Saturday, November 24, 2012

Where Are All The Bugs?

butterfly_puple_flowers Usually when I go out to take pictures, I try to avoid the bugs. Not today though. I was actively seeking them out .. then when I found some I was right down there on the ground with 'em.

It almost makes me feel like I'm 10 again. When I was a kid, I loved bugs, lizards, fish; pretty much anything I could find and capture. I had nets, tanks and terrariums .. and they were always full of something. The worst restriction I ever got as a kid was one time when my friends and I were trying to catch geckos, and we tore up the flowers lining the sidewalk of one of the neighbors houses. I wasn't allowed to play with bugs or any sort of wildlife for a week. It was torture!

Now, I like to "capture" most forms of wildlife in a different way ...

With my camera.

Which is what I was doing this morning. Out playing with a new toy. I'm not saying that life always works like this way (in fact more often than not it doesn't), but occasionally asking is the first step to receiving: I Really Want A Macro Lens (even if having someone else get it for me was totally not the intention behind writing that blog post)

Anyhow, I now have a Tamron 90mm Macro lens.

I definitely need some practice getting used to the very shallow depth of field. For all of the shots below, I actually stopped down to F6.3, lol and even then I still have quite a few more thow-away shots than normal. Wind and otherwise moving subjects are partially to blame though.

Anyhow, here are some of the 1st couple of "semi-keepers" that I was able to take with it:

big_red_ant_rocks

grasshopper_on_rocks

lizard_on_rocks

And if you really want to see some the detail this lens can capture, check out this Big Zoom of Lizard.

I'm sure I'll get out again later this evening, when the light's better, and hopefully run into a few more willing "models".

Til then, Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Military Plane Spotting



I've always enjoyed watching planes take off and land; and being around the military my entire life, I've had plenty of opportunities to do just that. Apparently when I was a little kid, I used to be able tell people what type of aircraft was flying overhead ... oddly enough, the picture above is of a plane that's been around long enough that I remember it from my childhood.

Now let me just be clear about the title of my post. Technically, just seeing aircraft flying over and taking pictures is not really "plane spotting". There are people who take this stuff way more seriously than that: Aircraft Spotting. In fact, when I was a teenager in England, there used to be a small parking lot just outside the end of the runway that was jokingly referred to as "spy corner". At the time, the SR-71 was stationed at RAF Mildenhall, and it wasn't really much of an exaggeration to believe that some of the people who sat out there every day seemed to know the flying schedule probably better than most of the active duty guys who worked on the base.

When the parking lot was full, that was probably a good indicator that it might be worth stopping to try to catch an SR-71 takeoff or landing.

I didn't have a camera back then. But now, if I ever find myself around the runway, and have my camera handy, of course I'm going to try to capture the moment. Only potential downside in this day and age, is that it's easier if I'm actually in uniform. For some odd reason if people see you taking pictures (especially with a long lens) around a military base they tend to get suspicious. Understandable, but a shame none-the-less.

Let's end this with one more shot that I took the other day here at Fort Huachuca, AZ

huachuca_A10s

And a couple more from Iraq a few years ago:









Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

The goal of giving Thanks

I was going to try to write something wise for Thanksgiving, then I realized that I really tend to benefit from just going back and reading stuff I've already written in the past. Here's an oldy but goody originally from Thanksgiving 2007.

Ok, so now that we're all done stuffing ourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie it's time for a little reflection. Did you take a few minutes today to think about the some of things you're truly thankful for?

If you're doing it right, today should not have been an abnormal day in the giving thanks department.

Giving thanks for all the good things you already have in your life is an integral part of successful goal setting. Every entry on my dreamboard starts with a list of the things I'm thankful for today. Not surprisingly, many of the same things tend to show up on a daily basis ... family, friends, health, etc..

Even when it comes building my home business; thinking back, the most success I've had sponsoring new people, always seemed to coincide with the times I was focusing most intensely on the people who were already in my group.

We tend to get more of what we think about most

So the next time you sit down to map out your goals, instead of making a long list of all the things that you really want, try spending a little extra time expressing gratefulness for the good stuff that you already have in your life.

To some extent, every day should be Thanksgiving.

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]

p.s. my friend Dawn's blog also reminded me of another important element of giving thanks ... helping those who are less fortunate
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Really Want A Macro Lens

For as long as I've had a dSLR I've always wished I had a Macro lens. In fact, specifically, I really want the Tamron 90mm Macro lens. Funny thing is, as lenses go, it's not even that expensive so I'm not totally sure why I don't already have one.



