Saturday, October 31, 2020
Friday, October 30, 2020
If I have your address, you may have received a postcard from me this month. I have been collecting picture postcards since the mid 1960's. Have a medium size storage box filled with them. I took photos for postcards for a couple of years when I first moved to Florida year around, mostly commercial and advertising jobs (immensely stressful work.) A lot of people are stressed right now, a lot of people are missing travel, missing hearing from others who are traveling. So I decided to dig into the box, pull out my address book and send cards at random just to say Hi! If I brightened one person's day, it was worth it.
When was the last time you mailed a picture postcard?
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
How does me in the Dentist's chair recently (actually scheduled for later today, to have a crown rebuilt) connect with Dad's flying buddies. My father met some really wonderful people at the airport. Flying being a bit of an expensive hobby, there were a fair number of professionals and successful business people. Among the professionals were a couple of dentists. My father's two part logic, if they were good pilots they had to be good dentists, and because he knew them they wouldn't overcharge. I don't know about the overcharging part, though I don't think they cut him a deal, they were much better pilots than dentists. They never crashed their planes or left anyone in pain when they were flying. I can't say the same for all of their skills.
My current dentist is very talented. He is careful, and gentle. He is calming and reassuring. I don't know where in the world he is from, but it is not here. He came to the USA to earn a masters degree in biology, was working as a lab tech. He was visiting family one weekend when he cracked a tooth. Someone called a friend who was a dentist, who saw him on a Saturday evening, fixed it, convinced him that it could be done gently. He applied to dental school, quit his job, and answered his calling.
He is worth waiting to see.
Breaking news, with an update. I have now experienced my first root canal. It took two hours, it was described as calcified and twisted. Not painful, but long, and some very unique sounds and vibrations. Leave it to me, to have the complicated mess that the laser scanner and half-million dollar machine can't make a crown for, I am back in two or three weeks to have the permanent crown glued in place.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
I love a good fog, a fine and misty morning. On the farm in Michigan we would occasionally get a good fog, I can remember riding the school bus on a foggy back road on a colorful autumn morning. The first winter I spent in Florida, we lived on the Gulf coast north of Tampa in an area that was prone to incredible fog. The parts of Orlando that I lived in seldom saw fog. Kentucky gets fog along the River, but we lived 10 miles from the nearest river. Here in DC, we get fog off of the Potomac River. A few mornings recently have been hauntingly beautiful.
I have experienced Pacific coastal fog a few times. It is wonderfully dense, one time along the coast north of San Francisco I watched it go from clear to almost to dense to drive in 15 minutes. It was wonderful.
Do you get fog where you live?
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
- What is your favorite place to sit and watch the world go by?
- What is your favorite place to sit quietly with something to drink?
- How long can you sit still and watch?
- Do you prefer to sit alone, or with someone?
- Do you talk to strangers?
- What is your favorite place to sit and watch the world go by? Along the Mall near the Smithsonian Castle here in DC.
- What is your favorite place to sit quietly with something to drink? St Marks Square in Venice.
- How long can you sit still and watch? 20-30 minutes.
- Do you prefer to sit alone, or with someone? Either way, quietly.
- Do you talk to strangers? Yes, and I enjoy it.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
I have voted, and I have been wearing a hat that reads "Flush the Turd on November 3rd" and a T-shirt that says "Won't you shut up, man" "Biden 2020." In the office I am the "on-line-survey" platform guy. To assist a researcher I sent out an online survey to state election directors, an unexpected email asking them to click on a link and complete a survey. I am glad to report that the security experts they are working with have instructed them to NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS. (Opening attachments and clicking on unknown links are the leading ways of having your computer system compromised.) They are taking security seriously, making it not a good time to try to survey them.
As members of a society, it is our obligation to make choices and vote. Many years ago, I got busy one gubernatorial election and didn't vote, I spent the next four years suppressing my grumbles by reminding myself I hadn't voted for or against the idiot in charge. Any time I am tempted to not vote, I remind myself of that missed vote.
