Friday, September 08, 2006

diamonds and fragments

Some things I never want to forget. Like how I felt just a few days ago when our daughter got married. What a combination of pride, satisfaction, joy, gratitude, loss, love, memory, anticipation, expectation, laughter, tears, longing, hoping, seeking, finding, standing, walking, smiling, talking, listening, seeing, kissing, hugging, wishing, visiting, packing, knowing, believing and belonging.

Then there are things you don't quite know why you remember and you don't quite remember them fully, yet there they linger. For example, there's a radio commercial from the old days of K-PIX and K-NAK. I must have heard it thousands of times. I'm sure it ran for years. If you grew up in Salt Lake City in the sixties or seventies, perhaps you remember it, too:

    "From Antwerp, from Johannesburg, from diamond capitals of the world, come the fine diamonds at Diamonds Limited in the Surety Life Building. See Gordon Lobb a diamond expert with 30 years experience..."
And that's all I can pull. Not the full commercial, only a fragment. I do know Joe Lee was the voice. Perhaps Ray Graham will also remember.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

tips, tricks and treats

Every year our Instructional Services staff gets together to share what they've learned as they've attended summer seminars, talked with colleagues, read, googled and otherwise encountered great ideas. And, as if that's not enough, there's a free lunch. Here are a few of the things I learned at this week's session:

1. PBS tops the most-trusted institutions list (2-year old research but new to me) 2. Jared has a blog. Annie has a blog. I already knew that Doug had a blog. 3. You can learn it at film school or get it free here. 4. The $100 Laptop will change the world as we know it. 5. Catchy name, great resources at

And a couple of the things I shared from my NSPRA meeting in Chicago:

Seeking “place at the table” within your superintendent? You are the table. It goes with you. Provide unsolicited, useful information and advice. Tell her something she doesn't already know. Say things that matter. All crises happen explosively and are solved incrementally. Alliteration for effective human relations: Be simple, sincere, sensitive; focused, forceful, fair; practical, purposeful, powerful. -James Lukaszweski, Inside the Mind of a Corporate CEO

Making Daymakers – A daymaker is a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place (David Wagner, Life As A Daymaker, 2003) “Every person you meet wears an invisible badge that reads ‘I’m special, I’m important; recognize me.’” (Author unknown) “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (John Watson) -Gold Mine Session by Dianne Pavia, Riverside Unified School District, Riverside California

p.s. As for tricks, there was actually only one. Lick a dime. Stick it on your forehead. Great attention getter with kids or adults, and surprising how long the dime will stick. An icebreaker to get people laughing and talking.

Monday, August 28, 2006

benefits of expressive writing

The quick brown fox...
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.

Earlier this summer I found this quotation while looking for something else:

“Since the Mid-1980s, an increasing number of studies have focused on the value of expressive writing as a way to bring about healing. Across our first four studies, those in expressive writing groups had 43% fewer doctor visits for illness than the control group that wrote only about superficial topics. There are probably a thousand ways to write that are beneficial to you.” -James W. Pennebaker, Telling Stories: The Health Benefits of Narrative

Although I haven't tested it out in any controlled way, the idea rings true from years of journal writing, some of it expressive, much of it not. The quote also fits in well with this one:

"What if writing were a simple, significant, yet necessary way to achieve spiritual, emotional, and psychic wholeness? What if writing were as important and basic to wellness as healthful food, pure water, clean air, and rest? Writing has helped me heal. Writing has changed my life. Writing has saved my life." -Louise DeSalvo

Note to myself: Yeah, sure, expresssive writing now and then may provide a breath of fresh air, but if you want to breathe even more of that clean air, why not spend more time in the mountains?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

september preview

Actually it's just a late August post. I just finished my sixth consecutive week of lawn mowing, which is also a measure of how long Al's been more-or-less immersed in Russian. The cooler weather really makes it nice to get out there in the early evening. Today I tried it with some digitized music and in the "shuffle mode" I got a taste of some of my old favorties and a few of my kid's. Mostly theirs, now that I try to remember what I heard. Not a bad mix of Sinatra, Handel, Neil Young, Dixie Chicks, Josh Groban and many I can't identify. Surely he hath born our griefs and no, no they can't take that away from me and southern man do kind of go together after all. It's kind of strange to think that if Pluto was sentient being rather than a demoted planet, I bet he'd be a bit blue if he'd heard what the earthlings decided to define this week.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

