Thursday, December 18, 2008

NPR - Reality of Being

I wrote a post, what lies beneath, about living with the body we're given in our life, whether you like it or not. It's simply the reality of our own being. And when we see other people, we sometimes wonder what it's like to be them. We are lost in our own being, and in our imagination, lost in theirs.

It's about acceptance, self and social. But as the saying goes:

"To be nobody but myself --
in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else --
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting."

-E.E. Cummings, poet (1894-1962)

it's about the mirror and the front door.

Facing what we see, what we want to see, what we wish to be, and what we want the world to see. Sometimes they're attainable or at least most of the way there. But we are still hampered if not restricted by our genetics, the gift our parents gave us to be who we are. The rest is up to us. At least we have what and who we are and we can find what's changeable. And we can see what's ahead if we try.

It's the reality of our own being, the same as everyone else but not equal as everyone else. Equality isn't in the cards or the rules, just what is and what can be within our own mind and body. And reality.

And for some, that is the issue and the problem. When you don't like what you are based on who you are, and told throughout your childhood, it's not about who you are but what you are, you're forever stuck with the contradiction, and have to decide which is true. And then make decisions that are both best and right for you.

So, what's my point?

I don't really know except thinking out loud about what and how I see myself. The majority of people are verbally pummelled from their early years to dislike their body, and if not that, then strive to make it better, such as stronger, faster, quicker, and on and on. Some of those pressures are due to what we're doing, sports, dance, ballet, or any physical activity.

And sometiimes it's to be better looking or more beautiful or achieve some measure of someone else's idea of physicality, such as a model. We never hear and never learn to just be and enjoy our own body. There's always something wrong with us or something we can do more or better. But never just be and be ok.

And strive as we do, eventually we see the truth and reality. We just won't get there. And it becomes a point where we have to accept that reality and accept ourselves as we are. We can still strive, but success isn't a goal anymore, but simply striving. The journey from ourselves to ourselves.

And when we pass our 40th birthday and onward toward 50, we discover the work is harder and the results less. We've passed the optimium. The optimium where change can occur for the good and we are just working to stay, and not lose what we had. It's not about gain or better, but simply existing as best we can.

And to make any type of major change, no matter how deeply felt and needed, isn't a reality without some concessions to the truth and to yourself. And what medical science can do to help. It's about trying to understand and accept what limits are there and what we can do within those limits, and then find comfort and maybe satisfaction with the achievable.

In the end, it's still our reality and the truth we live with. As Randy Pausch said, "We can't change the card we're dealt, but we can change how we play the hand."

NPR - What lies beneath

I didn't know where to put this post, life, my story, Taoism, whatever, because it's about what lies beneath the surface of each of us. We all have a public persona, the external and public expression of our personality, character and temperament, and we all have the complexity and diversity of ourself underneath the exterior and expression. Like that's new or news?

Not really. I was just thinking how we see other people and how that reflects within ourself and with others, and how we compare ourself to others. Within ourselves we all hide our deep, personal fears and dislikes about ourself, either mental or physical. It's part of our society to be or achieve better looking, smarter, and on and on. And why we have so many mental health therapist, cosmetic surgeons, and on and on.

And studies have shown we routinely seem to wonder what it's like to be someone else. Not always, but often, out of hate for yourself or our body, but out of curiosity. To the extreme it's body dysmorphic disorder, but sometimes it's not always about something small about us, but the whole of us, as is often expressed by people with gender identity issues (it's not a disorder or disease, just a normal human expression proven to be genetic, biochemical, mental and real).

And sadly, much of this happens when we're young, from our parents when we're children, from others when we're teenagers, and from all the messages we get from our family, friends, other people, doctors, etal, and in our world, media, ads, etc. throughout our life. We're told we're not good enough and so we struggle living inside a body we don't like if not hate.

And it's what lies underneath everything else we think, say or do the rest of our life. It's always there and always present. Try as we might, it never goes away and the best we can do is hide, hide it, or disguise it, and something will happen to find it long or deeply buried, to open the mental and emotion wound again. To bleed in our mind, heart, soul and spirit, leaving us empty, again.

The reality is that what lies underneath just is, and who we are, like it or not. Whether we accept it or not, we still have to live with it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

NPR - Reading the News

I've written that I read 3-5 newspapers 4-5 days a week, and look at on-line newspapers almost every day, from local to international papers. But as I learn to read on-line newspapers I still like the plain paper ones, and am disheartened the daily Washington Post isn't available here with the other major newspapers (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). The Christian Science Monitor would also be nice but it's dropping print editions in the spring of 2009.

What I've found is the obvious, I read the paper and on-line ones differently, vastly differently, and why I like the paper ones. I'm one of those folks who loves getting it, sorting the section in the order I read, and then spread each section out on the table one at a time and scan each page thoroughly, even the ads. I usually spend 30-60 minutes with each paper depending on the paper. Our local ones aren't all the thick with news, and even then usually articles from national news sources.

This takes time. I usually read while eating breakfast or a snack, with coffee. It's the old-fashioned joy of the world in front of you, there to choose to read or not. It's doesn't hide in a link or in sub pages on a Website, it's all there, front and present in your view and available for your consciousness. All you have to do is read.

Internet newspaper Websites require a totally different sense. Instead of seeing the headline and the text, where you can read into the article to see if it's interesting. Instead of knowing newspapers tend to follow a general pattern in the organization of the paper by and through each section, each of the Web news sites organizes and structures their pages differently, and while similar to print news, not the same.

Most of the Web news sites tend to layer the news, from the front page through the sections on the navigation bar. And if all you want is today's news, you have to navigate to that Web page or set of Web pages, and read the headlines and links to the stories. In short, instead of having quick access to the content, you have to click through Web pages, just to read the introduction for the idea of the article.

In a way it's the difference between sequential and parallel thinking. The print paper is sequential. You have to turn and read each page. You simply can't read more than the page(s) in front of you. The Internet paper is parallel. All the choices for sections and articles are there on the home page. First you have to discern the structure and organization of the on-line paper, and then decide which articles to read or subpages to follow.

And the Internet ones don't put the current paper up front, but they give you a series of days of news. If all you want is today's paper, you have to find the link "Today's Paper" and go there, and start the visual and mental process (above) again. I don't find this frustrating or troublesome, just different, something to adapt and adjust my senses and thinking.

But what I find is that I get through the Internet ones quicker and faster, and spend less time reading pieces of articles than just selecting whole articles. And often, I just hit the print version to print and read than read the on-line version. This is because I don't pay attention to the ads and find them distracting, which is the opposite in the actual print version. I like reading the ads.

I realize this is the obvious. I learned Web design from a former journalist, and I design my Website more in the mode of the news style than a Web style, something I'm revisiting with WSR version 3.0, but that's in the future. For now I read both types of newspapers, but I still like the real print ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008

JMO - Auto Bailout

I've been only half-following the auto bailout bill in Congress, not reading all the details about this or that Representative or Senator's view of the bill or the issue, but still getting the jest of it, and while I'm still personally against it and recognize it's an unfortunate necessity, I've come to the conclusion it won't work, and therefore shouldn't be allowed to pass. Why?

Because first and foremost, the big 3 auto companies got themselves in the mess. We didn't create the mess, they did by building and selling low(er) mileage cars and especially trucks and SUV. They bet the farm on trucks and SUV's and it's not working now. They had years to set aside profits and develop better cars, and they simply didn't, until it was obvious the other (foreign, many now building cars in the US) were building better or better priced cars.

And second because a significant cost of their cars are due to union wages and benefits, namely wages, healtcare and pensions and to require them to become lean enough to be cost and price competitve would mean jettisoning their healthcare costs and pensions. As it is right now all three are $Billions behind on their pension oblgations with no clear plan to repay it, excused by the President and Congress too.

And restructuring the wages would be mean invalidating the union contracts or worse allowing them to hire non-union workers, at the same or lower wages than other auto companies currently in the US. This would be mean a long protracted fight in the courts over the contracts or in Congress over either requiring it or allowing it, and the political backlash would be enormous against the company and Congress.

And it's clear providing short term loans won't work because none of the big 3 companies will use the money for the long term change necessary to build better cars at affordable prices. It's taken 50 years to get here, you can't fix it overnight, but the companies have had the information and resources to be in a better position than they are now, they just didn't do it.

And now when at least one is facing chapter 11 protection or worse bankruptcy, we're supposed to panic and give them our money? With what for assurances they'll actually change when the problems are systemic to their history, structure and operation?

I'm against the bailout but not for the reasons the Republicans are against it. They want the companies to jettison worker rights with their contracts giving them affordable wages, healthcare and pensions. They want to cheapen the American worker to benefit the companies. I'm against the bailout because it's not what the Republicans have long believed and sold us, about free enterprise and the market economy, and it's failed badly.

