New Thing #360: Re-Enacting An Old Picture

OriginalThis is kind of in the spirit of a Throwback Thursday…but that wouldn't be a New Thing, since we did that already. But Thursday seems like the appropriate day on which to do this.

I feel like, before it became a mini-fad in the past couple of months, I had the idea that it might be fun to re-create a picture from years ago, with my brother and sister and I as subjects then and now.

But I could be wrong - it could be that I saw someone do it somewhere (it was very popular on Facebook for a short time) and liked the idea so it filed away in the back of my mind.

Anyway, I wanted to try it out, and my brother and sister were game…so we did.

Above you see the original image. Here's what we came up with for our re-take:


My brother had the immediate idea to go into my mom's cupboard and find the original bowl. We're guessing the original picture is from 1984. He also had the idea to ask my dad to lend us a couple of v-neck t-shirts, which lent a hint of authenticity to the experience.

My wife took the picture and did a great job directing us into the proper positions, and I appreciate my brother and sister being willing to help out for today's New Thing.

And some of you may be surprised to see me clean-shaven. There was a beard trimming mishap on Christmas Eve that resulted in the whole thing having to go. I'm thinking of growing it back before school resumes.

Here's the two images side-by-side, 29 years linked by one pea green-colored mixing bowl:


New Thing #326: Big Lens

Big_LensIt's been a while since I used one of those Starbucks free app 'Pick of the Week' cards. Truth be told, it's been a while since I had even been to a Starbucks…or one that had the cards at the shop.

But this one caught my eye this week - it's a camera app.

I haven't fully explored it, but it does some photo touching up.

And if that's not a New Thing…I don't know what is.

Here's the deal - I pretty much exclusively use the regular camera on my phone.

I have another camera app that's supposed to take better pictures, but I never think to use it.

I also have Instagram, but I think I've only taken one picture ever on my Instagram account, if I'm remembering right.

So it seems like a photo app is a good one for getting me to try something new.

Blur_PicIt's one of those apps that lets you focus in on a certain part of a picture - the part that you want comes into focus while the surrounding area looks blurry…it's somewhat artsy.

(The example you see at the right is a picture I took and then touched up of my computer screen while I was writing this entry. Meta, huh?)

So that's my new app.

You'd better stand right next to me in the middle of all of my pictures from now on, or else you'll be blurred right the heck out.

Ah. Who are we kidding.

I'll probably never use this app again.

New Thing #318: Throwback Thursday

Eating_CookiesIt kind of came out of nowhere, but then it had staying power. I feel like it popped up on my Twitter feed one day, then the next week there were a bunch more, and then later it spread to Facebook, and now almost everyone is doing it.

Except I hadn't done it.

Until today.

I'm talking about Throwback Thursday, or #TBT, as it appears so often.

So today, we're taking a trip back in time.

I think one of the things that makes me such a good teacher (yeah, I said it. What? I am.) is the fact that I was a…um…weird child.

There was a lot going on in that head of mine.

So when I deal with children who seem to have a lot going on, I think back to little Johnny and it helps me tap into my reserve of patience.

Football_Boys These pictures don't necessarily reflect that kid - because I was always at my most normal around my family. (Entire cookie shoved up into my cheek in that top picture notwithstanding.)

With my family I was funny, I was fun…I was myself.

At school I had friends and I think I got along fine - but…I don't know…I think I was  belligerent sometimes with kids. I'm not sure I was ever all that comfortable in social settings, school or otherwise.

I think I might have been on edge a lot.

But that might be overselling it.

Because I did OK - I attended high school with no one who knew me from grades 1-8. That gave me a chance to figure out how to handle people (and present myself to them) and then by the time I got to college I was pretty socially well-adjusted. It's there that I met life-long friends and of course afterwards when I met my wife and kind of hit my social stride.

3_Of_UsI was probably around 8 in this picture above, because we moved out of that house by 1986. That dude would never believe he'd be pushing 10 years of marriage to a great woman with 3 wonderful children.

I wonder what I was writing on that paper there. Probably something weird, like license plate numbers - I liked copying down license plate numbers.

But who knows - maybe there were shades of future John in there somewhere….

Nah. I never use yellow legal pad paper these days.

New Thing #281: Drawing Fenway

Fenway_PicI don't love the Red Sox, but I love Fenway Park. I love how picturesque the park is.

The Citgo sign, the red lights on the scoreboard...the Green Monster.

It's all so beautiful.

On Friday, a friend of mine went to Fenway for Game 1 of the ALDS, and she sent me the picture you see here.

I loved it so much I had to draw it.

Over the summer, in anticipation of some kind of New Thing involving drawing, I bought some colored pencils and a sketch pad.

At the time I thought I might draw PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but when I saw this picture I knew it was the one I was going to draw.

I know I'm not the best artist in the world, and I know there are some flaws with what I ended up making, but I'm pretty proud of the final result. (If you want me to break down and analyze the drawing, contact me and I'll bore you with the details.)

