I broke the law yesterday morning. I trespassed.

It wasn’t even five o’clock and my camera and I ignored the multiple Do Not Enter and No Trespassing signs and found myself on the train tracks in Plant City, behind the old train station that is now a museum.

Sure, I could have stayed in the well-lit areas out front but I wouldn’t have been able to get the shots I hankered for and all my fans (LMAO) would have been disappointed.

I imagined conversations with the arresting officers, if I had been discovered. And I don’t think the “all my fans” excuse would have held much water.

Plant City Police are a pretty unmovable force but at least I am white, so hopefully I wouldn’t have been shot before I gave the chance to explain.

The pictures from the track-side captured the pre-dawn blueness to the arriving day, so I was happy with the overall shots.

They are at the end of this short blog, so I hope you enjoy.

As I stood there alone in the presence of some small elements of history, I thought for a moment about rail. And as I drove home, I imagined how big a deal it was at the time.

Rail opened up Florida for commerce and is credited within being the lifeline that developed what would ultimately become one of the most populous states in the union.

And I thought about how big a moment to America, driving the golden spike was. This was the spike that was driven into the last rail tie needed to connect the east of the US with the west.

The year was 1869 and rail was the biggest thing happening in a post-civil war America. It must have been a topic of conversation in every household and twitter feed of the time.

I can’t imagine the difference it made to the functioning of a country which up to that moment relied solely on wagon trains to carry goods and people from one side to the other.

150 years later …. no one even thinks of rail. The vast majority of the population here will have never even been on a train.

There were many other huge moments in history that are now so insignificant that we don’t even teach them in school. Running water and toilets. Telegraphs. Automobile.

Hell, we don’t even have to go that far back in time. How about my very first PC at work. I was at Rockwell International in Chicago and was given a brand new Compaq 286 with a 20MB hard drive. I remember the disbelief in the typing pool outside my office, that I might actually be able to type my own memos. What is the world coming to!

Humanity is nothing, if not innovative.

It is a characteristic that in many ways distracts our parasitic effect on the planet. Particularly our technological revolution … that provides the world with such a distraction that we become blind to the damage we are doing and the scale of how irreparable it is.

We see these doomsday and post-apocalyptic movies, but we are unmoved. I don’t think that it is really that we don’t believe what we are doing to the world. But rather, it is that we don’t care enough to stop doing it.

The lure of our capabilities (travel, technologies, consumption) is strong enough that we are distracted from where we are heading.

It’s kind of like handing out soap as we head into the gas chambers.

So, trust me, I am as infatuated as much as most with our endless developments. I love my digital camera. I enjoy the internet. And without my car, I would be driving my horse crazy with all these early morning starts.

But I do recognize what some of these developments are doing to us and the world. And I am concerned.

While the golden spike connected peoples on both sides of the country and automobiles enabled our ability to get out and experience the wonderful country we live in, developments like the internet and the mediafication (new word, ladies and gentlemen) of opinion on it, are significant.

We have not just effectively isolated large numbers of people away from direct contact with other people, but we allow crazy opinions and conspiracies to polarize them.

(Mediafication – channeling opinions and conspiracies as if they were legitimate and verified news.)

Just because something is an advancement technologically speaking, doesn’t mean it is an advancement for humanity or the planet.

As individuals, we can’t really stop the advancement of anything but we can be careful on how we use them and how we allow them to affect us.

When handed the bar of soap, it is ok to say “no thanks, I’ll wash later.” Being clean is over-rated anyway.

… just a thought.


It was one of those mornings where you are determined to try something new but don’t know exactly what.

In my world that translates into a question of looking for a new place to set up my camera and being only 5 am and my need being a sunrise, my options are somewhat limited.

I furthermore normally look for a body of water for that kind of shoot. Because reflections are very important (to me anyway) in trying to enhance whatever the skies are doing above the horizon.

So that means I am always looking for a vantage point that looks east for sunrise and west for sunset.

East for sunrise in the Tampa area is somewhat limited as the natural body of water is the bay and that is to the west.

If it is a weekend, I am OK with driving across one of the bay bridges and shooting back from the St Pete side. But during the weekdays, if I do that, then I run into rush-hour traffic heading into Tampa after my shoot as I endeavor to get home.

So that means that lakes present my best option at these moments and Lake Parker is not just the closest, but it has a public road running almost its entire circumference, so my access to a viewpoint there is really quite good.

Lakeland is teeming is with lakes (hence the name) but access to many would mean I have to go into someone’s back yard, as homeowners control the shoreline when no road is present.