This is a critical election. If you are in the USA, vote, drag a friend along, one under each arm if you can and have them vote. If we win, we will have four years of defending our choice, if we don't, we will be entitled to say I voted against the @$$#0!& for the next four years. I can't control the outcome, but I can control my contribution.
Together we can make a difference.
I will leave deeper political commentary to others.
Have you voted?
Friday, October 23, 2020
Let me start with, I am not sure if this is a butterfly or a moth. All I know is it flittered down in front of me, and paused long enough for me to snap two quick images. Back when I was a wee-penguin I spent a week at a summer camp near Port Austin Michigan. One of my tent mates was an avid butterfly collector. He had the nets, the killing jars, boards, mounting pins and an encyclopedic knowledge. Looking back at it I had a crush on him. He was so bright and interested in arcane subjects.
I bought a guidebook, and a net. I tried chasing butterflies and moths. They are fast, hard to catch, and if you are stuck in one place as I was on the farm at that time, there are only so many varieties around. I gave up.
Later in life I have learned to be patient, and wait for what comes by. I have to keep my eyes open, but I don't pursue. If I get the picture I do, if I don't, there will be next time. And concentrating on photos is much more humane than collecting specimens.
When was the last time you paused to watch whatever came by?
Thursday, October 22, 2020
I had a gym friend in Orlando who ran a small business with his brother. Bob was a memorable character, he spent 36 hours as Marine in Viet Nam, stepped on a landmine, and lost part of one leg. When you met him he would introduce himself and tell a joke. What do you call a guy in a swimming pool with no arms and no legs, the answer is Bob, because he just sort of bobs up and down. He would slip off his artificial leg and say, now you are never going to forget my name are you?
Bob and his brother went to New York for a conference. When they returned I asked Bob about New York, I had never been there. He said, you know my younger brother, he comes into the gym in the morning when he is not cheating on his wife. Yes, I had met him. He proceeded, the two of them were walking down a street in New York (this would have been about 1990) and an enterprising self employed entrepreneur approached them and offered certain personal services for what the brother considered a good price. The younger brother and said business person disappeared down an alley and reappeared a few minutes later with the brother having a smile on his face. The brothers went to a bar, ordered a beer, and when they went to pay, the brother discovered his wallet was missing. Bob described his brother calling his wife to cancel the ATM card, and American Express card, explaining that he must have encountered a pick-pocket, with Bob falling of the bar stool shouting "more like a prick pocket."
I can remember the last time I was offered the services of an enterprising self-employed entrepreneur. I was in New Orleans for a conference and out for an early morning walk in the French Quarter. A V-12 Jaguar slowed to walking pace, pulled over near the sidewalk and rolled down the window. The business person said, "hi sugar, are looking for anything in particular or just a good time, I'm available this morning!" I simply said, "thank you, but not today, I am just out for a walk, stay safe." The reply was, "you too sugar" and the window rolled up and the car wooshed away. In a moment I thought, a New Orleans prostitute is driving a nicer car than I will ever own, where did I go wrong?
I hope they are all staying safe,
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
And they say all babies are beautiful. I see a face filled with determination, to make it, to push forward, to overcome the odds, to prove the naysayers wrong. To forge a personal path in the world. Pretty, well not really; beautiful, only in the eye of the beholder.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
The first website site that I created and posted content on was Virtual Tourist, the site closed down in 2017. Virtual Tourist had tons of user generated content, photos, travel tips and a very active user forum section. You could go on the site and visit far away places without leaving home.
It seems no one is traveling much this, year, and I have to admit for this travel addict it is not always easy. I will end the year with fewer than 20 nights in hotels, I haven't had an airline reservation pending since March. Unheard of.
Somedays I just need to go someplace. A few months ago John Gray posted a link to a local news story in Wales. The story was on the website of Radio Colwyn Bay, reading the story I discovered that they have a live-stream of local radio. Just what I need some days, local radio, from 3,500 miles away. Check it out. There is a UK based site with a bunch of online streaming options, it is nice to hear about the traffic jams in London, and the local news that does not make me cringe.
Is there a local radio station in your city I should listen to?
