Jungle out there!

The heavy rains passed and the lush greens of the jungle beckoned the young cats.

In their short lives it had been an age since they were able to steal their way through the tall grasses and explore their surrounds.

The sweet wetness of the lowlands beckoned them and together they ventured into a section of the jungle that they had never seen before.

Tetsuo, the panther cub, and his best friend Everest, a gorgeous tigress, set out to explore and they left the safety of their dry sanctuary to see where today might take them.

From a safe distance, I had seen their differences but as they both went about their exploration, their differences fell aside, one by one until the only thing left was two young cubs in the jungle.

But they prowled at the same pace, sniffed the air with the same inquisitiveness, listened identically to the same rustling sounds of creatures that made a fast retreat from the young invaders.

Neither led, nor did either follow. They moved through the jungle together as equals and they worked in unison towards their common goal.

Did the grasses move differently because one was black and one was not? Did the prey fear one less she was a girl? I think not.

As they drove deeper into the tall grasses and wet green shrubs, they momentarily disappeared from sight and for a while I saw nothing.

There was a lonely mother’s cry in the distance and the sounds of a lone hawk on high in the canopy, but these two brave adventurers pushed on.

What they were seeking, I don’t really know. Could it be a search for Ponce De Leon’s fountain of youth, or simply just a casual adventure of two young friends?

I suspect the former is not of great significance to these young friends as yet, so perhaps it was just an adventure for adventure’s sake.

Suddenly a burst of activity as the grasses moved, a small reptile ran for his life and the two cubs leapt in a mash of black and stripes to where I couldn’t swear who got closest to the kill.

But the prey escaped and the cubs looked at each other, as if to say “I had him, brother!”.

But then they just smiled and jumped on each other and rolled and played until once more the shrieking sound of a worried mother invaded their ears and told them the adventure must end for today.

As they crept quietly past me, I thought how they both were amazing little cubs … destined to be rulers of their jungle and color or sex made no difference.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in such a world .. where color or sex played no part in your destiny?

… just a thought.

Heart Stopping

It was a typical Wednesday here in the madhouse that my office has become.

Half-way through the week, supplies were low, particularly in the cat food department. So, a trip to Walmart was in the offing. I was also out of Coke Zero anyway, so that forced my hand in going just before lunchtime, rather than waiting until the end of the day.

Work on the PC hit a break point, so I closed the door, hopped in the car and drove the 7 or 8 miles to Walmart.

It was mid-day heat in the 90’s as I began to walk away from the car, but then I heard something that stopped me dead in my tracks. The sound of a kitten crying from underneath the hood of my car.

My heart stopped. I hoped I was wrong. Maybe there was a cat nearby or in someone else’s car.

But no. My worst fear was happening.

Though I had done so a hundred times before, I couldn’t remember how to pop the hood. Panic plays havoc on the brain and when I popped it, I dreaded finding someone burning on the heat of the engine or caught in the fan-belts or another moving part.

I could hear her crying but couldn’t immediately see her. The sound seemed to be under the radiator or near the wheel well and so I quickly got down on the ground and began prying away the plastic sheeting that they use to protect the engine from road spray.

I then moved around to the wheel well and began to pull apart the plastic protection there. Popping rivets and pulling things apart with my bare hands.

Eventually a saw her. She looked intact. Severely overheated and drooling and terrified. But intact.

I tried to reach in but couldn’t get her and she retreated further into the engine area and she cried louder.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get her, so I called 911. After a few minutes talking with the dispatcher, they refused to come help. I was on my own.

A lady returning to her car parked adjacent came and offered help and though we came close to the kitten a few times, we were unsuccessful in getting her out of the engine area.

Another stranger, a man my age, came over and helped and after almost 45 minutes eventually got the kitten out though one of the loosened plastic panels to the ground beneath.

It took a further 45 minutes of trying to coral her as she evaded us underneath several adjacent cars, climbing into wheel wells and always being just out of grip, before I finally managed to get a gloved hand on her and she was caught.

Terrified, she accepted being put into the back of the car and I drove her home.

It was several hour later of convalescence lying by herself in the darkened corner underneath a table, before I had any real confidence that she was going to be OK

And thankfully, the end of the story this morning is that she is OK.

I got a number of pics this morning of everyone being kitten and she is the happy little camper in the final few, including the very last one with the sleepy smile.

