Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another Barn

Another Barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

ANother barn on my way home. This one in Lodi, CA. It is really amazing to me how many of these there are around when I start looking. I am not sure that this was always a barn. If I were a betting man, which I am not, I would guess that this was originally a barn that someone converted into an apartment. Thus the staircase. In any case it has long since fallen into disrepair. This one needs a little TLC.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Layers, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Today was the second day for students to be back to school. The district had a catastrophic network failure of some variety last week, so getting students online was going to be an adventure. In my room I have a student run network; each period has at least one student admin who sets up accounts and such, and so I had a little advantage there. I have students who can create accounts for all the new kids and do some trouble shooting. But still, there were lots of issues.

Not only do students need network logins, they need accounts for our Google Apps for Education, as well as for Moodle. And then there is the Microsoft email account. Oh, and then there is the regular school district account. Of course as each issue gets resolved, there is a larger issue looming. And each layer is covered with thorns. Careful.

I think we had all of the issues resolved by the end of the day. All of the ones we have any control over anyway. I think tomorrow we can actually start the teaching /learning process! Woot woot!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alpine School

Alpine School, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Today was the first day of school for our students. We have a small school, and 250 students showed up today. That, I understand, is the most we have ever had. There were a few glitches but overall it went very well. It looks like we have a really good group of kids.

I thought today would be a good day to post an old abandoned school I came across. I can picture in my minds eye what the classes looked like in here. A chalk board up front. A teachers desk in front of that, facing rows of lined up student desks. Each room looking just like the next.

One of our new teachers (new to us anyway, she isn't new to teaching) asked me to help her with some techy things. I was so excited when I went into her room and did not see desks in rows! It is the only room in the school not arranged in neat straight rows. Including mine- I have permanent computer desks that cannot be moved. I guess change comes incrementally. It is just sad that our school looks more like what I imagined this school looked like than it is different.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lodi Barn

Lodi Barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Today was the first day to officially report to work. I usually do not enjoy this day, as I find myself helping lots of people get their computers up and running, but no one is ever there to help me get my class in order. I need to learn to say no to people, and focus on my priorities.

So I was really wiped out when I went to pick up my wife to car pool home. She insisted on driving so I could relax. Since she was driving we took a little unusual route, and this is what we found. She knew as soon as she saw it that I would want to photograph it, so here it is. Not a bad end to not my favorite day.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


rust, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Since I found this spot a year or so ago I have stopped by often to shoot some of the many pieces of old rusty stuff many times. Each time the situation was different. Different weather, light colors, and so on. This day all of the pieces were working well together.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Broke Down Horse

Broke Down Horse, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Back to work today. I had a special training for a program at our school. All the other teachers report back on Monday. I feel about as ready for the school year as this horse feels ready for the Kentucky Derby!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Chair, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I was fortunate to spend a couple of days at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. About 140 teachers from around the world were gathered there to learn about using Google's Geo Tools in the classroom. It was really, really cool to be able to talk with all of these really cool teachers, some of whom I knew beforehand via Plurk or Twitter, but had not ever met face to face.

There were a few big takeaways from me. First was the work presented by Michael Hathorn and students from Hartford, VT. The team of students did a great job. I am not sure which is more impressive; the work the students did in the project, or the work they did in presenting the project. It was all very impressive, and a good model for my students in the coming school year.

Another take away was the time I was able to spend working in SketchUp, a 3D modeling program that Google provides. This application has been in my classroom for 8 or 9 years now, but I have never been able to give it the time and attention needed to really use it. I am much more prepared now to support my students in using the application.

The last major take away is the ability now to use Google Earth Pro. Google has really beefed up this application and it is now a reasonable GIS tool. Much more so than in the past. Additionally, Google in now offering up to 30 seats of this software for free! That really makes it usable in the classroom. I think my students will be able to get a much better handle on the whole GIS world now.

Thanks Google!

Oh, you probably want to know about the chair. The folks at Google were really clear that we were not supposed to be taking pictures at the campus. You never know what trade secret might be lurking in the background they explained. I was good with my camera (for a change) and did not even sneak any pictures. Well except for the one on this blog and this one. The chair was in the parking lot, and I was pretty sure there were no secrets in it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jesus Maria Dozer

Jesus Maria Dozer, originally uploaded by mhall209.

My wife and I went for a ride along one of the very remote roads around our home. We came along this old dozer stuck in the bushes. It looked like it had been there for a very very long time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stevens Bug

Stevens Bug, originally uploaded by mhall209.

