Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shaping Sound

Just saw this with my BFF Joni tonight:

Here's the "sizzle reel" (preview):

And here's the best dance tonight, had people standing and shouting:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lacamas Lake, Early Morning

In addition to the bald eagle, I saw the usual beautiful sights on Tuesday morning. The local and migrating Canada geese congregate near the shore, feeding and socializing.

When I started my walk, it was even darker than this.
On my way back, it was finally getting light.

And there's a mallard pair who seem to have made the little pond on the other side of the trail their permanent residence.

Can you see them? Even the drake blends in low light.

I thought I was seeing double until I realized it was his reflection.

Mushrooms---with more to come:

I hope I don't take this beauty too much for granted because it's always here. Someone seems to have taken for granted our beautiful trail with its mileage markers, but I see others have tried to put this sign back up, and I'm sure the city will come out and fix it soon.

Below: Not a great photo, I know! I'll be working on this kind of picture because it's so beautiful and we see it so often here: the diamond-bright drops of water on the branches, backed by beautiful misty skies.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Best Birding Article Ever!

Whenever I'm at the doctor's office, I drop off some magazines from home and pick up others.

I do not call this stealing. I call this recirculating, which is a step above recycling: By moving magazines from office to office in the Vancouver-Portland area, I am giving more people more opportunities to read magazines they would otherwise never have even seen. (And I do not take home the magazines that belong in the office; only the ones that, like the ones I bring in, have obviously been left there by people like me who have cut off the subscription label. And I bring back all the magazines, plus the ones from my own subscriptions.)

The other day, in an emergency room of a Kaiser hospital in Happy Valley, Oregon, I found the September 2015 issue of  "Conde Nast Traveler," a magazine I would never buy for myself. My first impression was negative, but that was because I opened the mag randomly to an ad for Hermes. The lovely Hermes Jardin d'Hiver scarf in silk twill was advertised for $395; and if I were interested in the Bolide Secret bag in Mat Crocodile, I could find out the price upon request.

So, I thought, why even recirculate this magazine? But I glanced through it again, flipping through the many pages of ads for Giorgio Armani This and Fendi That and the photos of way-too-thin people lounging at resorts in the Bahamas, Bahrain, Cape Town, Los Cabos, Maldives, and so on.

And found the Best Birding Article Ever! "Postcard from East Africa" caught my eye because of the illustration and its caption: "Jonathan Franzen trains his binoculars on the tiniest bipeds in the bush."

Illustration by Jason Holley, in Sept. 2015 "Conde Nast Traveler"
I didn't pay attention to the author's name, though, busy wondering what this rich-people's magazine would offer of interest to serious birders, most of whom I'm guessing don't frequent the finer resorts nor buy the kinds of products advertised here. So I started reading:

"When I was home and talking to my brother Bob, he asked me whether an East African safari was something a person had to do. Certain well-traveled friends of his---competitive vacationers; proponents of the Bucket List---had assured him that it was. Did I agree?"

Now I was interested. The writer goes on to consider "...the French sociologist Jean Baudrillard's theory of the simulacrum---the idea that consumer capitalism has replaced reality with representations of reality."

And then he gets to the birds: "I'm told that most people prefer mammals to birds because we ourselves are mammals. This seems to me both reasonable and questionable. If the great attraction of nature is its Otherness, why do we need our close kindred to make it interesting? Isn't this sort of embarrassingly self-infatuated? Birds, with their dinosaur lineage and their flight capabilities, are truly Other. And yet, being conspicuous bipeds like us, and responding, like us, primarily to sight and sound, they're arguably more similar to us than other mammals, which tend to be furtive and four-legged and to live in a world defined by smell."

At this point I did look back to see who wrote this. Ah! Jonathan Franzen. Novelist and essayist, author of "Freedom A Novel," "The Corrections," and "Purity: A Novel." (Yeah, I looked this up on Amazon. Where I found a book of essays by Franzen which I'm ordering...)

Okay, so, then, I kept reading. And here is where I realized I was reading the BEST EVER article on birds, birding, birders, why we go out in strange places and our own neighborhoods just to look at birds.

And then, while Jason was lying on a bed in the emergency room of the Kaiser hospital in Happy Valley, Oregon, waiting for someone to come and finish the admitting process, I started reading it aloud to him. Someone did come in halfway through and, when we finished dealing with that person and started waiting for the next person to show up, he asked me to read the rest of the article to him. And he loved it!

That's why I think you will enjoy it, reading it online --- if someone who is lying on a bed in a strange place, in pain, and wondering if he's going to get through this --- enjoyed it that much.

So, Dear Reader, this is why I'm telling you about this article. I found that it's available on line, so you can read it for yourself without my having to recirculate this copy of this magazine to your home address. Please follow this link and read it. It will make your day, I promise.

I'm thinking the likelihood of my ever going to East Africa to look at birds is about negative 99.99%. But if I ever get there---and wherever I do get myself to, with binoculars and bird book in hand---I'll appreciate these beautiful creatures even more than I ever have before.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bald Eagle at Lacamas Lake

Early in the morning, yesterday (Oct. 20), I saw a bald eagle fishing for breakfast:

This was the eagle's second run, having missed the first try at a fish.

The eagle soared up to turn around and come in for another try.
This was the third try. Almost! But some crows had come along.

The eagle flew away, mobbed by the crows.

