Sunrise on Chatfield Lake

A picture of Chatfield Lake at sunrise.  Inspired by the solitude photo challenge. 

via 500px


Week 1 – Temperance

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Temperance.

Today will be hard since my New England Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl.  We’re hosting a party for the game, and there will likely be plenty of things to eat and drink.

If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.

Plan For Attaining Moral Perfection

I’m currently reading, when I get the chance, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can pick it up on Amazon for less than $4 including shipping.  In the book, Franklin talks about his goal of moral perfection. To help with successfully implementing the strategy, he breaks up the task into thirteen different virtues.  The plan is to focus on one at a time, for the duration of a week.  After one week of practicing a virtue, it should become more of a habit.  The focus then goes to the next virtue for the following week.  After thirteen weeks, the cycle then repeats, allowing for 4 complete cycles per year.  Franklin kept track of how well he adhered to each of the virtues on a daily basis using a chart seen here.  A black mark is placed in the box for “every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.”  After several rounds of this exercise the idea is that there will be fewer and fewer black marks, and you will get closer to attaining moral perfection.

A chart used by Franklin to track progress

I am going to try this methodology out.  Moral perfection seems like a good goal to have.  I may even create a phone app for this(if one doesn’t already exist).  Seems like it would be practical.  I can already predict a large black mark on my chart for Super Bowl Sunday.  There will be more on the details of the virtues and updates on my progress in future posts.


Delete Your Photos

I love my photos.  All of them.  I must have had some purpose in mind to pull my camera out, point it at a subject, and shoot a photo.  These pictures were meant to capture a moment in time, so someday I could go back and relive the experiences.  However, what I have found is that they are mostly sitting on a hard drive, taking up space.  As someone that practices minimalism, I’m very good at keeping only a minimal set of clothing, kitchen gadgets, books, and limiting all other “stuff” as well.  Adopting this lifestyle has made life a lot simpler.

The one area that I haven’t yet applied this practice of minimalism to is my collection of photographs.  I have been collecting a set of photos for over 10 years.  I rarely have the need to go back and look at photos that were taken at a random party in college, however I don’t really want to delete “irreplaceable” photos.  I have always thought of photographs as irreplaceable, since it’s impossible to go back and capture each image and guarantee that it looks exactly like the one lost.  This is especially true when it comes to capturing moments related to people and pets.  Are they really ALL irreplaceable though?  Will I care if I lose my uninteresting shots?

not interesting
Why have I been holding on to this photo for 10 years?

Since 2003, when I purchased my first digital camera, I have put together a cluttered top level folder of 88,192 photographs which are currently taking up 391GB of drive space.  This amounts to 22 photos per day over the years.  A large portion of these are either out of focus, uninteresting, duplicates or test shots.  I have photos from old cell phones, and even exact duplicate files from when I bought my first DSLR and set it to save in both raw and jpg.  Why keep everything?  My rationale has always been that drive space is cheap and nearly unlimited.

I want to reduce clutter and keep only a minimal set of photos.  I believe that less is more, and I’ll appreciate a smaller set of good photos over the full set of mediocre ones.  It will also be a lot easier to backup a smaller set of photos as opposed to backing up a larger set.  It’s nearly impossible to protect nearly 400GB of data without incurring a large cost for stuff that I mostly don’t care about.  It will also be easier to access and find photos that I care about.

Criteria for a photo to be deleted(one or more must be true):

  • The subject of the photo is out of focus
  • The photo is not interesting
  • The photo is poorly exposed (and not correctable)
  • The photo is of a person that is unflattering (goofy looking, has their eyes closed, etc)
  • The photo is of/or related to an ex girlfriend (or someone that I equally dislike)
  • The photo is a duplicate or looks identical to a photo that I plan to keep

The Result

It took a long time to go through each individual file, a very long time.  The process was completed, and I have successfully deleted a very large number of photos.  I applied the criteria to each and every file and came up with a startling discovery.  Most of my photos fit the criteria needed for deletion.  I was able to reduce my total number of photos to just over 8,000, a reduction of 90%.

