New Years Eve

The word “Eve” only gets used these days for a small few important dates in the calendar. Christmas Eve., New Year’s Eve, for example. By definition it is the day immediately prior to an event or occasion.

The funny thing is, it completely demeans the day itself, giving it no significance other than that it immediately precedes the next day.

How awful is that? Can you imagine going through life as only being relevant because of your immediate connection to something or someone else. “oh, that’s Johnny’s wife, that’s Paddy’s son” … giving no acknowledgement of the person’s own name or identity.

Because it is a forward looking aspect, no one seems to mind. We look forward to Christmas Day itself, or to New Year’s Day. These are the holidays that the eve is pointing at, so everyone dismisses how irrelevant we have just made this one particular day become.

What on earth is he on about now, I hear you ask.

Well before i get into it, I put some pics from a light painting experiment this NYE morning at the end of this blog. Hope you enjoy!

Anyway, back to my point … Without giving it much thought, it seems like a really trivial topic. But you see, it isn’t.

For centuries, people have been using words to demean and dismiss certain things or people and the most effective use of these words are when they appear benign.

Let’s start with Eve, for example. When the newly formed christian movement wanted to christianize Ireland, one of their biggest challenges was to try to get the locals to stop following pagan practices. And after they burnt all the pagan books and teachings that had been compiled for over a thousand years, they then set about tackling pagan feasts.

So, for example, the feast of Samhain (pronounce it “sowen”) occurred on the last day of October, when the pagans dutifully gave thanks to the gods for their harvest. The christians gave this same day a new name “All Hallows Eve” trying to make it a precurser to their important All Saints Day of November 1st.

Comically, All Hallows Eve morphed over time to what we now call Halloween and so the celebrations stays rooted to the original day that they were trying to demean.

But there are many other words that are commonly used today that very much affect our views on people or institutions with an intent to demean or dismiss them.

Some are very blatant, like “Terrorist”. It is a hateful word designed to provoke a fear-based and hateful response to a person or persons. Don’t think for a moment that the USA invented this word to describe islamic dissidents. A hundred years ago, that is how the british described the Irish freedom fighters.

It is a simple and effective way to delegitimize your opposition.

But there are words we hear on the media every day that go unquestioned, yet provoke the same response in our brains. For example Iran has a “regime” while we have a “government”. Palestinian fighters are an “armed militia” while Israel has an “army”.

Beyond governments doing this kind of shit, people do it also. And sometimes they select words that elevate themselves rather than demean the opposition. But it has the same end result. It creates a fake disparity. For example, people who were anti-abortion years ago, suddenly became pro-life as an attempt to claim the high ground. Yet they are quite possibly also strong gun-rights and death penalty folk. Not exactly how I would describe the term “pro life”.

Colloquially we use words such as “foreigners” or “immigrants” to delegitimize viewpoints or standings when in real terms we are all people.

Then we use adjectives to further demean such as “flaming” liberals, or “illegal” immigrants. No person should ever be “illegal”. An act can be illegal, but a person cannot.

Anyway, I guess where I was trying to get to with this little blog was just to alert you to words and their importance. Watch out when people and governments use words to demean. Understand their intentions and beware of their motives.

They are very much akin to the bully at school (or recent white house) that had a demeaning nickname for everyone. The intention is rarely to elevate and almost always to belittle. Invariably people that do that to others are feeble minded and devoid of a legitimate argument of their own.

Our job when we witness it is to disregard demeaning words used against any people and return these people to the same level as ourselves. At the end of the day, no person anywhere is better or worse than another. We are all people. Plain and simple.

… just a thought.

Exposing Yourself

It was another early morning and taking my slow-shutter speeds again to the lake, seemed like a distinctly better alternative to sitting in front of the PC waiting for the rest of the world to come alive.

Other than getting there early enough to be able to get some shots at 30 seconds, I must admit to not having anything by way of a plan in my mind.

It was going to be a clear start to another beautiful day here in Florida, and a goal of 30 seconds open shutter, ruled out one of the three possibilities here at Lake Parker. For this slow a shutter speed, I needed a very dark environment as ambient light kills the shot.

And putting myself in alligator danger the previous morning on the south side of the lake made me a little bit iffy about going there again in total darkness.

So, my decision was made for me … it had to be the dock at the boat ramp on the north end of the shore. I’ve used this spot a million times already for sunrises, but such slow shutter speeds might give me a different perspective to work with.

And I was right; the wonderful violets of the dark sky made up for the familiar foreground and produced images with a different feel. I have put a number of them here at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy.

I had great fun getting them. They are all tripod mount shots with a ten second timer and a thirty second shutter speed setting. Absolutely none of them have been photoshopped other than turning the third one black and white.

Everything you see here is exactly what the camera saw at these settings. Isn’t it gorgeous time of day?

For my part, the fun was getting into position within the ten seconds after pressing the shutter release button. Anything that had me at the end of the pier was a little risky as I had to run like crazy to get there but make sure to brake sharply so as not to end up in the water.

Then holding yourself perfectly still for thirty seconds is no mean feat. Apart from natural wobbliness, I had to count to thirty before moving, as I had no other way of telling whether the shutter was open or not.

There are a couple of shots where I tricked the camera, running into position and holding for 7 or 8 seconds before moving into a second position and holding that for the rest of the duration.

The end result was an effect that looked like a ghostly double exposure.