Of the five, she is one of the unnamed twins, impossible for me to tell apart. But yesterday she got her name … Lincoln. Morgan says that is because she actually survived the theater, but no, it was because of the car she had her near-death experience in.

Anyway, hope you like this little collection (at the end of the blog).

The thought process that led to this blog was not just to share the story but to share some of the experience that we both had yesterday.

Lincoln must have been terrified and today she looks at me very suspiciously, quite understandably so. I hope cats don’t get PTSD but if she suddenly attacks me for no apparent reason, I will fully understand. Poor little baby.

For my part, I may well develop PTSD from this experience. It was one of those worst-fears-coming-true moments and however I made it through it, I was truly grateful for the lack of the disastrous ending.

The palpable fear while popping the hood, the extreme anxiety of trying to get her out of the engine compartment, and the heightened stress of trying to catch her and get her home so that she wouldn’t die from the ordeal … these were so traumatic that when it was all over and I headed into my evening, I felt so ill and worn out.

The disappointment with the fire department (I had often seen stories of them rescuing cats in trees, saving owls from wells, and all those other feel-good stories where they became heroes to us civilians) is very real to me now. And I know not to even bother calling for help in the future.

But the real story in this blog is the joy of how strangers converged in the Walmart parking lot and showed care, empathy, and constructive help in bringing this story to a happy end.

Over the years, I have lost so much respect for humanity, in how we treat each other, how we treat the environment, and in cruelty to animals that I have witnessed from so many.

But that one man yesterday, spent a good hour or hour and a half by my side, crawling, leaning, stretching in a very hot and uncomfortable environment. And he did so without being asked and completely unselfishly of his time and energies.

Without him I would most definitely have failed and I will forever be grateful to him. If I had caught his name, I would mention it here, but with all focus on Lincoln, I never asked.

Humanity isn’t dead. It may have been obscured and ridden rough-shod over with all the drama and pressures of life. But it still exists.

In Walmart parking lot yesterday, it took a trapped little kitten to find it.

There were four or five strangers by the end of that story yesterday, who shared the joy of the rescue and whether they played an active part or passive concern, they each showed their humanity and for a moment, the world was a better place.

I am still floating a few inches above the surface of the world this morning and as I look to the right of me, right now, Lincoln in safely lost in a happy dream, snuggled into her sisters on a soft blanket.

Today the world is a good place.

… just a thought.


I woke up this morning and threw myself into an active start, taking care of all the babies downstairs, before falling into my desk chair and catching up on the news.

At 5:30 it is still very much the domain of darkness, so there isn’t very much I can do while I am being crawled on and attacked by five furry little innocents. I don’t turn on the light, because I leave the door open for the adult cats to go in and out and if I turn on the light it invites every mosquito in FL for breakfast.

So I generally just sit there in the darkness, drink my coffee and plan out my day ahead.

By the time it got bright enough to turn on the light, I had already gorged myself in all the bad news around the world and watched a few music videos on YouTube.

They were good ones, but very sentimental, so a few videos in, I realized that I was falling into melancholy and needed to dig myself out quickly before it became a spiral.

So I resolved to go to Hollis Gardens and check out whatever Mother Nature had in bloom there. It varies quite a bit from season to season and never lets me down.

It was a beautiful morning there and the butterflies and the bees were busy pollinating everything in sight. Pretty sure if I stood still long enough, they might have pollinated me.

I got pics of some lovely blooms and some of the pollinators. They are the end of this blog … hope you enjoy!

By the time I got back to my car, my mood was several shades brighter and it got me thinking about how easily we can alter our moods if we set out to. If we want to stay dark we most definitely can and the word for that is “sullen”, I believe.

But I chose to elevate myself and chose flowers to do so. Which brings me to the thought for today’s blog.

Why do flowers have such a genuinely positive effect on our spirits?

We give flowers to our Mom and she feels loved. To our girlfriend and she feels special.

We give flowers to our sick friend in hospital and they feel a little better. We give flowers to our dead friends to send them on their way.

We use flowers to make a corsage for that special prom and we wear them in our lapel when we make our confirmation or get married.

We acknowledge the change of seasons when the first flowers bloom in Spring.

In fact, in virtually every instance I can think of, the arrival of flowers is seen as a positive thing.

So, why is that?

If we were bees or butterflies, I could understand it as an indication of a time of plenty as we gorge ourselves on the pollen or whatever nectar we can extract from them. But I don’t see too much of that happening in all honesty, except at a funny farm perhaps.

