All posts by traciruffner

A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Kids and Candid Photography

Great blog with awesome pictures!

Renee Hollowell

Kids are my favorite people to photograph. They are awesome subjects for candid photography.

In general, kids hate posing and being still for a picture. They hate it more when they have to dress up, stay neat and clean, and then pose and fake smile for dozens to hundreds of photos. Well behaved kids will cooperate, but they usually don’t enjoy it. There is your occasional little ham who loves to be in front of a camera, but most kids would rather escape to go play and probably roll in the grass and get dirty. This is my favorite way to photograph them!

I like to photograph real life. A kid with grass stains, disheveled hair, and a sticky face is real life. It tells an accurate story about a child. A photo of a child who likes to be clean and primped and ham it up for the camera…

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Legacy: “Are We Being Good Ancestors?” – Jonas Salk

I have been reading the obituaries.  It isn’t a normal past time activity.  I am looking for someone…

My sister, Kelli, had a heart transplant on January 18th, 2013 at Cedars Sinai in California and she just wants to know a little more about her donor. The information you are given regarding organ donors is….well…not a lot:  Male, 25 years old, from Arizona.  We do know that his death would be recorded very close to or on the date of the transplant.  Obituaries for folks around the age of 25 are not very common.  It is a terribly young age to die.  It shouldn’t be that difficult to find the obituary, right?  Wrong!  Which is why I have been reading obituaries.  Lots of them.

Reading the obituaries of others can really make you stop and reflect on your life!  I have read some absolutely beautiful obituaries that describe what an impact the person had on the lives of others.  For example, this one for Joe A. Gallegos.  His story starts off with “Our Hero”.  He was a WWII veteran, a loving husband of 62 years, a father, grandfather, great-grandfather; not only is this a wonderful summary of the man’s life, but the obit continues to be visited and commented on by the people he touched.  Some of the obits have an amusing tone like this one for Dale Jones.  “Dale Jones was born Feb. 8, 1949 and assumed room temperature on Jan. 19, 2013. Hopefully he now resides with the elk, deer, javelina, coyotes and snakes”, it reads.  What is a javelina anyway?  Don’t worry, I googled it for you:  HERE YOU GO.   Some of the listings made me very sad.  Actually quite a few simply stated the name, date of birth and death, and read that there would be no service.

Jonas Salk (1914 – 1995), famous scientist/doctor who developed the first effective polio vaccine, once asked “Are we being good ancestors?”  It is a simple question with a not simple answer.  It is a question you can ask of present humanity and it is also a question you can ask of yourself.  I think we try to be good ancestors.  We want to make the world a better place for future generations, right?  We don’t always agree on how this should be accomplished but our intentions are good.  Well….some of them.

Thinking about that question on a personal level makes me think of that old frozen pizza commercial.  You know the one.  The law man is about to be hanged by the bad guys and he is asked, “What do you want on your tombstone?”  “Hm…pepperoni and sausage.”

Seriously, though.  What do I want on my tombstone?  What do I want my obituary to say?  What will people say about me?  What will be my legacy?  William Shakespeare writes in Julius Caesar , “The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”  
Will was a rather cynical old chap.  I mean…I suppose when Charles Manson dies, he is not going to remembered for that time he shared part of his chocolate chip cookie with his classmate.  But, for most of us non-evil folks, what is said of us after we pass is completely up to us.  Do good; Love people.

When you do give your last “Hurrah!” and say your final goodbye to the world, consider giving a final gift; the gift of life.  Be an organ donor and save lives.


“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates


This is Mindi.  She is someone’s daughter, someone’s niece, someone’s granddaughter, someone’s wife, someone’s friend, someone’s sister…  She is MY little sister.

There exists a heart disease that has plagued my family for far too long; Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).  I could give you the long version to describe what HCM is and does, but I won’t go into all of that.  If you fancy learning more about the disease, please click the link above.  Here is a shorter definition of HCM:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a primary disease of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) in which a portion of the myocardium is hypertrophied (thickened) without any obvious cause, creating functional impairment of the cardiac muscle.

It is a very serious disease that has killed many of my family at very young ages. My mother, for example, died at the age of 45.  Her younger sister (my Aunt Janie) died at the age of 30.  Their mother (my grandmother) died in her late 20’s.  My sister had this disease.  “HAD the disease? Did she die as well?”, you are wondering.  Well, no…because on August 12th, 2015, very very early in the morning, my sister was given a new life.  She is the third of my siblings to receive this gift.  She was also the third patient to undergo transplant surgery at the hospital that day!

The first transplant was performed in 1967 by Dr. Christiaan Barnard.  His patient lived 18 days and died of pneumonia.  Modern heart transplantation became available to patients in 1980.  A study by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute tracking the survival rates of 461 transplant patients from 1984 to 2011 shows the survival rate over the period of the study was 86 per cent after one year, 75 per cent at five years, 62 per cent at 10 years, and 36 per cent at 20 years.   The survival rate is much higher for patients who received their transplant in the year 2000 and beyond.  The statistics from this study show survival from 2000 to 2011 is close to 90 per cent; 89.3 per cent to be exact.

