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Maddie James///Photo Courtesy of the James Family

DANA POINT, (CA)– Maddie James loves to draw – usually something with fish, dolphins, sea lions and beach scenes. So now, as the Capistrano Beach 5-year-old nears the end of her young life, her family wants to give her a lasting legacy – a place where other children can learn to love the ocean as she does.

Maddie has an inoperable brain tumor that has left her with weeks, maybe days, to live. Her mother, Kajsa James, 38, says that though it’s been a challenge to explain Maddie’s condition to her, they have plenty of happy memories to reflect on, especially last year’s Ocean Institute summer camp for kids.

It’s why the James family has started the Maddie James Foundation to help raise the remaining $1.3 million needed for the institute’s $4 million Seaside Learning Center, which the family hopes will carry Maddie’s name. The project is expected to break ground this summer or fall at Dana Point Harbor, according to Dan Stetson, Ocean Institute president and chief executive.

Kajsa and Collie James with a drawing by their daughter, Maddie James.

According to the foundation website, a donation of $1 million would be necessary to have the project named the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center.

“We realize this is a huge number and have no idea if we can get anywhere near it,” the family says on the website. “There are other naming opportunities in a lower donation range, but we have decided to reach for the stars (or maybe sea stars in this case) and try and raise as much money as possible. We will do whatever we can with the funds raised to make sure Maddie’s name lives on in perpetuity at the center.”

Stetson said in a statement that the institute has been “deeply touched and inspired by the courage of this very special little girl. We would be honored to have our Seaside Learning Center commemorate Maddie’s life by creating a place where everyone who loves Maddie can go and remember her, as well as a place where other children and their families can visit, share memories and learn about the ocean and its preservation.”

Maddie can no longer attend her kindergarten class at St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel, so her classmates plan to march with a banner in support of her foundation in the opening parade for Dana Point’s 40th Festival of Whales on Saturday.

All of this has happened quickly. Kajsa James said she noticed on a Friday afternoon in mid-January that her daughter was not her usual self. By Sunday morning, she and her husband, Collie James, 40, got news no parent wants to hear.

Maddie has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, a cancerous growth that affects about 200 American children each year and offers no chance of long-term survival.

Now, Kajsa and Collie, after being separated for a year and a half, have come together to live in the same house and work side by side in the care of their daughter.

“They showed us the X-rays and the results of a CT scan and an MRI, and so I just asked the doctor point blank, ‘Is our daughter going to die?’ and he said, ‘Yes, she is,'” Collie said. “We just needed the truth.”

Dr. Michael Muhonen, Maddie’s attending neurosurgeon at CHOC Children’s hospital in Orange, suggested they get in touch immediately with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and go away somewhere to create some positive memories with their daughter. Within days the family was in Maui accompanied by several of Maddie’s friends, playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean, her favorite activity.

Even now, as Maddie’s condition deteriorates and she is able to do less and less, the family still visits a community pool where she can get in the water for a couple of hours each day.

“In the water she is free of her physical limitations and what she is experiencing from the medication … she gets to be herself,” Collie said.

Since Maddie has been unable to go to school, she has been at home under hospice care, with the adults in the house under a “no cry” rule. Her teacher visits with the latest class assignments every few days.

In mid-December, before the news of Maddie’s illness, the family, on a whim, celebrated her 5½-year birthday. Now they’re glad they did, and they’ve decided to celebrate her 5¾ birthday a little early, this Sunday. The family plans a surprise party with her friends at Maddie’s best friend’s house, complete with a big Scooby-Doo cake and a ride in the Mystery Machine, the green van from the Scooby-Doo TV show and movies.

Her mother is trying to fit parts of all the good things an entire lifetime might have had in store for Maddie into her final days.

“Maddie loves to draw, so we drew out what she wants her wedding cake to look like,” Kajsa said. “There’s even a phone app where you can make your own birthday cake. You can blow out your candles, so we started with 6 and then 7, 8 and 9.”

The Jameses say the support from Maddie’s school, relatives and friends has gotten them through it all so far.

“It’s hard not to be overwhelmed, but we have a lot of living to do,” Collie said. “Staying in the day gets me through it. I’ll have a lifetime to deal with this.”

The Orange County Register story:

http://www.ocregister.com/news/maddie-290015-family-james.html

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Graduations, for me, are fun to shoot.  

In any given moment or spread of shots there is whatever emotion you might imagine and there are all ages to pick from.  Thankfully, it seems that nowadays, the ceremonies are short and its common that there is a lot of comedy.