Breaking into someone’s back yard at 5 am (in fact, at any time) in Florida is quite likely to result in a shoot out. And it is quite difficult to take steady shots of a sunrise when there are bullets flying around your head.

I’ve actually been run off twice from lake fronts at sunset by property owners telling me they own this frontage and I need to move. So, I already know that Floridians are not the most friendly of people, even when their sleep hasn’t been interrupted by a weird old guy with a camera in their yard.

Anyway, all of this preamble was just to explain why I found myself back at Lake Parker early in the morning, camera in hand. But this time, instead of being on the east side or west side, I found a little boat-launch spot down on the very tip of the south shore.

I had never been there before and my hopes were that I could get enough water between me and the horizon to make the shots acceptable.

And I did. So, I was happy.

But only for a while.

You see, Mossy Kito and his entire family found me and even though I had sprayed myself with repellant, apparently none of them could read the label. So, they attacked me in swarms.

It was insane. There must have been hundreds and the flew at me from all sides. I moved and they moved. I ran and they ran. I swatted and they laughed.

One of them even flew up under my glasses and into my eye.

So, I retreated quickly to the car and drove away from there long before I had intended to. When I looked at the photos later, the last ten or so were so blurry (taken while running) that they resembled a scene from the Blair Witch Project.

Anyway, I have attached some of what I did manage to salvage at the end of this blog so I hope you enjoy!

As I drove away, defeated and angry, I wondered what on earth the purpose of a mosquito is. If you believe in creationism (and obviously I don’t) then their arrival on the planet was some some divine inspiration and definitely intended.

They have been around forever and apart from being in the food chain (for dragonflies, etc) they serve no purpose. They don’t pollinate. They don’t help break down waste.

No, apparently their only purpose is to chase weary old photographers from what would otherwise be a decent spot for taking a photo. I must have looked like a right lunatic; running through a parking lot in semi-darkness, carrying a tripod larger than me and flailing wildly with the other hand at an invisible enemy.

When the anger subsided I continued with my thought of “purpose” and began to self-examine.

And I decided that there really are two separate kinds of purpose for us all. I called them Purpose for Life and Purpose for Living.

They may sound like the same thing but in my mind I was able to justify the divide as follows:

Purpose for Life is something very identifiable and very tangible. Why was I born? What positive have I given the world that justifies my having been born into it.

I’ve known my answer to that one for years. It was quite easy for me. You see, I didn’t invent any cure to something, or bring more happiness than misery to those I encountered along the way. No, my purpose for life is simply put. My Girls.

I have been partly responsible for bringing two amazing talents into the world and the world is a better place for them. I won’t get into the why’s and wherefore’s but suffice to say they are both brilliant. They are my gift to the world. Enjoy.

So when any of us look for our purpose for life, we need to be able to identify something tangible that we have left behind in the world after we are gone.

A tiny percentage of people accomplish something obvious (like a cure) but for most of us, it is less dramatic. However, purpose for life doesn’t need to be dramatic. It only needs to be a net positive.

No one is grading us and giving my life a 7 out of 10 but the guy next door only a 6. It isn’t about that. There is no competition.

As long as your life is a net positive, that is all that matters. And I use the phrase “net positive” because if the negatives associated with you having been born outweigh the positive, then I’m sorry. But the world would have been better off without you.

So, the second purpose I mentioned is Purpose for Living. And unlike the former, this is a transient and changing aspect of our lives. Literally it just means, at any point in time is there a reason to go on living?

This is normally something that it is in the future or present (whereas purpose for life is often in the past as you grown older). It may be something you are doing or planning to do, someone you are with or planning on being with. Something like that.

At different points in life I have had different purposes for living and sometimes a few at the same time. So it isn’t a singular thing. We may be enjoying our career, madly in love with someone, and fully engaged in our favorite pasttime.

There may even be different levels to our purpose for living. Things that are seriously important to us while other things might be less important but nonetheless worth living for.

And that is the essential part of what I am trying to say, I guess. Purpose for living gives our present and future a value. A reason for hanging around. A reason for putting up with all the other stuff that makes life a misery at times.

Some people check out, when they lose their reason for living. Others just fall into a going-through-the-motions mode while they “wait for god”.

This past year after my marriage plans fell through and my little business descended into failure, my own purpose for living dwindled down to little more than the cats and a few responsibilities that I have to stay living for. So I can’t check out.

But suicide is painless (for any MASH lovers out there) so I understand why some people do. As my favorite lines from the song say “That game of life is hard to play, I’m gonna lose it anyway”.