Click on through to check it out.


New Thing #277: Being Curious About The Night Sky

Night_SkyNo, that picture at left is not my television screen. (You can tell because it's not staticky.) It's a picture of the night sky.

You'll have to trust me when I tell you the night sky looked a lot more impressive in person last night than this picture indicates.

But I was out after dark last night because I had to run to CVS - I was out of deodorant, if you're curious.

And as I drove back I saw a bright spot in the sky - and I knew it had to be something that I've never seen before.

When I got home I looked up what was happening in the southwest sky Thursday night.

I'm not sure that I found out for sure what I saw - though I did find out some interesting information.

I think what I saw was probably Venus - and there was apparently a fainter Saturn visible...though there were a lot of stars visible Thursday night and I don't know if I would have known Saturn from a star if I saw it.

I found out that Cassiopeia, which Sara Bareilles wrote a song about on her new album, is actually a real star...with a 'W' shape. (I didn't think it was a real star.)

I found out that there is a lot going on in the sky at night - a space that I don't usually pay a lot of attention to.

But maybe I'll start.

New Thing #212: Photo Booth

Photo_BoothI think I told you that the reason we hit the Cape this past weekend was for a friend's wedding. If not...well, the reason we were on the Cape this weekend was for a friend's wedding.

What I most certainly haven't told you is that at the wedding reception there was a PHOTO BOOTH!

I didn't quite know what to make of this feature until I decided that it is the best idea in the world.

So here's the deal (if you've never been to an event where there is a photo booth...which I hadn't before Saturday):

The booth gets set up, you choose black and white or color, you get your four pictures just like at a mall or an arcade or something, then two copies print out. You keep one copy - that's your wedding favor - and the other goes into a scrapbook for the happy couple.

There is nothing not to love about this. (Except for the fact that there's a screen to watch when you're posing for the picture and the screen turns off about a second before the camera flashes. So if you're like me, you think the picture was taken when the screen goes black, but then a second later - FLASH - the picture is taken when you start moving. This, despite the lady telling you to, "Watch the camera." And your wife next to you telling you the same. But you finally get it by the fourth picture. The other three weren't terrible.)

I love how they have a staff member at the photo booth telling you what's going on for the pictures.

I love how they have a staff member at the scrapbook telling you exactly what you need to do when she puts the pictures into the book.

I love that scrapbook - it wasn't my wedding but I kind of want a copy of that book.

I love how clever I was with my entry into the scrapbook. (Once I got a sense of how the photo booth was working I formulated a quick little plan for our four picture poses and essentially our message in the scrapbook was a greeting card. It turned out great.)

My wedding ship has sailed. (The flash went off on my photo booth 9 years ago, so to speak.)

But you - if it's not too late - get a photo booth at your wedding.

And if you're at a wedding with a photo booth, and you need an idea for how to pose - give me a call.

I've got some more ideas up my sleeve.

New Thing #169: A Picture-Perfect Rainbow

Had a quick thunderstorm roll through Monday evening. It hit at just about 5:30pm, and everything was back to normal by about 6:54pm.

How do I know?

Well, those are the times when our power went out and was restored, respectively.

But it wasn't so much the storm that impressed me and my daughters as it was the resulting image.

I was downstairs turning lights back on and making sure everything was in order when my daughter shouted out, "I see a rainbow!"

(I don't think she spotted the rainbow on her own - I'm pretty sure the neighbors who were gathering outside drew her attention to the window, and she followed their gazes to see the rainbow up above. My daughters are kind of nosy that way.)

I came upstairs to see it. Apparently our house must have been the best viewing spot on the block for the whole thing because the neighbors were in our driveway trying to take pictures.

("They're in our driveway," my daughter reported.

"They're just taking pictures of the rainbow," I told her. "It's OK."

"Not with me," she replied.)

It was the type of rainbow straight out of a cartoon. A perfect arc - from behind one set of houses on the right all the way to another set of houses on the left. It could easily have led to a pot of gold.

It was picture-perfect, really. Sorry that my pictures of it are less than perfect.

L_Rainbow R_Rainbow

New Thing #136: Shadows In Color

Shadow_In_ColorI took this picture following my daughter's dance recital more than a week ago. I figured one day when the ol' creativity well ran a little bit dry I could use it as a New Thing.

Which is not to say I don't like the picture - I really do.

It's just that I realize it's a little bit of a stretch to use it as a New Thing.

But here we are.

One disclaimer - I know when I started this project I didn't intend to post a New Thing a day. By the end of the year I was going to have 365, and if that meant I missed a few days and then made up for it with a few posts in a day, well, that's what I would do.

But I've gone 135 straight days now, and I kind of want to try to go 365 straight.

But it's a tough time of year. I don't know if you remember last May, but May is a tough month with everything going on at school. Last May was so tough, I almost missed Johan Santana's no-hitter because it was on Friday, June 1st, and that day I was just so happy May was over that I went out for a little bit just to catch my breath and I didn't get home until the middle of the 5th inning.