an august post

Getting ready for a wedding. LJ's. No project quite like this one. LD's organizational skills shining through. The first such event in our immediate fam. Is this the little girl I carried? These morning howyadoin' chats after her Primary all nighters three days a week are winding down to our last few, and then she's off to Monterey. Such a beginning for her and for all of us. Remembering riding with her driving on her learners permit as I drive with her little sister now. The last one to drive. I'm calmer, but there are still plenty of thrills. No more safe parking lots or driving ranges. We're on real streets with real dips both in the road and on it. Scanning photos for a slide show at the reception. This is the little boy at play. Mowing the lawn five times now. Trying my hand at Rosetta Stone Russian a few minutes at a time, as son in Provo gives it hours every day, seven days a week. Giving the dog at little extra attention at his request. The cat's belly fur has made such progress. So glad we didn't lose him. Almost daily transatlantic gmail chats with our Cambridge blogger daughter who is off to Berlin this weekend. Still almost daily face to face sometimes during dinner sometimes after dinner chats with the fulltime working son who lent me his street bike. Still biking, swimming, but not so much running. That bike shaved 12 minutes off my tri time just a week after a face plant and fat lip on Earl's mountain. And so it's not that I've been doing nothing while I haven't blogged. But more consisely, fine thanks, and you?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

my faraway friend

We bid good-bye to our 19-year-old son yesterday. Today he spent his first full day learning Russian. He'll do this for 12 weeks, and then he's off to Novosibirsk, Russia for two years. I've done this drill only once before, sending our eldest off to East Los Angeles more than half a decade ago. Back then I wasn't that sad on the day we parted. After all, I thought, we'll have letters and tapes and photos. I didn't realize how much I'd miss him and how long those two years would really be. But this time I had a reference point and it made me a little less brazenly proud, a little more soft-hearted.

While Joe was gone, I wrote a kid's story. Back then I thought it was about my daughter's friend Kara who had to move out of state, but now it seems to be more about loss in general, and the hope of redemption and reunion.

    My Faraway Friend

    My good friend said, "We're going to move."
    I was so sad, but I thought and
    thought and thought some more.

    I thought...
    We can write letters.
    We can talk on the phone.
    We can visit each other someday.

    Before my friend moved...
    We talked and talked and talked some more.
    We said we'll write letters.
    We'll talk on the phone.
    We'll have a visit some day.

    When I got lonely...
    I wanted to visit, but couldn't.
    I wanted to phone, but didn't.
    I wanted to write, so
    I wrote a long letter.
    I drew pictures, too.
    Writing felt like talking,
    but not quite the same.

    After I mailed the letter...
    I waited and waited
    and waited some more.

    While I waited...
    I played with other friends.
    I made a new friend, too.

    Then one day when I thought I didn't care
    anymore my letter came back all crumpled and torn in a special plastic bag.
    "Sorry your mail got mangled" it said.
    Somehow my letter got torn up in the mail machines, but
    was rescued and sent back to me.

    That day I called my faraway friend.
    We talked and talked
    and talked some more.
    We planned a visit together.
    That afternoon I played
    with my new freind.

    We laughed and laughed
    and laughed some more.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Antelope Island Moonlight Ride

Antelope Island
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Rode the my second Antelope Island Moonlight Ride last night with Dave, Dallin and Joe. The Davis County folks who sponsored the ride fed us ham-stuff croissants, chips, a banana and Gatorade. Also discovered that dust on the camera lens when I looked at this shot.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

mill creek after work

Mill Creek Canyon
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Mountain biked up Mill Creek Canyon from Wasatch Boulevard to the elbow where the Pipeline Trail starts, then rode the Pipeline back down. It's a good workout and the views on the way down are definitely worth the effort to get up there. Of course you can just drive and park or have someone drop you off, but there's a sense of accomplishment in doing it under your own power.

Kate, thanks for the mention of your vocabulary experience in your blog. I'm really enjoyiong what you have to say and the way you say it. You might find it of interest that in my last couple of miles up the canyon I ended up singing to try to take my mind off the fatigue and even out my breathing. I don't know all the words to "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody" but I gave it my best shot.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

they're soaring

I'm getting taste of the empty nest. One daughter is in California, one is in England, and my 19-year-old son is about to leave for a couple of years in Russia. They're not just on test flights any more, but soaring across deserts and oceans, spanning continents and cultures.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

before and after

before and after Originally uploaded by rfin.

Before I rode Jim's high-end street bike in the Salt Lake Marathon Bike Tour, I was used to my beater mountain bike. Now getting on the old Schwinn seems a bit strange.

This is the second year I've done the tour. Last year I rode the Schwinn. Although it's great for trails, there's nothing like the right tool for the job, and that tool today was a street bike. Thanks for giving me a taste of elite riding, Jim.