My son is restoring this bug. Slowly. Today the brake system was taken apart and diagnosed. It is waiting on parts, which should be here next week. So in the meantime the bug sits on jack stands in the garage.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pump house

Pump house, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We went for a walk in the evening and came across this pump house. In our neighborhood we all have our own water wells. Because it gets rather cold in the winter we have some kind of a structure over the pump and well to protect it from freezing. This one is a bit over the top. For this neighborhood at least. Especially when you consider this is the only structure on the lot. This and an abandoned pickup truck.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Kodachrome, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We had the chance to visit with my brother while we were in San Francisco this last week. While waiting to go out to dinner he asked if I still have a 35mm camera. I said ya, I am not sure where it is though, but I still have that Cannon EOS film camera somewhere. (I really wonder what happened to my AE-1. Hmmm.) He said "I have something for you then. He went to the refrigerator and came back with this, a roll of Kodachrome. Kool beans!

If you dont know, Kodak has discontinued production of this film. There will be no more made ever. There is only one lab left in the country that we can find that still processes this stuff. And they are going to stop in December. No more "Nice bright colors." No more "Greeeeens of summer!"

So now that I have this roll I have two pressing problems; what to shoot, and where the heck is that camera!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Airport, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We were in San Francisco for a couple of days and we stayed out by the airport. This being the peak of tourist season the hotel rates were out of site, the airport area was the only place we could get decent rates. This was the view out our room window. Needless to say it was not the quietest room I have ever stayed in. But for the price, at this time of year, I will take it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

At Work

Trim, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We were in San Francisco today to visit the de Young Museum, to see the exhibit "Masterpieces of the Musee d'Orsay". This pare of the exhibit was called "The Birth of Impressionism" It was very cool, and I saw a number of works from the beginnings of the Impressionist movement. These pieces are usually in a museum in Paris, France, but due to a renovation they hit the road, and I really enjoyed seeing them.

After the exhibit we wandered around the rest of the museum and the Japanese Garden next door. While in the Japanese garden it struck me that the pieces in the "Masterpieces" show that I really liked were images of working people. There were a number of unattributed etchings of people doing manual labor. I decided that I need to do a project about working class people. So here is the start of that study.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Pops, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Pops is our male duck, the one in the foreground with the more orange bill. He doesn't get around so well. He has a problem with one of his legs and it is difficult for him to walk. He mostly hangs out by the barn, near where the ducks sleep at night. Unlike the other ducks he is usually sitting, like he is here. The duck in the background is walking circles around Pops. Like she usually does. It is kind of sad to see Pops not get around. But he seems happy enough. He quacks at me whenever he sees me. And I holler back, sometimes I say Hey Pops. Sometimes I just quack. It was nice to see he had wandered all the way up to the house this evening.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A weed

A weed, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I guess it is official. Spring is over. Gone are the endless green fields. Everything not irrigated is now brown, and it is hot. Soon we will be dealing with wildfires and threats of wildfires. I have done a lot of work this year to make the house "fire safe" so I am not as concerned about fires as I usually am. For the first time in the dozen or so years we have lived here I feel like I have a handle on the weeds.

Except for this one. But it looks kind of cool here.

Les Miserables, School Edition

Les Miserables, School Edition, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We stopped in Woodland, CA for dinner on our way home from Oregon. After dinner we decided to walk around what appeared to be a very cool old town. Soon we found the Woodland Opera House. A VERY COOL small theatre built in 1896. It is so cool it is actually a state park! A side door was propped open and so of course I HAD to stick my head in. Not literally, but I was obviously trying to see what it looked like. A man came to the door and said "Come on in, its cool inside!" Really? So we did. (My wife and I.)

Turns out it was dress rehearsal for "Les Miserables, School Edition" which was to open in four nights. I asked if I could take pictures and they said sure. So we got to wander around a very cool 100+ year old restored theatre and get a few shots.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Umbrella Lady

Umbrella, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We were wandering around the rose garden in Portland, OR. I was looking for interesting shots, but have tired of the macro flower shots. I wanted something interesting that said "rose garden" but was not a flower. So I started shooting the pictures of people getting their picture taken, and people taking pictures. I am always amazed at how easy it is to do this. No one ever notices you taking their picture if they are posing for someone else.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Portland Engine 3

Engine 3<>, originally uploaded by mhall209>

Our last night in Portland. We went out to dinner, which was difficult. So many wonderful looking restaurants within walking distance. We had a great dinner and went for a walk afterwards. We were walking down the street when we heard a crashing sound. We looked up in time to see a man tumbling over a sign, and went face first into the asphalt. He was out cold.

A number of people came to his aid, and I could see a number of folks on the phone to 911. Whatever did we do before cell phones. Other folks were providing appropriate aid, so we continued on our walk. We were several blocks away when the fire engine raced by. Fortunately the guy had fallen just one block from the hospital emergency room entrance. So he was well cared for pretty quickly.