So, it isn’t the living part that is important. It is the purpose for living. Without it we are aimless.

When our living is with purpose, we oftentimes take it for granted. Not even knowing why we are doing what we are doing. And that is altogether fine. We don’t need to over-analyze things.

But when living no longer has a purpose, we need to understand why and if there is something we can do about it, then we should. Some people suddenly find a new pastime, a new lover, a new career. They reinvent themselves for whatever portion of their life they have left. And they can find happiness therein.

No one can force you to do this. You have to want to do it. You have to want to have a purpose for the rest of your living. And if you don’t want to, then your happiness factor is going to be dramatically reduced until the Grim Reaper pays you a visit.

And he doesn’t seem like the happiest of characters…. just a thought.


If you haven’t figured it out already, all these early morning shoots recently are initiated by Rocky. Around three each morning he decides I have had enough sleep and starts jumping heavily on me, running from a distance and landing on my back or chest, and if that doesn’t work, pushing me on the face with his paws and meowing at me.

So, needless to say, it was another early shoot this morning. This time, Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland was the venue and while the clutter on the opposite shore makes it an imperfect spot for a sunrise, it was close, I had my coffee, so what the hell.

The lights from the far shore can give a lovely source of reflection in the event nothing happens on the horizon and so I played with short and long exposures to try to get something of value.

The low-lying bank of cloud that smothered the horizon provided a neat effect though inasmuch as it gave a split-sky aspect to the eventual twilight, where the cloud bank ended. Shot four below is what I mean and essentially the sky holds its blue where the shadow of the cloud beneath is, while the rest begins its orange-pink glow.

Eventually (as you can see in pic 5) it all becomes too much for the cloud bank to constrain and the colors leak out over the entire sky.

Anyway, it’s only a small set but they are at the end of the blog and I hope you like.

So, as I wrapped up things and was about to set off back to the car, I threw my back pack over my shoulder. I hadn’t zipped the top pouch up though and battery backs and a lens cover fell out onto the pavement below.

I pulled the back-pack quickly back off (before something more serious fell out) and the strap caught on my arm and opened up a cat-scratch on it

Now much worse than the original scratch (it officially fell into the wound category), blood started to dribble down my wrist and onto the ground.

So, I was feeling a tad frustrated at myself by the time I got back to the car and headed home.

Thus, the blog thought evolved from the whole notion of things that wound us to how we deal with all of life’s wounds and bruises.

You see, physically speaking we normally get wounds that are either self-inflicted or third-party caused and we tend to treat them based on the severity of the injury.

Some (like cat scratches) we might even wear with pride. I happily explain my cat scratches at the store as being just playful babies and Morgan is quick to point out the possum bite marks that left loving scars on her arm.

Other third party wounds we might even exhibit with a loud amazement “Wanna see where they ripped out my heart and put in a new one?”

And self-inflicted wounds are normally hidden away from the embarrassment of having self-injured.

But really my thoughts this morning were on the mental or psychological wounds that we all get while navigating the turbulent waters of life.

To most of the world, these are invisible wounds. Only our closest friends might even know they exist.

Some might be so extreme that they become a source of PTSD and then others see our pain out in the open and in the bright exposure of daylight.

But thankfully, that level of emotional injury is relatively rare. Relative, that is, to the normal battering and bruising we get on a daily basis.

As in the physical side, some injury is self-inflicted, but the majority are experienced either from another person or an event. Situations that are largely out of our control.

We might be dumped, ridiculed, demeaned, abused, fired, demoted … there are a range of things that can wound us.

Most wounds aren’t fatal and time in these cases is a great healer. We move on. People recover. Things are put into boxes and a lid put on them.

But some wounds leave scars. And though the cut itself may have healed, we are affected on a deep and permanent level.

No one sees these normally, but when we look in our mental mirror, we see them. We know the baggage that we are carrying and where the damage is.

It is important to know this about ourselves. Not just because it explains our behavior in getting into new relationships, navigating new situations, or reacting to certain behaviors.

But also (and I would argue, more importantly) it allows us to better defend ourselves against whatever caused that level of pain in the first place.

Once bitten, twice shy is only relevant if you know you were bitten.

So, whenever we look in that mirror, we need to find the scar and add a label on it. Who gave it to us, how they did it, and why we were vulnerable to it.

Understanding ourselves is a major component of being able to successfully navigate our lives. At least, without repeatedly getting wounded by the same type of sources that have done it to us before.

The odds of a wound being fatal increases with the number of wounds we get along the way. Band-aids can only cover so much.

… just a thought.