Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 through the lens of my iPhone...

Like most of us now, I'm almost never without my camera-that-also-makes-phone-calls. So--some of this year's scenic mobile-photography highlights, from the Desert Southwest to NE Asia, Chicago and the Cascades...

 The first light of the year, spilling into the Grand Canyon; sunrise on January 1st, 2014:

 The year began with a mini road-trip--up to the Grand Canyon and then over to Santa Fe:
(so honored that this photo was included in

Paris Las Vegas. So weird.

As spring arrives in the Arizona,
     mountain snowmelt turns the lower desert green--
          in the Santa Catalina foothills:

...and the deserts bloom;
     for miles, globemallow carpeted the ground to the west of Phoenix:

...and late spring brings out the saguaro-bouquets:

Summer found us in South Korea,
traveling around the country for a month.
This was my fifth trip there,
but even the familiar can be framed by the unexpected:
In Seoul's Itaewon district, on a Friday afternoon,
you'd be forgiven for mistaking the streetscape
for a Middle-Eastern scene--Hallal groceries 
surrounding a hilltop mosque--
globalization and migration patterns... 

 Languid summer mornings along the river in Jeonju:

A four-hundred-year-old lecture hall in a Confucian academy, still used for classes:

 Back in Seoul, inside architect Zaha Hadid's newly opened Dongdaemun Design Plaza: a spaceship on the outside, eh?

Looking down on Seoul's old South Gate--the view from our room on a one-night hotel splurge:

Facing the hills, in Busan's Gamcheon district:

Over to Ulleungdo island--the most beautiful island you've never heard of, off the east coast of Korea: a lush, vertical volcanic landscape rising out of Siberian and Japanese currents, rich in seafood and medicinal mountain vegetables, splendid isolation, and hardy smiles. Very few non-Koreans make it here; GO NOW before the government's "Mysterious Island" campaign draws too much attention to this rugged wonder.

...and we got to stay here:

 ...and 'the unintentional poetry of an old brick wall,' in the port of Mokpo, on Korea's SW tip:
--featured on
     For this scene, I used the PerspectiveCorrect app to straighten the bricks’ vertical lines a bit, and then Snapseed’s “details” option to bring out the wall’s texture.
     Earlier this summer, I spent a month traveling around South Korea, and toward end of my stay, I decided to spend a couple of days in the city of Mokpo, a port on the SW tip of the country–one section of the country that I had never before visited. The old center of the city is full of architecture from the Japanese Colonial period (1910-1945), some of it being preserved, but lots of it in varying degrees of photographically-interesting decrepitude. It was an incredibly muggy afternoon, and after a morning of hiking, I had just finished a lunch of the local specialty, octopus soup, when I walked past this wall around the corner from the restaurant. 
     I was immediately struck by how aesthetically pleasing the proportions of the differently colored sections of brick and tile were–pleasing, and yet completely unintentional: the outline of what once had been a staircase, the weeds growing luxuriantly in what had once been an adjacent building… What gets built, what gets torn down, what gets left behind, what is deliberate versus what is spontaneous–so much goes into building a city, into deciding how to relate the history of a place, into considering what’s worth keeping and commemorating or what should be forgotten…
     Korea’s 20th-century history has been such a fast-paced combination of painful humiliation followed by dizzying, breathtaking modernization; the seaside city of Mokpo illustrates all of that in such a compact space, and this particular wall, to me, seemed emblematic of it all. Three days later, I flew back to the U.S.

Back to Southern Arizona, escaping the summer's triple-digit heat by spending some time up on Mount Lemmon--almost alpine, with wildflowers, evergreens, and a ski-lift:

Just after Labor Day, a few days up in Seattle, with a day-hike up on Mt. Rainier:

And a week in Chicago in October:

I thought it would just be gimmicky, but I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the glass-floored "Ledge" on top of the Willis Tower:

And back to Tucson for the remainder of the year.
As cliché as they might be considered,
desert sunsets just never get old...

This fall, Hipstamatic came out with its TinType app...
     great tool for portraits--fun with making faces:

...and what it looks like here NOW
'Fall'-color peaking late here in Tucson;
December in Sabino Canyon is glorious...


Five weeks ago, today, I had the trail-'incident' that has exiled me from running.
Most of the last few weeks, I've felt like this:
'jailed' by my crutches...
(but having fun with the XNview PhotoFX app)

Time has passed, physical therapy is coming along,
and I finally got the okay to retire the crutches.
So, this past weekend I tried a short hike...
...back on the same trail where I had the bad fall.

