Random pictures from Hawaii….Ohana


Working back to Hawaii pictures but now from the good camera. A little heavier to carry but the Canon takes much better pictures. This was the beach on the first day we were in Hawaii (Waikiki beach). The Canon 5DS is a lot more responsive and faster so it captures a better image. But in order to share the photos taken by that camera it takes longer to build the blog.

The first breakfast the boys and I went to get Loco Mocha which is the Hainan breakfast we had seen on one of the cooking shows we watch frequently. It was amazing! We had tried to make it at home a couple of times, but we realized very quickly what we were doing wrong when we had the actual dish!


I have a lot of pictures taken at Volcano National park. Why? Well first the science of that steam vent just makes me happy. To be at the point where the magma of earth and the surface of earth actually collide was amazing.

The steam was warm and had a slight odor. There were sections of the park closed the day we were there because of the sculpture gas. Being allergic I would have stayed away anyway but add the signs that said “Don’t cross this line” helped. Of course there were people to whom the recommendation of not crossing the line was just that a recommendation and they crossed anyway. People sometimes think they are immortal.


Jimmy Buffet has a great song (he has several but this one is one I love to listen to) called “Chase Burger in paradise.” The irony of that is its also the name of the restaurants he started. We actually ate our Hawaiian breakfast in a Cheese Burger in paradise restaurant on Waikiki beach the first. This is the hot dog stand that is next to paradise as well. Nobody wrote the song Hot Dogs in paradise though, so I guess I am writing the line now.

I am taking random pictures out of the Canon folder from Hawaii for the next few days. Partially because there are more than 3000 pictures in the folder that I haven’t shared and partially because I can.


wandering Hawaii…

Memories today of moving…

In June 1991 we moved from Bloomington Indiana to Cincinnati Ohio. A large chunk of my family stayed there so we visit often. Bloomington is a special place both filled with memories of wonderful moments and memories of times I will never forget.

In October 1999 we moved from Cincinnati Ohio back to Indiana. In particular we moved backed to Greenwood Indiana. We would create many more memories there. Becca was born in Bloomington. Jakki and the boys were born in Cincinnati.

In August 2011 we moved away from Indiana again, this time to Maryland. I think, like my father I have a moving bug. Dad was always interested in two things. Setting down roots and building a garden. The other thing was traveling. All of dad’s family traveled away from Wisconsin. His three sisters moving to various other cities and towns.

That got me thinking, all the moves I’ve made. In 1965/66 we packed our life up and left Vernon Hills to move to Student Housing in Bloomington Indiana. Leaving Chicago was tough, it is a part of me. I worked in downtown Chicago for 4 amazing years as an adult and I will never forget that wonderful city and place. I’ve been back many times, but it is never the same as growing up.

In late 1971 we packed up and moved to Thailand. Bangkok to be specific. Memories of Bangkok flood my mind with mention of the name. I can’t imaging a better place to be. Bangkok was a revelation of the world. For the first time in my life I wasn’t like everyone else around me. I was different and I learned so much about the way things work. I have so many memories of Thailand. The people, the food and the country changed me. I remember playing with inner tubes on a river one day. Roaring down the river on the tubes and then working our way back up the hill to do it again. Over and over we did that. I remember old town, following behind a wagon as we explored the old city. And drinking red Fanta when we were allowed to.

Dad and mom made a huge effort to take us to many places while we were there.  Chang Mai, the beach and the old town of Bangkok. (really, really old town). Coca Cola which back then was my favorite wasn’t widely available but they did have Fanta. I learned years later that Fanta was actually just Coca-Cola another brand and name they had.


wandering down memory lane

Colorado, Rocky Mountains are High (sorry John Denver)…

Memories are funny. Mom always says “its your memory.” In part because it is my memory or someone else’s memory but in part to also say I don’t remember it that way.

sheet (1)

Dad was experimenting as a photographer the June we wandered off to Colorado. Typical dad vacation, we drove from Indiana to Denver and then to Estes park. We stopped along the way in Hayes Kansas. There was a historical fort in Hayes Kansas so we stayed an extra day there to spend time in the historical location.

While his major was biology and education, his minor in college was American History. As stated previously any time a marker appeared along the side of the road we would stop and consider the event that caused the planting of a marker.

Maryland is a place filled with markers. Dad would have loved wandering around near our house, there are five historical markers within a short drive. Like I said he loved historical markers.


A wonderful picture dad took of Showwalter fountain in the snow. That is the IU Auditorium behind the fountain. In 1976 and 1981 crowds of students gathered at Showwalter fountain when IU won the national championship. Townies were there as well (also in 1987) it was simply an amazing time.

