Sunday, April 26, 2009

JMO - When sorry isn't enough

I've only slightly been following all the news about the Bush Administration torture memos and the release of some by the Obama administration. The memos authored and/or approved by three Department of Justice lawyers were obviously written to twist the political view of then VP Cheney and Ms. Rice, Bush's senior security advisor and later Secretary of State.

it's clear the authorized actions by interrogators violate the law and the Geneva Convention. By all accounts, I disagree with the Obama administration that these people and the interrogator shouldn't be prosecuted for their actions. They should. They violated international laws and treaties and violated basic human rights. And history has shown they didn't obtain and useful information that wasn't already known.

The last was proven by the FBI and international anti-terrorism specialists. Torture doesn't work to produce better than minnimal results. But that's not my point here. That's now Appeals Court judge Jay Bybee, one of the three authors. The other two are now in private practice or academia, but Mr. Bybee got a judgeship from it. And now we know his motive, do what they want to get a permanent job and leave the scene.

Today there's an article where Mr. Bybee at a dinner with his past and present clerical staff for the last 5 years as a judge and after 2 years with the DOJ makes statements regretting the two years with the Bush administration and authoring the memos. Like it's supposed to negate the last 7 years of torture of many innoncent people taken into secret detention by the CIA and DOD, many of whom were not taken in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many proven to be there by accident or victim of circumstance.

Mr. Bybee's apology, if it could even be called that - being only a statement of regret, is too little too late, and I personally believe he should be held accountable for his actions. He was at the center of a conspiracy to circumvent the Constitution, US law and international treaties the US is a signatory. He was one of the chief lawyers saying everything of ok. And now we know it wasn't.

He broke the law and should be taken into custody and, just maybe, treated as one of those prisoners he approved the torture of. He should know what he did and what other did with his approval. Nothing less and maybe much more, held in prison as they were and denied legal help as they were. He should live through what they lived through under his approval.

Sorry, Mr. Bybee, you corrupted the law for personal and political gain. That is a crime in my book, and no apology will clear the shame you gave this country and what you did. And I won't have regrets for you either now or ever.

NPR - Do not call registry

In early February 2009 I finally broke down and put my home telephone on the Do Not Call Registry. And since, after about a week to let the list proliferate through the various telephone call companies, I began tracking who calls when, just to see if it actually works. Well, it does for the big companies, but the small companies seem to ignore. So using my caller-id box, here's the list to date.

February 2009

Feb. 6, 6:13 pm,"Trip Fones", 212-719-5907,
Feb. 7, 1:54 pm, "Toll Free Service", 888-327-2771,
Feb. 8, 10:11 am, "Opinion Poll", 702-932-3401,
Feb. 9, 5:21 pm, "Toll Free Service", 888-621-8142,
Feb. 11, 3:52 pm, "Toll Free Service", 888-621-8142,
Feb. 14, 11:39 am, "Santa Anna", 714-682-8355,
Feb. 16, 5:31 pm, "STR GRP", 978-570-2284,
Feb. 20, 12:30 pm, "Lower Rates", 804-234-9041,
Feb. 20, 5:22 pm, "Home Help", 978-570-2204,
Feb. 25, 6:00 pm, "Toll Free Service", 800-833-6004,
Feb. 26, 3:00 pm, "Toll Free Service", 800-833-6004,
Feb. 26, 6:00 pm, "Toronto On", 416-523-1121,
Feb. 27, 5:30 pm, "Oceanside CA", 768-526-8556,

March 2009

Mar. 3, 12:30 pm, "Toll Free Service", 800-933-6004,
Mar. 3, 3:30 pm, "Salem OH", 234-567-8900,
Mar. 4, 5:34 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 5, 11:08 am, "Toll Free Service", 800-933-6004,
Mar. 6, 4:16 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 7, 10:05 am, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 10, 5:08 pm, "Compton Comp, CA", 562-223-8818,
Mar. 10, 5:58 pm, "Compton Comp, CA", 562-223-8818,
Mar. 10, 6:33 pm, "Orlando, FL", 407-999-8888,
Mar. 11, 10:30 am, "Toll Free Service", 888-297-9265,
Mar. 12, 9:45 am, "Toll Free Service", 866-822-3649,
Mar. 13, 11:22 am, "Salem OH", 234-567-8900,
Mar. 13, 2:20 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 16, 12:42 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 17, 2:34 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 18, 3:51 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 19, 12:50 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 19, 4:05 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 20, 1:30 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 20, 2:20 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 21 11:05 am, "Register to Vote", 978-570- 2278,
Mar. 21 1:41 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
Mar. 21 2:41 pm, "Toll Free Service", 877-824-2288,
-- See post about notification with this number --
-- The promise by Comcast to not call has not been honored. --
Mar. 23 11:36 am, "Toll Free Service", 800-760-1364.