Monday, October 19, 2020
Sunday, October 18, 2020
I have spent four months taking pictures of wild flowers in the swamp, I have been taking photos of flowers since I was a teenager. Flowers fascinate me. After my mother died, I started keeping fresh flowers in the house.
- Do you grow flowers in your garden, yard or terrace?
- When was the last time you had cut flowers in your house?
- Did your mother, have plastic flowers around the house?
- What is your favorite flower?
- Do you stop to smell the flowers?
- Do you grow flowers in your garden, yard or terrace? Nope, plants die in my custody.
- When was the last time you had cut flowers in your house? Today.
- Did your mother, have plastic flowers around the house? Oh awful things, yes.
- What is your favorite flower? I like roses that smell like roses.
- Do you stop to smell the flowers? After checking for bees, yes.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
28 years ago, we joined together to make a home for ourselves. Five years ago, as law and society caught up with us, we married in the eyes of the law. Neither of us were young and foolish when we met. We have been together nearly half of our lives. Simply said, J is the best thing that ever happened in my life.
One of my nephews is getting married next weekend. Unfortunately because of the risks of travel and crowds, we won't be there. I sent a nice gift, a nice card and a personal letter (a real letter sent through the United States Postal Service - then was the last time you received one of those?)
I offered some sage advice to the young couple (actually about the age J and I were when we decided to make a life together.)
Here are some of my bullet points on a long and happy relationship.
Friday, October 16, 2020
I bought my first good camera when I was in High School, a Konica T3, 35mm SLR. I was never thrilled with it, worked hard a couple of summers, sold it to a classmate (who I learned 35 years later dropped it down a flight of stairs a few days later - sorry Kevin,) and bought a Cannon F-1 - at the time Cannon's top of the line professional 35mm SLR. It was amazing, it had a titanium frame and shutter, it was incredibly durable. Over the years I added a bag full of Cannon lenses and another Cannon body to the collection. About 20 years ago, I traded all of that, for a Nikon 35mm SLR, with a nice zoom lens, auto focus, auto exposure. I used the Nikon for about 5 years, before moving onto digital. When I bought the last film camera, digital was just not quite there on image quality and the cameras that were close were very expensive.
When I went digital, I went small. Cameras that fit in a pocket, that were easy to carry. I owned several of them, including a fixed lens SLR, and an early fixed lens mirrorless design (A Fujifilm one that I still have and it still works.) A couple of them were really good. I had one with a Leica lens (sadly it was left in the bottom of my day bag and was broken) and a Samsung that I still use from time to time. I always tried to buy the best lens that I could, wide to telephoto.
A few years ago, I got the urge to go back to an SLR, to go back to interchangeable lenses. I bought a Nikon D5500. It is a solid reliable design. It is APSC, or crop sensor in format. The rear screen folds out and can be flipped over. It has an input for an external microphone if you are shooting video. It was one generation to soon for WiFi, Bluetooth or nearfield to work well, technically it is possible, practically, no. I have three lenses from a 10mm super wide angle to 300 mm, a solid mid range telephoto. The lenses are not the best that Nikon makes, but they do what I need them to do, they are easy to carry, and none of them cost more than my first car. I'd like to have a 500 or 600mm telephoto to chase the birds with - but those can cost more than my first car. I also have a Nikon underwater camera, a compact digital that I should use more. I take if I am going for a walk in the rain.
I have come to describe my style as documentary. I am not a fine arts photographer - I don't manipulate my subject, or the lighting or set the stage (though I have the training and I know how to do those things.) Journalistic style tries to tell a story - most of my images are captured because I like them. End of story. I seldom photograph people, I find people hard to photograph - I always have. Early in life, I made a living as a commercial photographer, aerials, postcards and advertising work. The couple of times I tried to work with models was frustrating for everyone. I disliked portrait work, and hated weddings.
What I capture, is what I use. Very rarely I will crop an image, and even less often process or edit photos. I don't change the color, or saturation, or sharpness. What I shoot, is what I print. Part of that is the software that I limit myself to, part of it is philosophical, I want to show the world, warts and all. If I edit a photo, I will say so in the caption or text.