So the sustenance we get from flowers can only be mental or emotional.

And that means the physical life-giving qualities of the flowers have no say in our enjoyment.

Flowers are beautiful and sometimes smell wonderful, I hear you say, and that is very true. But the whole concept of beauty and smell is a very subjective one.

We are each attracted to different traits that we define as beauty when it becomes physical attraction. And similarly with respect to smell, hence the range of perfumes and after shaves.

Which once again reinforces the notion that flowers are not really appealing to something physically for us.

So, our appreciation of them is on a very elevated level. An appreciation of an intangible beauty that gives us a mental or emotional uplift transcending any physical stimulus.

I have arrived at the conclusion that this is a genuine human trait that we humans have that most other creatures do not. The ability to truly value and appreciate something that neither sustains or enhances us.

It is the same trait for which we appreciate art and poetry. It is the sign of an elevated mind for whom the world provides much more than physical or material things to us.

Yes, there are base humans that only choose to gorge themselves in the physical and material, but I promised myself today not to mention the RNC convention, so I won’t.

But the rest of us can look beyond the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy pyramid and aim to experience a life that is about love, esteem, and self-actualization.

To life your life in such a way, is to choose a life of true value. So make a point today, if you can, to stop and smell the roses.

… just a thought!


It was approaching sunset last night and I was already tired of sofa-sitting and longed for something more substantial to end the day with.

Following the wonderful previous evening I had with my low-tide friends, I sought a return to the highs, only for the day to fail to deliver and slump into an anti-climax.

Lighting would be the answer, so I looked through the phone’s weather app to see what was in the area. I convinced myself that the stormy clouds passing through the area right after sunset would be my best bet.

So, I hopped in the car and drove downtown Lakeland.

Before I left the driveway, I sensed that this was, generally speaking, a losing decision. It was raining and the whole drive there was just rain too.

I pulled into the parking lot over at Hollis Gardens, just off the downtown strip and it was still raining.

I stepped out of the car and realized this rain was here to stay and it wasn’t even “exciting” rain that might carry with it some lightning or interesting clouds. So, I got back in my car and checked the weather app again.

Even though I was looking at the exact same information as I saw back on my sofa, I came to the conclusion that the only lighting around was likely inside my head.

A passing car gave me a wet-street idea so I took the camera out of its dry home and rattled off a few shots as a few more cars drove by. But then I climbed back in my car and drove home. Here is the one shot that is worth sharing. It is pretty but nowhere remotely close to what I went out looking for.

Disconsolate with the evening, I decided an Oreo McFlurry would make the outside adventure worthwhile so I pulled in to a McDonalds on the way home. Waited patiently in a long line at the drive through only to be told that they couldn’t make any McFlurries as their ice cream machine was broken.

A couple of expletives later, I was back on my way home and lost in thought.

I reflected more on my decisions than on the evening itself. I wasn’t disappointed with the rain or lack of lightning. I wasn’t even disappointed with the lack of a McFlurry … my waistline doesn’t really need another one of those.

No, I was more concerned and disappointed with my decision process itself. On two separate instances I looked at the same information on that weather app and came to different decisions. It boiled down to deciding a course of action based on a “want” and another based on reality.

Many decisions we make in life are based on the outcome we want and this is a totally human flaw and completely understandable. When reality hits us, we often regret the decision or simply adjust and move on.

So, this blog isn’t really about the decision, but rather about how I reflected on it.

Reflection is part of our learning process. It is a key ingredient in how we analyze successes and failures and learn from the course of action involved.

If we are good at it, we look at the factors that contributed to our choice and make a mental note to watch out for that same instance later on in life.

Reflection though always has the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. We see clearly how the result of our decisions have played out. So, second guessing without acknowledging that, can lead to regret and recrimination.

This is akin to watching a later airing of a soccer game where you know your team already lost 2-0. How can you watch it and then get upset or disappointed that they lose?

Knowing the outcome in advance would make every decision better but life would probably get very boring very quickly if all our decisions were right. As I have realized many times before, it is from life’s mistakes and bad decisions that we learn most.

So when we reflect on anything in our lives that didn’t work out as planned, it is always good to adopt a more impartial or objective viewpoint. One that is no longer clouded in the want or hope of the actual decision itself.

Reflection like this is analytical and clean and most likely to produce a fair review of what went wrong.