The question is if we're willing to change the big 3 companies into something similar to the foreign companies producing cars in the US, which is likely the better solution, but without sacrificing the hard earned benefits the employees have worked hard for all these decades. We can't jettison them at the expense of making a better company, unless the taxpayer is willing to pick up the bill for their healthcare and pension plans.

And that would essentially get the companies off the hook, which I suspect is their goal, which leaves the question, since when is the government the one to decide what business should do when they (companies) have long argued and won the right to decide and act on their own, free of government intervention. Simply because they failed isn't ground for them to ask government now to see them through their stupidity.

Shouldn't they face their own music? Is it fair for the taxpayer to bailout the big 3 auto companies who simply want to jettison the workers' wages and benefits for their own profit? I don't think so. Any deal has to ensure the workers have longterm liveable wages with affordable healthcare and pensions, and not push them back on the public for corporate profit.

It's time the drive the car they're selling, and if they can't sell it, who's fault is that? Certainly not the taxpayer and definately not the worker. So why should we accept the blame and write the check?

Monday, December 8, 2008


I've never liked all the rules the Transportation Security Administration has imposed on airlines, airports and airline passengers, especially the last, namely us travellers. I've always maintained we're not the enemy. And when looking for a needle in a haystack in a field of haystack, it doesn't make sense to look at every piece of straw when you're you looking for something/one sharp and shiny.

My point is that to date since 9/11 no terrorist has every been captured, indicted and convicted by TSA's airline passenger rules. The TSA has never found anyone being a terrorist(s) and many tests have shown that many people have managed to get banned items through their inspections and some employees have been found to have criminal records due to poor applicant screening proceedures. And many airport baggage employees have been discovered to searched and stolen items from unlocked baggage from the mandatory rules about baggage.

And we know the No-Fly list is a fraud and bogus. It doesn't work, but to fix it TSA wants to know the full name, birth date and birth place of everyone in America to compare with airline fligh manifests. This is even more unnecessary rules as has been shown that most of the 9/11 terrorists would have passed all the tests currently in use or proposed. They simply looked normal except the FBI could have prevented 9/11 if they had acted properly and timely. They failed us, and TSA can't fix that.

In short, TSA is a waste of taxpayers money. But now a journalist writing a book says the same thing. Becky Akers is saying the same thing, with the research to support the view. Give us the right and freedom to travel and stop making us the terrorists.

The best thing President Obama can do is trust the American people, and killing TSA would be a good step toward that goal. Otherwise, it's only shows our political leaders don't trust us beyond demanding our money for things we don't want, don't need, and isn't working for us, the people who elected you. Get the point?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

JMO - Chasing Money

I've been a fan of Formula One since the early 1960's when Dad took my brother and I to several races in Germany in our British Commer camper (introduced before the VW Westphalia camper). That's a whole other story about travels in this camper. But it hooked me then and has kept me hooked even as the sport has evolved into an entertainment business and under the leadership (which he gets a large share of the revenues) of Bernie Ecclestone has evolved into chasing money.

Simply put Mr. Eccelestone has bled the traditional circuit owners and their sponsors who have been in F1 for decades dry while recruiting countries to build new circuits and venues for even more money to cancel contracts with former circuits. And he has pushed the cost of the racing into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually spent by each time, now totalling about $1.6 Billion. For what?

And now Honda has announced it's pulling out of F1 because it siimply can't afford to stay in at the cost of $220M annually for team operations, not count research and development for cars and engines, which some say doubles or triples the annual cost of F1 teams. The prices of competing has become too steep. And now this will reduce the number of teams to 9 with 18 cars, of which less than half are competitive, the rest there just for show.

So, in trying to personally profit from fans, teams, circuit owners and sponsors, and some nation - who provide some resources and money as a national event, he has bled it dry to where it will only go downhill for the next few years as the global financial crisis increases causing even more hardships to continue with F1 teams. Now it has no more money to give Mr. Ecclestone, and for what?

If anything Mr. Ecclestone has proven is that chasing money has its own rewards, and while some can say wealth, I will say hate toward the very cause of the problem, the person. He chased money for the sake of money and not for the sake of the sport, and now everyone will be hurt and pay the price, and Mr. Ecclestone will simply fade into the background with his wealth, knowing money can't by you respect and love, only fear and hate.

The best thing F1 can do is jettison Mr. Ecclestone and Mr. Mosley and get back to the sport of racing, and find solutions where all the teams, preferably more than 10, are all competitive and still individual, as is now, designing and building your own chassis. We don't need a common engine, the problem with the IRL, because diversity builds competition, but we do need to find ways to contain the costs of engine development programs.

We need to return to what made F1 great, competitiveness, drivers, cars and tracks. And get just enough money for that and not for personal profit. I watched the best at German Grand Prix races 1963-64. I miss it and know we can't go back. We have to go forward, but not with egos in the way. Chasing money isn't the answer.

Monday, December 1, 2008

JMO - Freedom to wade

I've been an on and off fly-fisherman for over three decades now. I often buy the license and carry the equipment during the year but never stop and fish. It's about the freedom to wade a river and fish (and always release). I've fished in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and now living here in Washington. I even used to fish after work streamgaging, since I was already wearing my waders, work hours were done and I was staying at a local motel anyway, so why not.

And now the Montana State Supreme Court has upheld the right of fly-fishing people to access more streams via public access. This is great, but what was more interesting is the people for the right to restrict streams that flow along or through their property. It's the list of the rich, including rock star Huey Lewis who owned land the stream went through.

Sometimes when it comes to land, we all become libertarians.

Almost every state in the West allows wading streams and rivers or walking along the banks, below high or high-high water and accessing them from any public access point, usually a boat landing, bridge, or along a highway. This is because these states have declared state, meaning public, ownership of the stream/river bed and banks. Only Colorado has a more restrictive laws given landowners the right to the stream/river bed and banks, and only allows floating on rivers through private property.

While fishing in Colorado once I encountered people who put barbed-wire fences in and over rivers to stop floaters. I kept my fishing to the Rocky Mountain NP but drove around outside to discover the fishing was limited to on and near a state highway bridge. I loved it when I returned home and could fish freely anywhere I could wade.

And that's the point, fly-fishing is like nothing else, both realistically and philosophically. It's just about being there and standing in the river with your fly rod and hope. And catching anything is extra.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Parade

Click on image for slide show

The image, above, is from the 2008 Seattle day-after Thanksgiving Day Parade. I got there later than usual, but enough to walk around the staging area for about an hour. They stage the parade in a 2 block radius from the start up the hill, so it gives enough to photograph which adds as the parade progress from the start at 8:45 am. Once it passes the start, you're essentially free to walk around for other shots, as the parade route is crowded and difficult to get photos (policed along the route).

I usually get my Christmas card for the year from the group, see last year's (top photo). I love the informality and relaxed atmosphere of the staging area and the freedom to walk anywhere and photograph. You just have to be aware after it starts with the coordinators starting the next one in the line. They also give more room and people will pose if you obviously have "better" equipment, meaning one or more larger cameras with a camera bag.

For what it's worth, I use a Canon EOS 5D and EOS 1N with 4 lenses (35mm to 135mm) . I never got my mind around those cameras with the APS-sized sensors. After almost 40 years I'm still a full-frame photographer. I'm not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination and skills, namely I'm a observational photographer.

And I'm a minimalist with photo editors. I try to capture the best photo (flim) or image (digital) when I'm standing there, but I also make mistakes, forgetting this or that, the complexity of newer cameras. I use the Galen Rowell approach and method, but occasionally forget to reset something, or watch the sky and forget to change the light/color balance. But this time, it was overcast with showers so the light was even throughout the time.

Anway, when all was said and done, there is a sample.

Monday, November 10, 2008

JMO - It's only money

Reading the news stories about the bailout which has morphed into financial industry, banking industry, insurance industry and now auto industry infusion of taxpayers' money with few strings attached, it's likely to top $1 Trillion. And all of it is government borrowed money. We borrowed to give to industries, and you'll be paying the interesting the rest of your life and generations beyond.

But listening the range of experts I'm still against it. But I notice they're trying to make it taste better with individual stimulus checks. Wow another few hundred dollars. Gee, we get pennies and they get billions. Why do I believe they gave away the candy store while handing out samplers to the American people? I'll take the whitle chocolate center one thank you since it's irrelevant who's talking and promising anymore.

But then it's just money. What this crisis showed was that the whole industrial world's foundation is debt and credit. There is nothing holding up the global economy but money borrowed in the endless circle of exhanged as everyone's hands are in everyone else's pockets while writing IOU's for the loan. No one really knows where the circular path of debt ends, except the taxpayers who pay the interest on the government's debt.

