Tuesday, December 29, 2009

JMO - Appearance of Security

This recent attempt by an individual terrorst to blow up and international flight to Detroit, as some analyists and columnists have pointed out, only goes to show the failures in the system and the continued appearance of safety and security the Transporation Safety Administration (TSA) wants us to believe works. But while most of the current technology was in place and supposedly better technology coming, it only shows the obvious.

And that is the failures in the system weren't technical, but human. It's what helped 9/11 happen when the FBI had all the information before them but couldn't make the connections and communicate the concerns to the appropriate agencies to stop most of the terrorists. And by the way, let's not forget they also failed in Oklahoma City, where a "nobody" (off the FBI's radar) conducted the worst terrorist attack up to 9/11.

And the failure is that they're selling us fear. As I've always maintained, we, the citizens of this country, are not the enemy. It doesn't pay to look at everyone as a suspect or terrorist and treat us accordingly. It's insane, inefficient and unproductive. We need a system to focus on the few individuals who are truly, and I emphasize truly and not FBI fabrications, are terrorists.

And the failure is that we, as the same citizens, haven't decided what's an acceptable risk with terrorists. If we want 100% safety and security, are we fully prepared and agreed to sacrifice many of our civil liberties and rights to the the government which has shown the abuse those powers to their own agenda and goals, and not public safety and security.

So what is an acceptable riks? We accept commercial airplane crashes as the risk of flying. We can't accept the same level with terrorists for more freedoms at airports and on airplane? Are we willing to submit to indepth investigations for every citizen who flies? To be free from screenings and searches because we're not defined or identified as a threat?

I for one, as I've always said, want to see us go back to 9/10 and make the system better to find and prevent real terrorists from boarding planes. And if one occasionally happens as in this case, so be it. That's the new reality. Do we want to become a nation of fear or a nation of pride to challenge people, and the live up to the challenge?

That's our history, but it doesn't seem to be our future. Here's some questions to ponder.

Are we willing to accept complete body search via remote devices and complete baggage searches for both stowaway and carry-on baggage?

Are we willing to accept real body searches if we're deemed a potential theat because we innocently set off alarms?

Are we willing to have some, without explaining the reason or cause, tell us we can't fly?

Are we willing to accept the state where our whole identity rest in the hands of our government and with the airline and security corporations who will use the information for purposes other than flying?

That's what we looking at and the direction we're going. That's if we accept the 100% rule. We lose some of our rights, liberties and privacy for the pleasure of flying anywhere in the US and the world. It's not what I want. I want a better system, but I want it to preserve and protect our right, ilberties and privacy. And it's doable.

That's because as every terrorist investigation and event has demonstrated. The problem really isn't technological but human. We're the problem. Our own government is failing the citizens and travellers. That's what we should demand, not more technology, but better people. And live with the fact, like everything else in life and the world, shit happens.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

JMO - Sorry Mr. Sparks

I read a column in today's (Sunday 12/27/09) Tacoma News Tribune, found here. Sorry Mr. Sparks, I am afraid of you with your concealed weapons permit. Yes, I fear criminals with guns, and yes, being criminals, they deserve all the penalties the law can throw at them.

But I fear you as much because I don't know who you are, as will police should you act and use your weapon, and what you will do. I would rather know everyone around me doesn't have a gun and won't act stupidly or blindly worsening any situation for everyone else. And I fear you will, thinking you're doing the right and legal thing, act equally as bad as a criminal and do the proverbial, "Shoot first and ask questions later."

I'm not going to argue you know your weapons and how to use them. I respect your service to this country, but, as a veteran who has adequate experience with weapons, I served so I can be in public knowing I'm safe from other who don't have guns, even if they're experienced. I don't want to be a victim of your actions because you chose to use your weapon.

And not fully understanding the situation or circumstances, you might act beyond the need to disarm the situation and subdue any criminal(s). You might also excerbate the situation with your weapon, creating circumstances any criminal may act beyond what they might now if no one had a gun, which would endanger everyone else because you feel empowered and decided to act.

No one doubts having a gun is power, but everyone knows two opposing forces having guns only makes matters worse. And all the knowledge and experience won't change the course of events should both use their weapons, and make everyone else innocent, and maybe injured or killed, bystanders. No one needs to worry about those of us who aren't criminals.

Sorry, all the reasons in the world won't change the fact, even lawful as you are with your permit, carrying a concealed weapons is the last thing we need in public. We have police and other law enforcements officers to protect us. We don't need citizens thinking they're better or acting on our behalf.

So, please, Mr. Sparks, leave your weapon at home. You do more harm than good carrying it around. We don't know you, and we will fear what you can and may do. That's not being a good citizen, but only an inconsiderate one for everyone's sake. And if I'm in a situation where you, or anyone with a concealed weapon, is present, don't use it, even if a criminal has a gun.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

JMO - Betraying the Public

Well, dear Senators, or really Democratic and Independent Senators, you really did this time. I thought the Republicans were corrupt, especially as they demonstrated under the Bush years and with the antics this year against the healthcare reform package and other legislation, but you take the prize, and not just the prize but the host of prizes from the best, or worst, in show in political corruption to the best, or worst, in class for ethics and integrity.

You didn't just blow the public confidence out the window, you blew it out the front door and into the street. You totally betrayed the American people by buying votes to get the 60 votes you needed. You don't really care about healthcare reform, it's evident in the bill itself, full of pork and all sorts of other animal products, some found in cow pastures, all for corporations in the name of helping people, you only care about winning.

And that's what you betrayed almost as bad as the Republicans. They, and you at times, like the vote on the wars and war appropriations for Afghanistan but particularly Iraq, which wasn't related to 9/11 - you bought and paid for the lies, were the worst in recent history at corrupting the process and the results. The American people are now on the hook for trillions of dollars for decades into the future for these wars which won't be won, but like Vietnam, only worse, exited with a pseudo-victory.

But this time, you were so focused on winning you forgot what it was about, real reform and real help for the American people. And in the end, you did it for nearly $900 Billion, except you and President Obama, will promise it won't be that bad as healthcare costs will go down. Like my premiums, which by the way have never gone down and never will? And my coverage which never improves?

I've already written how you've lost me as a Democrat. Well, I won't change my party affiliation because I want to be a Democrat who votes against you within the party. Every candidate you present for election and every piece of legislation you present will automatically recieve a no vote unless you can prove the candidate is for the people and not just espousing political rhetoric for votes and you can prove every piece of legislation helps the people far more than corporations.

But most of all I want to see you clean up the deficit. President Clinton, with a lot of timely luck, managed to have a surplus budget and start decreasing the deficit. I want you do to the same for future generations. I want you to be fiscally conservatives toward corporations and fiscally helpful for and to the people, you know those Americans who voted you into office. And for God's sake, balance the fucking budget! If i can live within one, you can for us.

I want you to show you're really democrats, and not a disguise for gross corruption and incompetence as the Republicans have already shown. Otherwise, I'll be there, just an ordinary citizen exercising my right of free speech condemning you for your republican-like antics and results. And I won't speak out for let alone vote your candidates until I see something better.

And yes, I know my voice and vote is really insignificant and immaterial to you. But then I served my country during the Vietnam era. I am a veteran who served to make this a better country, not a corrupt one as you've demonstrated this year, and I expect in future years too. I hope you lose in 2010. You deserve to lose. And right now a lot of the shine has worn off President Obama, and right now I don't plan to for him in 2012 either.

And so dear Senators, as the old saying goes, "You screwed the pooch." with the American people. And we will get our day in the voting booth next November. We will remember because we live with what you've done to us and not for us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

JMO - Dear Senate

Take a deep breath and then take the holiday break. Go enjoy time with your family. Get away was Washington DC. No one likes what you're doing with the healthcare reform legistlation. You've wasted too much time over two asshole senators just to get their vote while you have jettisoned the liberal measures in the bill the American public wants and the liberal senators are trying to keep and not bolt the bill altogether.

Just park the bill until January. The way the bill is structured isn't going to be liked by us, the people and voters, and you'll likely take a hit in 2010 over your view and vote, either way. There are some good parts in the bill, but there are also many bad to worse parts in the bill, some we know are for the drug and health insurance companies, and not us, remember the people and voters.

The bill as structured won't provide reasonable, affordable health insurance for the uninsured and underinsured. Remember the former group can't afford any insurance, so unless you provide it through a public program, something like Medicare for the older familes and Medicaid for the younger families, they won't buy it because they can't afford it.

The bill as structured won't provide better, affordable health insurance for the underinsured. They can barely afford what they have, so adding more insurance for more money won't help them. What don't you get about these people? We're already paying the bills for these people, remember us the people and taxpayers, through public programs, so make it official, reasonable, and affordable.