This image is out of focus
This photo is out of focus
This image is not interesting
This photo is not interesting
I took a few hundred photos on this evening. This photo is a duplicate
I took a few hundred photos this evening.  This is a duplicate of a better one I took 2 seconds earlier

I’d guess that around 15% of the photos had the subject out of focus, 30% were as interesting as a pile of rocks, and the other 45% were duplicates of another image that looked better.  I’m very happy with my resulting set of photos.  This exercise also provided me a chance to go back and relive the last 10 years.  Each photo told a story, and now I just have a clearer and more usable picture of the events.  As an added bonus, I only have to backup around 50GB, when a 400GB backup was required before.

This is a repost of something I wrote a few years ago. Today, I still use this method to remove clutter in my library of photos.  I can say, three years later, that I do not regret my decision to delete photos.

Hiking Staunton State Park With Tommy

A couple of weeks ago, my wife, Tommy, and I went for a hike at Staunton State Park in Pine, Colorado.  This was the second time this winter that Tommy has gone for a stroller hike.  You can check out our last trip to Roxborough here.

It was a warm 65 degree day in January so we decided to go out for a family hike.  Staunton State park is only a short drive from home and it’s a place we rarely go outside of fall.  On this hike, we took the Staunton Ranch Trail which is one of the main trails accessible from the parking lot.  Here is a live webcam view, courtesy of Friends of Staunton State Park, from the trail we took.

Live view of Staunton State Park (15 min refresh)


The trail is wide enough, and mostly smooth enough to pass with the stroller without too much trouble.  There are some rough rocky spots along the way, but our BOB stroller didn’t have too much difficulty navigating through these areas.  This stroller is definitely one of the essential items for anyone with small children.

As we started to gain some elevation, the temperature started to drop.  We made it roughly halfway up the main trail.  It started to get a little too cold, so we decided it was probably best to head back down.

Tommy on the Staunton Ranch Trail

Overall this is a pretty accessible hike for people with a stroller.  Tommy seemed to enjoy himself and took in a lot of great scenery.  We’ll have to try it again in a couple of months when the weather gets warmer.

Our New White House Press Secretary

Is it just me or does the new White House Press Secretary look just like the actor John Heard?  He’s known by me mostly as the character Vin Makazian from The Sopranos.  He’s also pretty well known for playing the father, Peter McCallister, in Home Alone.  This is coincidently the same movie that has a cameo from Donald Trump.  For the next four to eight years, I will be making this association in my head.


Sean Spicer — White House Press Secretary  (Image credit: GrahamHughey)

This blog will not add much to political discussion, but this needs to be pointed out.  I’m wondering if I’m the only person that sees it?

Getting Ready For Launch Countdown

I recently stumbled upon a great blog by Mike Leinbach which has some untold stories about the days of the Space Shuttle program.  Namely, the blog talks a lot about the the final flight of Columbia and the days/weeks leading up to it.  It sounds like it will continue and go into depth on the accident and recovery effort as well.

I was fortunate to start working on the Shuttle program after college, shortly after the return to flight.  My small contribution was towards an advisory system which provided real time telemetry to the folks on launch day.  Our team’s software is pictured on the display in the picture below.

A photo with the NASA Shuttle Launch Director in Firing Room 4

Mike Leinbach was the Shuttle Launch Director during my time at the cape, and for a longer time before that.  I got to meet Mike briefly during an open house near the end of 2010.  When our team worked launches, it was best for us to be invisible.  That was the case for the most part, with a couple of notable exceptions.  Launch day operations were probably the most stressful and exciting times I’ve had in my career.  Perhaps someday I’ll write about some of those times.