For me, last night, I allowed the want in me to overcome the information that was clearly available in my app. There was a big green swathe of rain showing on the radar map all around Lakeland and a dog with a mallet up his ass could have forecast that was not going to produce lighting. Even if orange or red and producing lighting, I would have been unable to shoot it because I would have been right in it and not distant enough for the shot.

Cup of coffee in hand, that fact is self-evident this morning. Sitting on a sofa, looking for a high last night, it apparently wasn’t.

So, no, I don’t regret my outdoor adventure last night. It didn’t produce a lightning strike image or a soothing McFlurry but I did get off the sofa and I did get that one nice reflective picture. And more importantly I learned to watch out for decisions based on want.

More often in life we don’t get what we want. But if we are lucky, we get what we need.

It’s only 7 in the morning, but I feel a need for a McFlurry … damn!

… just a thought!


We quite probably picked the worst night to try to try to do anything with a camera but we were desperately trying to work to a low tide schedule that could give us a night time shoot.

We wanted to create artistic shots using different light sources and perhaps some natural elements, with darkness as the most key element of all.

So the four of us (Jax, Cassandra, Sam, and I) made our way to the last exit before the Skyway Bridge full of hope and determination. Yes, the skies looked very ominous right from the outset but we were hopeful it might at least stay dry.

An expectation of low tide that left us mostly on dry land with collections of puddles all around us turned out to be so far from the mark as to be funny. The water level never got anywhere close to that and our journey along the inner bay had us meandering through water that varied from one foot to two feet levels.

Sam and I were the jeans people and we got particularly soaked while the other two took the wetness in their stride. But undaunted we soldiered on through the waters for an hour or so. Stopping every now and then as one of the three ladies came across live creatures that weren’t expecting evening visitors.

We even saw a lovely manta ray swimming away from us in the shallow waters, as we collected little bits and pieces in the shallows.

There was very little light to work with, but I still managed to get some decent shots of our explorations. They are at the end of the blog. Hope you like them.

The main feature of the evening was to be our long-exposure light photography but the most vicious storm you can imagine blew in on top of us and we had to exit the water. Torrential rains and lightning … so, standing knee deep in water is not particularly ideal.

As I got to the car, I was so soaked that I was too wet to even change into the change of clothes I had brought … so much for that plan!

I drove home wet and cold and looking like a rat that had just escaped a sinking ship.

The first part of the drive home was absolutely treacherous … severe weather than meant I couldn’t even see the road I was driving on. In the distance I could see a car with his hazard lights flashing and that is what I followed to safety.

If they drove off a cliff, then so was I … lemmings, that was me!

Anyway in the wording thus far in the blog, you could be forgiven for thinking that this wasn’t an enjoyable night. But it was honestly a truly wonderful evening. The soaking, the cold drive, the driving conditions, the poor light for photography, and having to abandon a shoot because the camera was getting so soaked as to be useless … all of these meant nothing.

Why? Because I was in the company of terrific friends and the craic was mighty (as we would say in Ireland).

From the moment we started until the moment we left, the journey we took together was filled with happy discovery, great conversation, and shared joys. We each cocooned in the group’s company and were mostly oblivious to the happenings around us. We could have been lost in a desert and we wouldn’t have known, because the enjoyment was within us.

Yes, we fed off the little creatures and sights that we encountered but the true energy was what you might find between four friends sharing a common interest and immersed in their time together.

And this is the real thought that I left with last night; the value of friendship in our lives and how it fills in the shadows for us on our life-journey.

Friends are the cornerstone upon which a rich life is built. Not facebook friends, but real people with whom you share a moment or perhaps even the whole journey with.

I have been very fortunate along the way to be able to share some of my journey with some of the most amazing people. And in that regards, I truly count my blessings.

When you focus your life on achievements or material things, there is a real hollowness in that success. That is why every now and then you hear of a wildly successful or rich person committing suicide. Wealth or success are not what keeps your life warm and your soul complete.

But friends that take steps with you on your journey are worth their weight in gold and should be treated as the treasure they are.

When you enrich your life with diverse friends, they help you grow as a person. Mainly because you open your mind up to the viewpoint of a friend more easily and you absorb some of their energies into your own. Adversaries never learn from each other. They only resist.

So, I have arrived at the point in life where I realize that whatever greatness there is within me, is very likely something that I have assimilated from the company I keep.