And as the bill as structured won't help the already insured. It won't reduce our premiums. Mine will go up 12% in January if you do anyting at all or nothing. The health insurance companies are already ahead of you because you had them write portions of the bill and you took their checks. Yes, you did, almost all of you, if not all of you. You're corrupted by their money.

You're power, ego and authority drunk. We see and know, and we see and know you're blind to your own arrogance, ignorance and indifference to us, remember the people, taxpayers, and voters. We see it in the photos. We hear it in the interviews. We read it in the newspapers. What don't you see, let alone understand?

So take a breath and take a break. You've gone too far and about to have the linb behind cut off, in not soon, in November 2010. We will remember what you did, said and wrote. And we will vote, and more than likely against you for being so obviously stupid.

And when you come back, remember Ted Kennedy, and ask yourself, what would he want and what would he do for us, remember the people, taxpayers and voters. And then convince us this bill is better, not with rhetoric but with the truth about it. We want the truth, not cow pasture material. We know it when we step in it but apparently you don't.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

JMO - When Democrats aren't

When they're not being democrats or democratic. Right now with the healthcare reform package they've managed to show how gutless and spineless they are for representing the people, the very people they promised to work for, us. They sided with a few extreme Republicans and one egotistic Independent to either remove or dilute provisions which have value for all of us or for all women.

And in the end they sided with the pharmaceutical companies on prescription drug reform, not allowing us but allowing companies, to import foreign-made drugs or US-made drugs shipped and resold in foreign countries. Our country has the highest prescription drug costs in the world, at least 2-3 times the nearest country and often 5-10 times more than most countries. And we're paying those same prices for cheaper foreign made drugs imported by the companies.

And in the end they sided with anti-public option folks not to provide reasonable and affordable health insurance to the 45 million uninsured in this country who will still rely on public assistance to clinics and hospitals mandated to serve them at a financial loss. We, the taxpayer, will still pay the bill, not share it with them but pay all of it. And that doesn't include the underinsured or those denied coverage for pre-existing conditions or denied coverage for illnesses or conditions with insurance.

And in the end they sided with the anti-abortion folks not to provide better healthcare for women and provide better and affordable service with the reproductive choices. They simply denied women for being women. All because a few old white men can't understand why a women should have the right to an abortion for personal or other reasons. They'd rather see a depressed pregnant woman and an unwanted child in this world, all in the name of their religious or family values.

And in the then they sided with one really arrogant and egotistic Independent Senator who can make an ass out of the Democrats and the Democratic party to show how gutless and spineless they really are when they need his one vote to pass the bill. They caved into him out of fear. Not reason, not being honest, and not representing us, but his trite and petty view.

And in the end they screwed the American people. There will be some good things in the bill, but it won't be what it could have and should have been. As Democrats they owed it to the American people to try and to get a bill really worthwhile, but this one is a shell, a shell game of politics. Not unlike everything else they don't get done for us. Sell promises for votes and they renige for corporate money.

And in the end the American people lose. Both good healthcare and good government. And the Democrats have now lost my vote from now on. They're simply the Emperor who has no clothes, standing at the podium declaring victory but clothed in the naked truth. Personally, right now, as I've said already, I'd like to see this bill fail. Fall on its face exposed as what it is, a sham and scam on the Americn people for the drug and health insurance corporations.

But then I'm not in the Senate, and verbally dancing as my Senators may do to sell it here, It won't change the bill or the truth about the bill. It's the old adage about making a silk purse. The bill really is pork, except we're buying the fat too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Wishes

Whatever the moments this holiday season, find time to enjoy the company of family and friends and the simple joy of life.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

JMO - Indian Tribes

I was reading about the healthcare debut and how the proposed bills not only exempt indians and Tribes from mandatory health insurance, it will increase the government funding of their already free healthcare for nearly 2 million on Tribal reservations. That's on top of the $500 Million for them in the Stimulus bills previously enacted.

When the President met with the Tribe recently, they all called for more federal money to help indians. Except that many of those same Tribes operate casinos across the country for huge profits to the Tribal leaders and members, which is exmpted from many state, local and federal taxes the rest of pay as individuals or legal entities.

In additon the Tribes are exempt from state and local laws, despite not only using but demanding local and state services paid by taxpayers. They're exempt from many federal laws since they're declared soverign nations within the United States and their reservation not governed by the United States. Where else can an indian commit a felony, drive to a reservation and not only not be arrested, but never be prosecuted.

Here in Washington State, many local counties and cities prohibit or restrict fireworks over the Independence Day (July 4th) holiday. Yet Tribes operate fireworks stands just inside reservation boundaries selling illegal and more powerful fireworks to anyone, and there is nothing we can do to regulate it except the token, and rarely enforced. ordinance prohibiting transportation of the fireworks outside the reservation.

Yet, it's the local hospitals and police who have to respond to complaints and injuries from those same fireworks.

When a local Tribe wanted to build a huge amphitheater in a rural area which would unduly burden the people and resources of the local area, the county sued to prevent it. The Tribe won and we paid for new roads, water/sewer treatment, utility and other infrastructure to service the Tribe's entertainment center. And we didn't and don't get any share of the profits.

During the proposal stage when the State tried to negotiate a compromise, the Tribe told the State and everyone else where to stick it, that they had the right to do with thelr land what they wanted and we simply had to accommodate them. When the county said no to the new roads and services, the Tribe eventually paid some of it, as well as some of the new law enforcement, but not completely and the residents have to live with the noise, traffic and problems.

That's only some of the examples of the Tribe's arrogance against the rest of us as citizens and governments.

So when do Tribes stop coming to Washington DC with the hand out for money when they already have all the money they need and just need to manage it or share it with all members or with other Tribes. They demand independence from not only the US government, except of course when they need money, and they demand independence from us, the citizens of this country, but claim discrimination if and when they're treated like the rest of us.

And we write the checks so we don't offend them. Why? When will they stand up for themselves and really and truly be independent?

I've worked with indians from many Tribes over the years, and they've often some of the most generous people you'll ever meet. I've also found they're not the best money managers by any stretch of the imagination, and for a Tribe, that's a financial disaster, but always at the taxpayers expense when we wrote the checks and bailed them out when the money was lost.

And now they're getting more money for healthcare. I won't argue they don't have the best healthcare system in this country. But why it that our mistake and our problem? What happened to them solving this themselves? When will they realize they are the own worst enemy?

I won't argue the Tribes have done some good things. They were the critical part of saving the fisheries in Washington State. About half of the salmon originate from Tribal hatcheries (eg. Lummi Tribe in NW Washington). And there are other examples of some Tribes doing well managing their reservations to balance their history, the environment and the economic conditions for all members (eg. Warm Springs Tribe in Oregon).

But there are failures. The family leaders of the Hoh Tribe on the Washington coast embezled all the federal monies and grants for several years and the FBI had to take over the Tribal finances. The contracted government agencies and companies never recouped the money or was anyone convicted. It just wasn't made public to avoid the political fallout.

When some floods destroyed a Tribal community and moved the reservation boundary, losing land to adjacent federal or state land, the Tribe complained, and sure enough, we gave them land and then moved and/or rebuilt the community. None of them or the Tribe are required to have flood insurance like the rest of floodplain home owners to recieve compensation and avoid the government from bailing them out. We just wrote the check.

In short, Tribes aren't what we've been lead to believe, and they're no better than we are when it comes to money and power. They're equally greedy, but more so because they can always claim discrimination and get the taxpayer to write checks. And in the end, though, it always seems to me the Tribes want their cake and our cake too and then want us to both make it and pay for it. But don't touch anything they make, cake or money.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NPR - Suicide

I've read the news stories about the recent suicide of Mike Penner, formerly known as Christine Daniels. Mike transistioned to being Christine on the job as a sportswriter for the LA Times and then transistioned to resuming life as Mike. And then committed suicide. While the newsstories are ok, a lot of people, especially in the transcommunity Christine affliated herself with during her transistion, have come out of the woodwork to talk about suicide, and suicide for transpeople.

Unfortunately, and in my view, almost all of them have it wrong. That's because if they don't have the experience of seriously attempting it and either failing, which is itself something, or changing your mind just before, as in my case, you don't have a clue what's really about. I also saw this with the suicide of my nephew, with what I suspect is the intentional suicide of my brother (took over ten years from drinking and smoking), and with what I suspect my Dad when one day he just quit life and died two days later.

Almost all those who haven't personally dealt with suicide put the reasons on the external pressure on the person. It's the obvious and the things they can see, since they can't see, let alone hear, the thoughts and emotions of the person who committed suicide. It's the obvious to assess blame it wasn't the person's fault except that, as some do, blame them for being weak or not asking for help. And they are so wrong.