April 2009

There have been so few (<6) this month I haven't bothered to record them, especially after Comcast agreed to stop calling me. So, I think the do not call registry works, it just takes longer than they say and it doesn't cover companies in which you have agreed to be called whether you know it or know, like phone, cable and other companies you have an active account.

Yeah, I know the name and phone number may not be correct, but it's what they sent as their telephone number and id. I got to admit it's not perfect, but it's far fewer calls than before. And to those who have called me, you're now on notice, call again I will use the Do Not Call Registry to file complaints.

Like that stops anyone, but it's all I have beside not answering the phone and posting your name and number here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Dangerous Thing II

I wrote a previous essay about the old adage, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.", and ended, "especially in photography." That's the point here. Twenty years ago photography was a lot simplier. Like that new or news to anyone with any inkling of knowledge in or about photography. It's exploded since and keeps exploding.

And that's my point. It's exploded beyond any photographer's ability and effort to be more than literate. Being competent in any one aspect anymore requires so much time to learn, you still won't be able to learn it all or do the rest of photography. There are so many people working in and advancing the technology and information that it's a constant job to tread mental water. And the truth is that we can't anymore.

That's where everyone's, and as I see in myself my own, limtiations in learning, understanding and using all the information anymore isn't possible and we struggle with just grasping the ideas. If we tried to be technically competent anymore, we'd be spending all our time learning the details of photography than being a photographer.

Years ago you could just go out and shoot. You'd get the film and pick the best to print or publish, and roll on. If you wanted to be good in the darkroom or even a darkroom master, you could, but you could always find the time to get back to being a photographer. New films weren't introduced so frequently and you could learn the ones you wanted and test the news against your experience and knowledge.

And camera technology was more incremental with the occasional big step in new features and functions. A Leica M-series camera would last you a lifetime. A Nikon F-series lasted through numerous photo adventures and travels. But it was still all about your skills as a photographer and your knowledge with your tools. And then everything changed with autofocus, automatic exposures, and other improvements, but more so with digital cameras.

That's a whole other story. I wanted to talk about the sheer quantity of information today. I thought of this getting the recent issue of Photo Techniques magazine, only one of three I subscribe to, LensWork and View Camera the other two. To understand what the writers are presenting takes a good depth of knowledge and experience, but more importantly, to actually practice what you just learned, takes even more time.

There simply isn't enough time to learn anything beyond the basics for a good understanding of photography, and learning a specialty would require focusing on a one to a few areas at the expense of other things in life to learn more. You simply run out of time. It's the nature of the world today. You have to pick what you want and let the rest fall by the wayside.

I've written that I'm an occasional observational photographer. I wander and take photos of what I see and produce realistically as possible what I saw. No more, no less. It's what I want to do in and with my photography. That means a lot of the technical details are lost on me. I simply don't use them, but that doesn't mean I don't want to understand them, because the more you know and understand, the better photography you do.

And that's the rub of today. You can't. You can learn and do better, but be ready to always learn and be overwhelmed with the enormity of information and people working in the one area, often having spent a career and even a lifetime at that one or few things. And that's not a bad idea or practice. It just has its own price and cost.

Just look at any longtime professional photographer. At their career and life. They focused and expanded as time permitted. They grew their knowledge with and from their experience. It's about a life and lifetime. The whole world of photography has been enriched and improved because of these efforts. Yet, It's also made the rest of us less competent.

In the end, it's the choices we make in our photography life and career. We choose and leave the rest to others, but we shouldn't forget the adage. Don't think we're smarter than we are. Or else we'll be the adage.

A Dangerous Thing

We've heard all to often, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." And in this day and age, with the sheer quantity of information and technology, it's more true than ever. And I'm as guilty as anyone. I'm a generalist. I like to understand the ideas and logic about something and then apply the technical stuff whenever and wherever it's necessary or fits.

That's not always the best in conversations and discussions, and especially in debates, because I can't argue details, only the overlying concepts and application. I can always add them as I learn or research because I know what to look for and what can or will fit, but all too often not during the discussion, and sometimes have to decide to shut up or look stupid.

The opposite of this is someone who knows a lot of facts and details. We've all met these folks who can talk and talk ad infinitum about the topics they're "knowledgeable" about. They're often so focused on the details they'll almost always miss the ideas or concepts of the subject.