There is an old saying along the lines that “you are the company you keep” and while it is really delivered as a negative at people who hang around with poor influences, I take the view that when we hang with good people, then some of their goodness rubs off on you.

I became a better person last night. These young ladies elevated me and I start the day better off today than I started yesterday with.

Sure, isn’t that what life is all about … taking the journey and improving yourself along the way.

… just a thought!

Learn to Fly

I needed an escape and so decided to head downtown Tampa. In reality, with the COVID life we are all now living, it was only a 35 minute drive and worth the escape from the sofa.

Unlike other trips, this time I decided to do something that took me out of my comfort zone. I only brought with me one camera and a zoom lens. I deliberately left everything else at home.

In doing so, I was deliberately forcing myself to work with the wrong equipment for what would be typical night scene images. Normally I would choose a wide angle lens or a fixed lens or both.

But I wanted to see, if by deliberately picking the wrong type of lens, I could force myself to look at these familiar surroundings differently.

This zoom lens is my normal choice for nature trails because it gets me closer to the creatures that I encounter along the way. The only creatures I was likely to encounter on this journey were humans and in truth I feel awkward pointing a zoom lens at a stranger, while they are out for an evening stroll.

This translated into a shyness that got more people moving away from the camera than moving towards it. Yes, you called it … a lot of butt shots. Even an ass-crack from a dude on a bicycle.

The net effect of that attempt was that I felt like a peeping tom.

I would like to say that I magically turned the night around and turned it into a wild success of some sort, but the truth is most of the shots were dismal and those that weren’t could have been caught better with a non-zoom lens.

The first three at the end of the blog were the only zoom-oriented shots that gave me something decent (out of almost 300 images taken) and the last one is my favorite but again could easily have been taken with a wide angle lens.

While photographically speaking, the experiment was a failure, mentally it wasn’t so. It taught me to try and look at things in a way that I wouldn’t normally do. When I was on point, I was looking for something that only a zoom lens could pull off. And so I had to step out of my comfort zone and imagine things differently.

OK, so I didn’t get anything magical, but I did stretch my brain in the trying.

I also did force myself away from my safety blanket. When I travel with different cameras and lenses, they comfort me with the likelihood that whatever event unfolds in front of me, that I hopefully will have the right equipment to take the shot.

In this case, I was willing to give up on that likelihood, knowing that I might miss something of significance. This is a very uncomfortable position for someone like me. I like to feel that I have the bases covered, or at least potentially do.

Anyway, I hope you find something of interest within these four images. They haven’t been touched up or anything … enjoy.

I drove home in a state of mild annoyance. I knew that I had mostly failed.

And at the same time there was mild sense of pride in having attempted.

It was the latter feeling that led to where I am this morning; sitting here writing this blog.

I know I have said it before in differing ways, but trying something has a value all of its own. Much more so than achieving, at times.

When we achieve something, it reinforces our belief or confidence in having tried.

But trying (and failing) helps us to look at ourselves in a different way. We look to see what we have learned from the experience and how we might do differently, next time.

This is the seed of our growth and if we water it with appreciation for our efforts, we can truly develop ourselves over time.

I know now, for example that unless I am willing to overcome my shyness and point a zoom lens at people doing things of interest, I have no purpose in bringing a zoom lens downtown. Unless, of course, I am on an ass-crack project of some sort.

So my future choice is clear … gain confidence or leave the lens at home.

Whenever we try something that takes us away from our own feeling of comfort or knowledge, we take a step into the unknown. I remember a million years ago, when I worked for Bosch Telecom, stepping into my bosses office and he had one of those inspirational poster thingies on his wall. It said “whenever we step into a dark room, we are confident of one of two things. Either there will be a floor underneath our step or we will learn to fly”.

The fact that I still remember that saying 30 years later, tells me that I have bought into that philosophy and I have.

We each have our dark rooms and sometimes we stumble in them or even trip over something. We might even get hurt when we fall.

But regardless of what we find in the room, we at the very least are left to understand what was behind that door. And we can therefore move forward with the knowledge.

I guess my suggestion for the day is to never leave an unopened door behind you on your life’s journey. All doors lead somewhere.

…. just a thought.

Unexpected moments

So last night’s sunset was questionable with a lot of cloud in the sky but I decided it might be worth a drive across to the opposite side of Lake Parker in an attempt to catch whatever Mother Nature might serve up.

She decided it would be a golden night and I could tell as much as I got to where the fishing pier is, half-way up the side of the lake.

