Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wrong Tool for the Job

This postcard landed in my co-worker's mailbox this morning. Besides setting off a ribald session of gratuitous captioning, the main image of the wrench (tool) and too-small hex fastener (nut) raises questions about whether these people are qualified to tell us how to do anything at all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Good Day for Music

I was going to call this post "Catching Up," but when it auto-filled after "Ca," I decided to try a bit harder. There's been a lot going on lately, but it's been a challenge to keep on blogging. 

Yesterday was indeed a good day for music in the Styffe household. As soon as I arrived home from work, I made sure John was cleaned up and dressed, had his trumpet so we could head over to the Fullerton Downtown Plaza for opening performance of the Ladera Vista Junior High Jazz Band. John has been playing trumpet for 2-1/2 years in the Fullerton Elementary School band and now at LV under the direction of Mr. Hastings. To be honest, the 5th and 6th grade concerts were kinda rough, and without a strong measure of parental pride, would have been difficult listening.

But these kids rocked last night! It is heartbreaking to think that school music programs like this throughout the state will be shut down due to the budget crisis.

The Ladera Vista Jazz Band
John (far right)
But wait, there's more!

Last night at our regular Thursday choir rehersal at church, we were continuing our work for the Easter cantata to be presented on Palm Sunday morning April 5. Our director Mitch Hanlon, asked daughter Emily to take a solo part. The first run-through left us all slack-jawed. Can't wait to hear it in further rehersals and performance.

In the Oh-by-the-way Department, we added to our growing collection of grandchildren last month on 2/10/09 when Melissa gave birth to Aurora Anne Schweitzer. 

Aurora Anne with her Auntie Em

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Off to a Bad Start

So a month-and-a-half goes by without a post, what are you going to do…sue me? Truth is I've been seeing someone else, at least for the past day or so. Yesterday, I joined Facebook. 

There, I said it. 

I'd also like to say I'm very, very sorry.

It started innocently enough. I noticed that some friends of mine had a group on FB which posts some information which I could use to good advantage. Combined with a slow work day, one thing led to another, and before I know it, I'm friends with any number people that I don't normally communicate with. They are all fine, intellegent, (mostly) young people with much better social skills than I have. I don't think I'll be able to hang around to get used to throwing my every thought up on the wall, but I'll stick around for the group info and occasional nugget of real consequence.

One reason that I haven't posted here for a while is that I'd run out of any ideas of consequence. 

Or so I thought. 

Then I thought I'd suggest a more accurate branding of the concept to the people at Facebook. 



Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Year in Review

Last year around this time, a fellow blogger posted his 10-favorite images of 2007 and challenged others in Observation Car, a discussion list of railroad art and literature, to do the same. So I did, but have since grown tired of the crabby atmosphere which permeates much of the discussion on that list. But it was a good exercise and I noticed a rather disturing thread in my selection. Seven of the 10 images were made right here in Fullerton, and I thought, "I need to get out more often." I also challenged myself to get more work published.

I'm happy to say that I successfully met those challenges. Here are 10 of my favorites from this year. Well, the first six months of the year. It seems that images 1–9 were all made prior to June 30, 2008! There's a good reason for that…the house! Construction in earnest began June 3, and I pretty much shut down the creative photography efforts for the next five months, shooting only progress images of the house construction, family events and assignments at work. But looking back, I feel pretty good about the images I made from January to the end of June.

Full Eclipse of the Moon, February 20, 2008. It had rained all day, and I had little hope of seeing the moon or its eclipse through the clouds. However, the sky began to clear just as the moon was rising, and I managed to catch the passage of Metrolink 608 approaching the platform in Fullerton right at the beginning of the eclipse's totality.

This image got published alright. As a two page spread in Locomotive 2008! It was used to lead an article on BNSF merchandise trains that run over the San Jacinto Industrial Lead to March Field. Many of those ObsCar guys would write this image off as a "crappy weather" shot, but in my opinion, the early morning low clouds hovering over the University Park area of Riverside, California give this image of the MBARJAC1-23 an edge it wouldn't have otherwise on February 23, 2008

Shot through a chain link fence in crappy weather. Enough to make heads explode on that list. This image hasn't been published, but it did win a Bronze award in the photography contest sponsored by the Center for Railway Photography and Art which was themed "A Sense of Place." I think this image certainly communicates a sense of the place which is the Alondra Blvd. crossing of the BNSF in La Mirada, Calif., on March 1, 2008.

