Category Archives: Baboon Achievers

Up Up & Away

Found this video clip online today. Apparently this took place a few days ago, in celebration of the last super moon of 2019.  I’m pretty sure I would have thought it was a meteor or meteoroid (apparently there is a serious difference in the scientific world) if I had seen it live.  Glad to know the police had been forewarned.

But seriously, jump out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet? Obviously the jumpers could breathe at this altitude, since Mount Everest is a lot higher, but still….jump out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet?  Gives me the wilies.

I’ve done two really scary things in my life. Both of them within 3 days of each other.  When YA was just a year old, I was offered the trip of a lifetime to Kenya and Tanzania.  We started in Nairobi and traveled around for 8 days, staying at a different lodge every night.  We had early morning and late afternoon safari runs, entertainment and massive amounts of great food.

I knew prior to the trip that an option hot-air balloon ride would be offered and I convinced my boss that I should be allowed to expense it. If you had asked me before this if I would EVER get in a hot air balloon, the answer would have been an unequivocal “no”.  When faced with this option however, I couldn’t get past the idea that I would be sorry to let an opportunity like this pass me by.  I was correct – it was fabulous and nothing like I expected.  We even had a wonderful breakfast cooked for us in the bush after we came down, complete with champagne.

Two days later, the group met a pilot who was doing open-air biplane tourist flights around Mount Kenya. He came and spoke to our group at a cocktail reception and at the end of his talk, he mentioned that the group leader had said there would be time for one flight in the morning before we left; was anyone interested?  I had my hand up so fast that I almost pulled my arm out of my socket.  Again – fabulous, complete with leather jackets and silk scarves and Out of Africa music playing in our headphones. I felt like Dennis Finch Hatton.

So I’ve overcome my fear twice for experiences that were over the top. But I’m still fairly sure no one will ever convince me to bungee jump.  Or fling myself out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet.

What scary things have you done?

Straight River

The sun was thinking about poking out of the clouds as tim and I drove down to the Central Park Coffee Shop in Owatonna for the launch of Straight River by our own Chris in Owatonna.  There was a nice crowd to welcome Chris’ new book, which is a “prequel” (is that truly a real word?) to his first book Castle Danger. Chris read a chapter from the book and also introduced the head of his local Big Brother/Big Sister organization.  A portion of Chris’ proceeds goes to support BB/BS, a group he has volunteered with for years.

It’s been three years of hard work for Chris, re-working, editing, sending the book to beta readers, re-working some more and editing some more. It was a nice launch for the book (cookies and lemonade too) and I’m looking forward to reading it.  Maybe this summer it can be one of our Blevin’s Book Club titles.  (It’s available already on Amazon in kindle format and Chris has links on his website to other ways to purchase it.)

Congratulations Chris – hope the third book in the trilogy comes a little easier!

You’ve just written a book.  Describe your main character!

The Six-Tripper

You saw what happened to my studio a couple of weeks ago. I got advice from a construction buddy of mine about how to re-hang the shelves so they would be sturdy, to hopefully avoid ever having them fall down again.  As you can see from the above photo, everything is back in order, but it’s a good thing I like the folks at my local hardware store.  It was an epic number of times stopping by before I was done.

  • Trip #1: Bought the new shelf brackets and toggle screws
  • Trip #2: Bought the correct drill bit since I apparently didn’t have that size after all
  • Trip #3: Bought the little washers when it turned out the screws were a teeny bit too small for the holes in the brackets.
  • Trip #4: Bought longer screws when it turned out the first screws weren’t long enough to push the toggles all the way through the plaster and wood
  • Trip #5: Bought 3 more toggle screws to replace the ones that fell down behind the wall when I put the first bracket on upside down.
  • Trip #6: Bought the spackle to fill in the spots where the old shelves had been attached.

I’ve never had a 6-trips-to-the-hardware-store project before. I’ve had lots of 2-trippers and a few 3-trippers, but never more than that.  The worst part of this 6-trip debacle is that each and every step was a different day;  I was working on this at night and every time I realized I needed to go back to the hardware store, they were closed for the night!

If you’ve seen photos of my studio before, it probably doesn’t look any different to you but it feels different to me – all put back together as well as nice and clean now. And I doubt anything will bring those shelves down again – fingers crossed!

When have you had a frustrating project?

Making Things Pretty

Today’s post comes to us from Port Huron Steve

In the summer of 1974 my parents invited my erstwife and me to a dinner. They explained that my dad had made a serious amount of money recently, much more than they needed. There could be no happier use of that money, they said, than to send us to London “all expenses paid.” We wouldn’t need to spend a dime of our own money for two weeks of touring London.