There was a lone dude with a couple of fishing poles at the end of the pier and so we greeted each other as I got there.

I had my camera back-pack on and was obviously involved in some intricate type of set-up but he paid no attention and happily lived in his own world regardless of my antics.

This was going to be a sunset shoot with the crystal sphere and the amount of up and down, positioning and repositioning, that I did was a threat to the tranquility of his evening, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Setting up the glass sphere on a mini tripod and placing it at the very edge of the concrete pier was risky and stressful. But I had learned from past experience that if I moved it back in from the edge too much, then the concrete it rested on would become reflected within the sphere and I didn’t want that.

So, I took the risk, conscious of the fact that at any moment, a sudden breeze from the lake might cause it to lose its perch and be lost forever in the depths of Lake Parker.

In search of a beautiful moment, we sometimes take these risks and having weighed the potential loss, I guess I subconsciously determined that the replacement cost of the sphere was worth a single picture.

I’m not really sure how I arrived at that conclusion but apparently I did.

And so, I spent the next half-hour or so lying on my stomach, crawling to the left or right, crouching and kneeling. It was a genuine work-out and I felt my age by the time I finished.

But it was all worth it; the drive, the risk, the pains. I not only got what I was looking for, but there was a wondrous moment of optical magic than only lasted five or six seconds and created such an unexpected bonus of beauty for me.

You will see it in the little selection at the end of the blog. Most of the evening I was trying to get focus in the center of the front surface of the sphere. That’s what gives me the clarity while outside the sphere is a blur.

And once or twice, I changed focus to the horizon to catch the clarity of the actual sunset itself, as my eyes saw it.

But just for a moment, as I was transitioning from one to the other, I noticed an amazing dispersion type of focus ring along the outer surface of the sphere and I got a couple of shots before the angle of the setting sun changed and the moment disappeared again. You will see one of the shots in the collection at the end.

Hope you enjoy and I also added some words to the shot of my fisherman companion, by the way … it was just a scene that made me think.

Anyway, the resultant thought that led to this blog was essentially how we can set out very deliberately in life to do something and another thing unexpectedly happens.

Sometimes, the unexpected is calamitous but sometimes, like for me last night, it is wonderful.

It is important that we soften our focus on whatever we are doing in order to appreciate the unexpected. Being singularly focused in life is very limiting and can lead to us genuinely losing out to where we miss a growth moment.

My graduate degree is in electrical engineering and over the years I hit moments where my focus shifted to where I became product marketing, business development, internet design, and (almost) photographer.

Had I stayed focused on what my educational background provided for me, life would have traveled a very different path for me than the one I find myself on now.

Is the path I am on better or worse? Who knows? That’s the thing about life … you can second guess your path as much as you want but you have no way of really knowing.

But when life serves you up a moment, when the light suddenly does something spectacular that you weren’t expecting, it is most definitely a time to pause on what you’re doing and see if you can learn from it.

And if you can, then you become a bigger person and you proceed along your journey armed with some new knowledge or approach. This is how we develop as people. Through experiences.

If we live life cloistered in a homogeneous world it stops us from developing and living a more full life. For someone like me it is why America is such an interesting place in which to live … a melting pot of cultures and viewpoints that ultimately stretches our experience and enriches our souls.

But there has to be a willingness to change … change our viewpoints, change our direction, change our minds.

Change your mind and your soul will follow.

… just a thought!

Lost Significance

There were so many lightning pics the other evening, that when I wrote the blog the following morning, I mainly focused on just finding the images where strikes were happening.

Sometimes you get overloaded with wonderful shots that beautiful shots still pale into insignificance and end up never seeing the light of day.

So, lunch time today I went back and took a look at some of the “ignored shots” and these were mainly shots where the lightning stayed in the sky and wasn’t immediately as obvious as her flashy cousins.

The notion that such beauty could inauspiciously come to rest on the editing floor bothered me and so I hope that you find even one here (end of blog) that was worth the showing. Enjoy!

Interesting enough, last night after watching a pretty hard documentary on a mental asylum for the criminally insane in France, it did affect my outlook on life and made me question my own significance.

After a recent relationship ended, I found myself questioning whether my life therefore had now lost its significance and were my best days in my past.

It’s quite impossible to really know the answer to that question, but to answer in affirmation would be akin to accepting defeat and I don’t really accept that approach to life.

So I woke up this morning, seeking significance in my life and committing myself to the belief that there are some good days ahead.

