about announcing my skill and proceeding to demonstrate it.  While to some people I can sometimes seem boastful, I find no shame in owning up to whatever skills I may genuinely possess, but alternately I keep my mouth shut if I don't know the answer...unlike true "know-it-alls" who can't seem to help but weigh in on any topic.
  • Somewhat of a perfectionist, with an endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest.  What takes their interest is the key here, for while sometimes I am thorough and will dig away at something until the end of time, other things I could care less about. What matters here is if I feel something can be improved upon and I want to follow up on it, I can devote hours or research or work on any given project.  In contrast, if I don't care about it...sometimes this has been a problem in my work.  If it's not something I don't "believe" in, that is a priority to me over whether or not it's expected of me.  
  • "Does it WORK?" -  this is the underlying concept and applies to everything including social norms.  This leads to an independence of mind, freeing me from the constraints of authority, convention and sentiment.  Any of you who have read my rants on the education system, the Boy Scouts and my disinterest in the realm of gift giving and receiving will recognize this trait of mine.  I'm meticulous in weighing ideas, problems and solutions, and even relationships.  Do they work?  If they don't, it's hasta la vista, Baby.  Lately I've been a bit tireless in my constant search for what "works" in relation to my digestive woes.  I'm gradually making progress, trying things, and giving up things, that others would never consider in order to strive toward a solution.  As a teenager this was my approach to dating.  Suddenly my whirlwind of 2 week relationships make sense!  Were they "the one"?  Nope!  On to the next, no time to waste!
  • Little patience for the social niceties, such as small talk and flirtation.  Luckily Wayne has learned to not take this lack of interest in what is considered "normal" romance personally.  I can't wait until I get him to take this personality test!  On the flip side, the dedication I show to projects I also show to my most important relationships and work tirelessly to maintain them, especially paying attention to communication.  Big fan of personal space and boundaries.
  • Want everything to MAKE SENSE.  This includes people.  I will never understand figure skating coaches or most of the public school system.  How can they not see the flaws in how they relate to children?? It isn't working, and no one will take the necessary steps to do what works to make the children successful AND happy.  It's really not hard, Good Grief!
  • With an unusual combination of imagination and reliability anything an INTJ is working on can be equivalent to a moral cause.  Disregard of authority and contempt for "slackers" leads to loss of respect, and no trouble letting those who are letting them down know it.  Boy, do I recognize this aspect of my personality!  It has caused me some trouble over the years...but I don't apologize for it, either.  The upside of this trait is an ability to work independently and get a lot done.  Not all my bosses and coworkers have admired this trait of mine, because I have a tendency to make others look "lazy" in comparison, not to mention a tendency to tell my bosses how to do their job better on occasion in an effort to "help".  My current work situation involves me working literally alone most of the time, we have a small office and limited hours a doctor is on the premises.  Mostly it's just me - when the doctor is in one other person is there and I do about 70% of the work even then depending on who the other person is.  This situation has worked the best for me, and is why I thrived running my own daycare and managing our rental property years ago.
  • INTJs can rise to management when they take the time to market their abilities and learn to simulate some degree of social conformism to mask their nonconformity.  I have been in the position to "rise" a few times over the years but always pass on it due to my preference to do things my way on my terms.  If things were different and financial concerns an issue I could (and sometimes have) "conform"...but it's very stressful.  My last job I had to bottle up some of my personality to get along with another staff member for three years due to the recession until I finally quit.  
  • Where do INTJs thrive, career wise?  Sciences, engineering and academia.  My love of research and my fascination with neuroscience and other medical related sciences support this theory.  My desire to have a family was my primary goal as a young adult so I didn't pursue a college degree even though I was an Illinois State Scholar with ACT scores in the top 10%.  If I hadn't had the dream of raising a family due to being an only child isolated from extended family who knows where I would have ended up?  I love reading, and once I'm fascinated with a topic I'll read everything I can get my hands on to find out as much as possible.  In my current profession I do all kinds of tasks, but my all time favorite parts of being an Optician are hands-down the mechanical aspect and the medical side.  I miss cutting lenses!  My latest research projects?  Well, I've been doing my online research into a new DSLR and today and I went to a camera store to give some a test ride.  That Canon 7D is HEAVY!  I think I'll end up with the 70D within the next month.  More research first...just to be sure.

Katrina's INFJ personality definition? To sum it up: Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.  Yep, that's our girl.  She's in the company of notables Jimmy Carter and Mother Theresa.  Too bad only 1.5% of the population works hard to make their dreams of a better world happen.  (See Katrina's debut in the Marinette Eagle Herald here in their Valentine's Day edition where she gets to shine a light on teen dating violence issues.)  By the way, if you've never seen the Vagina Monologues, plan to next Valentine's Day and help support violence against women while having a great time!