The OC Register called with the Dana Hills graduation assignment early in the week and then because of someone getting sick I got the El Toro graduation at the last minute.  The shots for the Dana Hills High School went in the paper and on line but the story I wrote got lost and didn’t make it, lost in the system, so I include it here.

I wrote a story for El Toro as well and I think it went in but will have to check and post it here after 30 days.  I almost didn’t make it as the Dana Hills Graduation was barely over when the El Toro Graduation was just starting.  The event was at The Bren Center on the UCI campus.  Five dollars for the toll road and another seven dollars for parking.  I should have flashed my press pass to see if they would waive the fee but usually it means a phone call, the standard back an forth, and there was just no time.

Last year at The San Clemente Graduation I shot the cap toss with my wide angle and I was anxious to shoot it again at Dana.  I got in position to shoot it and its an okay shot and will look great blown up but caught something I was doing wrong and now I will have to wait an entire year to try it.  I was going to try it at El Toro’s graduation and it would have been great but I got pulled off the floor by the protocol police because “…The Register knows we don’t allow photographers on the floor…”  Whatever. 

 

DANA HILLS GRADUATES 686.

DANA POINT(CA.)-Beaneath a sea of Dolphin blue caps, the Dana Hills High School Class of 2009, 686 smiling faces in all, sat patiently on the football field in the bright Thursday afternoon sun.   Acknowledging the hoots, hollers and shouts of congratulations from family and friends in the stands, one by one, each graduate stood, waiting to receive their hard earned diploma.  A short walk to the podium, a photo and back to their seat, with a diploma was all the time it took if you don’t count the four years it took to get there.

 

Max Kelley, Associated Student Union Vice-President commented that the last four years had been a time of change, highlighting the fact that as freshman there was no FaceBook or even U-tube.  Kelley encouraged his classmates with the idea that with change comes experience and opportunity and together they should look forward to what opportunities the world has.

 

“We can do anything we want…(we have) an unlimited opportunity to make our life meaningful…” Kelley said.

 

Jeremy Chang, as the Dolphin Scholar of Scholars used the movie “Risky Business” with Tom Cruise as a lighthearted example of how to accomplish a goal and at the same time challenged the Class of 2009 to examine and rethink their values.

 

“I encourage everyone to consider the well-being of others…”Chang said.

 

Graduating students, brother and sister, Rory and Megan Weinell, spoke together and brought laughs from students and faculty with props and comments, including a kitchen rolling pin meant to be a scroll of past commencement speeches at elementary and middle schools and one (hopefully) from their presumed future at Yale.  They bemoaned their job opportunities in the light of the present economic crisis.

 

“There is no hope of finding jobs because they’ve all been taken by the Dana alumni…” Megan Weinell said.

 

After the official acceptance of the Class of 2009 by faculty and staff, the students wasted no time to throw their caps into the air accompanied by the release of several dozen white doves.  Family and friends where invited to join the graduates on the field with hugs, handshakes and a lot of photos.

 

Alexis Kubicki will attend Orange Coast College to study illustration in the fall and was surrounded by family and friends, enthusiastically posing for photos in endless combinations.  Kubiki’s mom, Lisa Smith qualified her daughter as the best artist at Dana hills, also commenting that she is beautiful inside and out while her father Marty Aahmes offered her some sage advice.

 

“You must remember to stay young, look for happiness and constant growth…” Aames said

 

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Irvine Valley College presents a contemporary sculptural show by 4 artists through October 17th, including "Africanus" by Patrick Crabb(foreground).

IDLE HANDS:Irvine Valley College presents a contemporary sculptural show by 4 artists through October 17th, including

Shots of the week…an essay of sorts…
Surplus goods are piled around Saddleback College's warehouse in the village on Wednesday in preparation for auction on November 1st.

SURPLUS:Surplus goods are piled around Saddleback College

Heads up.

Heads up.

Washougal Film Festival Winners.

Washougal Film Festival Winners.

 

BaRock the Vote at Saddleback.

BaRock the Vote at Saddleback.

 
American Art Song

American Art Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father Sillers of St. Mary's turns 98

Father Sillers of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joey Sellers leads the Saddleback Jazz Big Band.

Joey Sellers leads the Saddleback Jazz Big Band.

The Sandy Rancher V-tourney in Ladera Ranch.

The Sandy Rancher V-tourney in Ladera Ranch.

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Last year I shot more than a few football games for the Sun Post News and the OC Register.  I covered mostly Triton football, my alma mater, and a few Dolphin football games and maybe some others like Trabuco Hills, Tesoro, Mission Viejo or Capo Valley.