And now with the national debt at about $11 Trillion, it's hard to think of this bailout as just getting and using a new credit card to the max. and giving the money away. It's hard to see the bailout as real money, but in reality it's about $2,300 per person in the US. Per person mind you, each and every one of us just gave that money away from our government's bank account, except it's not really there.

As once said, "There is no there there." No money except what the government prints in Treasury bonds, prints in money, and signs for loans. It's all a paper, or now electronic, exercise. But as one senator said years ago, when you starting talking about the amount, pretty soon it becomes real money. Well, it's beyond that, it's more than real, it's our future, of a permanent debt we'll never pay off, but just keep adding to the amount.

And in the end, it's not like our finances and budget. That's real money. All of this money is only money on paper. It's not real, just part of the whole global finances. The there is real but similarly not real to us that we know and feel in our life and work. We'll never really see it but we'll pay for it with our taxes.

Dear Mr Obama

Ok, now you have won the election. And you have made many promises we both know aren't really that achieveable, but don't worry, I know they were mostly campaign rhetoric for votes and not really promises but ideas. My interest here is to emphasize one promise you made which I want you to keep, and that is transparency. You said it would be the in the way you and your administration will work.

The New York Sunday Magazine today (11/9/08) has an excellent article on imperial presidencies, especially Bush's. With the compliance and complacency of Congress, our freedoms, rights and protections have been evicerated to its lowest level ever, with warrantless wiretaps by the NSA, the Patriot Act, and secret excutive orders. The power the President has assumed over American is unprecedented, including the arrest and incarceration without evidence, just suspiciions, without access to legals aid and the courts, and without contacting family.

All in the name of terrorism, which we know it was and is a charade, a way to create an imperial presidency above the Constitution and our laws. It was a Vice President Cheney objective and he succeeded. And it would be the greatest gift you could make to the American people by changing this where we are a country and nation for the people living with pride and honor about and in our life and work.

if you do as you say you will, bring transparency to your office and work, then undo or ask Congress to undo all those illegal actions by the Bush administration. Give hope to the people that government trusts them and will act within the Constitution and the law. If you don't, or if you keep those powers, and especially use them, all what you promise is dust, long swept away with the campaign signs and debris.

If you prove you're no better than Bush, then you've lost the trust of the American people. And I for one will not only not trust you with anything and on anything, I won't vote for you again. That's what's at stake here. America and the American people. And now it's up to you. We voted and we have expressed our believe in you. And now it's up to you to show it was earned and deserved.

I'll keep you posted on how I see things going.

Friday, November 7, 2008

JMO - Government Service

In reading the articles and especially the editorials about government, meaning the whole government system of people, regulations, costs, etc., it's clear they all, on both sides, miss the real point. It's not about big or small government, it's about productive and efficient government. And this has been demonstrated, every president, including the current one, who have both increased the size and cost of government without really making it better.

And that's the key here, and the problem with poltiicians and almost every outside of government. It's easy to complain about government, and who doesn't have horror stories, but those complaints aren't fair or right, but just examples which we can also easily find in business and anywhere else. Human nature and errors are prevasive and not restricted to govenment.

I can say what I know because I spent 28 years in the Interior Deparment, specifically the US Geological Survey, and it's clear to me, almost everyone outside of government does not understand what working for the government is about and the importance of a good government workforce.

And the key is the workers are already productive and efficient. It's just the people and Congress keep demanding more work, services, etc. for less money. And as any expert can tell you there is an optimum productivity and efficiency, and passing it by increasing the work won't improve either, and in fact decreases both.

When I was a supervisor, my bosses always wanted me to schedule 100% of my staff's time and work. I didn't. I always scheduled 80% and said that the rest will easily be taken up by other tasks and work that happens in the course of the day and work. I always said when you schedule 100% of their work, they'll be working 120+% of the time squeezed into 100% of the time.

And that's neither productive or efficient, because going faster only increases the errors and always had me asking other supervisors who did schedule 100% of the staff's time, "If you don't have the time to do it right the first time, where will you find the time to do it over?" And that's my point, as I found they eventually produced less, often less than in the contract, because they weren't thinking.

This was because they always unrealistically assumed the minimum of errors and wasted time, and we all know that doesn't happen. They forgot the simple idea of Murphy's law and being human. In return I rarely missed a deadline and we often did more than was originally planned, because people worked harder knowing they had the freedom and time to do their best and resolve problems before they became unsolvable.

And that's my idea to President-elect Obama, make government efficient and productive by optimimizing work, not maximizing work. The latter won't gain you anything, except problems, and the former will give the people the government they deserve, the most efficient and productive, and yes cost-efficeint employees.

You see govenment employees, from my experience, believe in their work and service. What they hate are bad managers and really bad senior managers, especially those political appointees always criticizing and sometimes demeaning, government workers for political agendas. And I know the American people appreciate government workers when they know they're doing their best for them.

Government employees want their boss to believe in them. It's a simple concept and simple to follow, if only they would, but they rarely do. And that's what you have to change. Not espouse ideas about big or small, expensive or cheap, but service to your country. The employees will follow with the most productive and efficient, and even cost-effective, work you won't believe is possible.

So Mr. Obama, that's my $.02 to you. I only ask you pass it on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

JMO - Off Shore drilling

We don't need to drill for oil off our coast lines, in the coastal waters of the east and west coast. The Gulf coast already has extensive oil drilling, and it's obvious from the data, there's more oil there to add drilling, even in spite of the hazards of hurricanes. I say this because of a study by the General Accountability Office (GAO) which reaffirmed what many have already said about existing oil and natural gas leases on federal lands.

The GAO reviewed 55,000 oil and natural gas leases on federal lands issued between 1987 and 1996. They discovered only 6%, yes that small, of the 68 million acres of federal lands had been drilled and that only 5% were producing oil or natural gas. The remaining 94% of the leases were idle or had expired.

And only 26% of the current off shore, meaning coastal waters, leases had been explored and only 12% were producing oil and natural gas. It shows what was been said, even myself two months ago when Palin said, "Drill, baby drill.", it's all a sham for the energy companies to get more land under lease while not drilling.

You see they actually make more money importing oil from OPEC countries than producing oil in the US. They only pay the market price than pay for operations and maintenance of producing wells, along wtih all the local, state and federal taxes on domestic production. They're simply following the money and profit, and not being patriotic to America and the American people.

And the GAO report said that all the incentives Congress has given the oil companies, like less taxes, faster approval proces, etc., isn't enough to offset the profit from imported oil. So that's where the truth is, and with continuing record profits by the energy companies, we're expected to believe they want more of our land?

Because we know that's the issue to them, not about exploring or producing oil and natural gas here, but simply ownership of federal lands for future use. They don't want to produce oil and natural gas to help America and the American people. They simply want to own us and own our money.

And I agree with the report which recommends Congress revoke any lease that hasn't been explored and be producing oil and natural gas within the last 10 years and only issue new leases with the same provision, use it or lose it, along with your money too. And they raise rent on the unused land.

So, there's the deal. No new leases, especially off-shore in coastal waters, until they use the leases they already have. Or else face losing them to be reissued for lease with stricter rules. President-elect Obama and Congress, now act.

JMO - One word

Ok, Obama won, and by more than I estimated. I bet he would have about 330 eletoral votes, wining a mini-landslide if he got the big states (New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and California). I didn't account for some other states, New Mexico, Colorado, etc. But as a noted baseball manager once said, "You only need one more run than your opponent."

But this post isn't about the election, the win or even the issues and agenda we now face. It's about perspective.

When Bush ended speeches he usually said, "And God bless America." When Obama ended his acceptance speech in Chicago, he said, "And may God bless America."

Small difference, one word, "may", but big difference in perspective. Bush believed God and America are the same. Obama sees God and America aren't, but can be if we do well. Obama knows the difference between one's faith and one's life. Bush never saw this and never knew to separate them.

Bush assumes he has God's approval and he doesn't, he never earned it by being a better person and leader. Obama knows it about work and striving and if you do well towards people you'll achieve God's approval in your heart and mind. He knows you never assume it and you always strive.

Bush assumes it's already there no matter what you decide, say or do. It's why he knew the attack and invasion of Iraq was good and right, because he said God said so. What God assumes war against innocent people is good and right? The fight and war was and is in Afghanistan, not Iraq. Bush mistook he blindness for vision.

Anyway, this was about one word which show a world of differnce. And why Obama will likely be a good President, even with all the failures Bush is leaving for him and the American people. Obama knows it's about America and the American people, Bush never did and still doesn't see the simplicity of that idea.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Update on LF Photography

Canon 5D image

I wrote about the opening of the new Jackson Visitors Center at Paradise, Mt. Rainier National Park (NP) see blog entry. Well, it was a day of using the 4x5 camera along with testing the 17-40mm f4 lens I bought recently for my Canon 5D. I'll comment on the lens in another entry, but this one is for the day with the 4x5 camera.

