Senior Pictures

10.28.2009
Meet beautiful, cute, Corinne!

Corinne is one of the young women in our small branch here in New York. She's a convert to the Church and is what we like to call a "rock". She's awesome and knows her stuff! I've been so impressed with her. She's been an example to me from time to time, and I'm her leader! Corinne is also the strangest teenager I've ever met, and it's one of her best qualities: she's always concerned with everyone else but herself.

Corinne knew I had just gotten my new camera and asked if I'd take her senior pictures. I said I would try! If they didn't turn out, she could go somewhere else. Corinne and I had a blast of an afternoon on Sunday taking pictures around our home! She was a ton of fun! Miraculously, a few pictures did turn out. These are some of my favorites.

















So obviously I have some work ahead of me trying to get the camera to focus in just the right spots (her eyes) and more. I don't have any cool photo editing stuff--I just mess with exposure and saturation mostly and add a few rounded corners and borders from the internet. If you have any photography feedback, I'd love to hear it! Any down-right honest suggestions on portrait taking and photo editing would be greatly appreciated.

But overall, I kinda like how these turned out.

St. Joseph's Cathedral

10.26.2009
How in the world can a city just an hour from home feel so foreign? Oh, I know. They only speak French! (Though I must admit, some Quebecians do speak very good English.)

Bron and I spent our Saturday in Montreal. My lack of French aside, I'm really falling in love with the city. There's so much history and culture! Plus, it's quite pretty; there's a church or cathedral on every block. After our morning session at the LDS temple, we drove over to check out St. Joseph's Cathedral. It's incredibly massive and can be described as no less than eye candy for my camera. The cathedral very much reminded me of a landmark I once visited in Paris.





Bron and I toured the entire facility, from the basilisque to the tomb of St. Andre. The ceilings soared above us. I've never seen stained glass windows with so much detail. I also saw St. Andre's heart (yes, a real human heart) laid to rest in a special box. However, my favorite part were the rooms filled with warm candles lit for prayers. I would have taken more pictures, but that would have been irreverent.



We had a great afternoon in Montreal. I can't wait to go back to explore more of the city!

A Country Girl Education

10.23.2009
Bron is home! Yay! He spent almost three full days at the Cornell Nutrition Conference in Syracuse. We stayed up all evening just talking. I love having him home. It was the first time I fell into a really deep sleep in two nights!

One of the topics we discussed and that Bron brought away from the conference is that we (95% of the population) need to make our voices heard. The other small percent of the population is controlling the current legislation right now. We need to protect farmers' rights and prevent them from being over taxed. It simply starts with education.

Before I married my husband and into his dairy farming family, I was a very naive city girl. Two and a half years later, I have been successfully indoctrinated into country living and farm life. My world and some of my views have changed because I have seen a working farm first-hand. And because Bron is getting his education primarily in dairy animals, I can ask specific questions and have them answered in almost too much detail.

For example, are organic foods really better than conventional? The answer is: no. Conventional fruits and vegetables contain the same amounts of vitamins and minerals--if not more--than organic. Conventional foods are grown bigger and juicier because they are genetically modified. That modification has no effect on you. As for pesticides, however, the person most in danger is the farmer spraying it. Plus, the FDA has very strict guidelines. I understand if you want to avoid any risks. That's why there's an organic niche just for you.

Organic farmers are doing something right, however. They often plant a variety of fruits and vegetables. This in turn protects the farmer's entire crop from being destroyed by one bug, fungus, or other threat. Because of public demand, conventional farmers are forced to plant a monoculture. For example, potato farmers in Idaho grow the Russet Burbank potato almost exclusively because those are the type people prefer for their french fries and other great edibles. One bug can destroy hundreds of acres of fields of russet potatoes in one season. These farmers must use various forms of pesticides, etc. to protect their crop and their livelihood. So why can't people eat a variety of potatoes for their french fries? Who cares if they don't stick long and prettily out of the red McDonald's box? They would still taste delectible. I think it would be a win-win situation for everyone all around!

In the year 2050 it is projected that we will need to produce 100% more food to feed the planet's growing population. Less than 20% of this food will come from new land dedicated to farming. The rest is left up to food science and engineering. In other words, we will produce more crops per acre. We're already doing it and will continue to improve. Organics will not play a part in saving the world because they just can't produce those numbers.  However, I am not against planting a home-grown garden.  I think it's a great way to feed a family!