Modern medicine is amazing!  I wonder what Hippocrates would think if he were alive today.  Hippocrates (460 – 370 BC), known as the “Father of Western Medicine”, was a Greek physician during the Age of Pericles.  He is known for establishing medicine as a profession.  He believed diseases were caused naturally rather than by superstitions and angry gods.  One of his most famous quotes, “Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm” became the basis for the Hippocratic Oath which is a seminal document on the ethics of medical practice.

Probably the most beautiful quote by Hippocrates ties the science of medicine to art, love, and humanity: “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”  This, I believe, is why modern medicine is what it is today.  It is much more than research, experimentation, and calculations.  That is the process.  The REASON behind the process is to help humanity… to make the world better.  And it is better, Hippocrates.  Thank you.

To find out how you can become an organ donor, click HERE.  Give the gift that so many are waiting for.


BYOB and Couch: Three Sheets To The Wind!

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!  This here has got to be one of the funniest traffic stops I’ve ever seen!

Awwww man!  He’s just trying to make it up the road to his Maw-maw’s house.  And his beer is gittin’ warm!  Be reasonable!

It isn’t difficult to see that this man is already “three sheets to the wind”!

drunk squirrel

“Three sheets to the wind”;  THAT is an interesting phrase.   What does that even mean?  Well, I’ll tell ya!  Hold my beer and watch this:

The phrase “three sheets to the wind” is Sailor’s language.  Sheets are actually the ropes (or chains) fixed to the lower corner of the sails to hold them in place.  If three of these sheets are loose, the sails will flap causing the boat to wobble like a drunk sailor.  The earliest printing of this phrase, originally worded “three sheets IN the wind”, is found in Pierce Egan’s publication “Real Life In London” (1821): “Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind.”  That is a great old sailor name!  If you want your own Old Sailor/Pirate name, you can generate one HERE.  Mine is Harriet “Thieving Magpie” Greep, The Raider of Otter Anchorage!  You can just call me Mags.

Remember folks, drink responsibly.  I will leave you with a lovely poem by the great J.R.R. Tolkien:

“Ho! Ho! Ho! To the bottle I go
To heal my heart and drown my woe
Rain may fall, and wind may blow
And many miles be still to go
But under a tall tree will I lie
And let the clouds go sailing by.”

Suum Cuique: To Each His Own!


I regrettably came across a Buzzfeed video the other day featuring Americans trying a Swedish delight consisting of fermented fish in a can.  I had to pop a peppermint in my mouth to ease the queasiness I felt just writing that sentence.  There is no way in HELL that I could be a member of that panel of tasters, unless they were OK with catching some live “cookie tossing” action on camera for all to see.  My thoughts upon seeing this video:  “Blech!”  “Omg….breathe….don’t throw up.”  “Deep breath…close video… ‘To Each His Own’ and certainly not for me.”  I have heard that phrase used my whole life, “To each his own”.  In context, it has always seemed to mean “do what you want”.

The phrase has been around for a very, very long time.  The Latin phrase “Suum Cuique” meaning “To each his own” or “May all get their due” describes the early Greek principle of justice. Socrates defines justice in Plato’s Republic (380 B.C.) as  “… when everyone minds his own business, and refrains from meddling in others’ affairs”.  Socrates further explains, ” Everyone should do according to his abilities and capabilities, to serve the country and the society as a whole.  Also, everyone should receive “his own” (e.g., rights) and not be deprived of “his own” (e.g., property).”  Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), a Roman author, orator, and politician made the phrase famous when he said, “Justice renders to everyone his due (Iustitia suum cuique distribuit).” 

So, it seems the phrase has much more to do with serving justice than people’s food preferences.  Although, if you make the decision to scarf down a can of fermented fish on a dare, the gastro geyser that is sure to follow will be your just due.

Fool Me Once, Shame On You….


So far today, I have received about 20 calls from a variety of numbers all with the same message.  When I answer the call, an automated voice tells me, “This is a call from Direct Express.  We’re sorry, but your debit Mastercard has been locked.  To reactivate, dial one and someone will be on the line to assist you.”  20 times I have gotten this call.  20 times I have hung up.  They are persistent.  I know these calls are part of an elaborate phishing scam and I know that people fall for it.  If people did not fall for it, I wouldn’t be getting the calls all morning.  What happens when a person presses “one”?  Someone will come on the line and ask you to verify your personal information including your credit card number, expiration date, and security code.   Yeah….seems totally legit.

seems legit

It’s a shame, but as long as there are people who can be duped out of their money, there will be those willing to take advantage of them.

This reminds me of the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.”  According to George Horne, in an 1786 essay; this saying comes from an old Italian Proverb which says, “When a man deceives me once, it is his fault; when twice, it is mine.”  Most of us have been tricked at one point in our lives.  Hopefully we learn from our mistakes and are not tricked a second time.  This brings to mind a couple of other sayings with similar meaning: “Beware the person with nothing to lose” and “Once bitten, twice shy.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks of Great White when they hear that last saying, so here you are:

You’re welcome.