 

Back in the day, I was not interested in Football and found the more solitary sports as more interesting.  Maybe I didn’t get it then but I get it now.

 

At first, not having shot football, there is a learning curve; what shots does the newspaper want and what shots can I get.  The haze of wonder and effort  or getting the shot fades and the game is revealed between the frames I shoot.

 

I see a team, moving forward together with one purpose; the human pushing forward to attain the goal.  Weeks of practice show in the faces of the players and their quievery arms and legs.  The coaches effort and hope show in their craning necks and taught lips as they hold back what they have shouted for the last few weeks; tension overcomes them and without thought they growl out their favorite orders and admonishments.

“…Hold’em back, guys…Run the ball…Is that all you’ve got?…”

“…What was that?…What happened?…Good Job….way to go…Hey Now…”

 

Listen up.

 

Inticial contact with the opposite team brings the real strategy.  Its all in the air until now and now its game time.  Offence, Defense, Attack and hold the line, whatever the case, the coaches pull the sergeants, soldiers and captains to the side for a conference on the board.  Not unlike generals, older and wiser and too brittle to fight, they corral and codger their resources in order to out manouver the other team.  Someone will win and someone will loose; its theirs for the taking and in not so many minutes they feel the pang of loss as a game slips away or the firm smile of victory they desperately try to hold back.

 

The generals and his advisers.

 

The general and his advisers stand tall, firm and white over their numbered soldiers.  Like some wise indian watching his enemy pass below him through the valley, the general looks over his arrows and chooses the perfect one for the job.  He calls his name, intoning some sort of brutal affection and calls him up; not wasting time, he gives him a final instruction and a swat as he sends him onto the field.  He expects that he should not come back until he has done what he has been asked. 

 

It is here, we see, the apex of effort built form so many weeks of drill, repeat and drill again.  Is it enough, what our team has done to conquer the other?  We wait and see and watch together, running each ball, blocking each tackle and reaching out to catch that long thrown pass; we can feel it at our own fingertips, that spinnning, warm and leathery ball.  If it falls from our players hand, we stand in the bleachers a galaxy away and when it lays tight in his hands and he falls to the ground upright and running, we are in his heart;  his shout is in our throats as he crosses the goal line. 

 

A game won or lost.

 

A game, won or lost, we will enjoy.  I saw for the first time this last year, a game I could not imagine I would enjoy.  Maybe it was always being so far away in the stands all this time, that I could not see the real emotion that four quarters of football can bring.

 

A game, won or lost, I enjoyed them all.

 

 

Five Blocks.

Stay tuned next week as this Saturday I will be covering Saddleback College Football for the Lariat News, Saddleback College’s School Newspaper.

www.lariatnews.com

 

 

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Flag Color

Flag Color

 

 

 

I saw democracy at work on Saturday.

 

I began checking the news early on Saturday to see what the attendance and traffic would be for the Obama/McCain Interview event at Saddleback Church.  I imagined that it would be bad so I listened to the radio but the best info came from the reader comments on the warm up article in the OC Register Online edition. 

 

I was assigned by the OC Register to shoot a candidate for San Juan Capistrano city council.  He is a local guy and is affiliated with a group that is against the war in Iraq, among other things (ANSWER Coalition-Act Now to Stop the War & End Racism).  He was to participate in a planned protest in front of the church.  I got my shots of him and essentially completed my assignment.

 

I had asked the staff photographer if he wanted any other shots, as I knew the Register would surely have assigned staff from the daily to cover it.

 

“…Well, keep your eyes open and if you get anything good and different then send it in…it should be pretty tame as all the security will keep a lid on anything out of hand…but you never know…”

 

By 5pm, the protest was a little tired.

By 5pm, the protest was a little tired.

 

 

The candidate I was assigned too, didn’t get there until later on and so I took the time to get whatever peripheral shots I could, just in case I needed them.  My general area was a wide intersection at Portola Parkway and Saddleback Church’s entrance.  It has those cross walks that are so long you almost need a water fountain in the middle to make it from one side to the other. 

 

It seems that the OC Sheriff assigns the different groups, different corners so that there is not a collision of “injustice” and a general all around melee over territory.  I don’t know, but I am going to assume that they must all get together at the Sheriff Department and draw straws to see where they will go.

 

Homemade sign of the times.

Homemade sign of the times.

A little privacy.