A fan trip on the Sierra Railroad, March 9, 2008, found the California foothills green and the weather more than pleasant. The last photo runby of the day found nearly everyone lined up on a grassy hillside. Looking for something different, I headed for a nearby almond orchard where the backlit blossoms and steam went "electric" for me.

This is another image used in the article published in Locomotive 2008. The MJACBAR1-21 eases around a curve and down the 2.2% grade as it exits Sycamore Canyon in Riverside, Calif., on March 21, 2008.

Union Pacific train MWCDA (West Colton to Dallas Merchandise) rolls along side the Salton Sea on the former Southern Pacific "Sunset Route" on March 28, 2008.

Metrolink trains rest at the San Bernardino station on a Saturday morning, April 12, 2008.

Santa Fe steam locomotive, 3751 pulls a special train along the Pacific Ocean, under the historic Highway 101 overpass in Del Mar, Calif., on June 1, 2008. This turned out to be the very first image I had published in Trains magazine.

Ryan Humphrey and his son Max enjoy the passing of a BNSF freight as it rolls through Fullerton, Calif., on June 27, 2008.

My wife Amy and I relax inside our newly remodeled home on December 19, 2008. I can start thinking about doing photography again!

Halloween, Etc.

Editor's note: I wrote this post shortly after Halloween, but for some reason (which escapes me now), I didn't publish it. Hint: the "Etc." probably refers to my unfinished business, but again, for the life of me, I don't recall what that was. So four days before Christmas, here it is. I'll have a new post (or two) up soon.

It's not my favorite "holiday" to be sure, but with kids and grandkids about, ignoring Halloween completely is an unthinkable proposition. Fortunately, we were able to offload the task of handing out candy onto Emily (who was grounded due to some bad behavior last Halloween) and her friend Emily (who wasn't grounded) while John and his buddy Nick hit a few houses and called it a night. They did, however, put a fair amount of creative energy into their pumpkins, as can be seen in Amy's pictures.

Emily turned the lid into a jaunty beret.

John's barfing pumpkin reprised a holiday classic.

Of course the grandsons had a great time. I'll just steal a couple of images from Melissa's blog and put them up here. I'd have stayed home to give these kids some candy.



Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm not much of a movie watcher. I should be, but I'm just not. When I do get off my butt and take Amy out to dinner and a movie, I nearly always enjoy myself, but going to the theatre was not something that I was encouraged or even allowed to do as a kid, and I never really developed the habit when I got older. Even the prospect of watching DVD's on our HDTV doesn't often excite me.

Last night, Amy borrowed a DVD from her sister Leslie and seemed determined that the whole family should sit down together at watch it. I'm glad we did. Young@Heart is a documentary style film about the Young@Heart Chorus a group that puts its own indelible stamp on popular music. Watching it last night, I found myself laughing at times through tears. Songs ranging from "Forever Young" to "I Want to be Sedated" take on a whole new layer of relevance through the ragged voices of these 80 and 90 year old folks.

You can spend half a day going through all the online videos and web sites devoted to this marvelous group and film, but do yourself a favor and just rent it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get Your Kicks Here

Elrond signing books
My friend Elrond Lawrence can certainly relate to the birthing process I've experienced this year. He wrote and photographed a book entitled Route 66 Railway which is the story of Route 66 and the Santa Fe Railway in the American Southwest. Just as our house project was wrapping up, he was seeing the first copies of his book. Having worked on a book myself in a previous life, I can completely relate to the elation and relief which he is feeling.

Sunday, El's in-laws hosted an autograph party at their beautiful hillside home in Redlands. His wife Laura and daughter Kathryn were on hand, having contributed to the book themselves. It was a lovely event and I couldn't be happier for them and their superb achievement.

Kathryn, Laura and Elrond