When was the last time you used a film camera?
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
That is my mother at the left, my grandmother is next to her. I don't know who the lady in the blue dress and the man on the right are. The colorful cutouts of leaves on the wall, lead me to think fall, most likely Thanksgiving. I recognize the refrigerator behind my mother, it remained in the garage after the new house. There is a wringer washing machine in the background. Those were beasts to use. It must have been a special occasion, my mother had the candles lit. Possibly before I was born based on the location.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Nearly every one of my blog posts starts with a photo that I took. I have been taking photographs since I was about 10. At times rather intensely, at times not. Often there is a subtle tie in between the photo and the essay, sometimes the photo is there because I liked it. I have tens of thousands of digital photos. If I am stumped I will browse the unsorted folder and inevitably something inspires me.
I recently figured out how to edit my blog template - another thing that blogger changed over the past few months. I added a Daily Reads list, with my morning regulars. There are dozen more that I look at once or more per week. One currently unlisted daily check in, has nearly stopped posting. Sad to see a daily poster slip away.
I also added a little language at the bottom. The block is intended as a copyright statement. Mine basically says if you are going to steal my image, let me know where you use it. I don't have time and money to chase after copyright violations. Honestly, I put the images out there for the world to enjoy. If the images are shared, maybe, just maybe they will bring joy to someone - someplace - that I would never have reached. Or maybe my images are being used to sell soap in some third world country I will never visit. If so, I hope they sell lots, make tons of money, and help improve the lives of the people in their communities.
Do you stop by for the photos or the remarkable prose?
Monday, October 12, 2020
Sunday, October 11, 2020
I know, music is on Mondays. Anne Marie does her Saturday Night Dance Party, Blobby and I do Mondays, but inquiring minds persist. Some of the music I post draws lots of comments, some expressions of dislike, some of it makes me wonder if the internet quit working. Hence the Sunday five questions.
- Do you use a streaming music service (name it if you want to?)
- How long, is not too long for an online music clip?
- Is there any artist that others love, that you can't stand?
- Is there music playing where you are answering these questions?
- Would you prefer I posted pictures of furry and feathered forest critters on Mondays?
- Do you use a streaming music service (name it if you want to?) Yes, Amazon music - I know some people think Amazon is evil.
- How long, is not too long for an online music clip? For me about 3 minutes, shorter would be better.
- Is there any artist that others love, that you can't stand? Bob Dylan - not much to like there for me.
- Is there music playing where you are answering these questions? Of course, my soundtrack as selected by Amazon.
- Would you prefer I posted pictures of furry and feathered forest critters on Mondays? This one is up to you, I will probably do whatever I feel like doing anyway.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
100-People, that is a good average for how many people each of us know well enough to have made an impact on. 40 years ago I read a book by Joe Girard, at the time he was in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most successful car salesman in the world. He worked for Merollis Chevrolet in Detroit for years. He wrote in the book about going to the funeral for one of his long time customers. The funeral director was just putting out the memorial cards. Joe asked, how do you know how many cards to print? The response was about 100, the average person knows or influences about 100 people enough for the person's death to be noticed.
My office recently hosted a virtual memorial service for a colleague who died earlier this year. Most of had never done a Zoom memorial service before. We had some concerns, would anyone show up? What if no one wanted to say anything? We pushed forward, inviting the world at large, assembling a list of people who agreed up front to talk for a few minutes each, knowing we had at least 20-30 minutes of kind words. We needn't have worried. About 120 people showed up, there were so many people who wanted to share memories that we went on for nearly 90 minutes. There were tears, and laughter, moments of recognition, and revelations of ways she touched the life of people that few - maybe only one- person knew about.
How does this connect to Joe Girard. Joe surmised that if you make one person happy, they might tell the 100 people that you are a good person, hurt someone and they will tell 100 people you are evil and not to be trusted.
So are your footprints in the sand, kindness or evil today?