This taken in the midst of a snow storm. Dad was always trying to improve both as a photographer but also as a person chronicling the world around himself. He took a photography class at IU one summer once. I remember he shared a number of the composition things he learned with me. That was dad. He was always a teacher. Not in a bad way but in a way that you knew he cared enough to share what he knew with you.

So we have Colorado and IU today. A mix of important things for dad. He always seemed to enjoy the family vacations we took. Colorado was such a trip. Then there was his love for Indiana University. He poured his heart into making it the best possible place for students. I think in the end I stopped being a teacher because honestly I could never be as good teacher as my father. He was without a doubt one of the five best teachers I ever took at IU. The lessons I learned from Dad, and from my grandfather Johnston are lessons I still consume today.

Family comes first.

Never stop learning.


grateful for the guidance of great men

From a shared part to a Unique island pictures that span the globe…

IMG_0160On 270 south heading towards the DC Metro area there are two signs that always amuse. One invites you to turn, before the river and visit the great falls of Maryland. The other, just after the river on the George Washington Parkway invites you to come visit the great falls of Virginia. The most interesting part for me is that the two parks are actually directly across from each other. So in effect rather than select two different sets of falls and declare them they split one down the middle and decided that was the Greatest of the Great Falls. This image taken from the Virginia side towards the Maryland side. They are both state parks. On the Virginia side there is the remnants of the C&O canal that was used to bypass the falls on the Potomac river.IMGP0054

Jakki how big is Mt. Vernon. Really? It has to do with the delayed and finally denied trip to the Statue of Liberty. I won’t go any further with that story except to say ask the boys or Jakki why the Statue of Liberty is smaller than one of their thumbs.

We spent the day in the gardens of Mt. Vernon. I found myself really enjoying all the different gardening styles that Washington tried. Mostly because I grew up with a gardener that was not afraid to try any number of new styles of gardens. He went to South Africa and came back in love with Raised Bed gardens. They are actually really cool and dad had a couple built.


Finally a lava formation from Hawaii this past summer. It looks more like a rock you would find on the moon. Barren and lifeless it shows just how amazing those islands are. Rising 30,000 feet or more (most of that underwater) and then over the course of millions of years adding life to barren rock. It shows the wonder of time and change. Birds flying over with tiny seeds in their poop as they head over the barren rocks. The poop and the abraded lave becoming a dark soil. From that trees growing. More birds come to eat the plants, because well they ate them in the first place and shared the seeds. Overtime roots, sea and water abrade the lava into soil. Soil that is dark and rich. So the cycle of life begins and continues with fly byes. Different and unique unlike any other because it was created by a variety of changes over time that only happened there.



Wandering the dark halls of memory and stopping by a few of the displays…


I fell in love with the concept of space and space exploration when I was very young. Dad always encouraged me. A piece of me stayed in the capsule with Apollo 1. I watched with eyes locked on the TV as Walter Cronkite told us that the astronauts of Apollo 13 were safe. I started as a model rocketeer when I was nine. Over the years I have launched many rockets. This is the first one the boys and I launched on the field of their school. I hadn’t launched a rocket in a few years by this point and we way miscalculated how far the rocket was going to go. We were off by nearly a 1/4 mile. Not the kind of performance that you write home about. Still it was fun to share my love of space and beyond with my sons and daughter.


Swimming lessons at the YMCA Greenwood Indiana. That is Nick there in the near middle of the screen and yes he is loving trying to kick water. Luke is right next to him a little blurry but also smiling.

I think they were trying to kick water on each other as much as they were trying to learn to swim. We also did swimming lessons at home a couple of times in the pool. Water is really important to me. I’ve owned a boat for many years. Having a boat makes a difference to me. I know why I sold both of the last two boats I owned but I also know why I want to buy a new one. There is a freedom in boating. A release from land and the dry world that we live in every day.


The magic that bears fruit. Flowers that share life and combined with bees make honey. They are magical flowers. Not magical beans that reveal the home of a giant. Just magical. Each one is  a perfect representation of the other. You can see them year after year. The perfect flower.

These are from Dad and mom’s old front yard on Kinser Pike in Bloomington Indiana. Every house we owned dad left a legacy. A perfect manicured and loved garden spot and fruit trees. He always had fruit trees. Every house we owned in Bloomington Indiana had fruit trees. It is dad’s legacy. Like Johnny Appleseed dad loved to plant fruit trees. On the way to a meeting yesterday I drove by an orchard and was reminded of how much dad loved trees. But in particular and more than anything how much he loved Apple trees. He even loved the Apples grown by the King of Thailand near Chang Mai. He was so excited as we drove through that orchard.