There wasn’t an audience at that time of morning so I was really only exposing myself to the camera. But in truth I have done similar stuff when the odd person is about. Yes, you appear a bit silly, but that’s ok. It’s worth it.

As I drove home I smiled at how much I had put myself in the pictures and laughed at some of my goofy moments. And that is where the whole thought of exposing yourself and why we do or don’t do it, began to play out in my head.

Ridicule is a consequence that stops so many people in their tracks and the thought of exposing themselves to it is particularly acute, the more adult you become.

Children generally don’t have this problem. They certainly aren’t born with it and only pick it up over time when their efforts to sing, play out, or express themselves, draw criticisms that cut their unbridled confidence.

Such criticisms can have life-long effects and growing up rarely assuages the feeling that whatever this person is about to try might make them look silly. Isn’t that a shame?

I don’t know what the percentage there is of people that shy away from exposure, but if you said it was more than 80%, I would believe you.

In fact, it is the people that risk exposure that prove to be the more dominant in life’s success. Actors, singers, activists, writers, and those we just refer to as “personalities” … these people have all risked looking silly and have developed a life beyond the exposure.

This might be one of the reasons why we admire them so much and follow them, living vicariously through their success.

To their fans, they have star qualities that us mere mortals don’t have, but how many children with similar qualities never made it because of the fear of exposing themselves?

Adults tend to live quietly within the mainstream guidelines, going to and from work, not asking “stupid” questions, and dressing appropriately.

We don’t wear pink and purple hair, burst into song in front of our peers, or act out our fantasies to an audience (outside our bedroom).

The fact that your wife or husband turns out to be the one that knows “the real you” is not so much a statement on how long you’ve been together but rather that they are the one person you expose yourself to.

Isn’t that sad? Given that 90% of relationships fail (recent study I found), that means that nine out of ten times the person that knows the real you is not likely to be your best publicist.

So, 9 out of ten times, the person that you finally do expose yourself to is the person most likely to ridicule or demean you for it.

Exposing yourself to ridicule is a talent that we need to preserve within our fabric as people, as it sustains elements of you that will otherwise disappear over time. You don’t have to be Frank Sinatra to burst into song occasionally.

In Ireland, folks tend to be less obsessed with looking silly and they will frequently have sing-songs at pubs and parties. They will have open-mic night poetry corners, and friendly if-not-intelligent political debates. Opinions are welcome and listened to and ridiculing is generally left to the more weak-minded observer.

America seems to have inherited the importance of appearance from the British. It is a national weakness there on a scale that “Keeping Up Appearances” is quite openly laughed at.

Sidebar: “Keeping Up Appearances” was an excellent British comedy series on the absurdity of this obsession … seek it out, it is well worth the watch.

Anyway, I wasn’t trying to digress. I was trying to ponder as to why certain societies have a greater prevalence or propriety while others, not so much.

Frankly, I attribute this behavior to wealth and the class-system that permeates because of it. Those with the money like to be seen as rich and attached to that is the appearance of being better than those who don’t.

So the fear of exposing themselves to not being better, is greater in a society that places any emphasis on wealth and class.

When is the last time you heard about these folks having a good old sing song where uncle Johnny froggishly belting out a chorus of My Way? Or aunt Julie sharing a little poem she made up about her favorite puppy?

I am not saying we need to drop our shorts and moon the old ladies at Target. Nor always be the loud voice at work telling the boss that you know exactly how this business needs to be run.

But we owe it to ourselves to just occasionally take a risk and sing a verse or share a poem … or whatever it is that we feel very shy about doing. I mean chances are that we won’t suddenly find ourselves catapulted into fame and fortune because of it.

But we will have vented a little something from within us. A little voice from our inner child. And just for a moment a glimmer of light will rebound within our soul and we will have shared just a little more of ourselves with the world. And the world will be brighter because of it.

… just a thought.

Exposed Decisions

Early Christmas morning, while Santa was still making his final deliveries, I gathered myself and my camera and went down to Ballast Point to experiment a bit with long exposures.

It was a bit chilly and there was a howling wind coming in from the bay. It felt very much like winter.

The water was therefore quite a bit choppy and was lashing the shoreline with a series of small, but frequent, waves.

If you’ve never done long exposure photography, you might not be aware of the effects wind can have on your end product. The problem is that gust wind moves the camera or tripod and any movement over a 30 second period results in a blurred picture. So, I got quite a few of those.

There is a smaller, older pier to the left of the main pier and I tried taking pics from that, but the pier itself was moving slightly with the wind and waves. So, that was a bust.

Elements provide an interesting distraction to a planned shoot and for a while I struggled to come to grips with what what happening. One of the main problems is that you can look at the little viewfinder on the back of the camera and think that you got a focused shot only later to pull it up on the computer screen and dismay over the lack of clarity.

Also, when you are doing something like a sunrise or a sunset, you have a definite factor of time being your enemy. Things happen and change in the space of a few seconds, so you don’t really have very much time to play with your camera.

On top of all that, it became clear that a large band of cloud was playing with the horizon and likely to kill any prospects of a very beautiful sunrise (twilight, actually). So I diverted my attention to the waves themselves.

It was close to low-tide and the waves were pounding against a collection of rocks that were near the shoreline. And after the first picture of them, it became apparent to me that the long exposure was blurring the incoming waves beautifully as they broke. It created a lovely effect that was almost fog-like and I was seriously pleased with the end results.

I hope you like the images I got. They are at the end of this blog. From the almost sepia-like, near-darkness shot of the pier to the foggy-waves. I like them all! And none of these have been touched up in any way, just in case you are wondering.