I suppose it probably comes down to the fact that it's not a lens that I've ever really "needed" ... it's always been much more of a want. I've heard that in addition to macro use, the Tamron also works really well as a portrait lens. But between my Canon baby L 70-200, and a sharp Tamron 28-75, I think got portrait range pretty well covered.

Over the years, I've actually had relatively good luck shooting macro type scenes using a long zoom lens, such as my Sigma 50-500 "Bigma". But obviously it's not ideal. I want to be able to get right up there next to the bugs. ;-)

Here are a couple of shots I took today with my Canon 70-200 F4L. They're not bad, but don't quite have the level of detail I expect I'd be able to get with a real macro lens.

yellow_butterly

orange_butterfly

I don't think any new lenses are in my Christmas budget ... with 7 kids to buy for, there's rarely much left over for dad. But who knows, if I have a good spring, maybe by my birthday in March that 90mm will be in the cards.

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
1

Friday, October 19, 2012

Arizona Nature Walk

I was getting tired of sitting in my hotel room, so I grabbed my camera this evening and went for a walk ... in the little field behind the hotel. It wasn't much of a hike, but I got a couple of pictures. :-)

It's Arizona, so of course the first thing I took a picture of was cactus.


This little guy was kind of interesting.


There were lots of little rabbits running around. This one sat still long enough for a portrait.


Looking up, there's a cardinal.


And just because it was sunset ..


Not the greatest pictures in the world. But hey, I got up and out of the hotel room for a bit. This was just practice for my upcoming hikes in the mountains.

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Real Value of Experience

Everything I've done up until this point, has prepared me for what I'm about to do.


I'm paraphrasing a little bit, but I heard this on an interview I listened to yesterday. It really resonated with me. The interview was about business; and since I'm considering making a pretty significant shift in my business strategy here in the near future, I found the quote encouraging.

It's not just about business though ...

Pretty much applies to life in general. Everything we've done, every experience we've had, and especially every mistake we've made, has gotten us ready for whatever it is we're about to do next.

In a way, if you've lived a charmed life, and haven't had to deal with adversities or failures, you may actually be at a disadvantage when compared to the rest of us poor slobs. :-)



Fail forward.

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
1

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Power of Negative Self Talk

For years now, anytime I talk about running, I tell people that I don't really like to run, and even if I did, I'm really slow.

As you can probably guess, both of those statements are 100% true.

They're also 100% dumb.

It's almost a self-fulfilling prophesy. Because I tell myself that I'm slow and I don't like to run, during those times when I have to run, invariably, I'm usually not very happy about it ... and it takes longer than I wish it did.

The sad part is, I know that running is good for me. And I also know plenty of people who do like to run. This really is a case of "maybe it's just me".

So I got to thinking ...

What if I could simply "trick" my brain into thinking that I DO Like running .. and that I CAN be faster ???

I do have some precedence for this. With some of my other workouts, particularly the Cross-fit that we sometimes do at morning PT, I've gone from something I used to hate, to something I very much look forward to. Not because anything about the workout changed ... but because my mindset about it did.

lol, this mindset change is going to be hard (for me) when it comes to running though.

I was just about to end this post with the thought: "I doubt I'll ever run a marathon or anything .."

More honestly, I'm not ready to commit to the idea that I may run a marathon one day. But I will find a way that I can get to the point where I look forward to a good run ... and where I'm going fast enough that people walking can't easily keep up. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
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Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day Back To School

Today was the first day of school here in Copperas Cove Texas. Momma got the girls cute little matching outfits, so of course Dad had to get out the camera ...

[caption id="attachment_4585" align="alignnone" width="500"] Jaiden and Jasmine posing in the front yard with their new outfits on. [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4586" align="alignnone" width="466"] Jasmine sitting on the couch showing off here new clothes. [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4587" align="alignnone" width="466"] Jaiden posing in her new threads[/caption]

I took more pictures, but have to run to work, so I'll try to upload them to flickr, and add the link here later.

Hope you're having a FuN day!

[todd-sig]
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Bouncy Castle Birthday

[caption id="attachment_4578" align="alignnone" width="500"] Joey can't wait til it's time to go jump in the bouncy castle. [/caption]

My wife throws a much better party than I do, especially when it comes to the kids. I don't know how it is that I ever became such a cheap skate, but my first reaction when Ana told me that we'd rented a bouncy castle for Jaiden's birthday party wasn't exactly to jump for joy.