Wistful and remembering

Sometimes the past lifts us up and reminds us of how things once were….

DSCN0070Luke coming out the end of the slide that used to be at our house in Eagle Trace. We put the swing set in the first spring we owned the house along with the pool. Later on we added a trampoline. I don’t miss the days when the boys were younger. They were sick a lot of the time (twins sometimes are) and pass colds back and forth until it would get me. I was also traveling a lot then. I would be gone for a week at a time. I had a cellular phone so I could call home and talk to each of them frequently. So I didn’t miss out on the connection pieces, just on the being there piece.

They were simpler days but I like where the kids are now. I love having discussions with them about the world and the impact of things around us.


This picture has two pieces of significance. The first is that it is of Joan Ralston. Joan was my mother-in-law and an amazing person. She was a really good photographer. She was also a great sounding board for how to manage people. She managed the communications system of Bloomington Hospital for many years.

This was taken in the kitchen eating area in Eagle Trace. The other significance of this picture is the timing. This picture was taken in September 2000. A year later the world changed forever. Selfishly it made a lot harder than it used to be. What once took an hour now takes two or more. The world isn’t as innocent. Where once the airlines watched for the one in a million DB Coopers, now everyone can be DB Cooper. Joan left us in 2005. I miss her a lot. I would love to hear her thoughts on the current presidential race.


On the left is Joan again and on the right is Les Ralstin. He was a veteran of WWII. He served as a communications officer on an Landing Craft. Loud noises would startle him, memories of jump or die from when he was in the Navy.

Les was a phenomenal person. Quiet and reflective, he would often make quiet scarcastic comments while other people were talking. I got him in trouble once becusae I heard them and I laughed. It really hadn’t been noticed before (that he was making the comments) so Joan was a little more careful after that when talking. Just in case Les was going to make a quiet comment.

Les left us after Joan and I miss him as well. You couldn’t ask for better in laws than the two of them. They were caring, giving and wonderful people.



The summers on the lake of my childhood became the summers on a lake as a young adult. Same song, different lake!


There was a time in the lost summers of Indiana when mom and dad would rent a house boat on Patoka Reservoir. We would all head down to the lake and spend a few days together on the water. Its what families do to maintain the connections.

We would all bring lots of books (this was in the 1990’s computers and laptops weren’t as prevalent and frankly getting a single for a cell phone on or near the lake was tenuous at best). So we disconnected and at the same time reconnected. Playing in the water and enjoying time together. Lots of reading as well.

It was the best of times.


Endless hours floating on the water. I love the water if you haven’t already figured that out from my blog. We used to do this activity on Lake Ripley, floating for hours on the rafts. Or wandering somewhere in the speed boat when I got older. I was the first grandchild allowed to take the boat out by myself. I availed myself of that privilege whenever I could!

Water is a piece of us. The primordial sea lives within us. Letting the water of our bodies touch actual water is life affirming. I love water and could be on it all day long every day.


Dad had an amazing eye as a photographer. This one setup just a little off center and the lone tree set off even more than it would be if you saw this image live. The reflections in the water make the picture even better.

I wish I had seen more of these pictures when he was alive so I could tell him in person how amazing a photographer he was. I think he spent most of his time believing he wasn’t that good so he had the pictures developed, looked at them and then put them into a box. No one else saw most of his pictures. It is a piece of dad that I can open and enjoy over and over now though. Maybe in the end the way he did it was best. Something for us to discover about him after.


Photo Envier…

Excuse me which way to Napoleon’s Tomb?


The streets of Paris France 1971. This is outside the UNESCO building. Mom was stuck with Lynne, Barb and I while dad got to sit in meetings all day briefing and preparing for Thailand. Mom was forced to go to museums with us in tow. Now mom will say that she was forced to go to Napoleon’s tomb several times but I prefer to think of it as our landmark for exploration. We started at the Museum De La Army and Napoleon’s tomb and then we knew where we where so we could explore the city further.

We did go to the tomb a few times. I was entranced by Napoleon at the time. Not as a hero but as a tragic figure of history.


I have had the fortune to go to Paris many times in my life. Twice early on in my childhood and four times as an adult. It is not my favorite city (doesn’t even make my top 5) but I do enjoy going to the city of lights. I have had the opportunity to wander the many zones of Paris and find myself lost in café’s by the river.

I did go to a Jazz club one time that was amazing. Reminded me of being in a Jazz club in Chicago but no one broke into the blues. The music was amazing and the food was great. I do also remember being in Paris and working on various projects. I was always amazed by the long lunches they took.