Did you know that a cow fed a conventional diet of silage, hay, and corn mixture can produce over 100 lbs. of milk per day? (That's what Miner is doing right now.) An organic cow grazing only on grass produces a third of the amount, around 35 lbs. of milk per day. Although grazing is obviously very cheap, it's actually more practical and cost-efficient in most cases to feed cows a conventional diet. I'm sure Bron's brother, Talon, has a few words to add to this paragraph about some of the other pros and cons. He's been using honey to treat mastitis (as opposed to antibiotics) and it seems to work! That's one simple remedy that's exciting!

Also FYI, Americans prefer the taste of a conventionally fed cow over a grass fed cow. Yum, Yum, Beef!

Bron and I talked about growth hormones in cows and the perception that people think their children are hitting puberty sooner because of these hormones. It simply isn't true. I've heard this argument many times, but was too afraid to speak up. I should have. It's a proven fact that girls start their menstrual cycle when they hit about 100 lbs. (Girls, think back to this horrific time in your young life!) Boys begin their journey into manhood at about the same weight. Today we are feeding our children bigger (proportions) and better foods than ever before in the United States.

The same idea is true in animals as well. Dairy calfs can grow into a mature cow much more quickly when fed exactly what they need. This means that a heifer can be bred and start producing milk at a younger age. Hormones are primarily given to beef cows to spur their growth. Just as there are regulations for a cow given antibiotics and the time between which her milk can be put in the tank, there is a certain amount of time allotted between administering hormones and slaughter. Because of this time lapse, there is no detectable amount of hormone in the meat we eat. Plus, if that isn't enough, the hormone denaturizes (just as bacteria) when the meat is cooked. Therefore, it's harmless anyway! So unless you or your child eats raw meat, you're in the green.

BST is another debatable subject. BST is already naturally occurring in animals that produce milk. Scientists were just able to make more. By giving a cow BST, she is able to produce more milk. The milk's fat and other nutritional content stay about the same. The only drawback is that her body wears-out faster. Nobody anywhere wants to admit that BST was originally given to human babies with absolutely no response.

Finally, many of the United States' legislation is based on world-wide data. So while the numbers may be true in South America, they don't hold a candle to the realities in the US. Our numbers are that different! Legislation for this country needs to be made upon research and numbers from this country. It only makes sense, right?

Please remember that many of our everyday conveniences, medical advances, and our quality and longevity of life have come from revolutionary ideas in science and engineering. It is imperative that research is done using good laboratory techniques. Better yet, research must be done in good conscience. Believe me, I do this every day I come to work!

I know I'm opinionated and out-spoken. I always have been; can't help it. I also know there are many other opinions out there and people may disagree with me or have some rebuttal. But that's what makes us compromise and move forward for a better world. Educate yourself and don't be afraid to speak up! It would make me happiest.

October in New York

10.19.2009
Our lives are still plugging along with work, school, and church.

Friday night I had my very first Sinfonia performance in the Giltz Auditorium at the college. It was called the Prism Concert because various musical groups were situated around the auditorium. When it was our turn, a bright spotlight was turned on us. Each group played just one piece. It was a short but sweet concert. The idea behind it was great! And, of course, they saved the best group for last. (It wasn't us!) Bron and I both enjoyed it a lot. Plus, I love having an excuse to put on my long black skirt! Afterward, Bron took me out for a strawberry milkshake. He had a fudge sundae. It was a good evening.

We're well into Autumn now which means it's a great time of year for photos! Bron was an awesome sport. He walked around with me all last Sunday evening while I took pictures. Fortunately, nature is a more patient photo subject than husbands.

I've been experimenting with my camera and a little photo editing. Everything was shot in Manual mode. Thanks for the great tips, Rachel!















Day One

10.16.2009
Today is Day One. Yesterday Pfizer officially closed the merger with Wyeth. We are now Pfizer. I arrived at work today to find brand new blue Pfizer signs out front, in my computer browser, and on my phone screen. Weird.

Is this a time of celebration and excitement, or anxious foreboding about our individual jobs? I think it's a little bit of both. The tension in yesterday's meeting was practically tangible and I think the CEO has a future in politics. He successfully managed to answer every specific question with positive, ambiguous answers. So still, no one knows what will happen to our site here in Chazy in the near future. Some people have a very bleak outlook. Still, others are positive. I like to err on the positive side by nature.