This blog is relatively new, and at the time of writing this, only has 9 followers. It’s a good read, and if you’re interested in the Shuttle program I’d recommend following.  It looks like the writing is following the Columbia flow as it went fourteen years ago.  Now, is a great time to jump in.  Here is a link to the latest entry:

Fourteen years ago this week we were doing our final preparations on Columbia and the ground systems, getting ready to enter launch countdown (LCD). With launch scheduled for January 16, the 3-day countdown was to begin Monday, 1/13. After dusting off vehicle and ground systems (and ourselves!) last week following our 9-day holiday period vacation, we […]

via Getting Ready for Launch Countdown — Bringing Columbia Home

2016 – Year in Review with Photos

I originally had the idea to post my top 10 photos of the year after listening to an Improve Photography podcast about the subject.  The purpose is to post your top 10 photos each year, and see how you are progressing, or potentially regressing as a photographer.  Instead of a top 10, I will do a top 12 and provide my best photo that was taken in a given month.  I may go back and do previous years as well.

This year, due to the arrival of my son, I haven’t had as much time to go out and shoot.  Outside of a trip I was able to make over the summer, I haven’t really had any personal time.


Abandonded Building
Egli House — Commerce City, CO

Egli House is an interesting abandonded building at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  The Arsenal is a wildlife refuge just north of Denver.  The best part of the refuge is the free admission.  The visitor center is new and worth stopping in.  I took this photo on a cold cloudy January morning.


A Welder at the Colorado Railroad Museum — Golden, CO

This photo is of a volunteer worker welding something at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO.  My brother-in-law worked here for a while and was able to give a behind the scenes tour.  I really like all the different lines in this photo.


Tommy — Littleton, CO

Tommy was born at the end of March.  I took this photo when he was 12-hours-old.  I have tons of other pictures/videos from this time.  These are some of the most backed up files I have.


Overpriced Beer and Rockies Dog at Coors Field — Denver, CO

My parents flew out to meet Tommy in early April.  My dad and I were able to catch a baseball game between the Padres and Rockies on April 10.  The game was pretty good for the Rockies.  There were back to back home runs for Car Go and Arenado in the first inning.  This was also at the time where Trevor Story was hitting home runs at a ridiculous rate.  He hit a home run in this game well.  This was a rare Rockies game that was worth the price of admission.


Coke Ovens — Redstone, CO

In May, we attended a family wedding in Redstone, CO.  This whole area is my favorite in the state.  It is our go-to place for vacationing in the mountains.  This was also our first family vacation.  The photo shows coke ovens, which are alongside the major road that goes from Carbondale to McClure Pass.  These ovens were used in the production of coke fuel from the coal in the area.


Jefferson Vegetable Garden
The Vegetable Garden at Monticello — Charlottesville, VA

This was taken during a trip to the east coast at the end of June.  I have always wanted to take the tour of Monticello.  These gardens were the inspiration for my own “Jefferson Garden” at home.  There will be more on that in later blog posts.


Dark Hallow Falls
Dark Hallow Falls — Shenandoah National Park, VA

This was one of two hikes I was able to do with limited time in Shenandoah.  There were lots of pictures to choose from in July.  Hopefully the others make it on this site.


13th Hole @ Arrowhead Golf Course — Littleton, CO

Arrowhead is easily the nicest course I have ever played.  I was able to play this course at a decent price as part of a work golf tournament.  I didn’t want to play this hole long, so my tee shot ended up short of the green.  In the past, this area was full of brush/rattlesnake habitat.  Recently, they decided to open up that area and make it into lower cut rough.


Georgetown Loop Railroad — Georgetown, CO

In September, we took a trip up to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad.


Tommy — Littleton, CO

This was Tommy’s halloween costume.


Hot Air Balloon — Littleton, CO

This shot is of an unusual hot air balloon over Chatfield State park in Littleton, CO


Tommy at Christmas — Littleton, CO

This is one of the photos I took of Tommy for the purpose of Christmas cards.


In 2016, I didn’t have the best photos, but had some of the best memories.  I hope that I’ll get some personal time to do some more landscape/nature photography in 2017.  There will definitely be lots of pictures of Tommy as he grows up.  Also, in 2017, I will be getting in to Aerial Photography/Videography.  More on that in later posts.  Happy New Year!

While writing this, I found a few photos that were just outside the month boundary.  If it was within a couple of days, I was ok placing them in the wrong month.