Anyway, the following morning, I decided to try to get down there again a bit earlier because having lost some time dealing with the wind issues, I was curious as to what the camera would pick up in near-total-darkness at very long exposures.

And it is this decision that gave me the thought for this blog subject.

You see, often times we make decisions that are good or bad without any witness to gauge our decision-making skills. If the decision is poor, we often sweep it under the rug, so that only the good ones normally get to see the light of day.

In this instance, the first decision that I made was sound. While most people were sleeping off a food-hangover from the day before, I was standing in total darkness at Ballast Point around five o’clock in the morning.

The wind was only a fraction of the day’s before, but I still thought it might be good enough to recapture what was going on at the exposed rocks in darkness.

But rather than just repeat the earlier location, I tried to move to the spot in between both piers which was very rocky and if I was correct, then I would be able to get reddish-fog effect on them with the main pier itself in the background.

So, I climbed down the embankment and began to walk gingerly across the rocks in order to get close enough to the water edge (tide was out again) so that the effect became the main aspect of the images.

Half way out, my decision became a bad one.

I slipped and fell on the rocks and for a moment, I genuinely thought this might be my end.

My left hand, which was free, automatically extended to try to stop my fall, as the camera and tripod in my right hand smashed down onto the rocks themselves.

My left shin hit a nearby rock and gave me the first instance of pain. But the main pain came from my hand and forearm breaking my fall and saving my head from damage.

I lay there for a moment in the darkness, pain making itself known across my forearm and my camera separated from the tripod, lying between some nearby rocks just about in-view. In fact, the only reason I could even see it was because the little screen on the back was still on and giving me a small light to work with.

After I realized I wasn’t dead, I began the process of getting back to my feet, clutching my left arm as if I were a walking-wounded in the Saving Private Ryan movie. I leaned over and picked up the camera and somehow made it back over to the car, feeling every step of the way.

There was no one around to see me. I was all alone in the darkness, so I didn’t have the normal feeling of embarrassment that can mask real pain. So, I felt the pains in arm and leg and was very glad to find myself safely sitting in the car.

By the time I got home the incident report reads as follows: cut and bruised shin. Couple of deepish cuts to the palm of my hand. Bad sprain (perhaps fracture) to the wrist. Glasses lost. Lens destroyed. Camera banged up and viewfinder screen pretty shot.

I think it is fair to say that the decision to walk out at low tied over uneven rocks in near-total-darkness without even as much as a head-lamp to light the way … not one of the best decisions I have ever made.

If I had hit my head, fallen backwards perhaps, I was on my own among the rocks in darkness and when the tide came in, there might only have been an abandoned car in the parking lot to make people aware that some old fool was missing.

Sometimes our decision-reasoning becomes masked by what we view as the end goal. And I am “sure” it would have been a good picture … foggy reddish base to a sepia colored pier. Everyone would have oohed and aahed.

But seriously!

What was I thinking?

And this morning as I sit here typing (mostly one-handed), I wonder how many other life-risking decisions I have gotten away with. Decisions that never made the light of day, but lie there hidden under the rug of time.

I have recounted a couple in my mind already and just shake my head at the stupidity of the decisions. And I am not a stupid person. I’m a democrat, for god sake!

But seriously, when presented with the opportunity, we all make stupid decisions.

While they may not necessarily be life-threatening, do we learn anything from the process when we get away with them?

Do we only finally learn as we draw our final breath, when one of our decisions catches up with us?

I think what I have realized, is that there are quiet moments when we should revisit our past decisions; lift up the rug and let the light in on them. If we are embarrassed by them, we don’t necessarily need to shine a light on them and write about them in a blog.

But at the very least, we need to look at ourselves and ask that “what were we thinking” question.

Why did we make the decision in a certain way and would we do so again today? And if not, why?

Understanding the process of our decision making is what makes us better people. It improves our decision making skills and it also helps us understand our own weaknesses a little better.

Knowing your weaknesses allows you to address them or sweep them under a rug. While the rug may be appealing and the easier option, eventually the pile under the rug is so high, you end up tripping over it.

The path forward in life is tricky enough. We don’t need self-made booby traps under our feet.

… just a thought!


It was another early start and with everyone medicined and fed by 4:30, all the bad news I could read was absorbed and so like all good boys and girls on Christmas Eve I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall onto Santa’s naughty list.

Idleness is definitely sufficient to warrant being put on that list, so I decided I would continue what I had started yesterday down at Lake Parker.

You see, I had begun yesterday with very long exposure shots while it was still well before civil twilight. And this time by going extra early I would be arriving some time between Astronomical Twilight and Nautical Twilight.

Right now, I can imagine most of you reading this are hearing about these twilights for the first time. For clarity, Astonomical Twilight is the first hint of the horizon being lit by the sun and it happens when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. Nautical Twilight is where things on the horizon start to pick up some kind of definition and it occurs 12 degrees below the horizon. And of course, you know by now that Civil Twilight occurs at 6 degrees below the horizon and is technically the point where it is bright enough to begin common acts of labor without artificial light.

Am I not a wealth of useless information?

Anyway, I climbed in the car and it was a little after five when I hit the lake shore. My eyes could not pick up any definition of the horizon but my first shot still managed to show it.

I am using very long exposures and at this time of day, I am running the camera on a 30 second exposure. So it pulls in all the wonderful colors that our eyes can’t quite detect.