Made for an exciting evening.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Bass, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Our first day in Portland. I had been here only once before, long enough to rent a car at the airport and drive elsewhere. My sister lives here now, and she acted as our tour guide. She too us to an amazing BBQ place- Podnah's. I did not know that brisket could be so tender you do not need to chew. Just amazing food. Then she took us to Voodoo donuts. I have never stood in line for donuts before. I would happily do it again. It was cool.

It seems like Portland is a food town. Lots of really good food everywhere. And where there is lots of good food there tends to be lots of street performers. Enter this bass player. Or at least his hand and instrument. I try to tip these guys whenever I stop and enjoy them. Or if I photograph them.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Driving to Eugene Oregon today to visit my parents. This view of Mount Shasta is taken from I 5 at about 85 miles an hour. It was a beautiful day as you can see, though we did get rained on a little after this shot was taken. We know we are about half way there when we pass Mt. Shasta.

This is a 14,000 foot volcano. It looks just huge as you drive by. The smaller peak on the left of the main peak is known as Shastina. It looks small next to Shasta, but it is an impressive 12,300 foot mountain. I really do not know much about this part of the state, but rest assured it is on my bucket list to explore around here more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Silver Barn

Silver Barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Another barn. This one is hidden from the road but I had permission to wander around the farm with my camera, looking for pictures. People think you are odd when you ask. Things are just everyday to them, they do not think of their own place as interesting or unique.

I am always amazed how family farms make it work with such old tattered equipment. Large corporate farms seem to always have new shiny big equipment in big shiny barns that look like warehouses. But the family farms always have old equipment that maybe grandpa bought new way back when. I understand the whole stay out of debt thing, and why borrow money to buy new when the old still works. It just amazes me how long they can keep things running.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Peaches, originally uploaded by mhall209.

It is peach season! We stop at a peach stand on the way home from work as often as we can. It is actually a house, and they have converted their back patio into a farm stand. It is an older german couple who live there. Each time we come there are several different types of peaches and a small assortment of other fruits and vegetables. As the season progresses the types of peach varieties will change. Today I bought June Bride and White Lady peaches, along with an unnamed yellow plum that the lady said her son found as a seedling.

I asked one time how many peaches they grow, and the old man said they have well over 100 different named varieties, but he hadn't counted in a while. I believe him, And everyone one of them are delicious. The only problem is you can only buy a one or two day supply as they pick them dead ripe and the peaches go bad quickly. But boy are they good! Fresh peaches from now till October!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Brandt Road Vineyard

Brandt Road Vineyard, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Our favorite strawberry stand is on Brandt Road. They grow a different variety than most of the other stands, and the berries are awesome. So I stopped for a flat. and then went straight down the road instead of taking the faster way home. I crossed a creek and there was this barn. A wonderful old barn surrounded by these cool green vineyards. It made a nice stop on the way home.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fill 'er up.

Fill 'er up., originally uploaded by mhall209.

I have been by this gas station many times- it is near some of our favorite places to eat. Usually though there are a number of cars parked obscuring the shot. I am not sure what kind of business occupies the building now but it is something, and not a gas station. The pumps (which have no hoses) register 40.9 cents per gallon. So it has been a while since they have seen any gasoline.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In the garage

In the garage, originally uploaded by mhall209.

My wife and I went to a farmers market this morning, and then decided to go exploring. We ended up in Amador City. We have lived in the area for over 12 years but have never really explored this part of this town. It was a nice neighborhood, probably a little too expensive for our paychecks, but a nice place to wander around in anyway. I found this car at the end of a dead end street, in a doorless garage. I just had to take this shot - standing in the middle of the street. I was hoping I would be able to drop out the background, and it worked wonderfully.

Friday, July 2, 2010

White Flower

White Flower, originally uploaded by mhall209.

FInally home for a while, and I feel like summer vacation is here. Time to really get into working the yard and garden. So here is the plan; get up early and work in the yard before it gets too hot, and then into the house around 10 or 11. I need to work on my Moodle courses and get them nice for the new school year, and I want to do that in the heat of the day. Then back to the yard in the evening when it cools off. Sounds like a good plan. Lets see how it works out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blue car

Blue car, originally uploaded by mhall209.

On my last morning at University of California at Berkeley. We have been staying in a dorm on campus and eating in one of the campus cafeterias. I have to say this has been a different experience, and I am sure I will not volunteer to do it again. Did you know that in the summer universities are used for youth sports camps? And did you know that means the cafeteria is full of kids under, say, 12? Hundreds of them. They were well behaved and all, but still. It is a tad bit out of my comfort zone.

Anyway it was several blocks from the dorm to the dining hall and on the way between the two was this old car. I kept yelling at me to get a picture, but the light was too harsh most times. But this time I got it.