Since I only got the camera around New Years 2007, I'm effectively still learning it (and ok, I don't use it as often as I should, but that's life, it keeps jumping ahead of plans to grab my attention to do something else). I have learned that from my longtime, and part-time, experience in 35 mm film photography, I didn't have to learn the basic of photography, just the application of it to 4x5 work and the camera.

And that's always more than enough for me. Anyway, what did I try and what did I learn that day at Paradise?

Well, for one, it was cold, damn cold. At least my hands told me. I have Raynaud's Syndrome where my hands become cold and stiff within minutes of exposure to cold (<40+ degrees) temperatures and turn white not long after that. Because you use fingers to manipulate the camera, I use a fingerless glove and put my hands in my pockets when just standing and/or thinking.

I've always had cold hands, exacerbated by cold weather, but it wasn't a problem until about 1990 when during a winter field trip in the Olympics (for work) where there was a foot and more of snow and subfreezing temperatures. Not long into the first day my hands literally stiffened to where the fingers wouldn't move from the position they were during the streamgaging. It's been a problem ever since, something the doctor said I likely had the predisposition and this event initiated the onset of it.

Ok, onward. I set up in the position above, but using a 120mm lens, similar to the above image, except the snow hadn't fully melted. I really wanted Mt. Rainier to appear in the background, but alas, the clouds continually drifted around from the north and in front of the view. After about an hour waiting with everything set up, I took some exposures (sheets) and packed up the stuff.

And just as you would think, the clouds parted to see the whole mountain. Anyway, from there I went up one of the trails originating at the new visitors center. I saw this scene.

Canon 5D image

I wanted to learn simultaneous swing and tilt, where the focus plane went right up the hillside. Easier said than done. Swing was so much the problem, but tilt. It only takes a few degrees of tilt to work, but the Horseman HD is a top-tilt front movement, so you have to keep readjusting the focus after moving the tilt.

It's easier to focus for the foreground and completely lose the distance focus, and that's what took the time. but eventually I think it all worked. Anyway, the slide (sheet) turned out really nice as did the visitors center slide. Unfortunately it was so cold and I was a little frustrated I didn't write anything down.

Some days and work are like that, but the results turned out pretty good. I'm smilin'.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What I don't miss

Occasionally I write about what I don't miss, about photography, life, work, etc. And occasioinally since I retired in December 2005 I meet with the field office folks I used to work with and wanted at some time in my career to be their Field Office Chief (FOC) if not the Data Chief. But work didn't work out, as said in a movie I watched some time ago, "A long story about a quick decision."

Actually I had planned my retirement more than a year before during a retirement work shop all federal employees are offered to assess their ability to retire within the finances they want or have. It showed that I had the financial option to retire any time between December 2005 and December 2008. It was my choice, but I learned in the fall of 2005, not mine, but also management's choice.

While staying longer would have been better financially - ok, minus the recent economic and Wall Street meltdown, I thought about the decision when I stopped by work this week to visit with former co-workers. I miss the field office folks, they're all great and terrific people, doing an outstanding job invisible to the public. All people see is the end result, the surface water data for Washington.

And why I liked both the work and the people. Every one of us have those things in the world we innately know is cool. Something so fun and worthwhile we don't think about it, we just do it. And that is what basic data is all about to me, and to anyone in basic data in the USGS. It's doesn't mean it's all nice and good, or all easy and likeable. It isn't, but it still is about the work love of it and the public service.

So what don't I miss? The politics of the job and the office. The local office isn't always the happiest place to work, not that different than any company, organization, agency, whatever, just the typical office politics and people. And the usual career minded, career ladder climbing, and whatever else you call them, people. We all know them, even if they don't know who they are, let alone even see they are.

I spent the time after one asked, "So, how's your work going?", doing the show and tell, "This what I'm doing." And that's the point. I'm working on the Mt. Rainier photo guide, the 1896 Expedition, the 1915 USGS map, and the photos of Mt. Rainier (1894-98).

And that's on top of my photography work - especially learning large format photography, my computer and Website work, and the rest of life that happens as we live and breath. Seeing the folks at work makes me miss the work and people, but also makes me not miss it for what I've done since and have yet to do in my life.

We all make decisions, everything is a trade-off of what we have, could do and would miss if we did do. And that is what I don't miss, which is what I have missed. I like what I've done, and live with the (slight) loss of money if I hadn't retired. So far, it still is the best and right decision. Not without costs and at a price. That's the reality of the world.

I wouldn't change it, and that's the key. Mistakes and flaws and all. It's been and still is a wonderful time to be. Nothing more, just being, and being alive. And thank you friends for reminding me of both sides and where I stand.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chasing software

I'm working on about two dozen 35mm slides dating back to last year (timeliness is something I'm not always good at) and some 4x5 slides going back to last winter's studio work. For the slides I use a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000ED scanner which I like and an Epson V750 Pro flatbed scanner. Far better than me, which is the point here.

Sometimes I run into a slide that just doesn't scan right. And after spending hours going through all the interations of the software tools, the digital version just doesn't match the slide. It's why I spend as much, sometimes too much, time in the field getting the capture right. I try to make it what I saw and wanted to capture. It's the original and always worth the effort.

And while the many photographers can and do argue that you can almost fix anything in Photoshop, the saying, "Shoot raw and fix it in the computer.", I will always argue the opposite, "Make the original the best, and you minimize the computer work." Because in the end, all the computer knowledge and experience of photo editing can't overcome the lack of knowledge and experience of actually being a photographer and doing your best while you were standing there.

It's that simple. But it's also the opposite. I'm not the most literate, let alone competent, person with the photo editing tools. I started learning after getting my computer in 2006, and I'm still learning. But it got me to thinking. Why we chase software, always thinking it's the answer to our problem(s) or question(s)?

And while I've usually been a critic of this, I find myself on the same road, wondering if some new software would help or be better than what I had. My computer already has more software packages than I'll ever use let alone learn to be productive. That's because of the way they package it, where you gain by buying suites than individual, except the suite has more packages than you need or want.

This is the Adobe approach. It's cool if you use them, but questionable if you don't, except there's always that hope or plan you will. And be intergrated, well, so much the enticement to think about it and how you can do more and better things. Or so we think, which is where I am. Do I buy another software package for the scanner, the same one I have for another scanner?

The slide doesn't change, and I know I either haven't found the combination of tools and settings to get what I want or it's just not possible. If the former, I'm just not doing enough, and if the latter, there isn't anything I can do beyond what I've done. And that's the dilemma. And how much is hope and ideas worth.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Observational Photographer

I've always, like we all do, searching for the word(s) that describes me. It's the old question after we meet someone for the first time, "So, what do you do?" And we try to answer with short, cryptic words which summarizes our work to date. Like it really means anything?

For instance, I've always considered myself a geographer by education and a hydrologist by work, but it's really more than that. I'm innately a geographer. I'm a visual person, but more so, I see almost everything in terms of images and places. I see everywhere I go, not just seeing but remembering. I don't navigate by directions unless it's a place I've never been. I always navigate by scenes and places.

Geography is interwoven into my being, it's really that simple. And I'm a hydrologist by my career, but it's also more than that. I love rivers. Yes, I like being there and trying to understand them. But it's the flow of water that takes a whole new meaning to me. As a Taoist. It's a metaphysical thing. Rivers are just cool for themselves, and in and of themselves, and everything about them.

The whole dynamics of a river, the water, the landscape, the river course, the energy, and on and on. It's a Taoist experience. And that's interwoven in my mind.

But then I've always called myself a nature/landscape and street photographer, but that really not it. It was a handy description to use with people because they have an idea what and who that is. But then I found a term which fits the best. You know when something, like a word or a decision fits best when it both feels and thinks right?

And that is something Kent Budge uses. I'm an observational photographer. I take pictures of what I see. I try to capture and present that, what I saw. Nothing more and nothing less. Just what my photo-mind saw at that instant and decided to capture in the camera.

Almost all my street photographs are taken at eye level, looking in whatever direction I point the camera. The same is true of my nature and landscape photography, most are at eye level. I don't usually try to squat down or stretch up for a shot. I just see, capture and move on. Only occasionally will I spend more time looking for different angles or views, but almost always still photograph at eye level.

So, that's the best word I've found to date, I'm an observational photographer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I like Google. Well, most of the time. But I do have my reservations about them. No so much the company and what they're accomplishing, but their services and customer support, if you can call the latter support, which is one point of my essay here. So, what's my beef with Google?

First, why do they advertise some services but forget to tell you in the fine print that some of the services aren't available yet, and they won't say when they will be available. I'm trying to use their document server and wanted to post some PDF files for everyone to see. They're part of my Mt. Rainier NP photography guide, namely about the first USGS topographic map of the NP produced in 1915.

