Transformation

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Concord Power & Light took the entire Mattison Drive neighborhood off-line this morning while they replaced several aging transformers. Pictured above is the one that will service our home.  High tension lines connect to the red terminals and split phase 220V is produced on the spatula shaped terminals.  The planned outage was a nice test for our automatic emergency generator which kicked in and kept all our essential circuits up and running while the work was being completed.

Season’s End

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A blustery day seemed fitting for the last game of Maya’s soccer season. The Concord Carlisle girls scored the only goal of the game in the final minutes despite having controlled possession for 90% of the game. A nice finish to the season which has seen the team make huge strides in their play and bodes well for next year. Maya has become every bit the soccer player her brothers are and I am looking forward to seeing them all play together (perhaps when we travel to Mexico later this month for the Amputee World Cup tournament). I am very proud of Maya for the way she embraced her role as co-captain of the team.  She led by example, promoted a strong work ethic, always had a positive outlook and did so with great humility.

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iRobot Halloween

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It would be safe to say that iRobot takes Halloween pretty seriously. Many areas within the building are decorated for the children of employees who visit for a portion of the day. Employees compete for best costume awards while the rest enjoy trick-or-treating without the need for one. Oddly, I am teased for wearing a mountain trekking costume for the entire year except for today.

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BFF

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Her next to the last game of the season ended in a defeat to arch rival Acton Boxborough by a score of 1-3.  Despite the loss, the team has secured first place in the DCL league, a terrific outcome.  More importantly, from my perspective, the team has improved tremendously over the course of the season and is really playing a much improved game of soccer with thoughtful passing and movement off the ball.  I have no explanation for the picture above but thought it worthy of a snapshot.

Full Spectrum

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Peak color has long past for the season but one can still find enclaves of outrageously vibrant foliage.  This has been, without a doubt, the most colorful autumn I have ever witnessed in New England.  I feel fortunate to have enjoyed it so thoroughly.

National Charity League

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The mission of the National Charity League is to foster mother-daughter relationships in a philanthropic organization committed to community service, leadership development and cultural experiences.  This afternoon we hosted a NCL quilting party for some twenty members.  The quilt will be donated to a family in need or offered for auction with the proceeds going to charity. Maya’s grandmother, Angela, is an excellent seamstress and it is clear that she will follow in her footsteps.

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My soccer team won a crucial match against a difficult opponent this morning by a margin of 4-1 inching us into first place with just two games remaining in the season before the playoffs.  I had a very nice assist in the first half but had to leave the game early in the second when my left hamstring started to give me problems again.  I am hoping it is a minor re-tweek and that I will be back in action next week.  After the game I took the season’s official team photo.

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CCHS Girls Junior Varsity

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Maya’s soccer coach asked if I would take this year’s team photo for the junior varsity girls team.  I was happy to oblige and am reasonably pleased with the result.  The girls went on to win by a huge margin and look much improved on the season.  Maya’s distribution was excellent and she dominated at her center midfield position.  For the first time this season I shot action photos of all the players and hope to post a portfolio before the weekend is out.

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The Bog

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A rather hectic day at work prevented me from doing any photography today.  This is a photo I will take tomorrow while on a solo nature walk through the bog behind Alcott Elementary School.

Japanese Maple

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Despite the gray and rainy day, our Japanese Maple is turning in total splendor.  Peak color in Massachusetts looks to have occurred while we were in Colorado and the weather forecast for the remainder of the week does not look promising.  Visitors to the blog are probably tiring of all the fall foliage images but I can never get enough and try to squeeze every bit of hiking and photography into this brief window of autumnal transition.

Dental X-Rays

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Every five years my routine dental cleaning appointment includes a full set of x-rays.  A rather unattractive self portrait, I hope all of the crowns and fillings will be an incentive to my children to brush more frequently than I did as a youth.

Penny, my dental hygienist for over a decade has left the practice and I was surprised to learn of this when I arrived.  I will probably switch to an office that is closer to home since her skills and the rapport we developed over time was my main reason for making the haul to Tewksbury.

Parting Views

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A leisurely four hour drive from Aspen to Denver for our return flight to Boston afforded us many great photo opportunities along the way.