Suicide is a choice from internal pressures. It's always from within looking out, not lookng out and reacting to those pressures. They see themselves as the reasons. It's not like someone said, it was all the pressures to be someone and conform to the accepted standards of those type of people. It's from the feelings about being someone and conforming to those standards with your own self-identity.

I know many will say it's just two sides of the same coin. True to some extent, but it's still two different sides of the same coin. And both sides are totally different. The forces on a person doesn't make the contemplate and then commit suicide. The forces inside the person reacts to those forces driving them to contemplate and then commit suicide. It's all about what's inside the person, their view of the world and their life.

And it's all about what choices they see, which slowly narrows to where there is at best two and at worst one. And when it's gets to one, all there is to rescue the person is themselves. We can't. We can't because they don't see it. That's what all these folks completely miss, and will never see unless they've been there enough to know.

Your view of life is like sitting at the bottom of a deep well. You're surrouding by darkness and all the help dropping to you is lost in the darkness. All the sounds muted by the silence of the darkness. All the light gone except what's in your own soul and spirit. And that's what will rescue you, as it did me.

It truly reduces to the simple choice of life or death and it's not something the person thinks, that's for how the commit the act. It's about what they see about life, not just their life, again as many spectulate, but simply life itself. It becomes the choice deep inside you and only any spirit to live will change it.

And what folks don't get about this too is that it never goes away. Once you've sat there, feel the silence of the darkness, the warmth of being there, you never lose it. The question is if you decide to go back or keep it hidden within you so no one knows it's there, and you can and maybe will go back.

And as they say, been there done that. And yes, it never goes away.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving parade 2009

I love going to and photographing the Seattle Thanksgivings Day parade the Friday after Thanksgiving. You can see some of the images at my gallery. There is an explanation of the hours in the staging area where I photograph the people preparing for and the participants in each entry in the parade. It's fun just walking around while every one is relaxing with friends and other people in the parade.

It's difficult some years finding new ideas. All of the floats, many groups (eg. Metropolitan cars, Washington sheep dog owners, cartoon characters and clowns, etal.) and many of the school bands and dance groups from the northwest, including British Columbia, are the same. So you have to be creative with people. This year was children and some of the groups I like to photograph.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Meaningless apologies

Update 12/28/09.--Sometime in mid-December the dogs were gone. I also discovered he occasionally buys old cars or trucks, usually 1970-80's models and usually not working very well. He fixes and sells them. When he wanted to borrow some tools, I had to remind him of the ban on working on cars on the apartment complex property. They only allow emergency or occasional "light" maintenance work, and washing/cleaning.

Original post.--Apologies are meaningless when it's obvious it's not meant to be one. Not even an explanation, an excuse or a reason. Just mental exercise for the person giving it to think they really did apologize. Except it wasn't meant to be more than words, passing the person listening and falling far behind onto ground.

Nothing makes an apology more meaningless when it doesn't really change anything. And what I've noticed more and more is that more and more young people don't seem to care if they give one or not for not being considerate, or even worse. And more and more young people give them when it's just something to say because they don't really have an answer why they got caught doing something or hurting someone.

I've had young people as neighbors over the years, and especially most of the recent years. And despite the rules they agreed to when they signed the lease, they seem to think it doesn't apply to them, they can do whatever they want, and no one has the right to complain. They're simply not just consciously ignorant, they're intentionally ignorant. To the extreme.

They act and then later say, "I'm sorry.", like it's supposed to going to make their actions acceptable and we can't say or do anything. This whole attitude and behavior is beyond understanding. There are plently of people of all ages who apologize with good intentions and meaning. It's just those few, and many young people, who are indifferent to everyone else, so their apologizies are meaningless.

And my example. For one, our complex has a noise curfew from 10pm to 8 am. It's reasonable so everyone can be assured we'll all have a quiet period to sleep. It didn't work from a neighbor who stayed up to the early hours, sometimes all night, having a party with friends. At least 2 or 3 times a week. He almost always apologized to the manager but continued to have the friends and parties.

He eventually left when they raised the rent more than he could afford. The new neighbor was ok for the first two months but then brought in some dogs we later learned he's been boarding elsehwere trying to find a new home but they evicted the dogs for being too noisy. The new neighbor works from 8 pm to 5 am. And yes, you guessed it, the dogs like to bark and howl throughout the night until he gets home.

Well, he apologized to us, the neighbors, for his dogs and explained the story (above), but he hasn't changed the situation with the dogs. He didn't find a new boarding home for them. He hasn't found a new home for them. So, he keeps them in his place, where they bark and howl whenever he, and sometime he and his girlfriend, aren't home.

An empty apology. What else can you see and say? It's like he really doesn't care his dogs bother the neighbors or his dogs are violating the lease. We're supposed to excuse him because he can't find a home of any sort for his dogs? But he signed the lease. Except he didn't read the lease about dogs or noise, or even other things he's done in the few months he's lived here.

The problem is if we call him out on his apology, asking what it means if nothing changes, or what he plans to do to change the situation, he'll simply argue, as others have in the past, that he, or they, have no choice at the moment, except for an apology. And for many reasons, there's some truth to that. But an apology doesn't solve the problem.

And it's not enough to accept it when there's no sign of remose or any sign of change. And so the apology is meaningless, not only on the face of it but in the spirit of it. These apologies are better off not said. It's a waste of words, doesn't have any value and only lets the other person know you're inconsiderate. You've proven that with your actions, your words only affirm your ignorance.

But people still give them, like it really means something or really changes anything.

Friday, November 20, 2009

MLS - Moved

I have moved all the posts about my life in stories to its own blog at My Life in Stories. I have transferred all the posts and duplicated some life-related posts which are important to me and maybe for the reader. You will find all new posts about my life in stories there with no relference or links here, but you can use the link to go to the new blog. I'm sorry about any broken links, and you can send me e-mail if you have any questions or problems.

Differences and reasons

I was reading about President Obama and many of his choices for positions with the White House and government, and I noticed the fundmental differences between him and former President George Bush (Obama's predecessor). George made two major mistakes when picking people for jobs. He went with common ideology and loyalty.

It showed the flaws in his work and results. The very people he trusted couldn't think outside their, and his, own box, and consequently the view became very narrow and myopic. And why he failed in almost everything he did. Neither he or anyone around him could see, let alone choose to see, the complete picture or see reality. They used their own set of facts to paint the truth they wanted to see, failing to see who wrong it was.

As I read one time a reporter asked a White House staffer about doing something and the news. He (reporter) said the staffer told him, "We don't respond to anything, especially the news. We make everything and the news." How wrong can you be. They assumed anything the said and did was right and everyone would go along or do what they wanted. It's why Bush had one of the most failed presidency in history.

Obama, on the other hand, seem to like diversity of view, perspective, opinion, etc., everything opposite. It's what President Lincoln did when he was elected, brought his opponents into the White House, cabinet and government. He understood seeing the whole picture and reality, and despite the sometime contentuous atmosphere, you get the most information to, hopefully, make better decisions.

It's kinda' what I do in my life. I share little in common with my friends except some common experiences, like the service, graduate school and the USGS. Otherwise. I like to be around people who are totally different to see the whole array of views, perspective and so on. You never know where you share values and opinions, where you get news ideas, and where you can discuss opposing views with honest, integrity and humor.

I do keep a few close friends with whom I have most, if not everything, in common, but that's for helping me to see what I thinking or feeling is right for me. They're friends for that honesty few can give and most of us accept. Especially criticism. Few of us like hearing criticism, so the person giving it has to be a close friend. I will accept criticism from others, but it always accepted with some reserve.

In the end, though, I still sit down with my own thoughts and make my own decisions, and I always accept the consequence of those decision and my actions. Apologies never come easy, but mistakes is being human, and apology is an act of recogniztion and acceptance of myself.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Virtual hosts

I wrote about my experience with my Website host from Friday the 13th when they shutdown all updates to Websites to move all their Websites to a "new server", which they didn't say but implied it was an upgrade of their equipment. It wasn't. And that began the tale of woe on both our parts.

I followed the instructions in the letter saying the system will be back up Monday the 16th and all Websites owners can begin updating their Websites. So I did with the mid-month news, access and information about Mt. Rainier NP. I checked everything that night, made some edits Tuesday morning, checked it was there and working, and then left for meetings and errands.

Tuesday night I checked it before doing other things, and I discovered it was back to the Friday version. Talk about a big, "Huh?" So off with the e-mails, to their Internet "helpdesk" which resulted in sending me to another e-mail address and phone number, which if I had read the letter, on the bottom is the same phone number. Ok, my oversight; ok, mistake.

Well, all day Wednesday I kept communicating with the IT staff to find out where my updates went and to get a picture of what was really happening with this move. I discovered they moved all their Internet connections from their Tacoma office to their main office in Centralia, a small, rural town in southwest Washington, one you drive by on the Interstate with all of three exits, north, downtown and south.