When I opened up the office door and was caught in a stampede of three cats and five kittens, I realized the good days are here and now.

There is nothing like the love of kittens to soothe a sore heart. Such boundless playfulness and innocence in abundance.

So, by the time everyone was fed and I sat at my desk, the issue of significance began to take on a deeper train of thought.

The word significance is derived from the Latin “significare” which translates to either “indicate” or “portend”. While we have relegated the former to a timid statement of what something is trying to show us, the latter still has much of the strength and feeling of danger as it originally had.

Portend is generally a warning of something momentous that is about to happen. So significance is therefore firmly tied to something momentous.

What happens in our lives that is momentous? And in particular, what is momentous as it applies to others?

Jackie Robinson once said “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” And I firmly agree with him.

So therefore ours significance is really related to how we impact those around us, those we love, and those we care for. Beyond that our insignificance is irrelevant.

The whole world doesn’t need to know us. But those we love need to feel that they are our whole world. If we do that, then our own significance is proven and our life has real meaning.

We need to stand in the way of a bullet for who we believe in, not what we believe in. Patriotism and martyrdom is gallant of course, but the lives left behind by those who follow that path are generally hurt and sometimes beyond repair.

So, living a life that considers our impact on others, and in particular those we love and care for (skin or fur) is a better choice.

We each lose our way at times and question our value in living. But the answer is in the eyes and hearts of those around us. That is where life’s value rests!

… just a thought.


I was on my way back out of Tampa yesterday evening after shooting a couple of friends for their portfolio.

It was only about seven thirty as I neared Lakeland and though the sun was still about 45 minutes from setting in my rear view mirror, I was driving into spurious flashes of lightning.

Daylight-ning, as I call it, is kind of interesting inasmuch as it is visible to the eye but presents all sorts of difficulties to the camera in trying to catch it. Holding a slow enough shutter-speed to catch a bolt typically wipes out any real contrast between the bolt and the surrounding sky.

Of course, by this moment in time I had already convinced myself that if it was still lightning when I got home, I would do a quick trip to Lake Parker to try to catch it down there.

And it was. So I did.

But first I slowed myself down at home by having a bowl of Frosted Krispies in an attempt to give the sun enough time to go down. What I didn’t allow for though was that the skies are still quite bright for twenty or thirty minutes after the sun dips below the horizon. So I still managed to get to the lake in near total brightness.

There was a nice old dude (as opposed to a not nice old dude, like me) sitting in his car watching the storm on the other side of the lake. As I set up my camera and began to shoot, he tried to convince me that this was all going to turn into a tornado and that really I shouldn’t be standing out on the edge of the lake.

By the time it got really wild and the wind picked up off the lake to perhaps 40 or 50 mph, he had convinced himself that it wasn’t safe and so he drove away.

I resolved that if it was going to develop into a tornado, that I would likely see it coming across the lake at me and know to move. And if I did get hit by a bolt of lightning, I very likely wouldn’t even know about it. There are much worse ways to die.

So I convinced myself that my duty lay with me by my camera’s side, hence the set of shots at the end of this blog. There are even a couple of daylight strikes which I was kinda pleased with, but my favorites are probably numbers 6 & 7.

Anyway I hope you enjoy.

I did enjoy. I had an absolute blast being down there and as the storm raged all around me, I stood my ground and was there over 2 1/2 hours in total.

The enjoyment of being there was far more than the enjoyment of the pictures, which is really what got me thinking today about the whole train of thought for this blog.

I remember when I got my very first shot of a lightning strike, how thrilled I was with the image. I ran out to the world and showed everybody.

Whereas these shots, which are technically much better, left me with a slight sense of dissatisfaction overall. Don’t get me wrong; I am pleased with how well I captured these particular shots, but overall I just I needed more.

More of what, I hear you say?

I am not even sure, to be honest. Maybe an explosion or two, or cell towers on fire, or maybe even that tornado crossing the lake right at me.

Any one of those would have probably had a wow effect and created a level of satisfaction with the shots, that somehow is missing.

And this is my point, there is a level of satisfaction or joy that we get with the first time we achieve something, that we almost never get to experience again. That first kiss. Our first drive. Baby’s first taste of ice-cream.

There is a problem with our brains that turns almost everything good we do into an addictive process, to where we always look for something better.