I found in the USGS archives, or better yet, they found and digitized copies of reports of the original surveys to and in the NP, the primary traverse lines and the triangulation to develop the topography in the map. I'm working on translating the informaiton into maps (and yes, Google maps), but I wanted to make the files pubic (and they are public domain and not currently available elsewhere).

Then I discovered Google's document server doesn't yet serve PDF files. The software simply won't accomodate it. And to discover this I had to explore the support groups and Google's many help pages where they finally state "This feature isn't currently available for PDF's."). Gee, thanks. And now I wait.

Second, their customer support, or the lack of it. Have you noticed there is no on-line e-mall addresses or telephone numbers to ask Google anything? Even when you have legitimate problems or questions about their Website, there is no one to contact. Literally no one.

Why? They're too busy? They don't care? They don't want to spend the little money from their profits to be customer friendly?

I scratch my head wondering. I can understand they would be inundated with e-mails and phone calls, and where do you optimize the pros and cons? That's a tough question, but I do know one thing. Something is better than nothing. At least with this issue.

But then they do something, some employees read and respond to the user support groups and forums. But it's still inadequate to me. I had to scrounge through many posts to find my answer and then look through the help to find the same answer. But why? When an e-mail response would have simply told me it's not ready yet.

Third, which really isn't a gripe but a comment. Their use of third party maps. I like their map server, obviously since I use it a lot for the photo guide. It's just the third parties aren't always the swiftest at updating or enhancing them, especially outside of populated areas. I would think Google could use some diplomacy to help?

Anyway, that's it. After griping about their Picasa image server and new document server, I'm done. I still like them, but maybe they could think a little more about customer support?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NPR - Right and best

Sometimes the right choice isn't the best choice. Like Duh? Well, I was driving back from Paradise in Mt. Rainier NP after the opening of the new Jackson Visitors Center, which is really cool, and got to thinking, which is the only other thing I do while driving, no coffee, no meals, no cellphone and often no radio, just wondering and pondering mentally out loud.

And it struck me about a direction I'm going in life, that it's the right choice but not the best choice. This is because there is no best choice, just the optimum I can life with without many regrets. They're all fraught with problems and frustrations. But I now the direction I'm going is right for me, but it's not the best for my me for my health and fitness, and for my depression.

And that's the way life is, nothing comes free, although it may appear to be free or you think it's free to you, you and someone else always, if only eventually, pays a price, usually not good either. Everything comes with pros and cons, and with gains and losses, but it's not always that balance that matters, sometimes you have to balance your body, your mind and your life.

It's not unlike trying not just to balance a camera tripod. When I photograph with my 4x5 camera, the first thing I do is not just balance it but level it. Then you mount the head and then the camera, at which point, with the camera adjustments all set to neutral, you level it too, thereby knowing that all your adjustments are from a level view.

And it's that view that matters as each leg has facets and aspect you must adjust as you go. The life is the faith and believe you have in the direction of your choice relative to the reality of your life and future. The body is your health and fitness. The mind is your sanity and depression. Or mine anyway.

Rather than think about the alternatives, which we're so often likely to do - to decide a choice or direction isn't working or worth the continued effort and go through a change of heart and mind in another direction, maybe the best course is to simply rethink the factors of the choice and the issues in the direction. Huh?

Well, it's not about changing the choice or direction but about where and who you are in the direction and change the route in the direction. Kinda' like getting off the freeway to take a highway through the area at a slower pace, giving you time to rethink things than go so fast, so blindly, you're geting lost in the speed.

This is often necessary when you look ahead, not just to the destination, accomplishing your goal and plan, but beyond that, life beyond finishing, to answer the question, "So, what happens after...?"

And that changes everything. When you think through the choice and direction, you don't have to change the choice or direction, just the journey to get through your life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

eBlogger and Picasa

This weekend I decided to use Google's Picasa image server, copying, or so I was lead to believe by Google's Web pages, all the images from my three eBlogger blogs to Picasa, and then editing the Picasa galleries for copyrighted ones (not mine), duplicates and obvious useless ones, only meant for the individual blog post. But then I discovered Google links their eBlogger and Picasa image servers, so removing one from either removes it from both.

This is really dumb and stupid.

I mean really. What programmer decided this? Why couldn't they make the server independent for links to images, so they don't interfer with the display and presentation of the other?

And so, to readers, I won't apologize for Google, only myself for not testing it first. And so you will also find many posts with busted image links. I will review and update those where images are helpful to the dialog, and add a note where it's not efficient or productive for me to readd the images.

The last is because adding images to eBlogger posts is cumbersome if you want them in the body and especially presented as an in-line gallery. And typical with Google, there no one so complain to as they don't have links to support staff via e-mail, phone numbers or something, which is also the same, really dumb and stupid.

That's my gripe for today, and will be until I have to undo what Google's stupid programmers did to my images.

Update.-- I did finally find where the notice about removing images from Picasa attached to blog entries will remove them from the blog entries. It's how Google stores images for blogs, with Picasa albums instead of with eBlogger.

While I still thinks it's dumb and stupid, and the answer is never import your images into Picasa, even though they are actually there, just not linked to Picasa albums, I can't argue this now except to say there should be a warning popup saying,

"Deleting this image will remove it from any blog entries. Are you sure?"

Then you would instantly know. And then add a checkbox for "Never show this again with this login." so the user knows and won't forget each session. So, Google, there's my suggestion.

JMO - Hate speech

Listening to the speeches of John McCain and especially Sarah Palin, and reading some of the comments on both sides, it's clear to me, hate speech is still hate speech no matter how much the speaker says isn't it. You can't put a disguise on it. You can't wrap it around human or family values. And you can't cover it with a flag and call it patriotism. It's still hate speech.

It's about it all, the tune, the tone, the tenor, and the words, and more importantly, the intent. It's thought and written, and then spoken to create hate, to incite hatred, and to instill whatever -ism that fits, racism, sexism, and so on. It's said to make people hate, to hate your opponent. Nothing more and nothing worse. It's simply hate.

Hate from the minds and mouths of people who should know and do better, but knowingly won't because they're blind to their own ideals and ideas. But the reality is that they're not really blind or dumb about their words, they know it's hate and they know it's hate speech. They simply don't care because their hearts and values aren't about being good and kind, but hateful.

If you want people to believe in your credibility and integrity, hate speech only subtracts from it to the point you have neither, but simply seen for your hate speech. And then only the people who are equally or more hateful as you will agree, the rest of us will have long walked away and stop listening. Hate speech only goes so far and not very far at that.

And in today's political campaigns hate speech has become sophisticated and disguised as political rhetoric and defended by the speaker as, "just citing his or her record." Except you're not. You're turning around and misinterpreting it to be hate speech. You're creating hate where none existed and it's not their hate you're talking about but your own. Your words of hate for others. Your hatred of us.

And that's not what this country and nation is about. The freedom of speech guarrantees you the right to hate speech, but it doesn't guarrantee you the right to lie. When you use hate speech, it's not their or our hate you're talking about, but yourself and your hate. And next time you want to talk about hate, talk to a mirror.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

JMO - We're all patriots

Something to always remember. It's not about the flag, that's just the symbol. It's about the rights, protections and freedoms we all share and will protect with our life in the service of our country and nation if necessary. So, let's drop the, "I'm more patriotic than you." mentality because we're all are patriots.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Canon 5D Mk II

When I moved from film to digital cameras, I also moved from Minolta to Canon, and bought a EOS 5D with five lenses, and have added two more lenses, one to replace one, a 35mm f1.8 instead of the excellent but hefty f1.2, which I still use, just not backpacking, and to add one, a 17-40 f4 zoom, as an everyday or general purpose lens, since with Minolta I carried six lenses from 16mm to 45mm.

And now I'm reading the review of the new Canon EOS 5D Mk II. And I barely have 20,000 shots on my Mk I. Well, reading the reviews of the Mk II, it's obviously an excellent camera, and in some ways better than the MK I, but I have to say, just maybe it's trying to do too much, and maybe Canon included features that don't make it a better camera, but make it a better marketable camera.

Why? To be really honest, does a still frame photographers really need a DSLR with a built-in microphone and a jack for an external one to go with the up to 29 minutes of video capture? Really? Does it really help the camera or just add gadgets to a great camera? Do you really need live view? What happened to the photographer thinking? Now you can set the auto features (program/auto mode with AWB) and then just point and shoot.

Hell, you can fix it in Photoshop or video editor. You don't really need to be a photographer anymore, just have a great camera and call yourself one because you use it.