It was more like "umm, how much is that costing me?" ;-)

As it turns out, it really wasn't that expensive. And since our neighbors behind us just rented the same one last week, we've actually had it our yard since Tuesday. It was easier (and cheaper) for the rental company to just leave it with us, rather than packing it up, driving all the way back to Temple, then bring it back out again on Friday.

I'm just getting ready now to go pop the hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. In a little over an hour, it looks like we're going to have up to a couple dozen kids, and most of their parents over at our house. Ana invited a lot of the newest neighbors, so it will be a nice chance to get to know everybody. lol, but with all those kids running around, I'm probably going to end up being very happy that we got the bouncy castle to keep them occupied.

I plan to take some more pictures and post them up later.

More pictures at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alohateam/sets/72157631256706566/

Til then ... keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

That's Not Justin Bieber On Your Shirt

Jaiden turned 4 today, so we figured it was time to tell her the truth about one of her favorite sleep shirts ...



Keep havin FuN!
Todd
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hugs Not Hits

Sisters will inevitably fight sometimes, especially when they're both preschoolers. But I'm a pretty creative dad. Whenever I hear them fighting I called them both into the room and ask them isn't hugging much better than hitting?

I tell them both: go hug your sister and say "hugs not hits".

It usually ends up looking something like this ...





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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Walk A Little Slower Daddy - Jaiden's Footprint

I got a Father's Day present from school this year!



"Walk a little slower Daddy"
said the child so small,
"I'm following in you footsteps
and I don't want to fall.

Sometimes your steps are very fast,
Sometimes they're hard to see;
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
For you are leading me.

Someday when I'm all grown up,
You're what I want to be;
Then I will have a little child
Who'll want to follow me.

And I would want to lead just right,
And know that I was true,
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
For I must follow you."


Thanks, Happy Father's Day ;-)

[todd-sig]
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Pretty In Pink Girls

Mom had an appointment this morning, so the girls were hanging with dad (note: I've been told it's not "babysitting", because they're my kids). I had a bit of running around to do myself, so we kept the van, and made our way about town for a couple of hours.

The first stop was the Killeen airport, where we went to see Capt. Hock return from Afghanistan. The flight came in early, so everybody was already at the luggage claim by the time we arrived. We stayed for 29 minutes .. I know this because when we left the parking lot, the girl commented that we'd just barely saved our buck (parking is free for < 30 minutes). Before we left though, I had to get my first picture of the day ... if for no other reason than to prove that the girls don't always look like hobos when I dress them. ;-)



Everybody was really good at the airport. They played with each other, sang and danced a little, but no fights or crying at all. I'd love to say that I have some brilliant parenting secret to share, but the truth is, I bribed them with the promise of ice cream ...



Again, we were in and out of Mickey D's in about 25 minutes. I did treat myself to an ice cream cone, but seeing as how it was lunch time, and I was hungry, it could have been much (ie Big Mac) worse. The girls, as you can see above, quite enjoyed their cones .. Jaiden even ended up with a pretty good chocolate mustache.

The last stop was at the Copperas Cove city park, to see the ducks. We almost didn't make it beyond the parking lot, as in addition to ducks, there are also some (apparently very hungry) geese. I called this video "geese attack", although in truth they didn't attack us .. just scared Jaiden a little.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eltAhU0hdmI

Eventually we made it around to a "safer" location, and the girls actually had a good time checking out the ducks ...



Then it was home to swim in the pool.

How was your Saturday?

[todd-sig]
3

Friday, June 15, 2012

National Flip Flop Day

image

Holy cow, I didn't even know there was a national flip flop day. But now that I do, I'm definitely celebrating it. As long as it's warn enough outside, I wear flip flops almost everywhere I go. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I lived nearly 1/3 of my life in Hawaii, where it's almost acceptable to wear your "slippahs" even to a fancy restaurant.

Or maybe I just like getting a little sun on my toes.

Either way, if it's summer, spring or fall, you're probably going to find me wearing shorts and a pair of flip flops anytime I'm out and about. :-)

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
1

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Don't Forget The Sunscreen

sunscreen

I don't know how it is where you live, but here in Texas, the sun is getting pretty strong this time of year. Since the kids are spending a lot of time out in the back yard pool, the first step before they even go out the door is always getting spayed down with a generous coat of sunscreen.

Sometimes it's tempting to just let them skip the sunscreen and go swim, since all but Joey have naturally dark skin. But while it is true that they are less susceptible to getting sunburned, apparently it's a bit of a myth that darker skinned people don't get skin cancer. So it's definitely a "better safe than sorry" situation.