I got into an Internet dialog on a mailing list (see previous post about "It never ends") and I heard endless points about how much better raw format is in digital photography than jpeg format. I didn't argue that, but argued jpeg has its own advantages and much of the criticism about it no longer applies as the photo editors are better than those of just a few years ago.

But in all the discussion, the folks on the other side wouldn't see let alone admit jpeg format has advantages for many photographers and situations. No, they simply kept piling on the technical information about the advantages of raw format. It wasn't the first time I've had this discussion, but it was the last. I left the mailing list the next day.

I'm not arguing who's smarter. We all have our own experience, knowledge and understanding of what we've done life. I only argue that respect for the other people and their views, and not pummel them with tons of useless technical information to appear smart. It only shows you know facts, but as Albert Einstein said, "Intelligence without imagination is useless."

I once supervised a woman who qualified for MENSA. A very intelligent woman. But she also had a learning disability where she only learned something a certain way. She was great once you taught her something and she could recite all sorts of facts to no end, but she couldn't fit the pieces into a picture. Kinda' like a super computer talking to the world through a dial-up connection.

She also had difficulty grasping the overlying scheme of things which is necessary to integrate information into an idea or concept. She could see a concept, but couldn't fit the facts into it. But her job in data management, operations, production, analysis and publication which required those skills was lost on her. She simply couldn't imagine beyond the facts. That was the missing connection of her intelligence.

After a year working for me I helped her transfer back to her old job of routine work, following proceedures and checklists. I was always struck what and where it went wrong. So intelligent, just not smart. But then, like everyone, I have my faults and flaws to no end, and I too sometimes am blind to them when trying to do or say something.

I learned that in college after the service. I can't understand chemistry to save my life along with many field of physics. I'm ok at math but not beyond basic calculus. I, obviously, don't write eloquently. I can't remember facts and details. And I all too often barely remember the ideas and concepts. And more often than not I'm mentally blind in my zeal to make a point.

And it's why the old adage fits us all. And especially in photography.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Respect and a smile

One thing I've learned in my life is to both respect everyone's opinion and to smile in the face of the most serious debate. Sometimes I get riled up over an issue and become outspoken, often giving people the impression I'm a zealot and won't listen. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I like passionate arguments and people passionate about their views.

But I also like open and honest discussion where people will listen and not become obstinate or belligerent. It's the old adage, "Take your issues seriously but not yourself seriously." And it's when I like to find the quirky or humorous sides or things in an argument and smile that helps me keep things in perspective.

Because, in the end, almost any issue is irrelevant. It's only important for the moment and with those people. The rest of the world doesn't care and time doesn't notice. All we're doing is making a lot of noise that later won't matter except the energy expended and feelings bruised or hurt. And that's why respect and a smile is essential.

In the end you have to respect the other one's right to have and express their opinion. After all it's just that and no better or worse than yours, just different. And you have to smile because what else is there to do?

I expect the same in return. If they don't, then that's their loss to enjoy the discussion and just as likely learn a few things. Everyone has experience, understanding and knowledge which can enrich or enlighten your life. And as I say sometimes, that may not be something I wanted or needed and they may hold views that challenge reality, and at least I learn something about them, like silently walk away, sometimes quickly.

Anyway, my point here is simply that my view is just that, mine. It's not fixed in space or time, just mine here and now. I'll defend it until I see or hear good reasons and information to change, or not. Some of my views are heartfelt and won't change. But either way I'll respect everyone else's opinion and smile as the nature of the discussion.

It never dies

Sometimes I like to provoke an arguement (debate style), taking an issue to the extreme, to get the other side to think. Often, unfortunately, it doesn't work, and usually only deepens the resolve and view of the other side. And they often get boisterous to where their zealousness is too much, and I leave.

And photography is not without those issues, and almost first and foremost is the raw versus jpg argument. While I won't disagree with all the advantages of shooting raw, I will always defend the argument to shoot jpg for its advantages, which are often overlooked by the raw-only zealots. And yes, they're zealots, to the extreme.

And on a maling list, after someone asked the proverbial question, "Should I shoot raw or jpg?", the zealots weighed in with both cameras, er. feet sitting in front of the computer. And I, true to form, argued to shoot jpg for convenience and get 95+% of your work and results because in the end you won't be able to tell the difference unless you blow the image up to the size of a truck.

And true to form I got verbally pummelled into the bit floor. So I left the mailing list. I don't need this crap from photographers who prefer sitting in front of the computer manipulating images they can't take in the field. And yes that's an overstatement. I know it's extreme and not really right, true or fair. Well, mabye two of three ain't bad.