Too much? Probably, but it makes my point. I love the 5D for its capabilities and features, and 90% of the time I use it as a digital version of a film camera. I may only be an ordinary photographer, but I want to think while using the camera (I have yet it use program and auto modes and only shoot raw format about 10% of the time). And heaven forbid according to some photographers, I actually shoot black and white in the camera.

I make no bones about being a curmudgeon in my photography. It's the photography I like to do, which also includes shooting 4x5 film photography. Old school? Yes, even defiantly.

While I like the new 5D for the larger pixel size sensor (still full frame but 21 mp instead of 12 mp), slightly fast speed (3.9 fps instead of 3 fps), and higer ISO (25,600 instead of 1600), I'll have to balk at it for the junky video gadgets. While it may be nice, it's not what I want in a camera. And since I use a film EOS-1N alongside my 5D, I don't see buying the Mk II anytime soon.

And so sorry Canon, while you have a good customer, you don't have my business to buy the Mk II. Not yet anyway, and probably not until the Mk III or the 5D's successor, something without the video gadgets too. If I want a video camera, I'll go get or buy one, I don't want it an still camera.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

JMO - We're stuck on 9/11

I'm reading Thomas Friedman's book, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded. It's worth the price, and I was struck by one of his comments, which rings true. And that is we're stuck on 9/11 world. and haven't woken up to live in 9/12 world.

We haven't grown up to realize that while 9/11 was a tragic act of terrorism, and over 3,000 people from 95 nations died in the World Trade Center and Pentagon and one of the most horrific acts of terrorism, it was not the start or end of terrorism. Terrorism is as old as man and there are an average of 1,000 terrorists attacks every year, totalling far more dead, disabled and injurired than 9/11.

We have lost our edge of being a leader of hope and good. We haven't figured out how to life with terrorism and show terrorists we're not afraid of being who we are. Instead of challenging terrorists with our way of life and showing the world we're strong and resilent, we're showing them fear and anger. Our politicians have sold us fear and angers, and we have stepped up with our checkbooks (taxes), and have had our own government implement enormously invasive and unnecessary measures to "protect" us.

And that's always been my point. I have advocated going back to 9/10 and making the law enforcement agencies do the job they were supposed to do with the laws they had. They could have intervened if not stopped the attack on 9/11 but they failed the American people. Not by incompetence but by the simple lack of communication and thinking. They had all the information and tools to stop 9/11 and didn't.

But now, reading Mr. Friedman's book, I believe it's time to move on to 9/12. We need a new paradigm about ourselves, our place in the world, our work against terrorists, and our future. Else, we're descending into a miltary-corporate autocracy where we've lost our civil rights and liberties in the name of fear and anger.

And we know that's not us and certainly not America or American.

It's about balance, but it's also about preservation. We must preserve our Constitutional rights and not sacrifice them in the name of something we don't know and can't find. Or we risk becoming a second rate nation like the former Soviet Union and the new Russia where people are subjected to unreasonable invasions of their privacy and life because the government thinks every citizen is not just a threat but a potential enemy or terrorist.

We have and will become our own enemy in the eyes of the government.

We need to do what Americans do best, go through it to redefine ourselves as we have so often. Like the end of WW II we need to define a post-9/11 America where freedoms are the norm and the power still rests with the people. And where our government uses the tools to fight the real fight, with terrorists, not its own citizens.

We know it's doable and it only takes the will, but until we decide to step into the light and challenge terrorists by living as we have and can, we won't win. And until we challenge our government to trust its own citizens and work efficiently and effectively, we won't feel free again. And until we ask our leaders, especially our President, to be a leader in the name of freedom instead of fear and anger, we won't see any more than we've already heard and have now.

It's time America wake up and live in the 9/12 world. Nothing short will save this country, our nation and the people.

NPR - Sleeping

I've lived in my place now for over 20 years. Long ago, folks said I should have bought a house and would now see, minus the market bubble burst, the advantages of owning a home. Well, some experts would argue, "Yeah, right." My Dad bought a home in 1964, his first and only and using the GI Bill. He passed away in 1994 after making the last payment and getting clear title.

When we crunched the numbers, we discovered they, since both Mom and Dad worked and paid the mortage, had paid more over those 30 years in interest, insurance and taxes, even subtracting the tax write-off, than the value of house. And that doesn't include the amount over those years for maintenance and improvements they made to the home. The total turned out to be a huge loss for them. They had a home to live one and not for the money.

It was as one analysist recently of the current housing crisis, "it's debt renting.", meaning you're losing money for the privilege of thinking you're buying something. Anyway, I'm wandering from the topic. You see, I love my place, two bedrooms, two baths, 1100 square feet, etc. with a 44 foot deck overlooking the southeast horizon of the Narrows Strait, the Twin Narrows Bridges and Mt. Rainier. And no neighbor above me (top floor).

The problems is the adjacent neighbors over those two-plus decades. Occasionally I get one who likes to invite friends to party into the wee hours of the night, sometimes all night. And despite a noise curfew, which the current manager seems reluctant to enforce for fear of losing tenants (previous ones had no problem), they won't bat an eye waking everyone around them up. And now I have one of those neighbors, who works swing shift and likes to invite friends over to 2-4 am.

I've worked both graveyard and swing shift and it really messes up your schedule, if you let it. You have to reschedule yourself to have a normal daytime life. Otherwise your whole life is shifted 8 hours from everyone else's. And you can understand the problems when your 5-10 pm (after work time) is everyone else's midnight to 5 am. Especially in an apartment complex.

And so after my neighbor's pattern of time and friends became obvious, I took up sleeping in the living room, on the floor with my air mattress and sleeping bag (from hiking). I don't sleep well in sleeping bags and why I haven't done very much overnight camping or backpacking. It always takes me 3-5 nights to get used to the situation, by which time you're back home in your bed.

And so, in the last month-plus with the new neighbor I've managed to overcome this and sleep fairly well now away from him and his friend's partying, and the noise. I miss my bed and probably won't get to sleep in it (its' too close to the neighbor's apartment) until he leaves, likely in a few months. But it's not a problem of sleeping anymore.

So, sometimes you never know when a bad thing isn't and sleep is relative.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mondays are still cool

About a year ago I wrote why Mondays are cool, and a year later, they're still cool. For the same reasons I wrote then plus a year's worth of appreciation of the time I've had since. Despite the changes our economy is going through and the effects it's had on my income and budget, I wouldn't change the decision I made to retire.

I have had to the time to work on my Mt. Rainier NP photo guide and found a number of new areas to research and explore about the NP, including the first scientific expedition by three geologist and others to summit and circumnavigate Mt. Rainier before there were established trails and summit routes. And the research has expanded into the work of other photographers who were visiting and photographing Mt. Rainier before it was officially a NP.

In addition I've spent the time to learn Google maps and build a series of map-based information Web pages for the different types of activities and information in Mt. Rainier NP, such as day hikes, waterfalls, lakes, bike roads/trails, weather sites, lookouts, and wildflowers. I've found Websites to present information on the sunrise and sunset and moon rise and set for both time and azimuth to aid photographers' work in the NP.

I've had the time to explore the resources and information about Mt. Rainier NP, which is the point, time. While nothing has seemed to change, everything has changed. While I gained a lot personally and professionally, I've also lost a few things. The first is a sense of urgency. I haven't fully realized the costs and benefits of this yet, as with most things, judgement is always done with hindsight.

Not history but hindsight. Not from what has happened and I can relate, but what will be seen later in time looking back to see what I lost and gained. We can plan all we want to maximize the latter and minimize the former, it's more likely the reverse, where you gained a lot of the specific topic or subject, you've lost the rest of the events and world around you and your work.

But that's the reality of anything, you choose the work and the time. Only for me now, it's my choice for much of what I do. The rest of life and the world will find me as events always do (to all of us), but I can see what I'm doing is what I want and love to do, and not what someone else wants me to do or not do, or worse demands (long story about bosses).

And losing the sense of urgency has helped to focus on specific interests, I don't have the mindset anymore about deadlines. I work on incremental milestones and give myself breaks. I don't pressure myself to absolutely get something done by a deadline, which sometimes isn't good as time can just as easily slip away, or by, but it has proven good to give me the flexility to adjust work and interests around life, problems, events, others, etc.

In the end, and why Mondays are still cool, it's about the freedom of time. And the sense of urgency? I don't know, yet anyway, if it's a problem, but then we all die thinking we want to do more and want more time to do it. But alas, urgency isn't important then, is it?

JMO - Useless arguments II

I wrote a post on myblog about useless arguments. That post was originally drafted about 6 months ago and has been sitting going through rereads and rewrites, but mostly staying in tact, sufficiently to post it today. And over the weekend I ran into another variation of that same theme.

I was watching a movie when one of the characters said, "I don't need proof. I don't need the truth. I have my certainty."