I will add yesterday’s shots first and then today’s shot at the end of the blog, so you will see what effects the different timings had. Hope you enjoy!

I am holding back one shot from yesterday because I want it to be my New Year shot. It just spoke to me and also it is my favorite shot of the year. Keep your eye out for it.

Hope you enjoy these images!

Anyway, because I got there extra early today, the access to the boat ramp wasn’t open. So I wasn’t able to get to the pier like I was yesterday.

I headed straight away to the second-choice spot on the lake edge about half-way down the lake. From here I get a clear expansive view of the lake but when I got there, I realized that a new building that was recently put up on the opposite side of the road is casting too much light from its parking lot lights.

Why all these places have to have parking lot lights on all night, I will never understand. The amount of light-pollution we experience because of it is ridiculous, not to mention the extreme energy wastefulness.

These people just give lip-service to the whole green initiative.

But anyway, so I stood there for a moment and wondered what to do. This place definitely had the view that I wanted but strong lights behind me would reduce the likelihood of getting decent shots on long exposure.

I was determined to stick with the long exposure plan so I compromised the view in order to be able to get away with exposing for 30 seconds. I could have stepped it back down to 10 or 13 seconds, but then I wouldn’t have gotten the smoothness on the water and lovely tones of violet that the earlier twilights can deliver.

Compromise is a crossroads that we all face many times in our lives. Authoritarian despots never compromise and go through a life that is defined by them always getting their way.

Getting your own way may look on the surface like an optimum situation but the truth is that it presents us with a very narrow path in life, with little scope for learning along the way.

There are so many fools who believe that their way is always the right way and like the old oak in Aesop’s Fables they don’t bend when the winds try to take them on a different path. As the fable tells us, it is the reed that freely bends with the wind that survives.

We can be so adamant in what we want or what we need, that we refuse to see any good in a compromise. Confidence in our own position to the point of no compromise is a fool’s position and in today’s polarized view of the world, it is unfortunately becoming all too commonplace.

Over the ages, authoritarian leaders are easy to spot, and each one has been viewed by history as being an intransigent asshole that piles misery on those affected by their leadership. The world’s best leaders were those that understood the art of compromise. Compromise fosters harmony within groups or people or nations. It leads to long-term stability and peace. Authoritarianism results in animosities and division and either during their lifetime or immediately after their fall, causes fractures on a seismic level.

On a non-political level, compromise is also the cornerstone of healthy relationships and marriages that are built on compromise are the ones that last the ages.

There are those who think that compromise is essentially giving up a want or need in order to agree something with another.

But “giving up” is the wrong expression. Compromise is adapting to variables from a person or a circumstance and moving forward in a slightly different manner. It is a very real opportunity to learn a different viewpoint or a different taste to your own. And in many situations, you find that the compromised path turns out to be better than your original intention.

Garth Brooks “Unanswered Prayers” from the 90’s is a wonderful spin on this … give it a listen, if you don’t already know it.

The American way of life doesn’t embody much in the way of compromise. It is very much a land of opposites. Red and Blue, Black and White, Us or Them. The “importance of winning” ethos that is taught in sports to children has for many generations fashioned polarized views on almost every topic.

In Europe, governments have been built on compromise for almost a hundred years. Multi-party governments have formed coalitions in order to rule a country, with no single party every getting exactly what they want from the deal. Similarly, drawing a game (a tie) in sports (soccer for example) is a regular occurrence, with no need to fight on until the death when we have a winner and a loser. So the kids are taught early on that coexisting with others of different views an ambitions is an effective path forward and they become a generation of compromise.

It is difficult as a person living in a country of polarization to adopt compromise within their own life as a viable way to live. Authoritarianism bleeds from the top down and results in higher percentages of broken relationships, disharmony in communities of different persuasions, and increased gang violence among younger people who have been bred to choose one side or the other.

But unfortunately, compromise must begin with the person, grow to the community, and ultimately become a government’s method of ruling.

Each of us not only has the chance to benefit personally from compromising and learning along the way, but also inspiring others to do so. This becomes the kernel of change from which a more harmonious society develops.

… just a thought!

and now today’s shots


Day seven of our medicine vigil with poor little Beauty and I bring her to the vet later this morning to get a one-week-check on how her eye is doing. Fingers crossed it looks much better to me, but then again I have a (strong) vested interest.

Anyway the point to that bit of information is that every morning for the past week, I have had to get up around 3:30 so that Morgan and I can administer the eye ointment. Exhaustion is setting in, but if we get the desired end-result, it will all be worth it.

So, by 4:15 this morning all the kitties had been fed and I found myself sitting in front of the computer catching up on the news.

Within a half hour, I had read all the bad news I could take and so I decided what the hell, let’s see what Mother Nature conjures up for sunrise this morning. So, I grabbed the camera and headed off for Lake Mirror this time.

Lake Mirror is just a few blocks off downtown in Lakeland and when I got there around 5:30, it was just me, myself , and I … coffee in hand, waiting for the skies to offer up some kind of definition.

I amused myself in the darkness with the Seasons Greetings display that Lakeland had set up on the eastern shore. It took me a few takes to get that one shot, running back and forth to the camera on a ten second delayed shutter release.

The benefit of doing this at that time in the morning is that no one is around to see you in the height of your foolishness.

The only settings that I messed around with on the camera this time were shutter-speed and aperture. I admit to being a real fan of the long exposure images. The first four of these were all shot at 13 seconds exposure, by the way.