My point. Many of the raw advocates find it easier to plug their brains in sitting in front of a computer than when they're standing behind the camera. It's why they love all the automatic features and functions on cameras, and with raw format, they can take all the images they want without thinking, because they know they can always fix it in Photoshop.

This isn't a vent against professionals who shoot raw. It's the foundation of a lot of types of photography, especially fine art where you need a large detailled image you can work to produce the final image you want. I'm not against all the neat tools in Photoshop, I'm always learning them. My point is a simple one, and based on being a long time slide film photographer.

I shoot to capture the best photo (film) or image (digital) in the camera that I saw when I was standing there. With slide film you didn't have a choice, you had to get the exposure right or you lost it. Slide film is not very forgiving on the exposure and color balance. Black and White has some latitude you can bracket to get different results.

And with that experience I like the challenge to capture the digital image the same way, and to that end I shoot jpg. It's the choice I make. Occasionally I shoot raw+jpg, but even then rarely use the raw file. I'm not alone with this practice, I just am tired that it's always criticized as wrong.

The zealots don't argue raw is just better, which it is in some regards, they always argue it's the "only" way. And that's when I get angry. I don't mind debate on the issue, but I don't like it when they take the issue personal and criticize anyone using, let alone advocating shooting jpg. And usually in the end, seeing they're not going to budge, let alone change, I leave.

It doesn't pay to beat a dead horse. That's the old saying which fits. They'll stand their ground to no end. Ok, so be it and I wish them well, but I don't need to hear it anymore. Me, I'll shoot jpg, produce the results and be on my way shooting again while they're fussing over their mistakes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

JMO - Trust Us

Remember hearing that from our government over the years? Especially when ole' George W. Bush said it or implied that he and the government were working hard to keep America and Americans safe from terrorists? And he wanted more freedom to do that? And while we gave him a lot of latitude, deep in our hearts and minds we told ourselves, "Yeah, right."

Well what has the Patriot Act and other acts giving wide power to the federal agencies to investigate and conduct surveillence on Americans brought us? Safer? Not if you read the studies and reports. More secure? Same thing. Freer? Like not. What it has done is allow the FBI to conduct investigations on innocent Americans under the guise of terorism using the least, and even circumstantial, evidence to validate the investigation. It's allows secret silent search warrents on the same premises.

And now today we read the National Security Agency (NSA) has been using the same laws to conduct surveillence on domestic telephone and Internet traffic. We all know they do this by splitting the data stream off from the telecommunications companies at their hubs, usually routing international traffic in and out of the US. But exclusively domestic traffic also goes through those hubs and now we hear the NSA doesn't have the technology to know the difference.

The law prohibits surveillence on domestic traffic, only international traffic, but the law doesn't have compliance rules and penalties if the NSA violates the law. But more importantly the article said the NSA "inadvertently" targeted Americans engaged in purely domestic communications, a clear violation of our rights and protections. Yet, all they said was, "We're sorry. And we've discontinued the practice."

Well, yeah right. The NSA has consistently and constantly lied to Congress, to the media and worse to the American people. So believe me when I say I don't trust you anymore. Not even for an instant. You're the worst enemy of the American people. Worse than terrorists. Worse than criminals. Worse than anyone could imagine. You lost the trust we placed in you to be fair and honest.

You never spoke the truth, and even now are spinning the truth into "mistakes" or "accidents" when in reality, you knew and did nothing to stop it. Then covered it up with lies. And now you're asking us to trust you'll fix the "problems" and not do it again. Sorry, you've spent your trust capital with the American people. You were never for us, and never trusted us beyond what you could hear or read from us, excuse me gather inadvertently.

So, the trust is gone and maybe we need some transparency to really know the depth of your lying. Or will you continue to ask for trust with a deficit account with the American people? Remember, we're not the enemy. The terrorists are, so focus on them. Then I'll begin to think about trusting you again.

Like you'll believe me? Yeah right, "Right back at ya dude."

Photographer's Website

As a member at I read the forums, of which there are many and many more experienced contributors along with the many ordinary (me) and novice photographers. And any professional and commercial photographer has their own Website. Others do too, but many use the available on-line free photo gallery Website. One of the most frequently asked questions is to evaluate the Website of photographes, usually a new site or an updated or upgraded one.

And this is where it gets interestiing. Professional and commercial photographers usually develop their Website using either a professional Web designer or an on-line or commercial package with templates. There's always the main or home page with either a single photo or slideshow and navigation. Simple and often elegant. And from there you can navigate to their galleries, blog, purchase, about and contact Web pages.