I discovered they didn't transfer all the Websites over the weekend, but continued to transfer them Monday and Tuesday, but not the latest on-line copy, thinking folks did update their Website, but from the Friday backup server.They didn't send any notice about this delay to the Website owners that their updates wouldn't be used. Hence, the Friday version instead of the Tuesday version.

I discovered they didn't really move to their new servers, but moved everything to a Website mega-server in Florida. Apparently it's the trend now for small Website hosts, don't host, but be a virtual host and put everything on the mega-servers. I called some other local ones and they do the same thing. They're not real except as the DNS host and throughput to the mega-server.

Well, by late Wednesday night we had resolved all but one technical problem and I had my updated Website back on-line and current. It turned out the directions for the ftp client had the wrong server, theirs, so all my updates, which I had made some global changes and needed to update the entire Website, wasn't being seen, but simply lost. It took several hours to sort out the ftp IP and userid and password to the real server.

And so I did, and after some errors on my part, I finally got it back on-line and working to update Web pages again. But it got me to thinking. So if they're just a virtual host, why am I paying them as a real host? They're obviously paying for the service, and with my money for my Website, and the rest for their costs. But what are the real costs now for a Website?

I discovered I can't contact the mega-server. They don't have a public or customer support system. They only talk and work with the virtual host companies. So any problems are through my host to them, which also made me wonder what I'm paying for since they can only see a problem but not resolve it. They have to get the mega-server to solve any problem.

This is what I learned because it's how they helped solve the problems. They could only replicate what I was doing but with their computers and applications. And that was part of the problem because they don't run Mac's. They run Windows and Linux manchine, so they couldn't actually help some of the technical problems, one which hasn't been resolved.

So, what good is virtual host? I'm wondering that as my annual bill comes in December. I'm curious what I'm paying for when I can get another host, even a mega-host, cheaper. What will they add to the service because they access to more disk space for hosting? Right now I have the bulk of my Website content elsewhere because of the quota they imposed for their machines. That's now gone. Can I move or copy to the mega-server without raising their costs and then my costs?

Anyway, it was an interesting exercise in frustration and not so good customer support. But then they're not known for their customer support. Nor are they known for communications to effected Website owners and customers. This is the third time they've done something or changed something without telling us and leaving us to call, which itself is an exercise in frustration as their helpdesk seems to have a prime rule, "First, blame the customer's computer."

I still like them because they're local, a person on the phone who knows me and a place (office) to go to stand in front of a receptionsist. But I suspect they will close the Tacoma office and move everything to Centralia. There's nothing left there except a few computers and servers to redirect Internet traffic. That too can be moved and likely will in the future.

And I'll lose my "local" Website host. And even the one in Centralia will just be a virtual host. Not imaginary people, but still no one who actually do anything beyond saying, "Yup, we see the problem. We'll contact the server to see what's up and fix it." And you wait. That's what I'm paying for now, as I learned this week. And it's the way of the industry.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Website Update

You said something about interpersonal communications?

Update II.-- It's back and current. The problems were solved. The host of my Website moved all the Websites to a mega-server Website host in Florida, and some of the connections got screwed up and uploads lost. Lots of frustration and there will be more conversations.

Update.-- The host has done the worst thing imaginable. They've lost my Website from last week and restored and old version from February 2009, three version and 9 months ago. So whatever you do, please don't use the information until I can post that all is alive, well and current. I've been working with their IT folks, but they're not the most responsive people.

In addition I've discovered the new server isn't what they implied. The letter said they were moving to better servers, but instead they've moved to a Webiste hosting company, in Florida on less, which I guess is a way to unload the hosting computers on their end and focus on communications and network system. But then they moved all that stuff from Tacoma to Centralia (a rural SW Washington town). Go figure there.

In short, everything for me on their end is screwed up and badly at that. I can't update the new server (communications and interface problems) and I can't update the old one currently on-line (access frozen). For the money I'm paying, losing a week of access and current information really sucks, and I'm not holding my breath they'll give me credit or a discount.

Earlier post
Right now this is what I think and feel about my Website host (Rainier Connect). After their weekend work, Monday and Tuesday I updated the Website per the letter they sent to Website owners, as the work noted in the original post below. Well, Tuesday night after a trip and checking the Website when I got home, I discovered the Website wasn't updated, but the version of last week.

So, after a series of e-mail to the "helpdesk", which has been almost effectively useless in the past, they finally sent the e-mail of the computer folks in charge of the work. Yippee, except after several hours of e-mails sent but no returns I went to bed. They finally sent an explanation, at 1 am no less. They discovered the problem.

It seems they didn't transfer "some" of the Websites until the 16th and 17th, and from the old server. So all my updates, the entire Website didn't happen. I tested both days, but they appear to have overwritten my new version with the old version. They sent me the new ftp address, except it didn't work. Then they directed me to the new ftp server by IP address than name and it worked, and all the updates transferred. Or so I thought.

But now the Website can't be found on the new server. I either get the old server or nothing. The traceroute goes to California, then Florida and then into asterick heaven, stalling somewhere in Miami. Does the northwest look like Miami to a router? Well, I have e-mails again into them about both of these problems but considering it's 6 am, what do you think the chances of getting an answer?

Well, zip. Why? Because their mail server isn't working. Your e-mail just stalls waiting. I finally got the backup e-mail server to work. So now I wait. Needless to say, over the years Rainier Connect has been a good host and ISP, but when there have been problems, they are the worst host and ISP. And all they need to do is simple, communicate with the customers.

Why they don't see and do this I don't know. I was the manager of a data colllections system for 15 years and helped 10 tens years before that. Problems happen, but the last thing you need is angry customers and users, and it's helped by communications and information. They have all the information about who we are, our e-mail address(es), and the like. So why don't they?

That I don't know but this time, after losing my updated Website for most of a week, all the work through their problems with nothing to show for it beyond waiting, I'm pissed and will express it to their management somehow.

Original post
The Website is back on-line (host moved servers) with an updated version, WSR V2.7, as noted in the lower left hand corner of each Web page. The changes are tweaks and cosmetic so they're invisible. In addition, I updated the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide with similar tweaks so they're on the same version number and date. The date for both is January 2010 as I work into January on some newer updates and changes for both.

You're always welcome to send e-mail with your problems, question, suggestions, etc.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A simple abortion question

I want to ask all the anti-choice advocates and especially all the anti-abortion rights people, and even more so, those members of Congress who oppose abortion, if there were a ban on abortion, do you really think it would end abortion? Or would you rather push abortion into the illegal market which risks both the life of the mother and the fetus?

Do you realize banning abortion will be worse for both the mother and the fetus? Is that your values? To make women suffer and perhaps die? To kill fetuses? The very lives you're trying to save. Do you really think women will think twice about an abortion? To spend 9 months hating themselves and then their baby? Is that the lives you want?

Is that what you want? Because that's exactly what will happen. Abortions won't decrease. They'll only move to the illegal market as was before abortion rights existed. Do you realize that increasing family planning education and services, increasing coverage for reproductive rights, including abortion, and allowing abortion in hospitals and clinics, even with public funds, will improve women's healthcare and reduce the need for and the number of abortion?

It's not just about abortion. It's about education and services for women healthcare and family planning. The more women know and can be helped, the more women will be better and the less there will be unwanted pregnancies, and the less need or desire for abortions. It's not counter-intuitive, it's common sense. It's about helping women make the choices which works for them and their lives.

Banning abortion won't stop abortions. Banning funding for abortions won't stop abortions. Neither will reduce the number of abortions. But it will increase complications from the lack of pregnancy care or the risks and deaths from illegal abortions. And being intentionally dumb and blind won't change that, only show your attitude and discrimination against women.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update on apology

Well, I've been doing some homework about my Internet problems. I wrote about my conversation with my ISP's help desk and my apologies. I've seen talked with Apple (about Safari) and other folks, and had some interesting results with tests.

First, I worked on my computer and connection. I reinstalled Safari from Apple's download Web page. I removed all the third-pary plug-ins and after some tests reloaded just the necessary ones (Quicktime, Real Player, etc.). Things improved. Then I ran load tests with Safari, Firefox and OmniWeb. I got the same results.

I used commonly visited Websites and pages, and then some YouTube videos, from 2 to 7+ minutes ones. Before this problem I could downoad and watch a 7+ minute music video without interruption. Note, continuously and without interruptions. None. And after the problems started I'm lucky if it has less than a dozen interruptions, with all of the three browsers. After the fixes I'm down to a half dozen to a dozen depending on the time of the day.

So, the next step was the Domain Name Server (DNS). I moved the initial ones to OpenDNS, leaving the ISP's but these first. Suddenly things improved. The problem I suspected with the network, is that if the link can't find the DNS, then it can't go to the Website. When I switched DNS', I got faster responses and Web page loads.