Trying out the bike was fun, but introducing a loved-one to such a great activity made my whole day. You see today was my first-born son's first Bike Tour and he was definitely tuned in to the spirit, the beauty, the energy, the comraderie, the Zeitgeist of the event. Here's what he had to say. Glad you had such a good experience, Joe!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I been workin' on the LambdaRail

What do Promontory, Utah and the fiber optic LambdaRail network have in common?

They're both about connecting people and commerce, technology and trade. They're both about vision, achievement and big ideas that change the world. But it goes even deeper than that.

Promontory's the spot where the first US Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869. The railroad right-of-way which started 137 years ago in northern Utah still impacts us today as Utah connects to National LambdaRail, an ultrahigh-speed fiber optic network for education and research.

Without the physical railroad to literally pave the way, the fiberoptic rail might have taken a much different pathway to Utah. Railroad rights-of-way are not only about tracks for trains, but routes and land for natural gas pipelines, electric power transmission lines and fiber-optic cable.

Until a few weeks ago, I didn't realize I had several personal connections to both the old rail and the new one.

Connection 1: As kid growing up in the sixties I always liked May. It's the month of my birth. It's the month that school gets out. And a hundred years earlier it was the time when the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads met each other in my home state. I remember liking the subject as a kid, perhaps because I had my own electric trains, and certainly because I'd been to the historic spot for tailgate breakfast of bacon and eggs with my aunt, uncle and cousin.

Connection 2: Skip ahead 35 years to 2002. I'm working at the Utah Education Network which shares space with KUED,TV, KUER-FM and KUEN-TV at the Eccles Broadcast Center. Emmy-award winning producer Ken Verdoia produced the first-ever TV documentary about Promontory. I got a chance to do a few voice-over lines of historial narration for program.

Connection 3: Then just a few weeks ago, I got involved in writing a news release on LambdaRail's arrival in Utah thanks to UEN and the University of Utah. I sat in on an interview as the U of U's science writer, Lee Siegel talked to Steve Hess, the U's Associate VP for Info Technology. When Steve told Lee about the physical routing of the LambdaRail fiber, a chill went up spine, as I realized the train story of my childhood and the 21st century story I sought to tell were so tightly connected. Read more:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

first dry creek movie

first dry creek movie
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Watch the video

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

birthday brothers

brothers Originally uploaded by rfin.

We're celebrating my dad's 94th birthday today. On the day of his birth, April 25, 1912, the world was still coming to grips with the sinking of the Titanic just ten days earlier.

My dad wasn't the youngest for long. Two years later, on April 29, 1914, his little red-headed brother showed up.

Their lives intertwined for nearly 50 years. As boys they worked on farm chores, rode horses, swam naked in the Sevier River and hunted Jack Rabbits together. They went to school and college together, studying studying agriculture and forestry at Utah State University.

During World War II, Joe served in the FBI, while Rich joined the Army and served in the Battle of the Bulge.

They both married beautiful, talented, strong women who loved their handsome husbands, their children, music, art, exploration and cuisine. Each couple reared two children, a son and a daughter.

Dad died unexpectedly in 1963, but Uncle Rich lived until 2003, joking "If I knew I'd live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." After 40 years apart, the birthday brothers are again together.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

reduce clutter - help the earth

For Salt Lake area readers only (unless you're planning a trip to Utah this weekend)

Tomorrow, April 21 is the eve of the 36th annual Earth Day. So what? Well, it's an opportunity to do something that will improve the environment and clear some clutter out of your garage, basement or attic.

Actually it's a two-day opportunity.

Both tomorrow and Saturday, my associates at Utah Tech Corps are holding their annual Electronic Recycling Extravaganza at Rice Eccles Stadium. It's a great chance to get rid of your unwanted electronic junk, and to know you're doing it in a way that could help some kids and the environment. Here are all the details...

Earth Day Electronic Recycling Event

  • What: Drop off unwanted electronic equipment including computers, monitors, printers, cell phones, TVs and radios (in working condition or not), but no microwave ovens or refrigerators.
  • Why: Recycling saves landfill space and reduces toxic pollution from electronic waste.
  • When: Friday and Saturday, April 21 and 22 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. both days.
  • Where: University of Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot (southwest corner) near 1350 East 500 South
  • Who May Donate: Anyone with unwanted electronics (whether in working condition or not)
  • Who Benefits: Utah school kids who will have access to refurbished computers. Donors who get rid of stuff they don’t want and gain space they could use. All Utahns who seek a cleaner, less toxic environment.
  • Sponsors: Utah Tech Corps, Utah Education Network, Computers for Kids, Lowell Bennion Community Service Center , City Academy Charter School, and Lucency Corp Electronic Recycling

So, what are you waiting for. You know you didn't feel good about putting your old Mac-SE in a dumpster. Now you can give it a good home, or at least a good send off into another realm.