It's pretty much canned format, just slightly different styles. But the common thread to almost all of them is simplicity. The vast majority of photographers like clean designs without a lot of fluff. They want to see the images. After that most don't seem to care, or at least they don't express and an interest beyond the images and basic navigation.

So when someone comes along with a personal expression outside of this style, they can get critical, and easily, in my view, mistake their opinion for expertise. Experience in photography doesn't necessarily translate to experience in Web design, and, again in my view, not much. Understanding visual design and composition in photography is totally different than Web presentation.

I'm not saying I'm an expert in either, not by any stretch of my imagination, but I like personal expression. And while I may not like some Website's desgin, I will always try to admire how it's presented. Because in the end Website design is only partial visual communication. It's really about content and content presentation, which is the world of journalism and publication.

And that's where many photographers lose track of their limitations for critical review outside photography. They often translate the criteria for photography to other areas, forgetting it doesn't usually translate and often misunderstanding the Website design and presentation. I'm no different. There are some I just shrug and go, "Huh?", or "Well, ok."

Anyway, this is just a small, passing comment on an observation about being critical. Sometimes you need to step outside your own shoes and see things differently. Someone's personal Website doesn't have to always be within an accepted standard. That's why it's personal expression. In short follow simple rules when asked, "So, what do you think of my Website?"

If you don't like it, be honest to know it's your opinion.
If you can't express negatives as positives, then don't.
Always be constructive, being destructive only shows on you.
And always say thanks for sharing.

None of us are the best at anything, so don't act as if you are. And don't act as if your standards are everyone's. After all, the situation could easily be reversed and you're on the end of the criticism. How would you feel about your work then?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NPR - Procrastination

Everywhere you read they will tell you procrastinatiion is a bad personal trait, and they'll go on to teach you how do overcome procrastination, to rid yourself of this habit. And while I won't disagree it's a bad trait when it's important or critical, like a life threatening decision or action, I will argue it's also a good trait to have. Why?

Ever notice when people rush into things and find themselves in a mess and find people criticisizing them for being too quick. "You should have waited.", is often the remark while trying to keep from using the word dumb or stupid. We've all been there and all heard those words and comments. And either we beat ourselves up mentally for it or just brush it off and ignore our own habit of being too quick.

I rarely do that. I'm a good procrastinator, sometimes even approaching greatness. And over the years I've found procrastination has some benefits, and even is better than deciding or acting. Really?

Well, for one, as people say procrastination will cost you money for not buying something when you should have or it was affordable, they forget you didn't spend the money in the first place and saved the whole amount than any later in time. And time proved you really didn't need it after all. You adjusted and adapted to not having it.

And sometimes everyone will tell you that you should do something and you didn't and don't. You simply continued on as you were doing to find it didn't hurt you live and you're still living. You may have missed some new experience or something gained from the new experience, but you're still standing and living, and while you may not have had that experience, you did learn what you missed and what you did gain by not doing it.

In addition when faced with a serious decision that isn't time critical or dependent, procrastination can give you one thing make a decision wouldn't, time. Procrastination will give you time to research and think more about the issue, the choices, the consequences and yourself. That sometimes is the better decision, simply no decision.

In the end, procrastination is a choice you have, and sometimes it is the best one among the choices. Procrastination does take practice, knowing when to use it, and patience, something it automatically does, slow you down. And that's not a bad thing, especially as bad as many people say procrastination is.

And as a longtime practiioner, it works for me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

JMO - Soapbox Issues

We all have soapbox issues, ones we're so passionate about we don't know when and how to shut up. We always want the last word. We always want everyone to understand, and sometimes worse, to agree with us. We always want our view to be "the" view and not one of many. And we're always blind to ourself.

I have several soapbox issues. Some have long faded into history as events have changed to where it's no longer a real issue and only history. Like George Bush. Some have dimished to a level it's either stupid or irrelevant to talk about them. And some linger as issues just enough enough to bubble forth now and then to become an issue it's worth getting out the soapbox and standing there yelling at the world.

Like the world will listen? Do you know how many people are talking about some issues? You'd be surprised no matter how small the issue there are people espousing views in discussions, debates and arguments to no end. The nature of the Internet has improved the interconnectivity where any issue is an invitation to discuss on forums, in blogs, and through groups lists.

My problem is that I have views with some of my soapbox issues that I'm not only in the extreme on the issue, I'm in the extreme of those who are passionate or ardent supporters or opponents of the issue. Like?

For example, I like we need all the wilderness we can find in our country. It's our future. But more than that, I believe we should set aside some wilderness prohibiting people, even backcountry hikers. Simply set it aside and let it be. I would only allow researchers in the area to study and report. And then only others for emergencies. But no other people.

