Saturday, December 24, 2011

snowy day in Bisbee

We took my wife's sister down to Bisbee today--a couple of hours to the SE of Tucson, a mile-high up in the Mule Mountains just north of the Mexican border...and it SNOWED!

Main Street in this Victorian mountain mining town:

At one time, Bisbee was the largest city between the Mississippi River and San Francisco...Mining is no longer what it was here; the mountain town is a curious mix of restored b&b's, espresso stands, seedy taverns, art galleries, motorcycle hangouts, chic boutiques, Tucsonans on day-trips and Europeans on quests to see the 'real Wild West'...

    ...symmetry of complementary color on a streetcorner:
This stairway tucked into a narrow passageway also caught my eye: 
(I'm still playing around a lot with the app I mentioned in the previous posting;
photography on a snowy day with the iPhone is just so easy.
I didn't bring my other camera, but with the snow,
I wouldn't have taken it out anyway...)

Through a gallery window--an artist at work:
His name is Poe Dismuke, and he and his wife, Sam Woolcott, are the artists and owners.
His sculptures and drawings and her paintings fill the gallery, which is also his work space:
(For more info, click here:

A couple of doors down, in the PanTerra gallery, my wife and her sister got felt hats, (the snowy weather was good for business), and I bought this surreal print:
The photographer/digital artist is Dale O'Dell, from up in Prescott, AZ.
(I just had to get this print--feeling a bit homesick for the Pacific NW...and when I was younger, I used to want to live in a tree. S. and I have walked inside a tree on the Olympic Peninsula that would be big enough to live in; it literally had room-like partitions within its trunk...)

So, as I said, it snowed--for a couple of hours, the flakes came down quite copiously...
...not a particularly noteworthy photo, the one above, but I did e-mail it,
directly from my iPhone, to our local ABC news channel--you know, for those
'local weather scene' type things--and on tonight's news on KGUN ch. 9, there it was on tv!
Snow is always exciting in southern Arizona...

 Right as the snow began, we stopped for lunch:
The patio of "Poco" restaurant is tucked into a shady alley in this Victorian town, but on this wintry day, we said 'no' to al fresco dining. Inside this hole-in-the-wall, we had creative local fusion fare. My lunch was the 'poco dog:' Korea meets Mexico in a vegan version of the classic 'Sonoran hot dog:' chipotle aioli and homemade kimchi (kimchi!) and guacamole atop a vegetarian sausage and refried black beans on a bolillo roll! East meets south-of-the-border: viva!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

fall color on the first day of winter...playing with 'snapseed'

My sister-in-law is in town. Yesterday my wife and I took her for the obligatory visit to Sabino Canyon; seeing the remaining fall color in the canyon made me return there today to go for a late-morning run.

I took along my iPhone, strapped to my wrist--here are a few photos from the first day of winter here in Tucson. The autumn foliage begins late here in the desert; the cottonwoods, sycamores and ash are often at their peak right around the winter solstice:

 ...perfect morning light...
 The recent rains have replenished the creek, which is flowing higher than normal:

...the cottonwoods are glorious:

And below, a few photos from yesterday evening, when we took my sister-in-law:
So yes, you can tell that these iPhone photos have been 'manipulated' a bit--yep, I'm playing with a new app I just got: "Snapseed," which was recently named by Apple as one of the best apps of the year, 'app of the year,' in fact!

For photo-editing in the palm of your hand, this app is amazing! It allows you to do all sorts of correcting--'teasing out' what your eyes see in cases of tricky exposure in addition to applying filters. For example, the photo above began as this:

And here's another 'fixed' photo...
    ...and its original dark form:

And one more before...
 ...and after:

Snapseed has truly been a 'toy' the past couple of days--and with plenty of photo-fodder in the canyon, I've been playing a lot. The editing features are so easy to learn how to use--very intuitive--and I'm still blown away that I can do it all in the palm of my hand just seconds after taking the original photo!

I'm overusing the 'tilt and shift' filter right now, (also known as 'miniature' or 'toy' effect), but the effect can be fun, so here are a few more examples, from photos I happened to have on my phone:

The Old Courthouse and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis:

 A bit of old almost lost amidst the new in central Seoul,
the late Yi-dynasty 'Altar of Heaven' in the garden of the Westin Hotel:

More old/new in Seoul--the grounds of Toksu-gung Palace in the center of the city:

 And something more 'local'--the 1920's Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Dear Leader" dead...renewed uncertainty for the Korean peninsula

Sunday night in Tucson...I was going to upload a few photos.
Instead, I go online and see breaking news.

Here is a clip from the BBC, showing the official North Korean state media announcement:

...more uncertainty for the Korean peninsula...
will the surreal personality cult of the Kim dynasty continue in the North?
Will the father-to-son succession go smoothly?
Or will there be a North Korean 'spring' following the pattern of the Arab spring?
What does this mean for the South? for the rest of NE Asia?
Does this mean a potential re-unification might happen sooner...or later?

As 'modern' as the world likes to think it is, it's amazing how much, geopolitically, still depends on certain individuals--Castro in Cuba, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Kim in N.Korea...

Lots of questions...
...especially about Kim Jong-Un (also spelled Jong-eun), the 'heir apparent.'
Al-Jazeera featured this piece about him last year--the little bit known of him during the time he spent at a boarding school in Switzerland as a young teenager:


And while reading about North Korea, I came across this--some great independent Canadian reporting on North Korean labor camps in Siberia; here's the trailer:

Click here for more information from CNN, which featured the above journalism.


A couple of colleagues of mine have started a new
literary and visual arts journal: Three Coyotes,
published here in Tucson.

Its mission: to publish "the work of our best poets, writers and artists
 in response to the environment, the American West,
current issues, animals, the arts,
imagination and survival."

So, incidentally, in this year's Fall/Winter issue of this year, which just came out,
a photo of mine is published--on page 121:

"Eye Contact"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TURKEYS have EGGS? Wait, olives grow on TREES? Sanity restored by a run in the canyon...

Two more days, and then au revoir and adios to my students until 2012...

The semester break comes just in time.
In recent weeks the following student exclamations have colored my workdays:

"What--turkeys have eggs!? I thought just chickens did!"
(source of that quote--a sophomore...kid is fifteen years old, can get behind the wheel of a car for driving lessons...scary...)

And this:
"Wait...olives grow on TREES? No way!"

Thankfully I teach neither botany nor avian reproduction.
But food--la cuisine--la comida--inevitably gets discussed in foreign language classrooms, and I continue to be astounded.

Seriously, today, I also heard this,
not for the first time:
"Whoa--so, how does pasta grow?"

I wish I were making this up.

Sanity requires an afternoon run in the hills:

We've had a string of stormy days here in the desert--
cold rain on the cacti and snowcapped mountain peaks;
today the sun came back out...
I took my iPhone with me on my run on the hills above Sabino Canyon...

 ...and down in the canyon itself, where the creek is flowing strong
and the late fall cottonwoods are coloring its banks:

...ahh, running into the sunset...sanity restored, patience refilled...and just two days of exams to get through...