Of course we were thrilled. We were grad students eking out a living with on-campus jobs at the University of Minnesota. This gift would let us live like rich people for two weeks. Even better, we realized there was enough money enough to allow us to travel around the United Kingdom. Instead of staying in a posh London hotel, as my parents had anticipated, we could sleep in B&Bs in the countryside. The money saved would cover a cheap rental auto. We could travel wherever our whims directed.

Our two-week vacation in September featured a week of exploring London and a week of bumbling about the country. We visited Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Dorset. We nipped into Wales briefly, which was funny. The Welsh were astonished that tourists would intentionally enter their country. They had no infrastructure to accommodate us, and we didn’t stay long.

We took hundreds of photos. Photography was trickier then than now. We shot slide film, a touchy and unforgiving medium. Our Fujichrome slides weren’t as pretty as Kodachrome, and they had gobs of grain. The British weather did us no favors, raining every day. The fugitive sun made a brief appearance three times. When not raining the skies remained overcast and harshly bright. Our slides were drab, with unpleasant tonality.

You can’t view slides without a slide projector, screen and dark room. Several years ago I hired a company to scan our slides, converting them to digital files. When I got the scans I was dismayed. The scanning process was crude. All the scans were underexposed and grainy, with ugly colors and tones.

A few weeks ago I came across those scans where they’d been hiding in a remote file on my computer. I opened a scan in my photo editing software. It was easy to brighten the image. I made some areas of the image darker, lightening others. I tweaked some colors. I tamed the harsh sky. My editing software has ways of reducing grain. Soon I had a new version of the slide that was pretty, or at least prettier than it had been. Some scans were too compromised to salvage, but that left nearly 200 scans that begged for a beauty makeover. With a big grin I began editing the 1974 trip images.

That kicked off three of the happiest weeks I’ve known. Because my computer is attached to good speakers I could stream an internet folk music broadcast while I worked.

Photo editing is tricky. I kept returning to images I had edited earlier, tweaking them, and often making my edits more subtle. Of course, no amount of editing can make fuzzy images sharp. Many things can go wrong in photography. I was puzzled by an icky color cast in pictures of suits of armor. I finally figured out that the armor was in a room lit with fluorescent lights, giving the metal a green cast. Aha! That could be fixed. In the end I produced 189 pleasing images.

The project was emotionally complicated. I was having so much fun I tuned out the horror show of our national politics. It was a joy to revisit moments from that extraordinary trip 44 years ago. Each image presented unique challenges, old memories and surprising rewards. Christmas—actually, a splendid Christmas—came and went. I was almost too absorbed with editing to pay it much attention. I was too busy making ugly things prettier. What is more rewarding than that?

Do you have ways to add beauty to your life?

Playing Carnegie Hall

A couple of weeks ago our church office received an email from an event coordinator who works for Carnegie Hall. She had been searching out bell choirs online, found ours, and asked if we would be interested in playing at The Great Christmas Ring  next year.  We would perform with about 250 other ringers in early December at Carnegie Hall after several days of rehearsals with an eminent bell choir conductor and composer.  They will provide the bells and equipment, and we just pay for everything else.

Six of us have expressed interest, and will submit our applications this week.  Participation is on a first come-first serve basis, so we hope we get in.  I think it will be pretty exciting.  It will not be the first time I played Carnegie Hall, however.

When I was 18 I auditioned for and played in a concert band comprised of high school students from all over the US. We played a concert in Carnegie Hall prior to a European tour.  It was quite an experience.  I didn’t really appreciate my surrounding s when I was 18, so if we get to play bells in New York next December I will pay much closer attention.

If you could perform anything, anywhere, even in the past, where would you perform and with whom would you perform? What famous concerts do you wish you could have attended? 

Small Accomplishments

Our son informed us this week that our 7 month old grandson was pulling himself up to standing on the living room furniture.  “He looks so proud when he does it!” son reported. Oh, to be so proud for such a small (but essentially huge), accomplishment.

What small accomplishments are you proud of? When can small be huge?

 

Data Dump

Last week the Trail hit 7,000 followers.   This made me curious about some of our other current stats.

  • Overall # of views: 834,276
  • The most viewed posts are some of the oldest, written by our beloved leader Dale, however the fifth most-viewed is “Music: The Most Powerful Art Form” by our Chris.
  • The post with the most comments in the last four years is “Chores and the Great Depression” by our Jacque.
  • Top author is, of course, Dale, followed by Verily Sherrilee, Renee, Barbara in Rivertown and Northshorere (Clyde).
  • Recent top commenters are Barbara, Steve and Renee.
  • We have more activity on the Trail on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Our quietest day is Sunday.

But these are just numbers.

What do YOU think is noteworthy about the Trail? And if you have never commented before, this is your day – just a one word comment to add to our stats?