Anyway, I hope you can appreciate the colors that we got treated to this morning … enjoy!

Meanwhile, as I drove home I was pleased with the shots and in particular about how the reflections in the lake played such a big part in the success of most of them.

In photography, reflections are one of those magic elements that truly can enhance most settings. It is why in most movies when they are shooting city scenes at night, they nearly always wet the streets beforehand. You probably knew that already.

I use reflections as much as I can get away with them … water, glass, metal, I nearly always seek them out when I am trying to make something appear more beautiful than it otherwise might.

I remember one time down at Lake Parker, when the winning reflection was actually of me within the eye of an alligator. I guess a 3 foot distance mightn’t have been the wisest choice of my career.

But reflections that occur outside photography are much most meaningful. Rather than just a nifty way to enhance a moment, they can built greater character and help us move forward on a better path through life.

People with no conscience never reflect. They don’t question themselves and would learn nothing from a moment of reflection on a past word or deed, anyway.

But the rest of us are very much aware that as human beings, we are essentially flawed and therefore likely to have made mistakes throughout our lives.

When I reflect, I do so in a genuinely critical fashion. I don’t pull punches or make excuses for myself. So, I tend to be a bit more extreme in this than I should be.

But reflection that looks at a situation that we were in and subsequently asking ourselves if our action or approach was entirely correct … well, that is an excellent mechanism to self-evaluate from the perspective of hindsight.

People will tell us not to live in the past and while that is fundamentally good advice, we also cannot ignore our past. It is a real-life learning tool from which we can alter our approach to situations that we encounter in our future.

Not only does this reflection come from a hindsight that gives us a perspective on how life has subsequently played out, but we can also be more objective in our review as we are no longer in-the-moment ( making decisions under whatever conditions were present at the time).

Objectivity is a requirement in almost any realistic review. In self-reflection, objectivity can have the same effect as the long exposure shots had on the lake surface. It provides a much clearer understanding of that moment in time.

I shudder at some of my mistakes and would never admit them out loud. I have swept them under the rug and they will stay there until I die.

But, the point is, I know they are there. I can see the lumps even if no one else can. And I know what created the lump, so hopefully there is less likelihood of me making the same flawed situation in the future.

I don’t expect myself to be perfect for the future. But I do expect myself to be better. I gave up thinking I could walk on water long before I reached the lake this morning.

“Better” is a condition we should all be aiming for. Life should be a progression and the best place for most of our flaws is in the past. But to have them in the past, we must first know what they are. Only then does the “are” become “were”.

When Nietzche wrote that “all truly great thoughts were achieved while walking” he was merely pointing out that any future greatness comes from being able to quietly reflect on the past.

And when it comes to self-reflection, the best thing to do is look at ourselves coldly in a mirror. If you see something perfect, then you need to try opening your eyes.

Charles Bukowski said it most candidly, when he wrote “I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.”

Now that’s a mirror!

… just a thought.


I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing out one of the cat dishes.

With ten cats, two of which are in recovery from surgeries and such, breakfast, lunch and supper has become an overwhelming act of depravity. Well, OK, not so much depravity but definitely overwhelming.

There is an endless stream of dishes to be gathered and washed, filled and emptied. Cans disposed of (they all eat Fancy Feast) and spoons washed.

It is nearing the “routine” level of activity now, as I have been doing this for months.

The thing about “routine” is that we generally stop thinking about what we are doing and muscle-memory seems to take over from action to action.

I guess if we didn’t turn off in that manner, we would go crazy in all the endless trivia of repeated tasks.

I have experienced the same on drives, long drives in particular. Where you suddenly realize you can’t remember the last half hour of the road. Our brains have shifted into auto mode and we are no longer forming new memories.

Definitely dangerous when driving … not so much when washing cat dishes.

So, anyway, there I was standing at the kitchen sink and I stopped auto for just a moment and watched how the aerated water was behaving as it hit the dish in front of me.

There was no soap involved in this piece of the process, yet there were bubbles on the surface that were glistening in the sunshine beaming in through the kitchen window.

The engineer in me figured out it was because the aerated water pressure and the shallowness of the dish but the artists in me screamed “stop … camera time”.

So I took a few quick pictures and there are four at the end of the blog. One is full size and the other three are cropped in sections that show more detail. Hope you enjoy.

It could just be a matter of senility as I have definitely crossed the rubicon of old age. But, I marveled at the wonderful shapes and complexities of what the water and air were creating.

The close up shots in particular could be whatever we imagine them to be … isn’t life wonderful?

And yet (and here is the thought that played out in my head later) I almost missed it. In fact, I must have missed it many times before. That cannot be in doubt.

It made me question how much of life is experienced in auto mode?

Our brains are dramatically underutilized, with some studies showing we use as little as 2% of our brains (1% for republicans) and to me, this gives me a better understanding of why.

We have become more efficient in processing things that are happening around us and only choosing to make memories when new things are being experienced.

Our speed of observing things is faster than our speed of processing things into memories, so in order to avoid a buffer-overrun (this is the engineer in me again, sorry) we dump much of what is happening.

Younger people experiencing life’s moments for the first time tend to commit things better into memory that old folk. Their brain is understanding that it hasn’t experienced this before and so it goes to the bother of identifying what is happening, attaching a label to it, and storing it in a box in our hall of memories.

Years later they are able to recall their first kiss, mom’s stew, a favorite sweater, etc. But ask old folk what they ate for dinner a week ago and they will be hard pushed to recall with any certainty.