That's not the acceptable view in the wilderness community, so while I'm hated by people who are against wilderness, I'm also hated by those in the wilderness community. It's just my view. I think we should do this for the future generations to make their own decisions. But I'll compromise to have more wilderness and make access restrictive to just hikers and others as emergencies necessitate.

That's one. I have more, but I've learned to park them in my mind and only speak out when it seems to help the discussion. I know my view on these issues don't get much traction and even anger people, so I just keep them private. But then that's why I have a blog. It's my blog to say as I want and if you don't like it, just don't read it.

My blog is my soapbox on the Internet street corner, one of millions. It's just another voice in the huge choir of people. You're free to take or leave as you please. Just walk (surf) by as you would any other corner speaker standing on a soapbox. Or just maybe you'll read it and wonder, if only "Hmmm..., I never thought of that."

Ok, I can hope. And at the end of the day, I'll step down, pickup and fold my soapbox, and put into my pocket and walk away. To come again another day. As they say, "I'm always here."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

NPR - Easter Sunday

Photo NPS Webcam

It's that day as some like to say and recognize. Being a Taoist, it's not that important to me. So I can ponder the day as any other and wonder what people see in this day. I'm not against Christianity or Christians. It's their belief as Taoism is mine. And I'm sure the couple being the first at Paradise today don't have Jesus on their minds, except maybe, "Thank God for snow!"

Anyway, this is more of a ramble across a weekend in a life. Yesterday I learned the lesson of using your finger to be a door stop. When I opened the driver's side door on the van I forgot I parked too close to the post in the carport and slammed the door against the post with my middle finger inbetween. It turned red then blue. I drained some blood from it and am keeping the hole in the nail open to relieve the pressure.

And yesterday I called some stores to verify if they had something I wanted that they sold, auto parts, photography equipment and books. They all said yes they did have the stuff. Except the autoparts store didn't have enough of what I wanted, just what would do for awhile. The photo shop had one part of the gear but not the other one and had no plans to get it for awhile. The bookstore clerk said the book was in their in-house inventory but they couldn't find it on the shelves.

It was just one of those days. We've all had those days, some even worse. This was just the accumulation of small things over the whole day. But it's past and I'll adjust. While I do buy many things on-line, I do try to support small and/or local businesses. I've found they're often within the same price range and the value is being able to see the product and take it home. That's worth something, to me anyway.

But the day wasn't a total waste. I did spend some time in a local cafe (The Spar) reviewing (print versions) of Web pages for the photo guide. They make a nice double mocha (and beside great food too). I'm working on the five individual section Web pages (Web page) for the first spring (May 1) edition.

Anyway, it's now yesterday and it was far better than many places people live in the world today. And compared to all the other 6 billion people's lives yesterday, I don't have much to complain about. So, to my God I'm thankful. Nothing against Jesus, I'm sure he was a great guy then, but his reputation has been a public relations specialist's dream, thanks to the Bible.

But there are days I wonder if he were alive today, what would he say about the state of the world, but also the state of religion, especially what's been done and being done in his name. I think he might have some new words for a lot of people, including religious leaders and church members. Something about the equality, importance and value of human beings maybe?

I know he'd be just a tad bit angry at all the discrimination done in his and God's name. And I know he'd disagree with the different interpretations of his words these two millenium later. And he might even look to God to ask, "My God, what have I done?" But I sure wouldn't mind meeting him to chat about life. I'm sure he has some interesting stories to tell.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

NPR - The Simple Choice

Every day we get up and we face the simple choice. Today I can get better or I can get worse. There is nothing in between. Every day we age. Every day we have memories of yesterday. Every day the world around us has changed, Everyday everyone else has changed. Some days the changes are small and imperceptible and we don't feel like we've changed at all. But we have, however slowly and in small increments. It's the truth and reality of life.

Our life. Just like everyone else's, but this one is ours. Ours to choose. To make the simple choice. We can get better or we can get worse. And every day when we go to sleep we're faced with the reality of that choice from our life that day and all the events of the world. It doesn't matter what else happened. What everyone else did. Or even if we faced hard choices or had huge experiences. It's always back to that choice.

In the end it's really that simple. It's the simple choice. Every day. Every moment of our life.

We make our choices

I was viewing the Website for Ellis Vener. What can you say about those amazing images? I can only ask myself why I'm not doing more and better photography. I'm good but far from professional, something inside loses interest for the last few steps between a very good and excellent photography or image and the few more to outstanding. I've tried, but I always seem to find myself going in circles back where I started wondering what to do, but knowing more failure than success.