Not often you see this--
the exposed 'cacto-skeleton'
of a decaying prickly pear,
covered in lacy ice crystals:

Just behind the little dam in lower Sabino Canyon:

The Santa Catalina Mountains...

Hoping to run around these hills again soon...

Friday, November 28, 2014

on trail etiquette, or a lack thereof...leading to scenes of my last trail-runs for a while

It's a perfect 79 degrees outside today in Tucson, cerulean skies and lingering wildflowers...
...but I am a prisoner to R.I.C.E.--rest, ice, compression, and elevation--care for a pretty bad sprained ankle and possible fracture. There was a tumble in the desert this past Monday, you see, leading to my current exile-from-the-trails and dependency on crutches...

...which means I won't be running out in this for a while:
(Desert sunsets just never get old, and I mean never...)

Please, then, humor me and pass on my rant: "People, PLEASE learn TRAIL ETIQUETTE!"

Monday after work, I drove up to Sabino Canyon--a perfect evening for a trail-run--and about a third-of-a-mile on the way to Bear Canyon, on a downhill, narrow, rocky section, I was approaching a group of hikers. They were single-file, but then just as I was about to call out to let them know I was coming, they stopped and spread out suddenly, never looking back, completely blocking my path. In that split second, I had horrible visions of crashing into the older woman, her impaling herself on a cactus and breaking a hip, and of course, the subsequent lawsuit... So, I tried to stop, but on this descending rocky path, all I could do was take a hard fall. While trying to fall away from the hikers, I ended up twisting my right leg and rolling over.

As I came to a stop, the lady turned around and said "oh yes, the sand is slippery, isn't it?"
It took every ounce of self-control in me to to not yell back--IT'S NOT THE SAND IT'S YOUR CLUELESSNESS!!! I stood up, realizing I had gravel embedded in my hand and leg, and a throbbing ankle. (Fortunately I had avoided self-acupuncture; I'd not fallen onto a cactus.) I hobbled back to my car--a third-of-a-mile morphing into a long trek--and then drove, using my left foot to brake...

By the way, that group of hikers didn't even help me up, they just continued on their way.
Bad Samaritans, bad Samaritans...

I knew right away that this was not just a garden-variety-sprain, so as soon as my wife got home from work, she took me to the Urgent Care...For the first time in my life, I had to use a wheelchair...and by this time my ankle was elephantine; upon entering the examination room, the p.a.'s eyes widened as she spit out "oh my god that's swollen!" Hmm, reassuring, that...

The x-rays didn't show any obvious fractures, but because the swelling was so extensive (an injection in the gluteus maximus was required), an occult fracture couldn't be ruled out, and so I've been referred to an orthopaedist...with the earliest appointment over a week away.

Crutches, which I've never had to use, are NOT fun. I've graduated from sympathy to empathy when it comes to seeing my students on crutches...

A day home from work, and then a day back at work on Wednesday--premature, now that I look back...fortunately my students are a pretty good bunch of kids, so there was no classroom mayhem as I was glued to my desk with my foot up on a chair all-day...yesterday and today I've been off...My mother happens to be visiting us, so at least she and my wife have been able to share the burden of waiting on me...

I'd just bought a new pair of shoes, too--trail-runners. May I heartily recommend the Brooks Cascadia in blue...

Here, then, are some recent scenes from the trails from which I'll be exiled for a while. (I almost always run with my iPhone on a wrist-strap. Miraculously, the phone wasn't even scratched on Monday.)

The Santa Catalina mountains are just glorious this time of year... 

The shoes.
They'll be resting for a while.

With my wifelast week, not far from where I fell on Monday...
Looking into Sabino Canyon
in Bear Canyon, remnants of the late monsoon rains...

...evening runs so often end up by running into the desert sunset...

Is there any better way to end the day?

So, while I 'rice,'
here's a thoughtful card some friends sent me, with this message:
"hope you're doing more than hopping around soon!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

'making faces'...with Hipstamatic's new TinType app...(mostly) Wordless Wednesday...

When Hipstamatic came out with its new TinType app a couple of weeks ago, I knew I'd have to start bugging friends to let me 'play with their faces' a bit. Ever since I got my first iPhone, I've been avid about landscape and travel mobile photography...but portraits weren't a priority. TinType has made me want to explore a bit more the variety of faces...

mére et filles...

...and it can be a fun tool for landscapes too:
The Cottonwood at San Pedro House