Katrina on the far left next to the girl wearing the boa -2013, her second time participating in TVM

I got Cory and his friend to take the quiz and they are both ENTJThey see what needs to be done, and frequently assign roles to their fellows. Few other types can equal their ability to remain resolute in conflict, sending the valiant (and often leading the charge) into the mouth of hell. When challenged, the ENTJ may by reflex become argumentative. Alternatively (s)he may unleash an icy gaze that serves notice: the ENTJ is not one to be trifled with. Clarity of convictions, an analytical mind with quick decision making skills, they are born to lead and have the ability to see the broader picture.   

Right away both of them shouted "I'm Harrison Ford!" when they read the list of famous ENTJs.  Boys.  They are also in the company of several comedians including Jim Carrey and Whoopi Goldberg.  Feel my pain.

According to the website where I took the test I'm in the company of famous first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Hillary I completely see...the lady has a hard time keeping her mouth shut when she thinks she knows what the right thing is - whether anyone agrees with her or not.  Now I know why I've always liked her!  I love me a rebel!  Speaking of loving rebels, I'll lighten things up a little on Tuesday and talk about one of my favorite figure skaters in honor of the Olympic season.

Take the test and tell me what your personality type is!  I swear I won't long as you're not a "slacker", right?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winter Hiking - What To Wear in Wisconsin

It seems like the snow and cold will never end here in the Midwest, but the 5 day forecast is showing a warm-up finally on the way next week!

Knowing that more snow was on the way last week, I drove up to Kettle Moraine for my first hike since I left Reno.  After driving an hour to get there, my heart stopped for a minute when I pulled into the parking lot at the Scuppernong Springs trailhead.

I circled through the lot and saw another sign indicating that hikers could go across the street to the Ice Age Trail.  Since I'm planning on doing some serious hiking on the Ice Age trail this summer I took it as a sign that this was my day to start a new section.

In the winter the woods all kind of look the same, but it was great just to get some exercise and fresh air.  The cross country skiers were all across the road and I had the Ice Age Trail all to myself.

John made a comment about there not being enough clothes to keep him warm in our neck of the woods, and Sharon asked a while back what one would have to wear to hike in winter in Wisconsin.  I use a layering process.  First it's the Smartwool socks, figure skating tights and Smartwool baselayer shirt.  Then the fleece lined Columbia stretch pants followed by ski pants, a jacket, gloves, and boots.  The final touch is the wool hood liner I steal from Wayne's side of the closet.

I've got a question for you techies out there.  When I play my video I take using my SX50 without editing it on my computer at home the picture is clear and good quality. (On Full Screen on my computer anyway)  But not after I edit it OR after I upload it to YouTube and go to Full Screen it gets pixelated and fuzzy and looking.

(By the way, I show up at the 4:45 mark in the video, all dressed for my 19F hike!  That part is clear because the camera wasn't moving at all.)

When I edit it, using either Movie Maker or Photoshop Elements, it comes out all pixelated, even before I upload it to YouTube.  I noticed it even more when I did the Chimney Tops movie.

Anyone know what is happening here??  Why does it look great on my screen until I upload to YouTube or edit it??  Until I fix this problem I won't try John's tip for making my insert larger. (I know you were thinking it, John!)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Grand Tetons Flashback - Inspiration Point

We weren't in the Tetons very long during our trip in 2009, but we took time to take in one ranger-led hike.  To get to Inspiration Point you can either hike around the lake and meet the ranger at the dock or take the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake.

What I remember around the short ride across the lake is Ranger Ann giving a guy a hard time about his footwear.  He was wearing docksiders with no socks!  Can you imagine?  All dressed up for the one mile climb to Inspiration Point.  I'm sure he was grateful that he wasn't part of our group after that public scolding.

Click on the photo above for a clearer image, Blogger is making me crazy with that issue!  Anyway, Ranger Ann stopped a few times, giving the less fit a chance to rest while she described the geology that formed the Tetons.  The best part of the whole hike was when she opened her backpack full of rocks to pass around.  I thought the fact that she carried a pack full of rocks around with her was the most inspirational thing I've ever seen!

In my opinion Inspriation Point was a bit anticlimactic after the aggressive climb up the path cut through the granite in the 1930's.  We did get to hear the squeaking of the Pikas, but they were too fast to get any pictures of them.  The rock pile there is a favorite spot of theirs.

I wanted to follow our guide into Cascade Canyon after the tour was over, but Wayne's knees were bothering him and we still had the downhill slope to tackle.  There wasn't much to see on the way down because the trail was full of loose rock and very uneven.

Watch out for the golden mantled ground squirrels at the top.  They were sneaking up to people's backpacks looking for treats.  They're cute, but I'd hate to accidently zip one in to my pack!

I'm out of stuff from the Tetons, next time I have a flashback post we'll be moving on to Yellowstone!