In the end, I wonder if it's just who we are, and sometimes or with somethings the passion to go beyond a certain level isn't there or is there but only with so much effort you lose everything else. Meaning beyond a certain level, a few people have it and the rest of us don't. So we have to make a choice. A choice between overwhelming dedication to a goal we likely won't achieve, or just doing our best and living with that.

We know that to strive to do better is good, and we can always do better, but for the many the cost for the gain becomes a losing proposition, more and more energy and feelings expended for less and less gain, never achieving the goal that a few do with natural ability and hard work. The hard work is common, the ability, talent and skill aren't. And that's where we have to make a choice.

I've always said I'm an occasional observational photographer. I photograph what I see and present what I thought I saw. No more or no less. It's my comfort zone. And occasionally I push myself into being creative, but that passion isn't natural or often. I have to keep pushing myself until my mind quits, knowing it's far less than other could or would do.

But that's me and the choices I make. The question in the end is if I'm comfortable with that. And it's also the beauty of life and photography, doing better is always relative. Not to others but to ourself. And that's a choice we can all make.

Friday, April 10, 2009

NPR - Oh to be guilty

    "I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking." -Woodrow Wilson

Not much more be said. I'm guilty. We're all guilty. And as I've always said, an opinion is just an opinion, maybe more or less experienced, knowledgeable or understanding, but still one opinion. The same and equal as everyone else's opinion. One person, one voice, one opinion. America and our Constitution at its best.

So to all those who think their opinion is better than anyone else's opinion, think again. It not only shows your arrogance but also your ignorance. And don't expect many to listen to yours anymore than they'll listen to others' opinion. As you are dismissive, we too can be dismissive. Of you and your opinion.

So, go ahead and speak up. We're all entitled. And we're all entitled to prove the fool we are.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NPR - Sitting at Home

I've written about Mondays, and they're still cool, more than three years after retiring. But Wednesdays are also cool because it's a free day to me and I can choose to go somewhere or just sit at home. And that latter isn't what it was when that was a demeaning phrase, "What, all you're doing is sitting at home?" It's a totally different world than my Dad when he had to answer that question.

For me, it's about freedom. Retiring has always been about freedom. After 38-plus years of college and work, I wanted to be and do what I wanted with the rest of my life, or at least as much as the rest of the world will allow me. I choose some personal journeys and projects to take up more than the rest of my life and work, at least until luck isn't there one moment and has other plans.

And some days it's about just being home and doing whatever crosses the mind. You see with the Internet, there isn't much I can't see or read about the world. With my terrific computer system (sorry, it's a Mac G5) I can do anything my imagination and interests wants to create or do. And with a near-180 view of the southeast out my window to the Narrows Strait and Mt. Rainier in the distance, nature is always there. I just have to look up.

And should I want or choose, and want or need something, town is just a 3 mile walk or drive away. But those are for Thursday and Friday every week. The to go and do list. But I can also just pack the cameras in the van and go somewhere, or take one camera and walk around the semi-rural/suburban neighborhood and take photos.

But some days sitting at home working on personal projects is what makes it right and fun. While I'm a good organizer and manager, I was never a good deadline person. I hate them and always preferred quality over timeliness. And it's why my boss and I didn't get along and partly why I retired earlier than planned. But that's the past and today is now.

There are decisions we face when we retire from one career to a new life. That's a statement of the obvious. My Dad, however, didn't see that, let alone think about it. He puttered his life away in retirement not doing much more than just living as his body slowly betrayed him. He died at 75, just days after his birthday having grown tired of life. He died out of choice, not circumstance.

Years later my Mom told me whatever I do in life to be different than him. "Do what you want.", she said, just don't putter it away. I got his gene to like being at home. And I'm comfortable being alone with my work and everything else myself, life and work entails. That's not unusual, most artists, especially writers, create their work alone.

We see the results and forget the work to get there, mostly a life alone sitting somewhere, usually at home in their den or workshop. Creativity is one of the most alone things anyone can do. You can share your thoughts and ideas, but you're alone with them and yourself when you work on them. I'm not great at anything, just ordinary, but what I do, I do my best and live with the results.

And alone as it is and I am. Sitting at home days like today, just enjoying life and work and the world all around and outside my window. What more could you ask for in life?

JMO - Food should be food

I was reading an article in this week Science section of the New York Times about prebiotics, digestive health supplements, naturally found in some foods. They said that some companies are now adding it regular foods to help boost the health value and benefits of the foods. But there is a downside to this practice.