Monday, April 17, 2006

easter shopping reward

Originally uploaded by rfin.

My daughter needed some new clothes and so did I. So we headed to Sugar House late Saturday afternoon. After we finished someone had painted the sky and the little creek just south of Old Navy in a way I've never seen before. Fortunately I'd left my camera in the car. So many times the moment doesn't last, so I ran for the camera, and ran back to the spot and got this shot. I'm glad to have a new shirt and she's happy with some new shoes, and I think my camera was thrilled to capture image.

Monday, April 03, 2006

winter warmth

winter warmth
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Doesn't matter that I shot this on April 2. Everything about it but the date says winter.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

my favorite puddle

my favorite puddle
Originally uploaded by rfin.

forms in this little indentation in the driveway. It's always there waiting for me after a storm. Much more reliable than a rainbow. So who says you have to look up to see the sky?

behind bars

behind bars
Originally uploaded by rfin.

I remember touring a juvenile detention facility sometime back in the sixties. I don't think of myself as having been behind bars, but I must have been to get this shot.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006


Originally uploaded by rfin.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

calm before the storm

calm before the storm
Originally uploaded by rfin.

I took the long way home last night, up around the Medical Center, through Fort Douglas, past Red Butte Garden, through Research Park, up Sunnyside, down through the Bonneville Golf Course, below Sunset Gardens and across Foothill Boulevard. Got this shot from one of the parking lots below Red Butte Garden.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


FROY Originally uploaded by rfin.

First Ride of the Year, first mountain bike ride that is. Looking west from Dry Creek Canyon. It was too muddy to go much above this point, although the track showed a few others had given it a try. Friday afternoon, March 3, 2006.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

snowy day

and because of this great, gentle storm....

Another beautiful calm day, except for garbage hinderances. I'm jubiliant kin, loving many natural opportunities provided quietly. Remembering such tremendous unity. Vanquished while examining yesterday's zealots.

Oh, and thanks for your encouragment back in December, Sharon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

beyond the bars

...and a few alphabetical sentences for Valentines Day...

Alluring beige candle delights enchanted friends. Green horizon invites jumping kittens. Love means never opposing quality romance. Still tracings unveil virtual wonders. Xerography yields zines. huntsman center Originally uploaded by rfin.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

gotta keep that camera in my pocket

gotta keep that camera in my pocket
Originally uploaded by rfin.

In the seconds it took to walk in the house, down the stairs, open the drawer, grab the camera and go back outside, the whole sky had changed. This was nice, but oh what I missed.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

watsatch front power pole (revised copy)

watsatch front power pole Originally uploaded by rfin.

It's there at least twice a day. A golden moment with the morning sun and one the the evening. I see them. I think that's great, might even make a great shot, but I rarely stop,. But when I do, and get the shot, and get it home, I realize the worlds greatest photoshop filter has removed telephone poll from my perception, but its very much there on the image. We all filter. Part of the human condition. But, as with clothes dyers, it's a good idea to check the filter, too.

opinion on opinion

"The feeble tremble before opinion, the foolish defy it, the wise judge it, the skillful direct it." — Jeanne de la Platiere

Monday, February 06, 2006

spiral bound

spiral bound
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Welcome to the first full week of February. I'm going to share with you some heart-related resources in the next few days. Here's one of them:

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Nonsense but alphabetical:

Always beaming concerned down ending. Finding gratitude honored integrity. Jumping kitchen loud music, never opened. Played quest romantic still trusting, understanding value, why? x-youth zine.

framed bridge post LHS

framed bridge
Originally uploaded by rfin.

caught on my walk back from Friday's LHS (Lunch Hour Swim).

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006

behind the wires

behind the wires
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

clock reset needed

Primary Childrens Hospital
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Guess I need to reset the clock in my camera. I shot this at about nine this morning, but the time stamp says 5:33 p.m.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

top ten killers - how we doin?

Pulled out my old paper-based planner tonight to get some old phone numbers. Found a yellowed newspaper clipping I'd taped onto one of the pages...