A little privacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is an entire culture based on a “protest/activist” lifestyle that I had no idea existed.  These people are hardcore and even though they are on opposing sides, they seem to know each other.  Almost like that old cartoon where the sheep dog and the wolf take the bus to work everyday with their lunch boxes and get off at the same bus stop; they fight it out in the sheep pasture and then at 5, they knock off and go home on the same bus.

 

“..g’nite Fred…” the wolf says to the sheep dog as they punch their time cards at the roadside fence post…they get on the bus and the sheep dog responds “…Yeah, see ya’ tomorrow Frank…

 

The Core tools to any respectful activist group would be, a mass of people all wearing the same t-shirt, as large as can be gigantic signs, the all reaching omnipotent PA system and finally a fixer/liaison that works between other groups but especially with law enforcement.  The t-shirts range from just the simple affiliation to a group and printed on a fantasticaly bright color with cliché slogans that go back as far as the American Civil War, to the brash, aggressive and visually lewd pennant phrases of extreme edged politics.  The signs, match to some degree the t-shirts, but expand with more information, logos, websites and affiliations with other groups and cross groups and half groups and international groups…etc…

 

Old school-retro support.

Old school-retro support.

 

 

The PA systems differ only in how loud they are.  Some groups have large speakers set up and others have mobile rigs set up that vary in quality and effectiveness.  They are all loud and when the speaker set up near me fell over and ceased its transmission for a few precious moments, I recognized how precious it actually was.  The audio at the protest ranges from the never-ending chant with a beat to keep everyone with it to the same few sentences of a slogan, repeated over and over to the ongoing commentary by one individual on everything going on in the news all over the world to what is going on just a few feet from where he is.

 

Everybody has a say.

Everybody has a say.

 

 

I think an interesting study would be to attach a GPS tracking unit to the different fixer/liaisons from each group at a protest like this and then check it on a computer afterwards to follow their beehive type movements from the day; from above it would be seen like some kind of obscene alien etch-a-sketch. They are not really the generals running the show necessarily but wade through the trenches from one breech to another, patching up leaks and re-enforcing their group’s position and rights against the rights of other groups and law enforcement.  Deals on deals and promises are made and adjusted at a constant and frenetic pace.  They do not stop and their push is relentless like a Tijuana street vendor.

 

And now…the cops…I was curious to see what it would be with the Secret Service mixed in.  I shot the now infamous “Moon the Amtrak” break-up by the OC Sheriff about a month ago and I witnessed last Saturday the same calm, generous but firm Sheriff’s department respond to what could have been a big mess.  I shot on my own last week when Vice President Cheney came to San Clemente for a fundraiser and saw again an attitude on the part of the OC Sheriff’s department of very straight forward and yet reasonable direction for the demonstrators involved. 

 

In the name of Lady Liberty.

In the name of Lady Liberty.

In the name of Obama.

In the name of Obama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The demonstration at Saddleback Church was definitely “operating” on a higher plain because the groups were very well organized and had experienced leadership; all the main issues in America today were well represented and the attendees were very aggressive in getting their point across.  What would happen?

 

I think the OC Sheriff’s department learned a hard and valuable lesson from the OP Pro/Huntington Beach mishap from 20 years ago; calm, determined and direct response on a personal level seems to be the order of the day and it’s very effective.  I think that the leadership in the Sheriffs department has always been capable to affect this type of response and has acted this way in general but there seems to a more determined effort that it is carried out this way every time; I don’t have direct knowledge that it’s the new Sheriff, but I think the theme is unmistakably her mark.

 

In the name of Jesus.

In the name of Jesus.

Politics is a vicious circle sometimes.

Politics is a vicious circle sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the task at hand…the protest warmed up as the time edged closer to when we all supposed that Obama and McCain would arrive.  Initially, there seems to be some kind of agreement or convention that each group will contain themselves to their assigned corners and not overtly or en masse encroach any other group’s territory.  Similar believing groups, yet smaller and with no prior authorization, will band themselves to whatever corner best represents them; the main group from that corner will absorb them and in general they are welcome but it seems, the un-spoken rule, is to not usurp the main frontline of the corner and take away prime signage from the lead group.

 

Its common that little pow-wows emerge behind the main show on the corners as information is exchanged about events past, present and future; little alliances of support are made and discussed and positions are evaluated along with taking photos of each other.  It’s a little flat water of calmness just steps away from the storm and then it happens…one group masses on the far corner and, with a green light, sets off in the crosswalk to the opposite shore; they all have the face of George Washington and his troops at the crossing of the Delaware River.  The Paul Reveres on the barricaded corner shout the alarm.