So, that's where I'm at now. Still testing, but I'm scheduling visits with my ISP/Host and the local telephone company. I have the DSL through the ISP, meaning through their servers, because of my Website. I want to see if moving to the telephone companies will improve the service. The problem is that, like the cable companies, have to stop on a Website on their servers. If not, I'll likely move to them completely avoiding the ISP except for my Website.

And I'll talk with the ISP to see if they'll help resolve this problem, meaning help me find the problem, and if theirs, then check their equipment. I say this because everything worked well before (10/29) and hasn't since. I will stay with them for my ISP if we can resolve this problems. If not, then well, I'll see.

Anyway, that's the story so far. Troubleshooting is hard these days with the complexity of the system, but it's clear to me, that service is ofen lost in the process. I realize some of it is my fault and my stupidity, but I'm also always open to learn and help if I understand why than simply doing something because they want or think I'm wrong (why the first post).

And true to form, just when you're ready to raise the level of the issue with someone, the problem disappears. After lunch, the Internet connections are back to normal. Like someone rebooted or repowered some network equipment or computers. I didn't do anything, and I know the ISP won't admit to anything, so it's almost a non-issue or problem now.

Or not. I discovered another ISP with 10x DSL for only $5 more per month. And I won't have to go through their servers, routers, network and DNS', but a larger communications company system. Hmmm..., add it to the list of places to talk with people.

JMO - Stupid Male Arrogance

This applies equally to men and women. It's gender indifferent. It's about arrogance. And we all know even women can display stupid male arrogance. This is what men, and some women, are doing over the abortion amendments in the healthcare reform plan and now bills (House and Senate).

You're so stupid, you don't realize or seem to care it's not about you and your opinion or values. It's about women's right to get, understand and have the full range of services with the reproductive system. It's their body and they deserve all the information, services and any necessary surgery to ensure their health, whether pregnant or not.

It's about them, women. Nothing less and nothing more. So what don't you see or understand? Or will you sit on your stupid male arrogance and cite some family values issue, or some religious view, or some government doesn't do this doctrime, or whatever you espouse against family planning and abortion.

But the least you should do is to follow what doctors take and oath to do. And that is, first, do no harm. We elected you to do that, to help Americans. And taking away or restricting the rights of about half of the people, women, of this country, is pure male arrogance. Yes, you and yours.

And that goes for the other men, and women, who cater to the extreme to rewrite the healthcare bill to the opposition's liking, except they want more. Will you give them more, just for their votes, while it further restricts the rights of women? Are you so arrogant too you don't see it?

They know they can push and push this to their view, even restricting, or worse prohibiting, abortion by any health insurance, and require women to pay for it and any related service out of their own pocket. You won't stand up for women? You won't stand up for all those mothers who have unwanted pregnancies and later unwanted babies?

You're willing to bitch about the bad mothers in the country, but you forget you created them by denying them access to healthcare for their best health and future. You force women to have babies they didn't want and then you bitch about why they hate their babies? That's even worse arrogance.

Why don't you do the right thing? What do you have to lose? Oh, yes, votes. Screw your integrity. Screw women, and it they get pregnant, tough shit. And screw the American people who are on the side of women. You certainly aren't. And yes, I and they will remember when you're up for re-election. Remember both sides vote you up or down.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

NPR - Thank a Veteran

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, Armistice was signed ending World War I, the war to end all wars. We all know it didn't, our history lessons don't seemed to be remember very far for very long, and wars seems to be the inevitable destination of those who weren't awake in history class and don't want to remember the human loss and damage war does to nations. But any veteran knows this.

So while Armistice Day is Wednesday, take the time between then and Thanksgiving to thank a veteran. It doesn't really matter who and when they served. It's the fact they served their country when they were young, and some didn't come home or came home less than whole. To the latter, thank them even more and make it your duty to fight for veterans to get good care from the government, all of us, they served to fight and protect this nation.

And that's you. It's me too. But I also served. I enlisted March 7, 1969 and was discharged January 2, 1973. I didn't see Vietnam, or even Southeast Asia as I was in a top secret group we weren't allowed near combat. I worked in the nuclear monitoring program which was operated for the US government by the Air Force. I realized my luck that while I went overseas on occasion I was safe from someone wanting to kill me.

As I grew up in high school watching the war unfold on television I knew that the draft was a reality for me, and after my first year of college and being kicked out of the house by Dad, it became a very real reality. So I enlisted in the Air Force. I didn't want to die in a foreign land in a war I didn't understand then - the truth is that all of my generation didn't understand as it was a war of our fathers, not us. We were the soldiers, and later learned the history and the truth of that war.

And we left our legacy and memory, the Vietnam Memorial. Over 58,000 didn't come home alive. Take a moment of silence in their memory. And take time to express your value of life and the question of war. It's always decided by fathers and fought by sons. It's never fair and rarely right. There are always alternatives to war because all wars have a history of bad diplomacy.

Granted there are exceptions, the last worldwide one being World War II. Every one since had choices and chances to avoid it, but old men decided differently. But there are some that are inevitable, mostly civil wars, such as the former Yugoslavia. But even then you can find the history which created the atmosphere and the environment for war. We just don't seem to learn, and so many of the young generations die or are disabled and many civilians die or suffer unreal effects.

And through it all, good soldiers serve their country. And through it all all good solider love their country to serve for a variety of reasons. But in the end, it's them, all of them, that we owe a thanks. So do that. Tell one how much you appreciate them. Is that so hard when we have chosen to be soldiers?

We have given you your freedom. Isn't that enough to say thanks?

Website Maintenance

I have been informed by my Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the host of my Website that they will be installing new computer equipment for their customers' Website November 13-16th. This means while the Website will be publically available, I will not have the ability to update any of the Web pages. At this time I don't plan to have any updates, and any ones can and will wait until the 17th.

I'm sorry for any inconvenience this causes folks, but it's the nature of having a Website, technology needs to be updated and upgraded occasionally. The communications network problems still persists, less so, but still there causing problems. If you find they cause problems getting to my Website, please let me know to talk with the host.

Otherwise, that's it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Really bad advice

The Internet is full of photography Websites which offer advice, but many have incomplete, misleading, confusing and even bad advice on photography. They cover cameras, photography techniques, photo/image production, and so on. Hell, even I occasionally make mistakes or offer bad advice, but it's always based on my personal view and experience, and I try to note so readers can judge for themselves.

And I'm always open to corrections, especially when said with a smile and humor. But there are some Websites, where you read the advice and just go, "Huh?" You really wonder what the writer is saying. Not just the content and information, but the writing is so obscure or different, you have to read it several times to sort out what they're saying.

It seems to me sometime, it's either the writer wants to see their words out there, regardless if it's good or even useful, or they want to pretend they're better than us as photographers, and they'll show you with their advice. And sometimes it's both. I just sit there and wonder, what are they thinking, because I have to sort out their writing before I can discern the information.

And I have an example? Well, not to link to it, but I was reading, among other posts, the advice on landscape photography. The other advice posts have problems with the writing and information, but the landscape one just struck a (bad) chord. And that is?

First, capturing the spirit and mood of a place in the image(s). Kinda' a statement of the obvious but sometimes the image is just a nice picture. I won't disagree with capturing a story, but it shouldn't stop your photography. There are lots of images in a place, it's just seeing them. Examples are simple things like a lock, a door, grain in the wood, etc., or the larger views of the place.

The idea of using raw format only. Ok, useful, but don't let it stop you. I've talked at length about raw versus jpeg, see the photo blog list. If you have the settings right in your camera, meaning nothing automatic (ok, argueable point), such as white balance, mode, picture style, etc., then the image(s) will be more than adequate to use and produce.

Just plug in your brain when you're standing there. Ok, it's a hint, don't get lazy. Be a photographer who thinks in the field holding and using your camera and equipment. Don't just think about composition, but also your equipment. Be a whole photographer. And yes, I'm far from great there.

The advice about not worrying about the white balance, picture style, etc. while shooting raw is totally wrong. You should choose the right exposure and setting to get the initial image right or at least close and reduce the number of adjustments you make in a photo editor. Relying on your photo editor to correct for problems with the images in the field isn't being a photographer but a photo editor.

And sorry, negative film is not the equivalent of a digital raw file. Flim, either negative or positive transparency, is film. Digital formats have different characteristics to capture images, and there are photo plug-ins which replicates film, but it's not the equivalent. Similarity isn't the same.

You can put the subject in the of the image. It's about the surrounding area of the subject. There's an example on my homepage. Don't be restricted by rules of composistion, but my suggestion is to consider learn and practice getting the composition in the whole image in the field. You can always crop the image latter, but try to capture complete images at the time. And for what it's worth, 95% of my images aren't cropped.