Well, that's hard to beat, to say it any better. In the face of truth and reality, everyone does occasionally ignore the facts, but many people do it all the time. It's not hard to see the George Bush did that with Iraq. Besides his staff filtering and manipulating the information, he clearly used his religous view and faith to wage a war we won't and can't win, and the next President will be stuck trying to find the best exit.

This is not unusual. Nixon did it with Vietnam, a war started by Kennedy and exacerbated by Johnson. And it's clear we simply left despite the death of over 50,000 Amiericans and permanently disability of several hundred thousand. Iraq won't be as bad for us, maybe a tenth as severe in terms of deaths and a quarter in terms of disabled. But still it will be a loss, and spun like Vietnam to be a win without victory.

And almost every argument or issue has it's extreme zealots who deny the opposing view. They often like to say they like to hear opposing views, but the truth is they don't listen. Hearing isn't listening. And after hearing they'll reaffirm their view in ways that either dispels the opposing view or simply changes the argument into tangential ones which aren't related.

You can see this with the discussion over Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. Despite all the evidence of her experience and record in Alaska supporters either cite her character or criticize opponents as attacking her character. That was seen in the Obama comment about lipstick on a pig. They missed his reason, let alone the fact it wasn't about Palin, not even McCain, but some of McCain's view over the issues.

Almost anything now said against Palin is an attack on her and her character. But this also misses the point they fail to notice. Sometimes it is about her and her character. She is a vindicitive, revengeful woman who uses power to attack opponents and help friends. That's her record. That's not lipstick on history, but the truth and reality.

But her supporters have their certainty she's a good women, wife and mother. That alone doesn't make any qualified to be VP, but they are certain it does. Her experience and record are there for everyone to see, and no matter how you spin it, you can't change the results of what she did as mayor and governor.

And the same can be said for the "Drill, baby Drill" campaign rhetoric, which I wrote this post. It's about changing the argument away from the truth and reality, and hide the facts. Everything is there about drilling in the off-shore lands and in Alaska, especially ANWR is known, which clearly shows it won't help beyond a trickle to the consumer but provide huge public land leases to oil companies for huge profits.

But they can hide that and wrap it around a slogan. But they have their certainty.

It's the same with the creationists. It's always funny to me when these folks cite the Bible, forgetting the Bible has gone through so many translation and interpretations, it's not literal anymore beyond general ideas. I'm not saying it's a bad book, but only as one Biblical scholar called it, "It's the best historical fiction ever written." It's not the end of any idea or issue but simply something saying, "Hey, have you thought of..." and telling a story.

And despite all the arguments by scientists to show evolution is the truth and reality, they still say it's wrong and the Bible is right, and creationism should be taught along side in science classes. But creationism, and they've shown, can't be tested or proven, something every scientific idea can be. You can't verify if God existed and Jesus wasn't more than a really great religous leader with good ideas.

But they have their book and say it's the truth. "Yeah, right", or "Whatever." are often the most appropriate response.

My point? Well, when I begin to listen to someone who talks like the movie statement, I simply finish my coffee and leave. Why ruin a coffee drink with a miserable person who can't see beyond their own faith and values? And while it's fun sometimes to challenge them, to find and show the flaws in their arugment, it's all too often spending energy for nothing. They won't change and you've spent hours spinning your mental and verbal wheels.

In the end the only certainty is their closed mind.

JMO - Useless arguments

In addition to reading the newspapers 3-4 days a week I also view and read several on-line newspapers, search the news for specific subjects and topics, and read forums and newsgroups. I always like to scan the opinions and editorials and look at the blogs. Not a lot of blogs, there's far too many and I think God is wondering now why he gave someone the idea to invent the blog, but enought to see different perspective or see like perspectives differently.

One thing I've learned that isn't new and always known, but blogs have changed the approach and response, and that is the zealot. Those people who unflinchingly espouse a point of view so extreme and so loudly you can't argue with them in any form, manner or way because they'll find a way to turn the argument around to their view. It's common that zealots are blind to the flaws and logic in their arguments, but blogs now allow them to shout it to the world and demand it's right and true.

And in many cases or most of the time, it couldn't be farther from the truth. It may have bits and pieces of truth, even some fact, and see some facet of reality, but for the most part they and their arguments are clueless. And how did I see this obviousness?

Well, there's always the common argument about the war in Iraq, both sides express their view is right when the truth and reality is in the middle elements and facets of both sides. It just depends on what information you use, which I also do, and how you spin it, which I also do. I'm not immune here. The war was wrong and we as a nation were and still are wrong. I won't bend on that view but I will listen and agree to the reality we need to do something for the Iraqis, the US and the world, but we're failing miserably and also doing well.

And there's the corollary argument about terrorism and the balance between national security and civil rights and liberties. I won't go into this one except being a 1960-70's Vietnam-era vet and hippie (never got to becoming a former on the latter) and a often liberal libertarian (try that one) I don't buy the issue of 9/11 changing much except our own fear. We need to stand up to that than our enemies and show them we're for freedom and people, not autocracy and militarism.

And there's women's rights, especially reproductive rights. I won't budge on my view and am adament against the conservative and religious right who want to control women's right to reproductive information and medical help and to abortion. To me there is no compromise that women have the full right to control their bodies including their reproductive rights. Period. No men, no clergy, no one else. Just the woman and her physician.

But I'll listen, negotiate and compromise when I see it's gets more for women that is currently being done. Sometimes you have to surrender something to gain a little or gain in the longterm. Life and reality are like that. But I won't budge on my fundamental view.

And there's something I don't understand. I won't argue I'm probably as much a feminist as many women. It's not about women's rights, but equal rights. And the additional rights women need because they're women, physically different than men. The reality of our world.

And what don't I want to understand?

Well, I like Julia Serano's work. You see, I know some in-transistion and post-transistion women. And I have to say, this is probably the most discriminated class of people in this country. They have been getting better treatment in the media and society, but overall they're stil far behind even lesbian and gay people, some of whom also discriminate against transpeople.

And the useless argument idea, or have a wandered off the logic trail?

No, I haven't because I don't understand what people don't get that post-transistion men and women aren't a threat to anyone or any sense of their values. They're not transgendered, they're as any medical professional would say, "cured" of any gender conflicts or conditions by becoming who they are. So why do feminists, who are the most outspoken advocates for rights, discriminate against this class of people?

That's what I don't get. The feminists are the zealot(s) on the street corner shouting the fears of post-transistion women in the world of women. But they don't see that there are those among women who are and no knows or cares, and they're not instilling or inciting fear in anyone or any group of women. So what's their fear? I don't know, but what bothers me the most in their arugments is the hypocrisy.

Huh? Yeah. While they decide post-transistion women aren't women, they allow butch lesbians, masculine women, and even post-transistion men (transmen) into their world and groups as women. Most of these "women" don't think or behave like women and many don't want to be called women as they live or even transistioned into being and living as men.

So, what's up? Genetics define men and women? While they argue for the gender spectrum and argue against the gender binary, they reinforce it with stereotyping post-transistion women and claiming (trans)men as women? They demand the right to the full expression of being, even to being men but then exclude post-transistion women in that definition.

And so, what's wrong with a post-transistion woman just living as a woman we normally expect and see everyday. They're not reinforcing any gender binary or stereotype. They're just getting through life as they are and know themselves to be, no different than anyone else, including feminists. Do the feminists understand what it takes to go through a transistion? Obviously not.

My only response to the feminists and their inane logic and argument is lighten up. It's about being human. No one is trying to steal or redefine your womanhood. And if you got down off your soapbox and sat in a cafe having a conversation with a post-transistion woman, you just might find a friend and see another woman in the world, just like all the other women.

Anyway, that's my rant against zealots. I'll take up my soapbox and mosey down street quietly.

JMO - Drill Baby Drill

Interesting campaign rhetoric, allow drilling for oil and natural gas in the off-shore lands off the eastern, western and Gulf coast, and in Alaska, specifically the Artic National Wildlife Refure (ANWR). What this phrase doesn't say is the issue and not really about drilling for oil and natural gas. And while there is a good argument that it is about the government's use of public lands, it misses the one point the Democrats haven't exploited and the Republicans don't want you to know.

And that is? Right now, and mean just that, right now, the oil exploration companies have oil and natural gas leases on over 85 million acres and have not yet drilled on those lands, not for years or even decades. They got these leases to sit on them and hold them when the prices of gas and natual gas reaches the point they want. That's the point, we, or really they, can drill baby drill right now and haven't and won't.

Why? Because they want to control the lands, our lands, in the name of private profit which we will pay for in the cost of gas and natural gas. Our land and our money would go for their profit, which are the most profitable companies in the US and in our history. They're rich beyond our imagination. And they're still not drilling on the land they have under lease.