What the hell is he on about? I hear you ask. Why is any of this even remotely important?

Well, here’s why.

Our experience of life is very much an assembly of memories. We recall good and bad and look back on our week, year, or life, with a determination of whether things are good or bad, based on what we remember.

Extreme good or bad create very profound memories and so we remember them very vividly.

But a lot of other good things can be happening all around us and since we haven’t formed memories with them, we forget them as if they never existed.

And so we can draw the wrong conclusions as to whether life is good or bad at any particular moment. Because only the most extreme or novel are recalled for the assessment.

This can create a very real understatement within our mind of the life we are experiencing and our resultant sadness can be significantly increased.

I’ve said it before; life is to be experienced. It is the journey that gives meaning and value to our lives. Our interactions with those we love. Our ability to help and affect those around us; enhancing their life experience.

Our auto mode disables much of what we experience in life and that is a shame for us. It also affects those we love as we find ourselves not really listening or paying attention and their lives are all the poorer for it.

A few years back I found the auto switch on my camera and there is great joy in switching it off now and then and trying to experience my photographs with only manual settings.

If I could just find my own auto switch, my life would be all the better for occasionally being able to switch it off too. I’ve checked both armpits but I have no idea where they hid it.

I guess I will just occasionally have to stop myself mid-stream and just remind myself to breathe it in and occasionally watch the bubbles.

… just a thought!


It was just one of those incredibly blue Florida mornings that scream at you to grab your camera and hit a trail.

The air was fresh, it had a bit of a chill to it and so, armed with my cameras, a sweater (from the back of my closet … this is Florida, you know), and a coke zero for hydration, I set off for the trails at Circle B.

I said goodbye to all the kitties and drove the 20 minutes to the shores of Lake Hancock. There are several different trails there and I chose the one that leads me down alligator alley so as to not be walking directly into the sun. My original thought was to take a trail that bordered the lake itself, but because of where the sun was, most of my pics would then have been silhouetted.

Aaaah the joys of planning ..


That was Coco by the way … he wanted to give his input to this morning’s blog.

Anyway, Lake Hancock doesn’t have any recreational fishing on it, so it has developed a wonderful range of associated wildlife. Birds in particular seem to thrive here from the largest Great Blues to the tiniest Warblers.

There are some resultant non-feathered creatures here also, from the alligators (the biggest one I have seen here is about 15 feet) to furry creatures like raccoons, rabbits, etc.

Fish and insects make up the bottom of the food chain (unfortunately for them) and the whole world here just seems beautifully balanced.

There were so many times on the trail yesterday where I was the only human in sight and it created a wonderful feeling of being at one with nature. There were moments where I just stood there and closed my eyes listening to the sounds around me and breathing it all in.

Of course, you don’t want to keep your eyes closed too long for fear of missing something or perhaps something finding you!

Anyway. while my eyes were open, I did manage to get some decent shots showing the diversity of my fellow trail-occupants.

Blue skies behind and sun in their faces, make for good shooting conditions. I hope you enjoy.

As I climbed into the car and drove home. my battery was recharged and I felt very much alive and in tune with my surroundings. I thought of the diversity of life that I was made privy to yesterday and in general on this planet.

And I mused over the preciousness of life and how we as humans often fail to grasp that we aren’t the only important creatures on this planet.

From the tiniest bug to the largest creature, the diversity of life around us provides us with a very real challenge on where to set the bar for preciousness.

I mean, we assign importance to lives that allows us to treat the “unimportant” in a casual or dismissive manner. And in many ways, our views of these creatures amounts to a death sentence handed out on such a casual basis.

For example, bugs are unimportant, so we freely step on them. Except for the ones with pretty colored wings … those get a pin stuck through them and mounted on a board.

Fish are unimportant so we drive metal hooks into their mouths for entertainment purposes, allowing us to tell tall stories of the ones that got away.

Deer are unimportant, so we license killers with high-powered telescopic rifles to shoot them at distance for the thrill of it.

Bulls are unimportant so we dress up in glitzy sequins and drive multiple blades into them in front of cheering crowds that throw flowers into the arena when the poor creature has bled to death in front of their eyes.

Factory ships from Japan harpoon families of unimportant whales (arguably one of the most intelligent and social creatures on the planet) or slice off the fins of wonderful creatures that have survived since the dawn of time only to now become the soup appetizer in a fancy restaurant.

Yet we raise blue murder at the thought that in parts of asia, they raise and kill dogs for food. Dogs who are neither as intelligent as whales, or as old as sharks.


It’s because we assigned important to the dog the moment we decided they make cool pets. There is a multi-billion dollar industry that would derail if those little barkers were no longer assigned that level of importance on our creature-scale.

Interestingly enough, humans also use this scale among ourselves. We assign unimportance to different people, different religions, different colors and it allows us to step on them, hunt them, and kills them, in a not-dissimilar manner.

We put people in a box “he’s black”, “he’s a muslim”, “she’s a slut”, “she’s just a woman” …. careful boxes that we have fashioned that allow us to enslave, disregard, discard, and discriminate.

There are those among us and the only important people in the world are themselves. Their wives are their property, and their children merely a reflection on their own greatness.

These people occupy an end of the spectrum that is in many ways the very worst of humanity. They pop tic-tacs and grab pussy at will. They shoot unarmed blacks because they looked like they were up to something. They foster hate and intolerance of poor immigrants, even though in all likelihood they were descended from the same.