Tripods. Hmmm... Well, for one, you shouldn't be restricted to 50-100 ISO. Use what works for the conditions. Most new cameras are low noise throughout the ISO range, even at the high speed, and even then the noise or loss isn't enough to worry about. I do agree to have a level in the tripod or use one, but it's not essential if you simply watch the horizontal and vertical lines in the image. He just could have said it better.

Filters. Yes, carry a neutral density and polarizing filter, and some folks like a clear or UV protective filter. They're handy, but they're not a guarratee a better image. Also, use the image filters built into the camera settings. Some have red, yellow and green filters for black and white.

Aperture. Most 35mm camera lenses have their optimum aperture at f8, and most photographers use f5.6-11. If you want to move your depth of field, then use the hyperfocal distance before you simply crank in more aperture.

Time. This is the standard recommended time frame for "best" photos, but it's not always the best for many other types of landscape photography. Shooting near sunrise and sunset is a challenge but othter times easily will produce good images, especially during the midday (10 am to 2 pm). In many forest scenes, this light is often best for getting the color and exposure and capture some interesting scenes. Don't be restricted by time and light. Be creative.

As for, "Okey? Prepare everything, put all your gear into a bag, do not let anyone behind." What is this? It's just an example of the writing style which confuses the reader.

Overall, the advice has some good stuff, but it simply has too much confusing or misleading information and a confusing writing style to be worth the time. Find a better Website for advice.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My apologizes

I wrote about my troubles with the network and my browser. Well, I can't solve the network problems, but after running some tests I reinstalled Safari, and the test ran again without any problems. So, in part, the helpdesk was right with some of the problems. So, I sit corrected. I don't know what or why Safari went south on my computer. The disk is fine and some of the Website and Web pages issues, slow or lags in downloading is still there.

Anyway, I apologize to my ISP for the problems on my end. The traceroute still has the same problems with interruptions which the ISP should look at. When a normal 2-3 second traceroute to their own servers takes 15-20 seconds, something is wrong, and this time, I don't think it's me or my computer. But my side is back working correctly.

Update 11/6/09.--The problems with lags and stalls wasn't there this morning but started sometime between 3-4 pm, and since the test show the same problem with both Safari, new installed version, and Firefox, the problem is on their end, in their network and equipment. Test were run on Youtube music videos and Web pages with extensive blog entries, lots of ads or lots of images.

Update 11/7/09.--The problems still persist, to the point between 5 and 6 am, there were very few minutes it worked at all let alone slowly. And after 6 am it's been intermittent at best. But I've found Safari has a problem. If the connections is broken, the stalls and lags in the ISP's servers, Safari doesn't know to stop. It keeping trying to contact and when contact is made, it doesn't load. You have to stop and reload the Web page. Firefox doesn't seem to have the probelm nd quickly resumes loading after the connection is back.

Anyone care to guess if I can convince them of that without going through their hoops again or dismissing me as a dumb customer?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don't blame the customer

Don't blame the customer when there's a better chance it's the company's problem, especially when confronted with information that demonstrates it's not the customer. Like this is new? But in our age of technology, communications and the Internet, it's very easy to always just blame the computer and its owner.

That's what my Internet Service Provider (ISP) has done with some recent problems. Since last Wednesday, and the start of the World Series, continuining into last night (election night), the ISP's servers and routers have not been working properly, often producing drops or long lags in responses, sometimes simply losing the load of a Web page, including my own Website on their servers.

So, as a customer I did what I could do, reboot and test everything on my end, the computer and modem. And then I monitored it through the day and especially through the evening, and true to form, the problems happened, intermittent and insignificant during the day and then after 5-6 pm, far more often a problem than not, working for short periods in between longer periods of some to major problems.

And so I started monitoring the connections to Website, comparing loads from before to now and using traceroute to see where the packets were lagging, hanging up, or simply disappering, and again true to form, it's their equipment, On a good day the traceroute looks like this:

Traceroute has started ...

traceroute to wsrphoto.com (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 ( 2.674 ms 0.393 ms 0.335 ms
2 ( 11.873 ms 11.100 ms 11.955 ms
3 ( 13.953 ms 11.398 ms 11.920 ms
4 ( 13.963 ms 13.292 ms 13.971 ms
5 69-10-206-219.localaccess.com ( 15.867 ms 15.698 ms 16.011 ms
6 69-10-201-70.localaccess.com ( 15.968 ms 15.733 ms 15.957 ms

This means it's leaving my machine to their servers and to my Website, all told about 2-3 seconds.

On a not so good day, even this morning at 6 am, the tracesoute looks like this:

traceroute to wsrphoto.com (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 ( 0.819 ms 0.486 ms 0.351 ms
2 ( 14.153 ms 11.605 ms 11.956 ms
- see note on time gaps to step 3
3 ( 11.989 ms 11.813 ms 15.802 ms
4 * ( 14.129 ms 16.637 ms
5 69-10-206-219.localaccess.com ( 15.200 ms 15.681 ms 15.956 ms
6 69-10-201-70.localaccess.com ( 15.990 ms 17.795 ms 15.987 ms

All told 22 seconds and a 8 second gap between hops 2 and 3.

Yes, I timed it. When it's busy in the evening, this multiples by several times and sometime not finishing the loading.

And on a really bad day

Traceroute has started ...

traceroute to wsrphoto.com (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 ( 0.819 ms 0.486 ms 0.351 ms
2 ( 14.153 ms 11.605 ms 11.956 ms
3 ( 11.989 ms 11.813 ms 15.802 ms
4 * * *
5 * * *
6 * * *
and so on for several lines. Or

traceroute to wsrphoto.com (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 ( 0.829 ms 0.473 ms 1.281 ms
2 ( 12.705 ms 11.672 ms 11.991 ms
3 ( 11.931 ms 13.440 ms 11.979 ms
4 ( 13.851 ms 12.922 ms 13.850 ms
5 69-10-206-219.localaccess.com ( 15.877 ms 15.626 ms 15.868 ms
6 * * *
7 * * *
8 * * *
and so on for serveral lines.

Sometimes, both of this will eventually move through and on to the Website, but the load will be slow, stall or incomplete.

So, I dutiful sent this to the e-mail help desk and told to call the helpdesk. Ok, I did last night and was on the phone for 20-30 minutes (didn't note when I started the call). And true to form, somewhat as expected the technician did what they all do, blame the customer.

But before they do that, they have the customer reboot the modem (done), their computer (done), do ping and telnet test (done) and then test loading with different browsers. When I tried to explain the traceroute results, the technician dismissed that and me as irrelevant.

Except that ping and telnet only test if the Website is there, alive and responding. It's simply a knock on the door, nothing more. A traceroute provides the details where the packets (or some since it's also not perfect) are going, recording all the hops along. And in almost every case the lags and hangs are in steps 3-6, and all the drops are in steps 3 and 4.

It's inconsistent when there isn't a lot of traffic (daytime) but very consistent when there is a lot of traffic (evenings). But even now it happens when it shouldn't, like at 6-7 am PST. But would they think to reboot their equipment to test if the problem is there and not me?

You can bet they don't and won't. I've been through this before with them over access to my Website and to upload (ftp) new files for my Website. In this case they discovered problems with their computer, and checking thing and rebooting solved it. But this time, they blamed my browser, specifically Safari and told me to call Apple (they even offered a number). The reason this isn't the problem is that both traceroute and e-mail experienced the same problems, slowdowns, lags and stalling. That's not a browser problem, but a network communications problem.

Gee, it's kinda' like, let's shove this problem elsewhere so we don't have to do the real work to see if it's really us and not them. Ok, cruel and inappropriate, but in the middle of it, that's what people think. And the funny part is that after we finished, within a minute they sent me an e-mail asking to fill out a survey. And indeed I did, but what number on the scale of 1 to 5 is sucks?

So what's going to happen? Well for one I'm continuing testing things. I'm more than convinced it's not Safari, as I've duplicated it with Firefox, and nothing on my computer has changed before and after this period. And during the World Series game I will continue to test it (hopefully even a game seven - not a Yankee fan). And when I get the results, I'll post them and send them to my ISP for some answers, of which I'm not to blame.

Anyway, that's the story. If anyone has suggestions to sort this out, I'm listening. And if I'm to partially to blame somewhere or somehow, I'll apologize, but until then until my ISP notes they can be partially or wholly to blame, I'll keep my view of things.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

JMO - Fear is not a reason

The Republicans and conservative Democrats should conside the fact that fear for something which may not happen is not a reason to deny anyone rights, especially women's right to reproductive healthcare and all the necessary services. The Republicans and Democrats are threatening to vote against the healthcare reform bill solely on the grounds it "might" or "could" fund abortions with public funds. Like that's a bad thing?