Inevitably, some people everywhere will lose their jobs. I want to cry for those who will lose their careers. What a blow! But that's capitalism. However, I'm sure most of those people are educated and talented and will be able to find something new. The worst part for people is not knowing; not being able to prepare.

As for me, this is just a job I have for now while my husband finishes school. It'll look great on my resume!

On a much cooler note, I got to observe in Repro yesterday! Some of you readers might think I'm morbid and gross. However, I know there are a few of you who would jump at this opportunity!

Repro invited me to see them open up a euthanized Dam (rat) and take out the babies. I can't believe a dozen or so fit into that tiny stomach! I watched and asked questions as the entire process was explained to me. Soon, I was rolling these little skin ball rat babies on a paper towel over to be weighed and placed on a warmer. They were actually really cute. Later, they were euthanized and then opened up under a microscope. I got to see all their tiny tissues! Repro is looking for malformations of any kind anywhere. Despite how awful this sounds, it really is neat because this kind of work prevents birth defects in our own babies.

After all that, I was taken into the back where I got to see some old specimens preserved in jars with fluid. It sounds like something out of a Frankenstein movie, but it wasn't. There were just a few on a shelf. They were colored skeletons of a monkey, chicken, rabbits, and even tiny conjoined rat skeletons with one skull. Sweet! How many people get to see that stuff?

Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined myself at a job like this.

Baking

10.11.2009
The cool weather and shorter days make me want to bake! Fall time encompasses the best traditional comfort foods: pies, carmeled corn, carmeled apples, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, sweet potato everything, and the list goes on!

Friday night was the perfect night for staying in and watching a movie. Bron decided to experiment with the carmel popcorn recipe. He's a great connoisseur! Twenty minutes later we were eating the most delicious and crunchy cracker-jack popcorn ever! Way to go, honey!

Saturday night we went to an End-of-Study Party to celebrate the finish of a particular research project at Miner. (Too bad they just started another one! haha) The supervisors hosted a southern style dinner. We ate appetizers, brown rice, gumbo, and best of all: crawdads! Crawdads were like eating mini lobsters, a totally new experience for me! There is a technically correct way to peel, suck, and eat these little critters. Very messy, hands on, and the best way to break the ice with new friends.

I brought these little goodies to the party for dessert.

They're called Double Chocolate Dream Cookies which I stuck together with orange cream cheese frosting. I had a roommate in college (Liz) who made different variations of these all year long. They were a hit then and were a hit Saturday night too.

Three cheers for baking yumminess!

My New Hobby

10.03.2009
I bought myself a new toy! Yes, folks, it's an expensive, professional grade SLR camera: the Canon Rebel Xsi. Isn't she pretty?

Friday night's purchase wasn't a spur-of-the-moment splurge. No, this camera has been meditated and contemplated on for months. I used to teach violin lessons after work. Two years later I had a couple thousand dollars saved up. At first I wanted a Yamaha Clavinova piano; it's electronic, sounds and plays like a dream, and only weighs about 100 lbs. But after much deliberation, I decided that I don't even pick up my violin enough. I need to. When Bron finally finishes school, I can purchase a real upright piano for a quarter of the cost. A camera, however, goes along with my other obsessions: scrapbooking and frames. And a camera can pal along with me almost anywhere. I would absolutely love to learn to take pictures worth scrapping, framing, and keeping forever. I want to take nice pictures of my future babies and my family. But better yet, develop a new talent and express whatever creativity I might possess. I'm really excited!

So today I took the camera out for its first test ride, er should I say, MY first test ride. I walked around the farm trying to capture the scenery I see here everyday and realized... I know nothing about photography! I tried to use various manual modes, but the camera's little computer is much smarter. The pictures seemed to turn out better on its pre-set modes. How does it know? I don't have a clue, but this I vow: someday I will know more about photography than that little computer and I will take better pictures too. Someday. This is going to be a journey, just my camera and me.

Until then, please enjoy the few snipets I did take of Miner Farm with my first attempts at photo editing:

Once a Cornfield


A Little Autumn Color



Can You See Our House?

{IN HONOR OF HALLOWEEN}



Spider Webs!

I'm so happy to have a husband who supports me in any idea, hobby, or talent I want to persue. I always knew he would, and for that I'm grateful. However, I think this photography thing is something that Bron can enjoy too. He may even have a more natural knack for it!

If you have any suggestions, websites, or resources for me to check out on photography, please let me know!