Bidding a (Fond) Farewell to July 2017

July is about to bow its sayonara. Interesting month. Got a lot accomplished. Moving into August on an upbeat note. Let me talk a bit about photography, then I’ll segue into professional and then personal updates.


I perambulated yesterday around Kent Trails, near Millennium Park, along a 4.1-mile loop. I brought my trusty Nikon D3100 camera (I know, I know—antique body at this point) with my Nikkor 70-300 mm lens. The goal of the walk wasn’t to hone my technical skills with manual-mode shooting but rather to just work on framing with this lens. Haven’t used it much yet. Had some fun with it — my favorite 29 photos are captured into three Tumblr photoset posts organized by the themes of park, flora and fauna. And it was great to get into the relative peace of the park.

After I left the trail, arms wickedly sunburned, I stopped for an unannounced visit to my mom. That was nice. I’m thrilled that Gunner the German Shepherd is doing well. He’s a whopping 110 lbs now. Yikes.

On my way home from my mom’s house, I visited the new nature walk that used to be The Highlands Golf Club. In the summer of 2000, I worked course maintenance at The Highlands. The Great Lakes Senior Golf Association wrote up the course by saying:

In the early 1900’s Donald Ross, one of the world’s most renowned golf course architects, designed one of the best golf courses in West Michigan. In 2008 we celebrated our centennial year at The Highlands in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now you too can play and walk the fairways that Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and hundreds of other PGA, Senior PGA, and LPGA stars have played.

I myself had played there, with my grandfather, in the 1990s and early 2000s. Earlier this year, the 18-hole, 121-acre site was acquired by the Land Conservancy and added to the Blandford Nature Center. So far, they’ve done basically nothing but remove the hardware for the course (flags, cups, ball washers) and mow a few meandering paths through it. Otherwise, it’s being reclaimed by nature. I’ve documented the effect that just one season’s worth of quietude has wrought on what used to be a nationally respected course. See the photoset. Beautiful, but also sad. When you see a place you worked so hard to maintain now overgrown and wild, you cannot help but reflect on the impermanence of things. Even things like a 109-year-old golf course.

And one last photo thing—all this picture-taking impelled me to get my portfolio organized. So my major shoots are up on Tumblr and are accessible, along with my Instagram feed, on this blog’s Photos page. Remember, folks, I make no claim to being a professional photographer! 🙂

Sundry Professional Updates

From the work front:

  • At Priority Health, I have a new boss in the form of my former fellow manager, Sheri. I like her. This should be good. And the major work of the summer—vetting 175 different corporate initiatives totaling more than $80M in cost savings, in time to support the annual budgeting and pricing process—was delivered in full and on time, which is huge given that our VP didn’t think my team would be done until November. I’m rewarding my core and extended team with a kayaking trip next Friday. We’re going to the Double R Ranch for a light lunch, then spend 2 or 2.5 hours on the Flat River, then return to the ranch for dinner and drinks. Folks are excited. Kudos to Jen, one of my senior analysts, for coordinating the kayaking festivities.
  • At Caffeinated Press, our newest board member, Tabitha, is going gangbusters to impose some project-management discipline on projects I was too thinly stretched to manage myself. Our office move is now mostly done, so I can focus on distribution, book production and the third volume of our Brewed Awakenings anthology. With the move (and corresponding rent reduction) and Tabitha’s arrival, I think things are beginning to even out a bit. Which is good. The last nine months or so have been a real drudge at times.
  • Two weeks ago, I hoofed it to the Windy City for our summer Commission Week meetings for the National Association for Healthcare Quality. Professionally rewarding but also exhausting. Spent a fair amount of time on my newest NAHQ project, which is to co-lead the initiative to revise NAHQ’s code of ethics and standards of professional practice, from scratch. A ton of work to be done, but on the bright side, I can put that degree in moral philosophy to use! Next up for NAHQ is the board meeting and annual conference in September, in Cincinnati, but the ethics work will likely occupy the bulk of my NAHQ time for the remainder of 2017.