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Maroon Bells

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Aspen is known to most people as a posh skiing destination for the rich and famous. We are here because of its proximity to iconic Maroon Bells, reportedly the most photographed mountains in North America and a great destination for hiking. A 30 minute drive from Aspen, I arrived well before sunrise to catch the first rays of light painting the peaks. When the aspens are in full fall color, one can expect to find hundreds of photographers lining the banks of Maroon Lake for a chance to get the perfect picture of this American icon.  I was joined by only one other on this cold morning and spent an hour enjoying the solitude and beauty before returning to Aspen for breakfast with Jeanine.  The two of us then returned to the Bells for a morning hike to Crater Lake.

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The 4.2 mile out and back trail ascends to 10,000 feet and took us about an hour in each direction traveling across rock falls and through groves of aspens.

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During the afternoon we ventured to the abandoned silver mining town of Ashcroft where nine buildings have been preserved and are said to be haunted.  We encountered no ghosts but did see many things that took our breath away.

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Aspen Bound

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A two hour hike through the Red Rock Canyon Open Space was our first activity for the day.  This city park offers dozens of trails that weave in and around the large rock formations which are part of the same geological uplift that formed the Garden of the Gods.  You can actually follow the spine of rocks connecting the two locations as illustrated in the photo below.

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Next it was back to campus for a farewell brunch with Nicolai which paled in comparison to yesterday’s breakfast.  We posed with Nico for a photo using 14,114 foot high Pike’s Peak, visible from virtually everywhere on campus, as a backdrop.  In Nico’s words, “the view never grows old.”

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After hanging out for a little while and meeting some of his friends we left Nico to return to his studies and set out for Aspen, a three hour drive away over beautiful Independence Pass.

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Future visits to Colorado will be timed for earlier in the month when aspen trees are at peak fall color.  We were fortunate, however, to find a few groves which were still holding leaves.

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Garden of the Gods

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Jeanine and I were up well before sunrise for a visit to the Garden of the Gods, not five minutes from the Colorado College campus.  I scouted a great location for an overview shot including Pike’s Peak in the background as the sum rose.  This natural wonder is a photographer’s dream.

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The early morning light was magical and this is but a small sample of the photographs I captured.  As I have noted in the past, landscape photographs really need to be viewed at full resolution to appreciate them.

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After a few hours of hiking in the park we set out for the quaint town of Manitou Springs followed by a stroll through historic Old Colorado City.  There we came across the tail end of a pumpkin festival and watched as contestants loaded their prized creations. Pictured here is the winner of third place.

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By this time, Nicolai was finally awake and we joined him and his friend Nate and Nate’s mother for breakfast at his favorite local spot. I ordered a half size portion of the Grump (2 eggs served over a mountain of hash browns covered with cheese and gravy).  In retrospect, I should have ordered the quarter size portion which was offered on the menu.

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With three days remaining in his current block, Nico returned to his dorm to work on a term paper while Jeanine and I went back to the Garden of the Gods for further exploration and hiking.

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We reconnected again for dinner and were joined by Nico’s roommate, Thomas, his mother and two sisters at an underground restaurant called the Rabbit Hole.  The food was reportedly exceptional. I opted for salad only to offset the damage done by my 2,000 calorie breakfast.

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Colorado College

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Jeanine and I are visiting Nicolai in Colorado Springs where he is attending Colorado College as a freshman.  My first and Jeanine’s second visit to the campus, we are here for Parents Weekend.  A busy day, we sampled three abbreviated classes (psychology, film and gender studies) and three workshops on skill building (leadership training, digital story telling, and “talk”ology).  For lunch we attended a forum on Climate Change during which professors and alumni presented brief reviews of their academic research on the subject. We then toured the campus before joining Nicolai for a fine steak dinner.

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Annapurna Tragedy

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I was extremely saddened today to learn of the tragedy in Nepal which took the lives of more than 40 trekkers when a winter storm, fueled by a cyclone moving through India, dumped 6 feet of snow on the Thorung La Pass, the highest point on the Annapurna circuit.  Ten months ago, I captured this image of myself standing where most of the trekkers fell victim to hypothermia on the downside of the trail headed to Muktinath.  I was prepared for winter snows which are common in December but unusual for the month of October.  I crossed the pass the day before the first major storm of the season and think back now on my good fortune.  Faced with white out conditions, this section of the circuit would have been nearly impossible to navigate.  No doubt, many changes will be made by the Nepalese government in the aftermath of this tragedy.  In my opinion, the most effective change would be to provide up to the minute weather forecasts at strategically located points along the trek.  The technology exists to do this.

My thoughts this day are with all who lost lives and suffered in the Himalaya and those who survive them.