Friday, October 09, 2020
Wednesday morning I finished my walk along the Potomac, put the top down on the car, and started north toward old town Alexandria. I looked over on the edge of the Belle Haven Country Club, and saw this magnificent Bald Eagle in a tree. At the next safe opportunity I made a U-turn, found my way safely off the side of the road in a no-parking zone, grabbed the camera that I keep in the cup holder between the seats and walked across the wet grass taking one shot after another. Mr. or Ms. Eagle looked north, looked south, then shook and jumped into the air. I had to remind myself as the bird flew through the trees to just keep shooting. In the end over 30 shots in probably 10 seconds. A quick encounter, maybe some of the best images of the year. I was in the right place at the right time, but more than that I was ready with the camera with the long lens on it, easy to grab, I stopped, and I somehow reminded myself to keep pressing the shutter. Life is like that, when opportunity presents itself, you need to be ready, you need to take action, and you need to remember to keep pressing the button.
Thursday, October 08, 2020
For the first time I gave up and left the trail in the swamp, along the shores of the Potomac River, shortly after capturing these wonderful photographs of a Prairie Warbler. She/He was in a wonderful location, no obstructions, clear for focus and she moved around so I was able to get enough angles for a clear identification. Tiny birds like this often move fast and blend in with the leaves and bark, making them hard to spot and even harder to photograph. These are some of the best images I have captured in months. Then I was forced to turn tail and retreat to the car.
Forced to retreat, not by the birds, but by flocks of something much smaller. Mosquitos. It was about 70 degrees, it had been cloudy and damp for 2 or 3 days, and there was no breeze. Everytime I slowed or stopped I a cloud of mosquitoes descended on me. I often pick up one or two, but this was dozens at a time. I was run-out of the swamp for the first time. I will be back, a little bit of a breeze and the bugs stay away. Sometime in the next few weeks we will have a frost, giving me a few bug free moments.
How are the bugs by you? Bugging you?
Wednesday, October 07, 2020
When coming back from my morning wander in the swamp, I often drive up the along the river in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. If I go to the troll park*, I pass a Catholic School. On a recent morning this was happening on the front lawn.
Socially distanced, school photos in the open air, on the front lawn. Very different from the dark hallways that our school photographer preferred to set up in. I remember the corduroy shirt with the rawhide lacing. It was soft and warm and I chewed on the ties. As I recall, much my mother's horror I wore it for school photos two years in a row.
Do you have any good school photos?
* The troll park is under a bridge, not a place I go to troll.
Tuesday, October 06, 2020
I don't know why, but most of my adult life I have had a fear of dogs. I don't recall ever having been bitten by a dog. My ex had a ill tempered ill behaved poodle that I greatly disliked. The first dog I remember liking and trusting was my sister's huge German Shepherd. Once Blitz gets to know you, he is a big sweetheart. Slowly I have gotten to the point of letting a dog approach me without panicking. I let the dog approach me, I won't reach out to them, I won't touch them, until they have touched me gently. I fear being jumped on, a hard fall could have life changing implications for me and I am grossed out by dogs licking a person's face (I might have a panic attack if that happened to me.)
I have no idea where my reaction to dogs came from. It has gotten better. For the dog lovers, please understand some people are really uncomfortable around dogs they don't know and trust, and some of the behaviours you find endearing terrify others. What you see as affection, may be perceived as life threatening by others.
There, that is a little baring of my soul.
How do you feel about dogs?
Monday, October 05, 2020
Sunday, October 04, 2020
My somewhat wonky digestion woke me early one morning recently, I decided as long as I was up I would grab the camera and head down to the river to watch the sunrise. I haven't intentionally gone out to watch the sunrise in decades. It was very cloudy and not the best for photos, but I did see geese and ducks that have usually fed and moved on before I get there. Most mornings the sun rises while I am reading blogs in my bedroom. So this weeks Sunday Five - sunrise-sunset.
- When was the last time you paused to watch the sunrise?
- Are you a fan of mornings, or would you prefer that the day started at noon?
- Are you more likely to be out and about at Noon or Midnight?
- Do you have a nice view from home for sunsets?
- If you could watch the sunset anyplace in the world tonight, where would it be?