It creates a level of imperfection within everything we achieve … at least in our own eyes. Aaah if only it was sweeter, or longer, or brighter, or whatever.

Others are quick to point out how perfect whatever we did is, while we denigrate the same achievement and dismiss the praise.

“I can do better” is the phrase that rings about in the back of our minds.

Perfection is an illusion and we will never achieve it in anything. So to seek it, only serves to keep us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction.

And dissatisfaction leads to unhappiness and therein lies to problem.

Some of us are happy to be unhappy, happy to come up just a bit short. Because we use it to drive ourselves forward onto bigger and better.

“I can’t get no satisfaction” as the Stones sang is the anthem of this feeling. And I have had in playing in my head all day.

Aiming for better is always admirable and we are well-served to do so. It provides internal motivation that generally speaking moves us forward in life.

With “better” we can acknowledge the improvement and be happy for our achievement.

But aiming for perfection will never create happiness. We will under-acknowledge our achievements and focus on our shortcomings rather than our achievement.

Always remember, it is an imperfect world, folks.

… just a thought!

Storm Chasing

Wonderful evening yesterday … dinner, drinks, and sunset gazing with Vanessa. One of those lovely evenings with a friend that reminds you of what the “normal” used to be.

As I drove to meet her, the storm clouds gathered and lightning became quite violent and I was so pissed that on this occasion, I hadn’t brought my camera.

I forgot about it all until I dropped her home and on the drive home, the skies became electric. It was a perfect evening for photographing lighting and it was as if the gods were pointing fingers of lighting and laughing at me for having left home without a camera.

At first I consoled myself that this was FL and this was likely not my only chance, for having missed it.

But then I noticed that subconsciously, I was driving faster and thinking that maybe I could get home, grab a camera, and run back out to the ball fields to try and get something before it all stopped.

It looked promising as I pulled onto Walker Road, just a mile from my house … the skies were still alight. But the gods saw my excitement, realized I was close to realizing my goal, and decided to send the rains.

And boy, did it rain. The heavens opened … just on me …. nowhere else on the planet was experiencing rain. Just that one little section of Lakeland, where Neville was.

But if they thought that would defeat me, the gods were sadly mistaken. I ran in home, grabbed a camera, back to the car (completely soaked, by the way) and drove down to the ball fields.

In the pouring rain, I set up the camera and tried to manage the settings. But the lens was getting wet and though I draped a little facemask over the camera itself, the lens and I were taking a soaking.

Undaunted I started shooting and stayed there for an hour as the storm moved to the distance and i tried hard to capture some of its glory. I had to repeatedly try to dry the lens and was actually into the last twenty minutes of it all when I realized I had set the aperture incorrectly and effectively under-exposed all the initial shots.

Such is the life of a storm chaser, I guess.

I hope you like the little collection that I have added here at the end of the blog. Won’t win any prizes, but some are still cool captures of what Mother Nature served up last night.

There is a trait most of us Ronans have. It begins with an “s” and end in “tuberness” and it was very much evidenced in me last night.

Obstacle after obstacle were put in my way and I refused to lie down and be beaten. The only element of failure I experienced was the under-exposure and that was by my own hands, so I can live with it. And I will watch for it next time, should I find myself in a hurried moment in the rain trying to do a camera set-up.

And that is the thought that played around in my head today as I started to look through the images.

I could see where my failings undid my efforts but I was nonetheless proud of the perseverance and my unwillingness to accept defeat.

We each experience life that is obstacle-ridden at times. No matter what our intentions, there seems to be a list of reasons why we are unable to do something or shouldn’t even try.

But in truth, we should ALWAYS try.

There is no shame in failing. And, in particular, when we have tried against all odds.

Those are the moments when we can actually take pride in our failures and wear them as a medal in our war against the gods.

Wars are waged in many ways throughout our lives and we don’t always win them. I remember seeing my grandfather’s medal from the Great War of 1914-1918 and feeling a sense of pride in him having played his part in it.

That he was on the winning side was a pure fluke, because he was not born in Germany. We don’t control our birth … the gods decide where we first open our eyes. So the men that were born in Germany and fought for their side should have felt equal pride in being a part of such an event.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that our pride from any event or moment cannot be based on whether we win or achieve. The end result is very likely not directly linked to our efforts alone.

Thus, our feeling of pride has to come from our having tried.

Last night’s war with the gods may not have given me a win, but it gave me a victory.

And I go through my day today, all the better for it.

… just a thought.