The eagle flew to the top of a Douglas fir and then farther away from the lake.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cannon Beach on Columbus Day

We didn't even walk to Haystack Rock this time, but walked along the beach to the south.

Then we walked on the trail from Ecola State Park toward Indian Beach.

We didn't walk all the way to Indian Beach, just about halfway.

We saw so many beautiful old trees along the trail.

And lots of mushrooms.

We did NOT try to pick any of these.

Even if you knew they were safe to eat (and touch)...

...You would want to leave them so other people could see them.

It's mushroom season at home, too. I'll put in some mushroom photos from our back yard and the neighborhood, soon.

And then there were the birds.

Yeah, this is about how well I saw that woodpecker with my eyes, too.

But the Steller's jay sat still and posed for a photo.

And then those beautiful mountains fading into the mist. It was a perfect day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

More Hamilton Videos

Why are these available now when they weren't before? Oh well, here are some excerpts:

Updated on Thursday, October 8: I am deleting the videos because they have been removed from YouTube because they apparently violate someone's copyright privilege. Sorry about that! Probably whoever posted them filmed them illicitly during a performance or something. I don't blame the author and performers and company for wanting to maintain their copyright! But I'm sorry you can't all enjoy these videos like I did when they first came out.

So, here's an authorized video, even though it's one that Madame L and I have posted before:

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Martian -- "Help is only 140 million miles away"

Not gonna wait for Madame L to get around to this (though she will do that, soon).

Go see "The Martian"! The book was so incredibly good, and, guess what, the movie does justice to it. Great plot! Great screenplay! Great characters! Great acting! Great effects! Great planet! Great everything!

Go see it!

Ponderization: Alma 7:23

This scripture has been on my mind a lot lately, so it will be my first week's "ponderization" scripture:

Alma 7:23: And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

Hamilton, Broadway, MacArthur

"MacArthur" of course referring to the MacArthur Foundation genius awards, of which Lin-Manual Miranda received one this year.

Madame L has been writing about Miranda's Broadway  musical "Hamilton" since before it even made it to Broadway, and I'm so excited that Miranda won this award, among the other talented and deserving recipients.

I'm still going to make it to NYC sometime, probably not until spring 2016 at the earliest, to see this musical.

And in the meantime I see that the original Broadway cast album is going to be available later this month, and I've already ordered it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Favorite Talk from Today: Ponderization

Here's the summary from the church Web site: "My Heart Pondereth Them Continually" (Brother Devin G. Durrant,  First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency)

I invite you to “ponderize” one verse of scripture each week. The word ponderize is not found in the dictionary, but it has found a place in my heart. So what does it mean to ponderize? I like to say it’s a combination of 80 percent extended pondering and 20 percent memorization. …

… Read or think of the verse several times each day and ponder the meaning of its words and key phrases throughout the week.

Imagine the uplifting results of doing this weekly for 6 months, a year, 10 years, or more.
As you make this effort, you will feel an increase in spirituality. You will also be able to teach and lift those you love in more meaningful ways.

I see the video of the entire talk hasn't been posted yet, but it should be available soon by following a link on this page. 

My Favorite Talk (So Far)

My favorite talk, so far, is the one by Elder Larry Lawrence in the Saturday morning session, "The Course of Steady Improvement." Here's a summary of the talk from the church's Web site:

The journey of discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a “course of steady improvement.” As we travel along the strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home.

However, we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way. We have to ask some difficult questions—questions like “What do I need to change?” “How can I improve?” “What weakness needs strengthening?” …

I would like to suggest that each of you participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question: “What is keeping me from progressing?” In other words: “What lack I yet?” Then wait quietly for a response.

If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you. ...

If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us.

But what I loved about this talk were the examples. So, here's a link to the whole talk so you (and I) can read it again. 

Watching it again just now, I also love how he mentions that Christ's commandment in Matthew 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect," is another way of stating the Latter-Day Saints' (supposedly heretical) doctrine that we are all able to become like God ourselves.

And, looking up this reference just now so I could be sure I got the wording right, I am reminded that this commandment, to become perfect, like our Heavenly Father, comes at the end of a list of commandments and blessings. I love that whole section of Matthew, the Beatitudes Jesus spoke during his Sermon on the Mount:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
And I see that we don't have to wait until "the eternities" for these blessings. Some of them, maybe, like inheriting the earth, but most of them we can access right now, in this lifetime on earth. 

And I see that this great site where I found these verses, BibleHub, gives links to similar verses and references in the Old Testament. So we see that Jesus was referring his listeners there on the Mount to scriptures they already knew well from their studies of scripture. Here are the last few verses of Matthew 5, which this Web site reminds us is based on ancient Jewish law from the time of Moses himself, in Leviticus 24:17-23:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  

And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  

 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Jesus is teaching a refinement of the ancient law, and I feel very blessed to live in a time when prophets and other church leaders are authorized to explain and refine those laws for us, too.  

So when we feel like we're far from perfect, we can pray and ask, "What lack I yet?" And the Holy Ghost will give us answers so we'll know how to become more perfect.

And when we wake up at two o'clock in the morning and have trouble getting back to sleep, we can think about what the prophet and apostles and members of the Seventy have taught us. And maybe pray for how to find a way to get back to sleep. And I think I've found it: Write down the things that are on my mind, like this talk by Elder Lawrence....I think it's working. Good night.