Unlike when I was a kid, and sunscreen involved a lot of messy lotion that needed rubbing in, today they pretty much just line up in front of me to get sprayed. 5 seconds on the front, turn around, 5 seconds on the back, and out the door they go. There's really almost no excuse to send them out unprotected.

I guess I could probably be a bit more of a "snob" about the brand of sunscreen we use, but really as long as it has a high SPF value, and sprays on relatively clean, I'm happy. Here are a few that I'm pretty sure we've tried ...



All summer long, it's almost guaranteed you'll find at least a couple of bottles in our closet.

How about you ... do your kids always use sunscreen?

[todd-sig]
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Any Excuse Will Do

When it comes to exercise, and really life in general, your excuses don't have to be "good", or even rational. They just have to sound better at that time than whatever it is you don't want to do.

As I currently work my butt off trying to get in half-decent shape, I can't help but reflect on some of the really good excuses I came up with during my recent deployment, which "helped" me get this way in the first place.

The mother of all excuses was my hurt back. On the surface, it seems perfectly logical to take a "rest" from exercise in hopes that it would help make things better. But the reality was that I was just as sore after taking months of "rest" as I had been when I was at least attempting to workout from time to time.

Another really good one was my eating schedule. If it turned out that I was really hungry after I got off work, and had to stop by the DFAC on the way home, well that pretty much ruled out the gym. I mean really, I might puke or something if I try to workout on a full stomach.

Speaking of the gym, they had a cleaning schedule that didn't always mesh well with my off time. And again, if the gym's closed, I couldn't possibly find somewhere else to exercise that day. Going to the gym was my "plan".

And then finally one excuse that really hit me when I got back home ... the showers! I have found it so much easier to work out twice a day since I've been home, simply because I know I can walk into my bathroom and jump in my shower afterwards. The showers at Camp Marmal in Afghanistan were horrible. Even if I wasn't hot and sweaty, I hated to go in there. So as you can imagine, not wanting to get hot and sweaty and having to shower before bed turned into a really convenient and consistent excuse to tell myself "I'll go to the gym tomorrow".

You know what though, if working out had been important enough to me, none of these excuses (or the 1000's of others I could easily come up with) would have mattered. I would have found a way to do it.

And that's really the point ...

If you find yourself not doing something that you think you should be doing, it's probably not the fault of whatever rationalization you've managed to come up with.

It just wasn't important enough (to you) at the time ... simple as that.

[todd-sig]
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We Love To Swing

Jaiden and Joey swinging

Pushing the girls on the swing, that pretty well answers the question: "so what have you been doing during your 2 weeks off after coming home from Afghanistan?"

Throw in a bit of "swimming in the pool", "watching Nick Jr", with a bit of playing "Tickle Monster" and all-in-all it's been a pretty good little break.

Tomorrow I'm back to work.

That does have it's benefits as well though. It will definitely make my 2 workouts a day a little bit easier ... seeing as how I get to do PT every morning. Since I've been home, I actually did a lot better with the exercising than I expected to, but still didn't manage 2 workouts every single day.

The girls will just have to make due with mommy until I make it home each evening ;-)

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
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Friday, June 1, 2012

Jaiden's Pre-K Ceremony

Today was Jaiden's last day of school for the year, but not her last day of Pre-K ... she gets to go again next year. Even so, they had a nice little ceremony, where she got called up to the front of the room and received her certificates.

I recorded two videos. This first one is of the class singing an alphabet song with a good message:
http://youtu.be/4zEoLlq7PyU

And this is Jaiden getting her certificates:
http://youtu.be/kAfGJIctv0w

Mommy and Joey kind of stole her spotlight a little. :-)

Well that's that .. let the Summer Fun begin!

[todd-sig]
1

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Surprise Welcome Home From Afghanistan

Ok, so it's not some elaborate set-up worthy of that Welcome Home tv show, but I still thought it was a neat idea when my wife Ana suggested that my 19 year old son Justin pick me up from the airport so that I could surprise my daughters by knocking on the front door. Justin recorded the event with my phone.

This is the result:

httpv://youtu.be/ImzkjhPz2TA

My little peanut (aka Joey) got over her confusion pretty quickly. By later that afternoon, I was getting hugs and kisses pretty much on request .. and they continue a week later. I got a couple of weeks off to get settled in. The main "event" we have planned, is lots of swimming in the back yard pool.

Til next time ...