The streets of Paris. Such a busy city. I can honestly say it is one of the many cities that I have chosen over the years to not drive in. The streets are narrow and the drivers have no rules about how many lanes of traffic there are (as in Italy.)

Still it is a city that you have to visit once in your life. To walk the streets that Hemingway walked. Perhaps even as Nick or as the Old man from the sea. Where the revolutionaries, American from the 1770’s and Spanish from the 1930’s gathered to speak of the wonder of change. Ah Paris you are a mystery wrapped in glorious old buildings. This last picture is one I am going to print and hang. It is one of the most artistic pictures dad took in Paris. No buildings just a police officer. Really kind of a cool picture. Stop, Arreste, do not proceed.


All tours start at Napoleon’s Tomb….

When the critters come to your back door…

DSC01006So I don’t know why I geek out about the Beaver moving into our pond a few years ago in Indiana. I had seen beavers in the wild quite a few times, but this one was in my yard. Most of the neighbors weren’t happy about the addition to the pond but I loved it.

Sadly the beaver wasn’t aware of the rules of the road. Olive Branch, the main road outside the entrance to our subdivision was a road that people drove very fast on. The male beaver didn’t understand traffic rules and ended up getting hit by a car. I don’t know what mama and the little ones did. We never saw the beavers again. It was cool though that spring to see them there. They even ate one of the trees we had planted along the water.


Every year there was a large group of Canadian Geese that came to live at the pond. The neighbors all loved the Geese. I, after many years of cleaning up after them at Lake Ripley did not. They left stuff all over the yard that had to be cleaned up. It is very slippery when walking around the edge of the pond to step on Goose droppings.

The Geese would wander around the ice in the late spring as they arrived from the south. It happened every year. Every year the yard was full of Geese. Not sure why they thought our pond was the bomb but they did.

Still don’t like them much. Perhaps I should invent Geese diapers for people that don’t like cleaning up after Geese.


The other frequent visitor to the pond was a Great Blue Heron. The ultimate fisherperson. I don’t know if this is a male or female and it doesn’t matter in the end.

These great fisher people would wait by the edge of the pond, or just into the shallow water for small fish for hours. Patience and quiet they waited. The ultimate fishing machine. Reminded me of the people I grew up around at Lake Ripley. They got up at 3:30 in the morning and fished the lake for hours never moving. The only sign of life the occasion casting of the lure out into the lake.

Fishing remains a hobby I don’t do enough but have so many wonderful memories of. I need to get back out into the Chesapeake and fish more!


Critter watcher

Just Another Shameless Review: iPhone 6s Plus

iPhone 6s Plus

So I upgraded to the new iPhone last week. I had the 6 plus previously so I continued the larger phone trend and got the 6s plus. As always the Apple Packaging was amazing. The screen when I turned it one was amazing. I was a Windows Phone guy from 2000-2011. I had every iteration of PPC phones there were (ok well not every but it felt like it). I have to say the seamless upgrade and transition process of the Apple iOS solutions are simply amazing.

A cellular phone is not just a cellular phone anymore it is a CPS/IoT platform as well as personal video and still camera always with you. From call recording to voice recording, data and simple entertainment the cellular phone now replaces a number of devices. Plus it is the platform of expansion for the future of CPS.

For those who always complain when I post a review remember I only review things that I find useful or companies with horrible customer service.

What I liked

· The AT&T setup experience is improving every single time.

· Out of box the phone was ready to go simply needed to be charged. Also you have to activate it via the AT&T website

· Phone battery seems the same which was expected

· Graphics in particular respond much faster than the older iPhone

· iOS 9 is interesting and so far I find it to be much more stable than iOS 8 was

· iOS9 includes the Wi-Fi calling option!!!!!!!!!!!!!

· The new camera and camera options are incredible.

What I didn’t like

· Frankly the fact that the battery is no better than it was.

· Wi-Fi Calling is not available in my area yet for my iPhone.

· My Mophie case for my iPhone 6 plus doesn’t work with the new 6s Plus so that is a bummer. If you have an iPhone 6 plus its available on eBay right now

Overall the phone is a solid improvement over the previous version. All of my accessories (except the one) work perfectly with it. I’ve tested most of my favorite software packages and they operate as well. I was able to connect and reconnect all my Bluetooth devices very quickly. Overall this is a great new version of the phone. I am still waiting for a long conference call to see how audio quality holds up for the entire long call but like I said other than the one minor frustration really solid upgrade.


reformed Windows Phone user