So now they want to own leases for more land, our land, and especially now the off-shore lands of California and the Gulf coast. We know that it would be 3-5 years before they could begin drilling with the process to get the lease and setup all the legal work to begin exploration, and it would be another 3-5 years before any oil gets to the refineries to process into products, gas at the pump. And that's if the refineries have the capacity for the new oil.

We also know there is more natural gas in the existing leased lands in the lower 48 states under lease to the oil companies to relieve the price of natural gas for years upon years. We have a wealth of natural gas. And we also know that there is more oil in some of lands to provides this country in gas for decades to come, but it has a price, both economically to extract, energy to process, and environmentally to turn over much of it to industrial development.

In short, we don't need to drill off-shore and we don't especially need to drill in ANWR. It's time to move the argument from drilling to the real issue of what the oil companies are doing to our public lands. They're trying to control them and own the mineral rights for decades to come. They've had the chance to drill but they decided to import oil instead. And that's the issue which needs to be discussed.

It's not about the use of public lands, it's about oil companies. We can develop natural gas powered cars - it's being done in many countries and by some public agencies here and be energy independent too. That's the issue if we want to be energy independent. We have the ability to be a long way to energy independence and make it affordable for every Americans.

That should be our goal, not drilling, but asking the real questions in search of the best answers. So, will the Presidential candidates do that? Or will they decide it's about confusing the voters with rhetoric and soundbites?

Friday, September 12, 2008

JMO - Can we have some...

Can we have some sanity, reality, truth and honesty in this election? Or am I asking the stupid rhetorical question?

Yeah, I know it's not possible, but I can ask, or really want to hope?

We have a lot more to talk about in the choice for president of this country than the stupid, nit-picky stories, ads and rhetoric I've heard to date. Who really cares about lipstick on a pig? And why did the RNC misplay it as an attack on Sarah Palin when it wasn't? And why did the press drive this story into the ground?

We should be focusing on the issues. Not slogans which have no basis in reality nor any hope of anything beyond inciting people's anger towards the other candidate. In the 2000 campaign I like John McCain, his honesty, integrity, and sense of values about the issues. And now in 2008 he using some of the same people and the same tactics against Obama which Bush used against him then.

And what's with Palin who can't keep a story straight? Or keep the lines clear? On one hand she says her family is off-limits to the press and public, which includes her 17-year old pregnant daughter and baby with downs syndrome, but then touts her son going off to Iraq to serve.

That's a handy double standard, and totally unfair. You opened the door and let the press and public in, so if one member of your family is useable to the campaign, then the rest are too, and all questions are fair. So answer them, or stop being a hypocrite.

Ok, enough said. I want to see some honest, informative discussion between the candidates, talking about the issues. And yes, the complexity of reality and life today. No campaign slogans or soundbites, but in depth explanation of their views. Not absolute things we all know is impossible and won't get through Congress, but understanding and knowledge to make decisions.

I don't wan to hear about your religion and God, I want to hear how you will respect eveyrone else's and how you will keep your religion out of my government.

I don't want to hear about values, I want to hear how you will protect the values of every American to ensure we all have equal rights and liberties.

I don't want to hear about terrorism, I want to hear how you will protect our human and civil rights guarranteed by the Constitution. No hedging your bets about sacrifice, but clear answers why you want to abandon our 200+ year old standard.

I don't want to hear sound bites about immigration, I want to hear you explain the whole picture with all its facets and aspects to the American people so we understand simple answers won't work and have consequences.

I want to hear all of you be Bill Bradley and show you know and understand the issues and you care about every American and this country. It's not about degrees of patriotism, we're all patriots, it's the matter of tolerance and acceptance that counts.

And so, can I have some of this?

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I was struck with the conversations on some bulletins boards where people use some words rather loosely. Sure I'm being a curmudgeo because it's often easy to determine what they mean from the context and sometimes I get picky about words, being an old-school film photographer and learning to write in graduate school where specifics matter. So, the fuss?

Well for one, to me, the difference between the words photo(graph) and image, which is why I make the distinction.

A photograph has several definitions but mostly it means the original capture, the film itself. The second use is to describe a print, but now can mean a Web (digital) image, which is what's meant when someone says, "Nice photo." They're referring more to the idea of and in the scene than the medium.

While you can be specific when viewing slides or negatives, the general definition of photo(graph) means both the scene and the film, an inclusive definiton where the viewer is referring to both the scene and the exposure. They're meaning the whole of it, the photograph as seen at the time and captured in the film.

An image is the digital variant of a photograph, but has varied meanings. For one, it's the original digital capture, the digital image from the original raw or jpeg file from the camera. It's not the same as a film photograph because you can't alter film once processed, which is close but not the same as a raw file.

It doesn't apply to a jpeg unless it is the unaltered original from the camera. I try to do the same since I shoot jpeg's 95+% of the time. For images I want to archive, I make a copy so I can work on one to wherever it takes me with it and still have my original image, even trash it if I don't like it and start over.

A second definition of image is the digital workflow, the image, either from the original camera image or the scanned digital image of film, used with photo editors to produce the final medium image, which is a Web or digital display image or a paper/publication print.

Scanned film and digital camera images have different workflows though production process with the photo editors. But the goal is the same, to produce the display you want, which leads to the third variant of image, the non-paper display. This is because it's almost always these days in a digital format including the display.

The definition of print is self-evident, meaning it's a photo or image on paper. But, to me, it varys calling it a photo or image based on the source of the original capture. But a traditional darkroom print is just a print, no qualifier are necessary, history has and should still call them prints. I prefer to use digital prints to qualify those over traditional methods.

In the end, where photographers lump the idea of photo and image into one concept, and then merge them into the the same conceptual workflow to the resultant display or print, I make distinctions, from the source through the production to the final product.

So, if I ask questions about a photographer's photos or images, I just want to know the distinction. It's not a judgement or being snobbish, just informative to understand.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

NPR - Going Back

I've heard the rhetoric of many flavors about the importance in our recent history of 9/11 and the aftermath that has happened in politics, religion, socio-economics, ad infinitum, or ad nauseum if you choose. And I for one am tired of it. I want to go back to 9/10 and live life as then. It's not what the pundits, politicians, religious leaders or whomever says about going back or 9/10. It's about living and freedom.

And not fear. After 9/11 we lost our edge. We became vulnerable, but more importantly we became human, the same as the rest of the nations and people on this planet. While terrorists struck upwards near a thousand times a year around the world, we were free of those attacks, only vulnerable from home grown ones. We joined the rest of the world of victims that day.

We so easily forget the Oklahoma bombing was an act of terrorism by a terrorist against the government. But we didn't lose our pride and humanity, it made us better. So why did 9/11 turn our world so upside down?

Have we forgotten Pearl Harbor, the worst act of terrorism in our history, far worse than 9/11? Yet, we didn't lose our pride and humanity, it made us stronger and wiser. So why did 9/11 turn us inside out, our fear now worn like an overcoat?

Or have we been deluded by politicians and leaders selling us fear in the name of an agenda for power and control?

Could we still be a nation, country and people without all the "national security" we've implemented since 9/11?

I answer yes, and I say we would be better now than we are now with all the "national security." I say this because I challenge people to stand up to terrorists to say they haven't changed us but made us better, wiser, stronger and more human. We won't changed our values for a bunch of thugs.

But we have changed our values for a bunch of thugs, but the thugs aren't the terrorists we should fear, but our own government. Our own government is now the terrorist in the room, treating every citizen as a potential, even possible terrorist with our police state against it's own citizens.

If our political and military leaders had worked with the UN and focused our efforts on Afghanistan, it would be over. The whole world would be different, and while we would haven't solved the problem of Iraq, we could then we more productive and efficient means for less money. After all we tolerated him for 30 years before, a few years more woudn't hurt.

And now we've spent over $1 Trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan for what? And endless war? We'll in Afghanistan longer than the Soviets did when they invaded and occupied the country before we even can talk about withdrawl. And we supported the Taliban and Al Qaeda then, the same forces we're fighting now.

No one can dispute Iraq wasn't the threat from 9/11 and was a total distraction for political purposes that's blown up in the faces of those same leaders who are trying to scrape all the foul-smelling shit of this war off their face and clothes and put it on us, you and me, in the name of patriotism. It's doesn't matter who wears it, it still smells, and I won't wear it.

I want the freedoms we had on 9/10 and make the FBI and other agencies do their jobs to find and fight terrorists. It could have all been done without the obvious police and military bravado and all the money gone to private contractors and corporations for profits than results.

We don't need the Patriot Acts of any flavor. The government just needs to do it's job. More on surveillence and indefinite detention of citizens isn't necessarily. That's what the courts are for, investigate and prove it. It's brought us this far without the big brother police state we now have. And we're paying for it. But for what?

Because the government thinks every citizen is a terrorist and be treated as one? Is that what 9/11 is all about? Us?