Sundry Personal Updates

And on the home front:

  • I broke a bone. First time ever. Whacked my foot against the living-room table whilst chasing a fly. Broke my right pinky toe, jammed the next toe in and managed to pull a back muscle as I contorted to break my fall.  And did something to temporarily injure my right wrist. But I got that winged demon. I got it good.
  • I bought a new bed. After nearly 15 years, my Select Comfort dual-chamber queen-sized bed finally had one chamber fail. Which meant that for a few weeks, I slept on half an air bed while the cats just geeked out over their ability to play hide-and-go-stalk in the valleys of the deflated side. Because cats. Anyway, I tossed the Select Comfort and temporarily replaced it with an air mattress from Meijer while I plotted the switcheroo between the bedroom and the office (because of the Caffeinated Press move). Now that the moves are all done, I bought a Casper mattress on the recommendation of my NAHQ colleague Andrew. He was right—I love it. It’s a 10-inch queen mattress with several different foam layers. It came in a box, vacuum packed and rolled up like a sleeping bag. I opened the vacuum bag and *woomph* it almost immediately restored itself to its full shape and size. So far, so happy.
  • Enjoyed a fun cigar night with Tony, Matt and Scott this past Wednesday. I arrived around 7p. Didn’t leave until a quarter to midnight. Long after Tony and Scott left, I sat with Matt and with Rob (the owner) talking politics and enjoying a Nat Sherman 85th Anniversary cigar and sipping a Perrin Black Goat beer.
  • My 4.1-mile expedition to Kent Trails yesterday, plus comments from my colleague John, suggest that the hiking trip to Hodenpyl Dam would make more sense in October, at the height of color season. I cannot find room to disagree, so I’ve rescheduled accordingly. Plus, it’ll give me a chance to actually use the recumbent bike that I own but studiously avoid. Hiking goes better with some degree of cardiopulmonary fitness, I guess.
  • My personal writing has picked up. I’m wrapping up another of my pseudonymous erotica novellas intended solely for Amazon. I recently wrote a short story, Ashes of Another Life, which at 2,350 words was constructed to meet a very specific writing prompt from one of my writing groups. My other writing group is firing on all cylinders. And I’m looking forward to the writers’ retreat next month, a weekend event in Kalamazoo. Also, the essay I wrote that’ll be included in the Catholic anthology won’t be released until late 2018, which is a shame but also, as a small-press guy myself, I totally get it.
  • On the Vice Lounge Online front, Tony and I have again concluded that summer is a real pain to get together given our opposite schedules. So for August, we’re on an every-other-week rotation. Normal programming resumes in September. That said, you’re welcome to catch us on iTunes or listen on the Web if you’d like to check out recent episodes or browse the back catalog. It’s all good stuff, people. All of it.

OK, all for now. Hope you had an equally satisfying July … and here’s to a kick-buttocks August.

A Stroll in Grand Haven

My friend Mel and I recently met in Grand Haven, Mich., to enjoy coffee. I brought my camera, so we strolled from Washington St. all the way to the end of the pier. Selected (clickable) images from that excursion follow.

All photos were shot with my Nikon D3100 with a Nikkor 55-300 lens, in auto mode.

Maplewood Cemetery Photo Shoot

I spent part of the blustery afternoon at a small cemetery in Lamont, Mich., on a photo shoot.

The event itself was a bit sad; many of the grave markers date from the 19th century and many of the older headstones have fallen into disrepair.

A somber sojourn, dutifully accompanied by cold, dark skies and snow flurries. Selected images processed and uploaded to Tumblr. As before, manual-mode shooting with Nikon D3100.

Photosets: A Walk Along Kent Trails

Yesterday I took a short hike along the Kent Trails near Millennium Park. Brought along my camera and snapped about 130 or so exposures. Of those, only about two dozen were even salvageable using the basic editing tools in Adobe Lightroom. But in my defense, I set the D3100 to manual mode and set the aperture and shutter-speed settings independently for every photo, as a way of honing my photographic technique. As such the goal wasn’t really on framing a creative shot but in experimenting (mostly) with depth-of-field manipulation.

Takeaway lesson: The theory is easy. The execution, not so much.

I’ve created a Tumblr where I’ll upload this stuff. The link is: — enjoy.