But I digress. Here we are halfway through May, and I'm doing OK. I just haven't been experiencing a ton of New.

Except for snapping this picture.

We celebrated the recital at my daughter's favorite restaurant: Margarita's. My two oldest daughters got balloons there. I don't know that I've noticed all that much when a shadow is anything but black. But for some reason this one stood out to me more than most.

So I took a picture.

And now that I think of it, it reminds me of this picture I took a couple of years ago:



Except there's color. And that's pretty rare. So. New Thing.

New Thing #57: Appreciating and Sharing The Beauty of Snow

Snow_1Mondays are tough. It's the first day of week - there's the ol' Garfield "I hate Mondays" feel to it in the first place.

On top of that, for me it's the longest day of my work week schedule-wise - it's non-stop once I get in the door.

And when I leave my house, it's garbage day - so there's a lot of work to get out of the house between putting the last of the garbage together and taking that out to the curb (can't do it the night before because of the raccoons) and getting my daughter in the car and hitting the road.

One other element - this year is super-busy.

So Monday, February 25, 2013, was one of those busy mornings - especially because it was returning to school after a week off - but unlike most mornings, I took a second to appreciate the beauty of the scene around me.

And now I'm sharing that with you.

Let me set the scene: Here in Framingham, Massachusetts it snowed pretty much non-stop all day Sunday. It started late Saturday, and there was a changeover for a bit to rain, then a heavy, large-flaked snow fell for 20-plus hours.

Snow_2The picture above is the view I caught when I put the garbage at the curb. I was so struck I took the picture at left...because look at that sky. There's a nice contrast between those snowy branches and the sun-streaked sky as the sun rose on a beautiful, non-snowy day. At least, I thought so. (I think you can click on the pictures so you can appreciate the full images. I hope.)

Whenever I see the trees looking that snow-covered (and sometimes ice-coated) I think of two things: One is that I never saw a scene like that growing up. There were never enough trees in my part of Queens to give that kind of a snowscape. (There were other snowy scenes, just not like the ones I'm talking about.)

The second thing I think of is a storm that hit in late 2005 or early 2006. At the time I worked at a school in Sudbury - a commute of 10 or 15 minutes from home. I had lived in the area only about a year, and I was still very unfamiliar with what to me were very country roads. I did not know my way around very well.

We were either let out of school early or it was right at the end of the school day that I started making my way home...and I encountered some downed branches one way, and then there was a stuck school bus another way, so instead of waiting I went a way I had never gone before. Bottom line, it took me more than an hour to get home that day. But I ended up on a road (if I remember correctly I ended up going north when I had to go south, and I eventually did find my way home) that was lined with snow-covered branches overhead.

It was the most beautiful and scary thing I'd experienced to that point - scary because I was legitimately lost. But beautiful because I think that was the first time I experienced that kind of snowy scene.

But Monday morning I went down a road that had a similar look to the one from seven or eight years ago. So I snuck this picture to share that with you:

Snow_3Next Monday I promise I'll go back to being a grump.


New Thing #41: A Picture of the Sun Setting

Through_The_WindowWhile we're on the subject of pictures (well, we were yesterday), I thought I'd share another one with you. This is new because it's one of those things that before this little experiment I wouldn't have thought about stopping to take a picture of and sharing with others.

So the fact that I did makes it a 'New Thing'.

What you see to the left here is the view outside my classroom window sometime in the 4 o'clock hour this time of year.

If you click on through, I'll tell you a little bit more about it, and I'll also show you what it looks like outside, without looking out the window.

As you can probably tell, when those trees are not bare, you can barely see the sun through them.

But this time of year, it shines right on through.

And I think there are a couple of reasons I like this view:

1) It's just pretty, I think,

2) It happens every year, and I forget how much I enjoy seeing that sun glare fade as it approaches the horizon until it's happening again. It's like an annual surprise,


3) I like how this time of year it gets to a certain part of the trees later and later each day, portending spring and those trees being filled out, as not all that far away.

I have an appreciation for the view out of my window at work when the trees are full of life, and fall is (perhaps obviously) beautiful as well...but in the dead of winter, I feel like the sun brings some color to what could be a drab view.

I'm excited it's almost time to be done with you for the season, sunset...but part of me is looking forward to when you surprise me again next year.


New Thing #40: A Blizzard In Pictures

Measuring_StickAfter a little more than 24 hours of snow, and a little more than 26 inches on the ground, the Blizzard of February 2013 (Blizzard Nemo?) is over. I'm taking a break from digging out to put together the final result of some of the pictures I've taken the past couple of days.

I was hoping the blizzard would present me with some kind of a 'New Thing', and a big thanks to my friend Anne for providing some inspiration for this idea.

Here's a picture-by-picture account of the snow in Framingham, Massachusetts.

I tried to take the picture the exact same way each time - it's a look out my front door at my driveway. I think it pretty well captures the stages of the storm: