Archive for the ‘Photo’ Category

It’s a pity when life gets in the way of blogging (just kidding!). But I have so many thoughts and experiences from the summer that I could blog for quite some time. It is not likely to happen as I see more things happening soon, but that’s OK.

I did want to share a few thoughts and pictures. I don’t often suggest books for several reasons. I do more technical reading than reading for pleasure, and frankly many books don’t meet my high standard of what I would unreservedly pass on to those I call friends, or enemies for that matter since I want them to one day be friends. A book that I can enthusiastically suggest is “The Book That Made Your World, How the Bible Created the soul of Western Civilization” by Vishal Mangalwadi. Because of his culture and his faith he simultaneously looks at the West as an outsider and insider at the same time. I keep having the feeling that he is correcting much error from lies our culture has fed us about how we got to where we are. He uses personal experiences and copious quotes to show the deep imprint of the Bible on western culture. I think that you will hear more about it here once I am finished with it.

My friend, colleague, and climbing partner, CC, took me to two boulders I’d never been to before. In fact, he had only been there a few days before with another climbing buddy for the first time cleaning about ten problems, laying a thick base of branches in a wet spot, and clearing part of a large fallen tree. I was privileged to try out the new rock. I like to go back to old familiar routes, but there is a particular excitement about trying new routes, and particularly ones that haven’t been climbed before. I was definitely not climbing at the top of my game, only topping out on a V1 and 3 V2’s. I tried two V4 and got shut down. Both problems involved a gaston with my left hand that I could not stick. It has challenged me to train that weakness. On the second one I discovered that if I did a side pull with my right hand instead, I could top out to the left much easier. We both agreed that it would rate as a V2. I decided to name it “Easy Out”. The two pictures are of me on the right sidepull and the topout. We saw several Cardinal Flowers in the wet, rich spots by the creek. I definitely want to go back, and hopefully clean some problems on new rock myself. (Photo credit: CC with his phone)


Lobelia cardinalis


Taking it “Easy..”


“Easy Out”

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Best Laid Plans

Every now and then I try to video myself climbing, almost always bouldering. I went climbing with three guys two weeks ago who are about 30 years old, much better than me and working on a V-10. One of them almost completed it, falling after the crux (hardest part). I was working on a V-4 immediately next to the V-10 and completed it after about 4 tries. I was pleased with myself and thought I could do it again and video it. When I watched the replay I laughed quite abit. I showed it to the guys for a laugh. Check it out at V-4 called “Put Your Back Into It”

The sequence of photos below gives a vague idea of the process of working a problem. It’s about planning, cleaning holds, training for crux moves, practicing different sequencing, and trying again and again. It may take one session or several years. This group had already been working on it for several sessions. A week later the guy without a shirt completed it. Everyone progresses at their own rate. I guess that is why they put up with me and even cheer me on. There is considerable competition between these guys but they are more challenged by someone else getting to the top.


Arrival Inspection


Cleaning Holds


Remembering Sequences


The Bouldering Buddies


Stack Carefully


Photo Op before working the problem

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Labor Day Play

After a good sleep in we went to the park. It has all kinds of things to climb on and swing on. Active but chill, that’s my kind of holiday.

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To paraphrase, children and grandchildren are a gift from the Lord. As distance and years pass it is harder to have quality time with either. My daughter commented that with a child you can do things that most adults (so called responsible adults) wouldn’t do. It is good that my grand-daughter has a mother who will play with her in the rain. It has been an exceptionally wet summer where I live, but 4 hours away where my daughter lives it has been an exceptionally dry summer. I’m thinking, “Oh, rain again.” My daughter is thinking, “Oh, rain again!” You have to supply intonation based on context.

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Before I ever started rock climbing I used to hike… alot, thousands of miles over the years. In high school and college it was backpacking with day hikes to get in shape. I continued after marriage but increased responsibilities as time went along resulted in reduced overnight trips. Not to worry, because I used to take my green daypack, a child on my shoulders, and go. Summer, winter, it made little difference. About 15 years ago I scrambled into the more vertical sport so that the majority of hikes were approaches. I still climb but I see that climbing may have to be set aside in a few years (not slowing down at the moment, though). The time off from hiking just warms my desire to do some more. I like new places but I’m not shy about visiting old haunts. I have hiked (in a day or overnight) to Hump Mountain on the Tennessee/North Carolina border nearly 30 times since 1977. It has been my go to when someone wants to experience backpacking for the first time. I have hiked several times this summer, once to Purchase Knob (see previous blog entry). Several weeks before that hike I went with some new friends to South Mountains State Park. It has one hike that most anyone would enjoy and is not too overwhelming- High Shoals Falls.

The water was low at the falls, which is odd considering how much rain we have had. I guess the water level drops fast after just a few days of no rain. That didn’t dry our enthusiasm a bit. There was plenty to talk about and plenty to see along the way.

I enjoy getting to know people on a hike. You can talk about nature which leads to many subjects you might not otherwise find out about a person. They certainly learned some things about my spider research in college. I studied Agelenid intraspecies competition in the lab, the woods, and the desert. (Curious side note: As I am composing the number of spiderlings that just left their egg sack and are moving back and forth across my computer screen is growing. They are too small for my unaided eye to discern variety although P. tepidariorum (“common house spider”) is the most likely candidate.) There are about a baker’s dozen of Agelenid species in the US. I remember that most of my study involved the A. aperta from New Mexico and Arizona.