What they have lost sight of is simply that ALL life is precious. That of an impoverished child in the far reaches of a village in Afghanistan. Or a deer quietly grazing on some grasses on a forest floor.

Each living breathing creature has a right to life. The same right as any other regardless of wealth, intelligence, or circumstance.

Superiority is a cancerous trait. It spreads virulently and feeds off our own insecurities. We infect others with it as we build cliques of fellow-important-people.

Yet after we draw our final breath, our importance fades and we return to the same dust as the bug that we stepped on during our oh-so-important life.

… just a thought!


So just before sundown the other evening, I found myself in the yard, watching my kittens wandering around in the scrub.

They are almost six months old already, so perhaps I should start calling them cats … I don’t know.

But their playfulness hasn’t subsided at all and their energy levels are endless and worthy of such envy. They always seem to be up to something.

The images at the end of this blog are of Everest and Beauty, two sisters, as they hung out near where I put out the raccoon and possum food each evening.

Their curiosity and interest in everything around them is energizing to witness, possibly because most of us are so jaded by everything, we become oblivious to what a wonderful world this is.

This is the thought that developed in my head as I looked through some of the images this morning. And it began with the phrase “Curiosity killed the cat”, a phrase that I have know since I was a child and just hangs as an unspoken fact somewhere in the back of my head.

The phrase was coined in 1598 in a play by Ben Johnson and the message was clear: don’t poke your nose into things that aren’t your business.

But the more I thought about that, the more I realized how counter that runs to everything I believe in.

Curiosity is a fundamental part of exploration and experimentation. It drives innovation like nothing else.

My own humble efforts in experimenting with images hinges on a curiosity of “I wonder what it would look like if …”

So, why would this phrase have become part of the standardized vernacular?

Yes, it is cat-chy (pun intended) but there is a lot more to it than that.

For centuries people have been groomed to know their place and not step above their stature in life.

Keeping things on a need-to-know basis has been a fundamental part of class-distinction. It is designed to keep the poor poor and the rich rich.

So, from an early age we are told to stop asking too many questions. Children have an innate need to know “why” and that need is extinguished in many by a relentless barrage of obstacles to learning or just silence and ignorance.

As schools become college and college becomes work, we are made feel less confident in asking a question and fear ridicule for not knowing already.

This is a system developed to cap learning and stunt curiosity.

Religion plays a big part in this grooming with its endless emphasis on faith and belief rather than answers and proof.

Questions are sacrilegious if they are deemed to threaten the foundations of faith of these churches. Don’t question, just accept.

Governments are built on control of the masses. Rules and laws put in place to confuse and stifle. Legal jargon becomes the norm and fairness plays no part in our lives.

Even online services hide behind endless agreements of many thousands of words that are designed to confuse and overpower, so we all just hit “Accept” on the terms and conditions without even reading the first few paragraphs.

Who knows what we are agreeing to?

Even though we have been groomed away from it, curiosity is obviously a trait that we admire in creatures like kittens. Just like I did yesterday evening, we stand and admire, smile at, even laugh when they slip off the log and fall on their asses.

But falling on your ass sometimes is exactly what you need. It is how you learn and find a better way to climb whatever obstacles lie in your path to learning. So, never be afraid of that.

Whenever I am encouraged to stop asking questions of something or someone, it immediately makes me wonder what they are hiding. And trust me, anyone that wants you to stop asking , most definitely IS.

Blind faith should be left to those that are just that … blind. You are not a doubting Thomas just because you are looking for more information and something that resembles proof.

On the contrary, your innate nature is to be curious. If you don’t believe me, spend time watching a toddler “getting up to mischief”. We shape their world around them and guide them as best we can. But we often smother their curiosity in the process.

Kittens don’t have that smothering, which is why as cats they are still devilishly curious. There is no limit to their curiosity and exploration. Which is why every closed door is merely a challenge to them.

None of my cats accept a closed door. They may have been on the other side a hundred times already, but they rush through its opening as if it is their first time.

Nor should we.

Whenever we are faced with a closed door, ask why. Ask what is behind it. Ask how do I open it. Keep asking. Don’t stop. And one day that door may just open enough to let you run freely through!

… just a thought!

Too much beauty

There was a moment towards the end of yesterday morning’s shoot, when birds were flying south, birds were flying north, and the sun was bursting with fiery reds and I actually said to myself “stop, there’s too much beauty”.

And I did.

I stopped taking pictures and I just watched.

For a few minutes the world played out its early morning symphony and their wasn’t a single shutter-click to capture it. So, forgive me …

But yesterday morning was just one of those godsends. You know those moments. Your soul is crying out for respite from a miserable week and the gods deliver.

And for almost my whole visit there, it was just me, the birds, the planet, and me. Yes, it was so good, I was there twice. In body and soul.

And as this wondrous beauty played out all around me, I realized how the scope of the lens fails in such instances. Of 360 degree happenings, it captures less than 90.

So, I would have needed four or five cameras all going at the same time to blanket shoot what was going on. Not to mention the ten hands holding the cameras and pushing the buttons.

Anyway, I hope you like what I did capture. Images at the end of this blog.

Oh, and I did put a short video (less than a minute) up on youtube, if you want proof that I wasn’t altering any colors, Check it out!

Too much beauty! Boy, what a complaint.

It is almost shameful to voice that phrase yet as I climbed back into the car and drove home, that is exactly what was ringing inside my head.