Sorry, it's not and fear is not a reason for your narrow-minded view. The bill has the language to prevent that from happening, but again, like you've done with the whole healthcare reform issue, make mountains out of imaginary molehills. You take a small thing in a bill and make it the whole bill. How petty and stupid can you be?

I won't argue on some days I'm against the whole healthcare reform package Congress has produced, mostly because of its 500+ amendments are full of loopholes and other measures to help keep the health insurance companies powerful and rich (and highly profitable too). It doesn't address the fundamental problems with our healthcare system, but puts some expensive band-aids where in 3-5 years we'll see it didn't work.

And some days I'm really against it when they went after my healthcare plan, which would raise my premiums, reduce or deny coverage and provide a way to cancel it. That's my fear, which I know isn't a reason to oppose the whole bill, but on a personal level, it is to me, especially when my rates are already scheduled to go up 12-15% in January. The company is doing a pre-emptive strike against any Congressional bill.

And they should know many companies have written or been involved in writing many of the amendments on the behalf of our elected officials. We know Congress really isn't for Americans, but for the health insurance, healthcare and phamceutical corporations. We know that, and it's not fear, but reality.

And don't get me started on the AARP. They're worse because they disguise themselves reprensenting the elderly when they represent the companies they market to the elderly. They're the elderly's worst enemy. They showed that with the drug prescription bill years ago when they sponsored the doughnut hole because they sold insurance to the elderly for that gap in the coverage. They got richer on the elderly.

But I've wandered away from the point. Abortion. The bill as written is clearly nothing to fear and nothing to cite as a reason to fear. So to the Republicans and Democrats against it, get off your high moral horse and become a human being for a change. Understand the needs of women. Can you really do that? Or do you really want to?

It's called Trust Women. They know what to do about their healthcare and reproductive system. Certainly you don't and certainly your morality doesn't entertain the thought. But I'm not like you, nor do I want to be. You're simply too arrogant to want to care about women enough to trust them.

So lose the fear and get on with the show. And for God's sake trust women.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

JMO -Healthcare reform

I've been reading about the conservatives, moderates and the like, both Democrats and Republicans, who oppose the "public option" in the healthcare reform. They claim, they're against it because it competes with the private health insurance companies. Except it doesn't. There are 20+ million uninsure people in this country and another 20+ million underinsured people.

The former aren't currently covered by any health insurance plan offered by any private company, mostly because it's too expensive or the health insurance companies refuse to offer insurance. So why if the government offers them affordable insurance is that competition? There is no competition since there are no companies offering them health insurance.

As for the underinsured, it's because they they can't afford the necessary insurance they need or want. The insurance companies have either denied them better or complete coverage, such as for pre-existing conditions, or made it too expensive. And here there needs to be competition to make the insurance companies do what's right.

And that is making complete health insurance affordable. And if they won't the government has the obligation and responsibilty to see they can find and afford it. The government is simply doing what the health insurance companies won't do. And that's not competition since the health insurance companies aren't there for the people. The government should be.

Neither of these are competition in the common sense definition of the word. The health insurance companies are refusing to compete, and have simply left the market, leaving 15-20% of the people in this country uninsured or underinsured. If they won't the government should. And if that forces the health insurance companies to compete then fine, they should since they haven't.

It's time the government hold the health insurance companies accountable to the American people and America. It was this country that allowed them to prosper. It's time the helped the people.That's American and America. It's about helping all of is. They can easily still profit, and the government will ensure they will, but the government needs to ensure everyone has good affordable health insurance, if the health insurance companies won't.

It's not competition, it's fairness and responsibility. And folks need to get their perspective right.

JMO - There is no right

I was listening to NPR's interview with David Axelrod about the debate between Generals in charge of the war Afghanistan, the President and Congress over the proprosed troop level increase there for next year. At moment he said, "We're taking our time because we want to get it right."

Well, there is no right. There is what you do and how well it works. That's it and that's all. Right is relative to the results with the gains and losses from your decisions and actions. Nothing more. That means there is no wrong. It's only what you do and how well you do it.

And somehow it's something we can't seem to learn. And the last thing I want is a President waitiing for the right decision which will be the right choice to bring the right result. Get rid of the word right and do your best and live with the results and adjust to and with what happens.

That's what life is about. And it's what war is about, especially in the complex war in Afghanistan. There are so many dynamic factors and groups you can't make a right decision, only the best at the time from the information you had with the circumstances you're faced with. Nothing more. Waiting may help, but it may do harm.

And it isn't about just this interview and the war in Afghanistan. It's about anything and everything. It's the nature of the world and events today. And all we can is the President have the best people around him to give him the widest and best advice, and then make the best decision. It won't be the right or even a right decision, just a decision when and where you adjust and adapt as things change.

George Bush made this mistake, as many people do, thinking there is a right and wrong. There is no black and white. It's all shades of gray. When people, like ole George did, assume their decisions are right, they're always bound to fail, because they don't see reality, don't understand the complexity of events, don't think they can fail, and don't realize their decision are probably wrong.

But now President Obama is almost the opposite. As I make comparisons sometimes, we went from Lucy to Charlie Brown. Not really, but sometimes, it's close. I'd just wish he and everyone lose the "right" idea about decisions and actions. I don't use it for what I decide and act. I only think and (sometimes or) act and adjust as it goes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Website Ads

I hate Websites which have lots of ads. I hate them for two main reasons. One, the ads are distracting and only rarely for anything I'm remotely interested in, and even then, I won't click on them just so the Website gets a few thousandth of a cent. If I want to check out the product or company, I'll go to their Website. And in many cases, and maybe almost all, the ads don't fit the Website or Webpage.

And two, they're always the reason many Web pages are slow to load or won't load at all. It depends on how the Web designers built the ads into the presentation. Unfortunately this happen, really both reason, to one of my favorite Websites, Photo Net. The page will load, mostly, then stop, waiting for the ad server Websites to fetch the ad they want to display and then present.

Int the meantime, you wait for the Web page to finish loading, and you have to because some of the links are loaded after the ads. The worst time is when it's an ad on the top, so there is a blank window with the twilrling icon, "Loading" and status information, "Contacting..." After a few of these, I just kill the tab and do something else or go somewhere else.

The problem is these Websites use the ads to generate income. Granted it's not a lot, but enough they keep building them and sometimes more into the Web pages, which turn aggrevates the problems and frustration. It's not fun when you have you wait for ads you know you don't want or like simply to see what's there.

And even worse are the local on-line newspaper Websites. Geez, folks, enough already. The Web pages are already too full with links to news articles and stories which aren't yours but you're serving for free to generate traffic, but then you add all those stupid ads everywhere. Don't believe me? Check out the Seattle PI and Seattle Times Websites. It's why I don't go there.

It's why I don't put ads on my Website. I don't want the reader to be distracted, I don't want to have to find a way to fit the ads in the Web pages. And I don't want the ads for shit I don't or wouldn't recommend to anyone. If I want to do that, I'll write something with links to it and you can decide for yourself.

Anyway, it's just a rant or vent against Web ads. The whole issue and the money is really a sham or scam anyway because it's just money going in circles. You click on an ad, the Website gets credit and money from the ad company who gets money from the client, which gets money, hopefully, selling you something through their Website. You can skip the loop by just going to the Website.

And don't get me started on search engines crawling through Websites. They burden the users to the point they stop. The example above (Photo Net) grinds to a halt sometimes from Google crawling through the forums, images and material on the Website. The Website wants the search to get rankings on Google to promote itself to get more visitors to get more ads to get more money from ads.

You get the picture? So the easiest way to ruin a Website for your users and customers is with ads and search engines. It's not why you have a Website, it's about the content of your Website,, but that's often lost on the owners who see quanity of it all, visitors, ads, money, etc. The nature and business of the Internet.

So, while my Websites is search by Google for their search engine and analytics, that's all you'll see on mine. No ads, and the bullshit is miine.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A little knowledge

As they say, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." And in photography in the hands of some, it's worse than knowing nothing. Like everyone, as we're all human, I'm guilty sometimes, but I try to remember when expressing my opinion is it based on how much of my experience, knowledge and understanding that is relevant to the issue or subject. I've learned, and sometimes the hard way, to simply walk away from discussion in photography forums and about advice given on photography Websites.

There are a number of photographers on the Internet who love to amaze people with their technical knowledge of photography, especially cameras and taking photographs. There are far too many Websites offering and usually selling instructions, lessons, advice, etc., often gleaned from readily available information anyone can find with any good search tools. The problem is that much of their advice is incomplete, inaccurate or just simply incorrect.

It's not necessarily wrong, just not right. That's because almost every photographer speaks from their own experience and rarely is that broad enough to work for everyone, and it's always from the cameras they've owned and used, where so many other types, brands and models won't work the same. I'm no different, I've only learned to answer questions for the equipment I've used or am familar with.