We've seen more and more foods have more and more additives and supplements when just simple regular health supplements will do the same thing, and assuming people take vitamins, which now are more comprehensive supplements than vitamins, and other supplements, we're overdosing our bodies with supplments. But this prebiotic is another step where people are actually being hurt by reducing the foods they can eat.

Why? Simple. Some people have adverse reactions to digestive health supplements. They can't take digestive health aids, whether as additives or supplements in food because it will cause or exacerbate problems with the balance of the digestive system. I am one of those people. A few years ago I took several digestive health supplements with every day with meals, until the flu caused a shift in my digestive system causing any of these supplements to produce a severe adverse reaction.

And now the list of foods I can eat is getting shorter, not so much because of the food but all the additives and supplements in them. They're simply too much for my body and system. And so I'm now focusing on foods that are simply food. Outside of just a few foods which I have a history of eating, I can't and don't eat any food that has any additives or supplements in it.

Food should be food. Nothing more and nothing less. For the sake of our health, it's time we reduced the overdose of additives and supplements in food. We don't need them in so many foods with many of the same additives and supplements. Our bodies are being inundated with these ingredients which don't really help and aren't really necessary in those foods.

There are simplier ways to control and have additives and supplements without having to focus on reading the ingredients label of every food to ensure our body doesn't overdose. I know I have to now, read every label of every food, and not buy foods I know contain these additives and supplments. Not for the food but these extra ingredients, nothing that contains anything that remotely "aids" the digestive system.

Ok, I'm in the small percentage here. But that's enough for me. I'm in my own 100 percentile. My life, my body, my health. And food should still be food. Just food.

JMO - Dear Spammers

Give it up. I don't bite and your wasting bandwidth for everyone else. I have yet, nor do I plan, to respond to e-mails about this or that product or service. If I want a product or service, I look it up on the company's Website, find stores or shops with it, and go there. I only buy off the Internet with a few companies which respect my information. So you're wasting your time sending the e-mails, and my time deleting them.

I don't even look at them. I know who's e-mail I can read with assurances it's not a solicitation or spam and all the rest get deleted without even a glance. The only exceptions are the occasional ones I like to see if the return address is real, not the one in the e-mail but the routing information, something you can't hide or disguise.

So, I'm sending ya'll a blanket request to remove me from your lists. Otherwise, I don't and won't care about your products or services. Your e-mails are instant history. Some don't get through my ISP's filter, most get dumped into the junk folder and deleted without viewing, and the rest get deleted and erased in bulk.

So, here's the deal, you stop sending me e-mails and I'll stop complaining and criticisizing spammers as the scum of the Internet. Like you're going to honor this and I'm going to honor my promise? Hey, it's your choice.

Just Ask

I got an e-mail from my sister, the last immediate family member besides me. I won't get into family dynamics here, that's not the subject or the point, but she raised a question that plagues photographers with Websites and photo galleries. And that's people downloading and using your images for other purposes, usually making prints because they feel it's cheaper to steal the images than ask the photographer for prints.

The problem is that most photographers, myself included, don't post images which are print-quality. They're simply Web viewable images, smaller with the least resolution. That's because monitors display images at 72 dpi where prints usually use 300 or higher dpi. Also, most photographers, again myself included, only post about 400x600 pixel size images, which is about the normal size to get the viewable images with newer monitors.

This means that stealing image(s), while legal for personal use, violates copyrights if you print or use the photographer's images for anything else, such as on Websites, for projects, in publications, and commercial use. It's illegal without the photographer's permission and compensation, meaning a contract respecting ownership, use and money.

So, my answer to this is simple. I offer photo cards, samples in above image, of any images on my Website and photo galleries and many which aren't posted yet. And I offer to make prints up to about 8x10 or larger in my office and larger through local professional labs. All you have to do is ask. That's not hard and often the price is easily affordable and often free.

I'm aware that offering low cost or free cards and prints isn't the smartest thing for a photographer to do, when there are so many trying to earn an income from their work. I'm not competing with them. They deserve the respect they've earned to pay for their work. I've also worked hard for my images, but given the choice of having people steal and make bad prints versus offering them, it's a no brainer for me.

I want to see people use my cards and appreciate my prints. And if it means providing them for free, so be it. I'm not in photography to make money, but simply enjoy the work and produce the results I, and hopefully others, like. Besides I've looked into marketing them and it's not only more than I want to do, it's not cost-effective or time-efficient for me.

So downloading images isn't smart, because all it does is produce bad images and prints, not close to the original or what's possible. And it is illegal. Granted you might get away with it, but consider what would you do if someone did that to your creations. It's fair and right to respect the photographer and their work.

So that's my comment for the day. If you want cards or print, just ask.