Saturation of anything can occur when we get too much of it. No matter how much we love the “it”.

It is why after a lengthy vacation, we yearn to get back to work even though we couldn’t wait for the vacation before we went on it.

It is why we could stand in a field of gorgeous red roses, yet our eyes would finally focus on the one little daisy standing in the corner.

It is why after three or four days of leftovers, we just can’t even contemplate another serving of turkey and ham.

It is why I can send 24 lovely color images of a client to them and yet they will almost always love the one black and white, I added as an afterthought.

Life serves us up wonderful moments quite sparingly, to where we rarely saturate on them. So, these type of situations don’t seem to happen very often.

We can identify with the type of situations I wrote about above, but they don’t really happen very often to us.

Or do they?

It is the subtle saturations of beauty that go unnoticed on a daily basis.

For example, Floridians are so used to blue skies and sunshine that when a cold rainy day happens in December they all comment about how they absolutely love this kind of day.

Kids get so used to mom’s home cooking that they moan when sitting down to the 45th cooked meal in a row and ask “can’t we just order pizza?”

We marry the most beautiful girl of our dreams only a few months later to not even notice her when she walks into the room while we are watching football on the TV.

Taking anything for granted is a shameful trait and yet we all fall foul of it.

We often only notice that we have done so, when time has taken it away from us. Mom’s home cooked meals become a hugely missed piece of home when we are gone off to college.

But we are better off if we can check ourselves while it happens and realign our mind. Re-calibrate your sensitivity scale to where you force yourself to notice how gorgeous the sky is or the woman who has just walked into the room.

Breathe in the fresh air and remind yourself that each moment needs to be absorbed and enjoyed as if it were your last.

It really isn’t that difficult. On the contrary; all you have to do is pause and close your eyes (I am assuming here that you aren’t driving). Then imagine yourself in a black room, void of all color, sound, smell.

As you stand there, take yourself to where you feel absolutely nothing.

Then when you are ready, open your eyes and breathe in. Imagine that you are seeing this all for the first time and soak in all the details of what you are experiencing. Notice the details, breathe in the smells, and smile.

The smile is the important part because in doing so, you are acknowledging that this is a beautiful moment and it is a source of joy.

Life is mostly full, ladies and gentlemen. And unless you have tapped into my blog from the after-world, you are alive. So enjoy it.

… just a thought!

Finding Brittany

It was a pretty awful weekend. And the Monday that followed was definitely a rough one.

So by the time the afternoon was winding down and my work was finished, I was desperately in need of a recharge of some sort. My soul was screaming out for nourishment and so I decided on a sunset.

It wasn’t an easy decision, because my best sunsets have been with Brittany and the thought of doing one without her is a little hollow, in all honesty.

And also, my timing was all wrong. A quick check of my clock after I fed the kitties, I realized I would not likely make it across to the other side of Lake Parker in time to catch a sunset.

So, as I sat in the car, pulling off the driveway, I had reconciled myself to just going to an overpass over the interstate and trying to catch something there.

I was headed in that direction and I realized it was a clear sky and therefore not likely to produce anything that would make an interstate type sunset worth capturing, so I made another executive decision and decided to head for the lake, post haste.

It was a drive, I have to tell you. The stress of making it or not making it was palpable and each light that turned against me was greeted with an expletive, as was each and every driver that wasn’t racing down the road like me, or at the very least getting out of my way.

The fact that I am writing a blog about this is a clear indication that I got some pictures and indeed I did. The shadows were deep across the pier view that I would normally park at so I had to drive a quarter mile further up the lake to find somewhere where the sun was still visible.

I hope you enjoy … some of them came out really good. In my opinion, anyway.

I was only there for fifteen minutes or so before it was over but each moment was spent searching for Brittany, her hoop, her music, her happy smile.

Believe it or not, there was an unseen bird calling from a tree and his call sounded just like her name. It sent a chill up my spine.

Did I find her, I hear you ask. Yes, actually. I did.

But she wasn’t at the lake. She was within me, all the time. I just needed the sunset to help see her.

And this is what I was thinking about as I returned home. How we keep precious people alive inside us after they are gone.

We may occasionally forget we have them, but this is how they find eternal life. It is within the memories, hearts, and souls of those who love them.

I used the present tense there, because the love doesn’t stop when a person dies.

If anything, it gets deeper, because we have the added missing of their presence that we so casually took for granted.

We all lose someone and eventually they lose us, but the word “loss” is very much a misnomer. Because a love is never truly lost. It is simply waiting to be found.

Our love is sitting in a memory within us that only needs us to open the door and shine a little light in so that we can see them again.

For me yesterday, the light was the fading golden rays of the sun. But, it could be anything that we are able to associate with this soul. A song we remember sharing, a past moment spent together, or the distant sound of an unseen bird calling out their name.

Remembering someone special is how we visit with them when they have left this world. And because it is our remembrance that stimulates the visit, we can choose the manner in which we visit with them.

When we make that choice, it is sometimes difficult to look beyond the sadness of their last days, but it is important that we do. Our memories of a person can’t always be the sad ones.

We need to remember the happy times we spent together. The smiles they gave us and the joy we felt in their presence. We need to remember the love shared and the warmth it created within our souls when we needed their love.

This is what made them special to us, in the first place.

So, pause a moment today and open a door somewhere inside you. Visit with a love and enjoy them. Let a little bit of light in onto them, they may well be needing it today, anyway. Heaven knows, we all do.

… just a thought.