The picnic meal was particularly good- Mexican on the grill. I had hiked with the father and young children several other times to mountain tops. This was a nice change. We played in the creek several places, seeing crawdads and minnows. We talked about plant life along the trail both herbaceous and arborescent. It was an enjoyable day, the likes of which I’d like to repeat. We even left just before it began to rain. God gifted us with a beautiful day and good conversation.

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Purchase Knob

Before two weekends ago I had not seen any of my brothers for a year and a half, some for much longer. We had a cookout at my youngest brother’s house with spouses and a few children and grandchildren. During the conversation we planned a hike for Friday to the Purchase Knob area of the Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the location of the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center. The hike we took went along the border of “The Swag”, a Bed and Breakfast that allows hikers to visit their viewing lawn. The weather has been moist for a month and the fungi are out. With more time and patience I could have gotten some really good pictures of the abundant and colorful fruiting bodies of diverse mycelia. One of my sister-in-laws is known for her love and identification of wildflowers. She said she wants to know fungi better. Here’s a place to start.


Cep or Penny Bun?


Lush creek side


Green Cracking Russula (Russula virescens)


Students coming down from the Learning Center


Bee Balm soothing a Pipevine Swallowtail




Furguson Cabin


Black Earth Tongue


Doll’s-Eye or White Baneberry


Yellow Wart (Amanita flavoconia)


“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”?


Orange Peel Cup Mushroom


White Coral Fungus


Earth Cup Mushroom?


Catch some rays and relax


Maggie Valley


Nice smiles! OK, I was trying to make sure the camera was working.


Great Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)


Insulation, flight, camouflage, mating, ….versatile… not by chance!


Coral Fungus




So many colorful varieties


Death Angel


Taking in The Swag view


The Real Purchase Knob


Hiding under a rock on top of the knob


Do you see the fairy ring that I found near the top of Purchase Knob?


Elegant Stinkhorn

The variety and beauty of God’s creation! I could go out every weekend and never get tired of learning and looking.

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I am very thankful for a weekend at home. I have been out of town six times in the last six weeks. I am also thankful that I am not a long distance truck driver or regional salesman. My back and mind would die a quick death in a vehicle seat. Last weekend I drove 32 hours in 4 1/2 days to see my fourth-born graduate from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. Not only was the graduation worth the trip but the Christian fellowship I experienced while there seemed like a spiritual retreat.

The couple whose house my son has lived at the last two semester was where my fourth son and I also stayed. They opened their home and their hearts. The man is an emergency transport helicopter pilot who once flew in Papua New Guinea for Wycliffe Bible Translators. He uses his technical expertise as a witness to how believers in Jesus serve people. His wife homeschooled their eight children. She explained how inadequate and fretful about teaching she felt at first until she remembered her Christian college president’s saying,”Walk with the King, and be a blessing.” That is what she wanted to teach her children and that was all that was required of her. She could relax and live the life of grace before them.

I met my son’s Senior Design Project Professor. He has an encouraging testimony of how God saved a wild red-neck and put him into service to teacher young men and women to make good use of God’s gifts while giving God the glory. 

The commencement speaker was Edmund C. Moy, one time Director of the US Mint in Washington, D.C. With stories from his own experience he urged graduates to be competent and caring Christians. Following are my quick notes on the seven pieces of advice he gave: 

  1. Seek a Mentor.

  2. Find or form a like-minded group with whom to pray and fellowship and witness.

  3. Be trustworthy with the small things; integrity matters.

  4. Do good work; it praises God.

  5. Make a “to be list” to become spiritually mature.

  6. Consider public service.

  7.  Many resumes have a zig-zag path. That’s OK: God is behind it.

Both at the dinner on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon the hosts, other parents, and graduates talked freely of spiritual matters. Several of the graduates led singing of spiritual songs. Another father and I were grateful for the friendship forged between our sons and the hosts’ son-in-law over the last four years, encouraging each other to live godly lives and be good students imparted life-long lessons and habits in all three of these young men. On this Mother’s Day, several mothers told stories of God’s work in their children’s lives and the graduates responded with other stories and thanks for godly mothers and fun times with Christian brothers.

In the Sunday School my son has attended the last 3 1/2 years the teacher reminded us by a survey of examples that the stories of the Bible they had been learning are examples of God’s grace and sovereign plan worked without fail in believers’ lives. The sermon following was given as a series of five sermonettes by the five elders on aspects of God’s love:

1. God is love because He is a Father in a triune relationship.

2. God’s love is expressed in the Old Testament as ‘hesed’, steadfast love.

3. God’s love is best expressed in the gift of Jesus.

4. God’s love never fails.

5. It is difficult for us to comprehend how much God loves us.

I had abundant time to think about all of these lessons as I drove 5 hours on Sunday and 10 1/2 hours on Monday by myself back to North Carolina. My back ached by the time I arrived home and my mind was dull and exhausted but my spirit was refreshed, ready to begin again at the mundane and stressful job of teaching high school science with excellence and care.

Paraphrase of the Great and Secondary Commandments

Paraphrase of the Great and Secondary Commandments

One Time "Richest Acre in the World", Kilgore, TX

One Time “Richest Acre in the World”, Kilgore, TX








Senior Design Project and Senior Designer

Senior Design Project and Senior Designer

An Inventor, Entrepreneur, Industrialist, Philanthropist, Evangelist Christian

An Inventor, Entrepreneur, Industrialist, Philanthropist,
Evangelist Christian













Dad, Grad, and Sib

Dad, Grad, and Sib








Good Aim Matters

Good Aim Matters on The Big Muddy

Waiting in Line for the upstream passage

Waiting in Line for the upstream passage

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