Mountain Trail Photo
(about me)
(family & friends)


...not all those who wander are lost. - J.R.R. Tolkien 

I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. - Henry David Thoreau


Reading has always been very important to me as a way to explore the world. My parents had both been schoolteachers before they married, and they valued education very highly. Every two weeks during my elementary school years, they drove the family ten miles to the public library, where we checked out as many books as we were allowed.

One book important to my childhood was The Stars, by H.A. Rey. My mother taught us to recognize many constellations using that book and backyard observation sessions. When we were in high school, my brother James and I bought a small telescope and used it extensively to observe the moon, planets, double stars, nebulae, a few galaxies, and a comet or two.

My mother's enjoyment of other aspects of nature also rubbed off on her children. Two of my brothers are bird-watchers. My particular interest is in photographing the natural beauty I find on my hikes, but like my mother, I also enjoy simply seeing the trees, birds and sky from our windows. Jeanne and I have agreed that an important consideration in choosing a place to live is being able to see lots of trees. When Jeanne and I travel for fun, we look for two primary attractions: history and nature.

My mother loved music and poetry, too. She sang songs to us children and read poems to us, some of which I can still recite. She played classical music and hymns on the piano. As I was growing up, there was nothing I enjoyed more than standing around the piano with a group of friends, singing hymns. Now I often listen to classical or folk music while I work on my computer programs. Music is also very important to Jeanne and all three of our sons, so it's a pleasure the whole family shares.

My entire family has always enjoyed playing games. When I think of family gatherings, I think of food of course, but what I anticipate most is playing games. Our family tradition for any holiday is to play games, and we often play cards when we have an evening with all of us at home. Our favorite card game is one we know as "Up and Down," though it also goes by a wide variety of more colorful names. I enjoy playing Big Boggle and other games with words. My father's family enjoys a game called "42," a domino game which (judging by its name) represents the answer to the Ultimate Question.

Most of my career has been involved with programming computers, and after more than 20 years, I still enjoy it. My programming skills are largely self-taught, by reading and experience. I like to put pieces together to solve the problem and create something useful.

Communicating with people is more challenging than communicating with computers, but it's also rewarding. One of my most enjoyable projects was editing and publishing my father's memoirs. That experience was part of the inspiration for this web site, which began with my mother's memoirs. The chapter that describes my elementary school years is called Magic Valley of Texas. I have also created a web site "Virtual Caddo" for the Justiss clan.

Recently I've been exploring more of the world of who I am by reading on such topics as science, philosophy, memoir writing, web development, and photography, along with autobiographies of Margaret Mead and Mark Twain. Here is my recommended reading list. Naturally I also research places to hike or travel in books and on the Web.

I developed this web site to give a big picture of who I am and an orderly presentation of my major interests. To share some of my less organized observations as I walk along the path, I have a blog, Forest Trail.

Copyright © 2005 by Joel Justiss. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, text and photos on this site are property of the author and may not used, reproduced or distributed without permission.