Top Ten Killers Number of deaths in 1991 per 100,000 people. Heart disease 286 Cancer 204 Stroke 57 Lung diseases 36 Accidents (non-auto) 35 Pneumonia, flu 31 Diabetes 19 Suicide 12 AIDS 12 Homicide 10 Source: National Center for Health Statistics I wondered how the stats have changed over the years so I googled NCHS and found this page with similar stats. Although it has much more detail, here's how the newer numbers (from 2000-2002) match against the older ones. cause/1991/2000-2002/+- Heart disease 286/247 -39 Cancer 204/196 -8 Stroke 57/58 +1 Lung diseases 36/43 +7 Accidents (non-auto) 35/35 0 Pneumonia, flu 31/22 -9 Diabetes 19/25.2 +16.2 Suicide 12/10.7 -1.3 AIDS 12/5 -7 Homicide 10/6 -4 So it's a mixed bag, with some progress in reducing deaths from heart disease, cancer, pneumonia-flu, AIDS and homicide. Not much change in non-auto accidents, stroke and suicide rates. And increased death rates from diabetes and lung disease.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Before Sunset

Sugar House Park
Originally uploaded by rfin.

There's a time when it doesn't seem like it's that late in the afternoon. Oh, you can tell if you look at the shadows, but it's so easy to get lost in the moment and assume the blue sky and bright light will last longer. But it is winter. The days are shorter. And it's much colder than it appears. I'm grateful for today's sunshine and the hope that each longer day brings as we move toward spring and summer. When the days are long and hot, I hope I'll also remember some of these short, crisp, sunny days of January.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

seeing and listening

Huntsman Center Originally uploaded by rfin.

"Hey, I dare you not to notice the sunset. I know other people are driving home and it seems that they're not going ga-ga over this. But you're not them. You're noticing. You do have a camera with you. It's not going to take but two minutes for you to pull into the parking lot and then you'll have something to remember this. True enough, I'll paint you another one tomorrow and the next night and every night after that for as long as you live and beyond. But I promise you this -- just as there's only one you, this sunset is just as unique as you are, or a snowflake or anyone of a million other custom designs. Hey, I'm not into cloning. That's a human thing. All my work's the real thing. Bonafide originals. But you knew that. Your eye knew even before you thought of the time or the camera. Now get your photo. You won't regret it. And thanks for thinking of me."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

the drive home

the drive home
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Monday, January 09, 2006

cold but sunny

Originally uploaded by rfin.

Looking east from EBC this morning...

Friday, January 06, 2006

All the Best, Pete!

Two of my UEN colleagues, Pete Kruckenberg and Jim Stewart, got me started blogging nearly three years ago. Today--with this, my 386th blog entry--I wish Pete all the best as he leaves UEN to join Linux Networx.

Pete, thank you for your friendship, encouragement and leadership. You've done so much to make UEN the robust network it is today, and in the process you've inspired more than a few of us to see a clearer vision of our own potential as associates, as advocates for educational technology, and as humans with unlimited potential for growth and improvement.

Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for visionary ways to improve organizations and better ways to fully live our lives.

Glad to hear you're going to keep blogging. Me too!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

blue sky on New Years Day

blue sky on New Years Day
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Ringing in 2006

Happy New Year! I'm grateful to finish a thrilling and sometimes tough journey. It's been a great ride all-in-all, but I'm glad to have 2006 here and am looking forward to a number of things in this new year.

First though, a look back at a few highlights. Thanks to my son's 2005 goals, I got a taste of something new to me, running. Did a mini-triathlon on June 25 and discovered the indoor track at the Field House this winter. Running's already become less painful and more fun. Hope that trend will continue.

Enjoyed some success at the Huntsman World Senior Games in October. Swam in six events including my first 1,500 meter free. The best part of swimming this year was finally starting to get the hang of flip turns. Also enjoyed my first Antelope Island Moonlight Ride and riding in the Salt Lake City Marathon Bike Tour and the Josie Johnson Memorial Ride.

Of course these minor athletic joys pale in comparison to the satisfactions of family life. We had a remarkable year including trips to Orlando and Boston. We're proud of the kids accomplishments. We've now got just one left in high school, three in college and one who's got her undergrad degree and finished her rookie year as an RN. We're so proud of all of them.

On the more somber side of the ledger, 2005 brought the deaths of three dear women in the family -- a grandmother, an aunt and a niece. I'm so glad I had a few minutes with both my niece and my aunt before their sudden deaths in February and August. Family, friends, faith, and my camera and journals have all been a great blessing to me in this season of loss and gratitude for life.

2006 is already shaping up to be a great year. Sometime this summer we'll see our youngest son leaving for a mission. At my work we'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pioneer, Utah's Online Library. It's also year of cultural and scientific adventure with the 300th birthday of Rembrandt, the 250th of Mozart and the 150th of Tesla. I'm looking forward to more swimming, running and biking -- and perhaps a little travel as well.