The problem is that many photographers think their experience translates to universal advice. It doesn't. It doesn't mean all the advice is bad or wrong, just some, but it's hard to know which unless you have more or a different experience. A beginner would be hard pressed to discern where the advice is wrong, bad or doesn't work.

And prey tell, do I have an example? Like I wouldn't discuss this without one?

Well, it's the Website Digicamhelp. Even though there are 18 photographers listed on the Website, there doesn't seem to be much peer review or editing of the help Web pages, or at least the Web pages I read. But then, yes, I haven't read all of them, so even my opinion is biased from a some examples.

And my point? Sone of the advice can actually be more confusing if your camera operates differentlly. You have to ensure yours works the same or the advice will be wrong. And the techniques for taking good pihotos is also relative. They often advise to check on sone things first.

So are they useful? Well, it depends, but overall I'd say you could learn more and better from other sources, and really the old adage about just doing it. Photography is about practice. And it's about mistakes. In many ways you'll learn more from mistakes than from successes because with the former you learn to do better and the latter you wonder what you did right but don't really know.

At least that's how I've learned. After some classes and the on-going learning from articles, books, etc. I usually learn best from just trying and playing. I know I'm not and won't be a professional in any sense, and much of my photography probably barely fits into the serious amateur ranks, but it doesn't mean I, like any photographer, hasn't and can't produce gems every now and then.

And those gems are from experience, knowledge and understanding of photography, my equipment and the subject. It's how I read the photography help Website, to ask myself is this information useful and helpful in the field. And when it's inaccurate, incomplete or just plain incorrect, then it's not, and should not be used unless you translate it to your photography equipment and interests.

And after criticizing these and pointing out this Website, are there examples?

For one, the advice on the shutter release button is in correct. Almost all newer film camera with autofocus use a two-step shutter release, but you can make them one-step buttons, and you can also use a digital camera as a one-step shutter release by simply moving some controls to other buttons, like the autofocus. And the statement about the sequence is erroneous as there is only one sequence, how the button works according to the settings.

The shutter lag Web page is confusing, describing differing focusing techniques. The key is to just use one of them. You can't use continuous focusing if you lock the focus. And the type of memory card isn't relevant to shutter lag, the camera writes to the card after the camera has completed the capture. A faster card won't improve shutter lag.

Anyway, there are more minor points, and yes, some might say that's nick-picking, and they would be right. But when a Website advertises and presents itself as a photography learning one, then it should present accurate, complete and correct information. Otherwise, it's a waste of time.

Any photographer would be better if they just follow some basic steps. For example, I like the advice to know your camera before you go out, meaning sit down with the manual and walk through all the features, functions and controls. Then simplify what you need to set in the field, and always check it for the situation and conditions. This is what Galen Rowell did and advise new photographers.

Other advice is also freely available on the Web or through books, and personally, you'll do better than sorting through and sorting out these Websites. But then, that's also just my advice and opinion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making Photo Cards II

Well, I wrote about making photo cards and this week I picked up the stamp for the cards with my photography name and Website address (URL), and so I'm packaging them into the clear sleeves and 10 into box sets with a letter of thanks and explanation. It's simple hand intensive and very tedious work, but watching movies helps, especially ones like Walli-E and the like.

I love animated movies like Cars, Ice Age (the series), Monster's Inc, and others. They always sound mindless but they're both children and adult's movies. And it fits pieces of my sense of humor, part Gary Larson, part Robin Williams and part Will Rogers. The reality and truth expressed with and through humor. As I tell folks, one of my favorite responses is by Foghorn Leghorn when things go wrong, "It's a joke, son!"

Not that it changes anything, it just gives it perspective. It wasn't said or meant to be serious, just tongue-in-cheek observations. Anyway, watching them lhelps offset the tedium packaging the cards. But it also allows me to focus on the cards for any bad ones, namely when the heat press dry mount tissue didn't stick and the print peels off the card. So far with just over a third of the nearly 300 packaged, I'm running about a 5% failure of the cards, which are either reheated or mounted again with new tissue.

Anyway, the thought is simply if you decide to produce your own cards, be prepared for the work. In the end though, my cards will be my work, warts and all. They're not bad, even quite good according to my customers, and always personal and handmade. That's what I like in the end. It's just me and my work there. This isn't new. Go to arts and crafts fairs and festivals and you'll see many booths of artist and the occasional photographer.

You can always tell the photographer who printed and produced their own cards and prints and the one who had a staff or a lab do the work. There's a small obvious difference. That's the neat thing about the work, choices, both for the photographer and the customer. And that's all I strive for with my photos and cards. And now it's back to work.

Monday, October 12, 2009

LWD - Moving

I have decided to move the essays on my experience with and thoughts about Dysthymia to its own blog, found here. I was listening to Amanda Marshall's debut CD with some great songs, one "Birmingham" has the line, "She's never been more alone. She's never been more free."

That's it in a nutshell. Putting the series of essays, see Web page, allows me to focus on that and not get lost in the jumble of my photo blog. It doesn't hurt to be there, it was just kinda' getting lost in the different topics there.

The line is appropriate and apropos since being alone is freedom, total freedom. The idea can be found in lines in songs, plays, books, etc. We never seem very far from it, and some of us just live there as a state of being and mind. We're comfortable there. And it's where we're our best to ourselves and to the world. We're just like that.

We're not anti-social. That's not it, and something I hate when the media makes it into a newsstory and almost always wrong, and people, but more so friends, bring it up as "advice" to help us. They always invite us to social events, nights at taverns, etc., and keep pushing we need it. We don't. As you're uncomfortable being alone, we uncomfortable being in crowds.

Anyway, that's what I've done with the series of essays. This is the second series moved, the series of essays on Taosim was also moved to it's own blog over the weekend. This will be the last one moved from my photo blog as all of those relate to each other, my life, my experience and my photography. The "just my opinion" on issues will stay but really isn't related, there's too many to move.

Anyway, I'll keep the links to the old ones here, but they're duplicated on the new blog, so they're all in one place for everyone, and more so really me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wrong Roads

I read the article in the Sunday Washington Post about Charisse Carney-Nunes who the extreme right wing conservatives attacked her for something she didn't do, and went down the road of misinformation, lies and hate to where they pulled a proverbial Thelma and Louise, except they didn't die because they simply lied again to cover their mistakes and stupidity.

They did exactly what they used to describe this woman, "In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude. Every man will speak as he thinks," wrote George Washington, "or more properly, without thinking." Yes, they didn't think before they opened their mouth, their fingers and everything else to show the world just how stupid someone can be when then don't do their homework.

They went down the road of incivilty and didn't even bother to do the basics they teach journalists, like, "Check the facts." Instead they took something about someone else and attributed it to her and then unloaded on her, an innocent woman just going through life like you and I. But what's worse is that they critized the action not of her doing which they themselves value, the right to free speech under the Constitution.

And that what's becoming scary today. The extreme right wing conservatives are hijacking the Constitution for their own agenda, protecting themselves and criticizing, and worse condemning, those who disagree with them. They argue it's their right and then argue we can't disagree, let alone express our view, our right. And then label anyone who doesn't believe their agenda as the extreme opposite, without really listening and understanding.

This isn't new. It's been around since the founding of this country, even our leaders then charged opponents with words and deeds of unspeakable civility, all wrong of course, and past the line of lies and slander. But now with the extensive communications we have today, one word can spread quickly to many people. The ripple effect multiplied orders of magnitude, the chain letter gone awry.

And oh so wrong. The only truth were the names on words. Everything else were lies compounded upon lies, done at the speed of the Internet. This time is hurt someone, which was their intention, except it was the wrong person. The very values they promote to respect and follow were set aside in the name of hate, misplaced, but still hate. And the very value they show with others like them wasn't shown to someone else.

There's words for that, but none fit the Bible or any religious values. The one about caring for others and respects their rights which you value and follow. They accused and then condemend without checking the facts. But we know that's not new with them and new with this situation. They love running down wrong roads with incorrect or inaccurate information, and anyone in the way or in their sights are simply public road kill.

That, however, is not America or being an American, something sadly they don't see. They are their own worst enemy, using fear and hate. But what's worse and sadder, is that it's their own fear and hate reflected back at them. It's not ours nor our response, just pity.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

TAO - New series

I've updated my Tao blog and am adding a series on my understanding and interpretation of Tao Te Ching. I've also added an introduction on my view and Mt. Rainier. I will occasionally reread and rewrite the essays as I read and learn the Tao Te Ching.

In addition I have moved this entire series of essays on Taoisms to a new blog, which is at http://wsrtaoism.blogspot.com/, and as always, you're welcome to send me comments, suggestions. questions, etc.