- When was the last time you paused to watch the sunrise? A week or so ago, for the first time in a long time.
- Are you a fan of mornings, or would you prefer that the day started at noon? I am more of morning person, no offense to noon, but my day is half over by then.
- Are you more likely to be out and about at Noon or Midnight? Noon, it is rare for me to be awake at midnight.
- Do you have a nice view from home for sunsets? Not really, if we were on the other end of the building and about 10 floors up, it would be better.
- If you could watch the sunset anyplace in the world tonight, where would it be? I remember the most spectacular sunsets in Arizona, maybe over the Grand Canyon.
Saturday, October 03, 2020
In the comments on last Saturday's posting, Andrew asked if the bird was a woodpecker. There are several varieties of said birds in the United States. The two images above are a Hairy Woodpecker ~Dryobates Villosus or maybe it is a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker ~ Sphyrapius varius.
Anyone know for sure which it is?
I bought a book on wild flowers of the region. Reading that, I will never look at a flower the same way, how many petals, how many leaves, how are the petals and leaves arranged. People spend a lifetime trying to understand this stuff. Still I am not too old to learn new tricks.
Friday, October 02, 2020
I remember when I first started visiting clients in skilled nursing facilities (care homes) seeing bulletin boards in the hallways and common areas with the Day, the Date, the Season, the Weather, the next upcoming holiday, the last past holiday, who the President was. I was puzzled as to why, and honestly the postings were very elementary school in a home filled with mature adults. Then I saw the Mini Mental Status (State) Exam, and realized they were trying to keep in inmates (residents) oriented to time and place so they could score well on this basic screening tool for mental capacity.
Back in 2015 I spent some time as a resident for inpatient physical rehab. I was there over the Memorial Day weekend. I remember being surprised when I didn't have any therapy scheduled for Monday, asking when it would be scheduled, and being told Monday was a holiday and most of the staff had the day off. In a couple of weeks, with no connection to a normal schedule (and a few pain meds) I had lost track of the calendar beyond what was posted on the schedule in my room - the times I was schedule to be picked up for therapy and about when I would return to my room. Those postings the hallway were an attempt to connect the day-to-day routine to what the rest of the world considers the normal connection to place and time that is lost when we veer from our normal routine, from connectedness with the outside world.
There is a lot of that going on this year all over the world. And yet we still consider those benchmarks of memory as a measure of capacity. We aren't losing it, it is different.
Have you found yourself needing to check what day of the week it was more than usual?
Thursday, October 01, 2020
For some reason I have been thinking about the seasons recently. I probably have a favorite, but maybe not. Here are my feelings on the seasons.
Winter, is a time of rest and renewal. In this part of the world the deciduous trees drop their leaves. It is a season on contrasts, and deep shadows. Of late mornings and early nights. I am not a fan of really cold weather, snow is pretty for a day or so, then the novelty wears off. When I lived in the semi-tropics I learned to love the subtlety of winter. The growth of the landscape slowed, the colors shifted from vibrant greens to more subdued shades. I sometimes felt that I was the only person who recognized that Florida has four seasons.
Spring is the time of rebirth and renewal. Spring brings bright, almost violent greens to the landscape. It is the season for baby birds, and lambs (the world needs more sheep.) Everything grows and changes in the spring, yet there is an immaturity to the world.
Summer is the season of growth, of warmth, of long days and shorter nights. Summer is the young adulthood to middle age of life. The colors reach dark intensity, so green that they become dark. The flowers bloom, and move past blooming to seed or fruit.
Autumn (fall) is the season of maturity. As an old farm boy, fall is the season of harvest, and bounty. In this mess moderate climate, the landscape experiences dramatic changes, with the diverse and vibrant yellows, reds, purples, and browns. The sun rises later, sets earlier, the weather cools from the sometimes stifling heat of summer. Autumn is the climates equivalent of retirement age.
Andrew in Australia recently posted a photo of spring bloom, reminding me that the seasons are not tied to months of the year. I need to spend time south of the equator.
Are you noticing a change of seasons where you are?