 

“…Here They Come!!!…They’re Coming!!!!…STOP THEM!!!!…Go Back To Your Own Corner!!!!…#!$^#$@^$#….&#$()&#….”

 

Collision of issues and thought.

Collision of issues and thought.

 

 

 

 

 

The edge of the curb becomes Normandy on this day in the hot sun and on this little corner in front of The Saddleback Church.  No one dies and no one is hurt, other than maybe a twisted wrist or a bruised arm.  The deputies are there in the mix and shout over the clash of the crowd to stay on the sidewalk; the bright t-shirts mix and mesh together and somehow blow out to one side and behind the covered wagons of the original group on the corner.  The push and shove slips down the street as each side proclaims their rights under the Constitution and their point of view.  A few from each side are locked in the middle and held there by the crowd; fingers point, teeth are bared and lips snarl their point, inches away from their opponent.

 

Oh, Yeah?

Oh, Yeah?

 

Dust, weeds, signs and cameras now compete as the deputies wade into the middle and separate the wrestling match.

 

“…Calm Down…Lower Your Voice!!!…You Need To Step Back… YOU Are Too Excited, STEP BACK!!!…” the deputies wash down the angry fire and the crowd separates, only to regroup and blow out in another direction.

 

Taking a little walk.

Taking a little walk.

 

 

 

Almost like some kind of ballet, the crowd moves and bounces along, erupting again as sides clash and broadside each other with pronouncements and threats.  The deputies continue to inject themselves and stay with it until the fury is stamped out.  The groups are warned and deputies cajole the crowd to going back to their assigned corners.  Sergeants, lieutenants and captains march with the group from the outside, fine-tuning the broiling crowd to a simmer.  It’s calmer now, but not for long, another group begins its invasion, or maybe the same group or it’s the re-enforcements; it becomes to difficult to say; it doesn’t really matter and essentially it’s the same thing, over and over.

 

Emotion.

Emotion.

 

 

I saw a deputy on a bike get pushed off and if he hadn’t been quick, he would have been going home in an ambulance.  I couldn’t see the exact circumstances of what happened, but no sooner was he off the bike than he was after the person that pushed him.  No one was arrested.  The bicycle deputy and those that responded to his aid showed remarkable restraint.  Through out the day I saw deputies confronted and taunted and they continued with their mission, which was to keep the demonstration safe and without mishap.

 

A little Momento.

A little Momento.

 

 

Two men were taken into custody at one point and after negotiations with the “fixers” were let go.  They sat in separate squad cars and this seemed to cause the demonstrators to pause and reflect and things calmed down.  The crowd shouted for their release and they eventually were, although it appeared that they were cited b efore they were relaesed.  The men returned to cheers from the crowd and after about ten minutes I saw the deputies involved, fuse themselves into the crowd, to search for the men that had been taken into custody.  One on One, the deputy approached them and talked with them in an effort to “mend the fence”.  I couldn’t hear the conversation but the intent was obvious and seemed well received.

 

The "Fixer".

The "Fixer".

Asistant Sheriff Anderson getting it done.

Asistant Sheriff Anderson getting it done.

 

 

The day never came close to the tipping point, although heated at times.  To me it was simply democracy taking place and everyone played their part; it’s not always a calm path and I don’t think it’s meant to be.  I really like the fact that there were a lot of Sheriff higher ups present, including Assistant Sheriff Anderson.  He was right on the corner in the middle of it; relaxed and obviously very confident in himself and his men.  He had a rapport with the crowd and it did a job of calming everyone down.  I tried to get some shots of him interacting but the deputies on foot and horseback closed in to a degree where not even photographers could get in easily.

 

The "Fixer-Summit" on site.

The "Fixer-Summit" on site.

In the end I liked seeing democracy in action.  The Sheriffs department kept it safe and ensured the rights of everyone.  The camaraderie among the aligned groups was interesting to see.  It seems to me that many times people believe that democracy should be bound in a big leather book and stay in a shadowy courtroom and not be treated to the harsh light of day, but I disagree.  It seems to me that rather than bookish, pink and tender, democracy is rough, muscled and a little tired and dirty form being in the street all day; at least it should be that way if it’s doing its job for the greatest majority of its citizens. 

 

Democracy was definetly getting its job done on Saturday.

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I have been assigned by the OC Register to shoot at the Obama/McCain event at Saddleback Church on Saturday.  My position will be Portola Parkway and Saddleback Parkway and I am to get shots of the protesters that assemble there and especialy a local candidate for city council in San Juan Capistrano.  They don’t really expect a big clash but you never know…look for the photos on Sunday.

 

FiveBlocks.

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