[todd-sig]
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Goodbye Out Of Shape Todd

For just over a year now, I've had a great excuse to "take it easy" when it comes to exercise. Last year, Feb, when I was down at camp blanding, I got a little to ambitious trying to lift boxes of .50 caliber ammo, and tweaked my back. I've had a few trips to the doctors/chiropractor, but with no real results. I also decided that because of the pain I couldn't run or do push-up. As a result the last time I ran more than a mile or did more than 20 push-ups in a row was before I hurt my back.

If taking this time off from exercise was resulting in less aches and pains, I might be tempted to think it was worthwhile.

Unfortunately ...

I wake up sore every single day, whether I worked out or not.

In otherwords, I've gotten absolutely no benefit from my "lazy" year.

And in fact ...

I just can't get the thought out of my head that since I'm now weaker in my core than I was before I got hurt (for example I can't do anywhere near as many sit-ups as I used to .. even though they don't really hurt my back), I might just be making my back worse.

So as of 3 days ago, I've DECIDED to change.

I started doing P90X, and I fully intend to stick with it.

I retire from the Air Force in about a year and half. Oddly, one of my biggest fears about not being in the military was that once I'm out there'd be nobody to tell me that I have to exercise (even the low stress stuff I'd been doing). I don't want to be a fat, old retired guy.

I'm 43 years old right now. When I turn 44 next year, I WILL be in the best shape of my life.

... and who knows, maybe my back won't even hurt any more.

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daddy Dressed Me

Unhappy Toddler

This unhappy toddler picture is from back when Jaiden was about 2. She doesn't appear to be a happy camper .. I wonder why?

I didn't do it ... It wasn't me. :-)

[todd-sig]
6

Something Hairy at Home

New Puppies It seems like every time I go away on a "military sponsored vacation" we end up with new dogs in our house. Mind you, they don't always stay for long. But my wife Ana seems to be a magnet for dogs that are either "lost", or have owners who will be taking vacations.

Like I said, most end up moving on to bigger and better places, after their temporary pit stop at the Morris house. However, it just struck me as odd that new dogs (especially puppies) only seem to show up on our doorstep when I'm away.

So I asked my wife about it ...

Well apparently, even when I'm not gone, she has friends begging her to dog sit. But she almost always turns them down, because:


I already have something hairy at home that can get on my nerves:-)


I suppose that's what I get for asking. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]
1

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Last Military "Vacation"



In 2 weeks or so, I'll be about halfway through my current deployment to Afghanistan. (.. and the crowd Cheers!)

After over 22 years in the Air Force, this will be my last "vacation" or "camping trip" .. depending on whether you want to use my wife Ana's or 3-year old daughter Jaiden's euphemism. I'm not retiring just yet. But once I get back to Fort Hood in May, I'll definitely be on the downward glidepath.

In the mean-time, I really don't have much to complain about ...

  • For some reason I keep getting sent to relatively "quiet" locations for these "vacations". Seriously, the next time I expect to wear my body armor or helmet is on the plane ride home.

  • This time I've got a rather nice view ... the picture above was taken right outside my tent door. That's part of the Hindu Kush mountain range.

  • I live in a tent ... but I have a sleeping bag, several warm blankets, and the whole thing has a "climate control system" .. ok, so it's just big tube that runs down the center of the tent's ceiling, which blows out warm (or cold) air. But still, probably better than I would have on a civilian "camping trip".

  • The food is pretty good. A Captain on my last deployment described these deployed DFACs (Dinning Facilities) as pretty much the equivalent of "eating 3 meals a day at Golden Corral .. for 6 straight months". That about sums it up. The only dangerous part is, just like at an all you can eat buffet, the dessert bar, and the temptation to actually put "all you can eat" on your plate every meal, can easily catch up with you if you're not careful.

  • We've got a nice USO tent. They have video games, movie rooms, ping-pong & pool tables, and even free wi-fi (veryslow, but still free!). I usually try to get over there at least a couple of times a week, to download books onto my Kindle, or catch a movie.

  • Although I work 12 hour shifts, as we're getting more used to the job, things have been slowing down a bit, so I actually have time to keep up with my email, and talk to friends and family on Facebook. Don't get me wrong, the goverment is definitely getting their money's worth out of this trip ... but I find that coming to work is actually the part of my day I most look forward to!

  • Maybe it's just because we were here over the Holidays, but we seems to get a lot of care packages here. Most contain some sort of yummy treats. Not terribly easy on the old waistline .. but then again, who wouldn't want to have a box full of snickers in their office?



Now obviously there are a least a few things I don't like about this place. But really, there's nothing useful to be accomplished by recording them here. Other than ...

If I had a choice, I'd definitely prefer to be home with these guys:



Til next time ..
[todd-sig]

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