20 Minutes too much

I hadn’t been to Lettuce Lake in a while and figured I would treat myself today. So, I drove over mid-morning having taken care of the kitty chores at home.

There were quite a number of people there … I guess it was around 10:30 when I got there. It was a beautiful morning, temperature somewhere in the low 70’s and a clear blue sky overhead.

For those of you who have never been to Lettuce Lake, it has a lovely boardwalk that goes along the contour of the water and gives a peaceful (if not altogether wild) stroll without having to worry about tripping over something.

At Circle B, you have to keep one eye in the trees, one panning side to side, and one on the ground for fear of tripping over a tree root.

So Lettuce Lake is more stroll-friendly for sure.

Since COVID, the county has made the boardwalk one-way, which is a slight inconvenience but the distances aren’t so great that it is any big deal.

What stunned me today was the number of morons who were not only not wearing a mask, but were walking against the one-way direction and laughing out loud as they squeezed past the rest of us.

There was one patriot with a “stop the steal” shirt tightly across his over-sized belly that barely covered the concealed weapon squeezed into the waist of his ill-fitting shorts. I am guessing it was his family (there was five of them) that pushed through those of us heading in the right direction and only one of his clan was wearing a mask.

In fact, I believe less than a third of the folk there at all were wearing a mask and so I took the first chance to get off the boardwalk and return to the car. I needed to get out of there.

It is the least amount of time (about 20 minutes) I have ever spent at Lettuce Lake and frankly was 20 minutes too long.

I was sorry I went.

There are a few pics of juvenile alligators at the end of the blog but in truth, I wasn’t very much focused on taking pics. Enjoy!

As I drove home I was seething at the callous “I don’t give a shit” attitude of the red folk in this red state. It beggars belief that people can be so uncaring to the well-being of their fellow man.

They have swallowed the lies of the idiot governor and shout about their rights to not wear a mask if they don’t want to. And what about the rights to not die of COVID of the people they recklessly put in danger? Apparently the life the are “Pro” is not yours.

Anyway it all sparked a train of thought in my head that put me in a really bad mood by the time I got home. It extended into the whole “man’s inhumanity to man” phrase that Robert Burns coined in 1784 and was unsurprisingly factual to my head. I didn’t even debate it.

It was a simple fact. Man has coined the word humanity as if it is something good and yet we repeatedly show humanity to be evil.

Reckless uncaring is a selfishness that exists in so much of mankind that it is shuddering.

We aspire to be better beings than we are but repeatedly show our true colors. We are only kind when it suits us. When we get some benefit from it.

OK, not everyone. There are some truly good people out there but their numbers are low and their voices unheard.

They oftentimes shout about the rights of the poor, of the weak, of the disadvantaged. But their cries are drowned out by those shouting for their rights to kill, discriminate, and impoverish.

Their is no silent majority. I am sorry Mr Nixon. The majority is loud and uncaring. They have been fashioned that way from years of pandering and tolerating and their selfishness has risen to the surface.

Is it any wonder then that these same people practice their inhumanity on the animal kingdom? What was I thinking? They can’t even be caring to their fellow man.

I have no answer … I just hang my head in shame.

… just a thought.

Murdering bastards

Today has been a pretty dismal one, in all truth. But, you couldn’t have forecast that from the way it started.

I took to the trails as Circle B before sunrise and at the outset it seemed like a perfect day. The skies were clear, temperature perfect for a stroll, and life was awakening around me.

I was only on the trail ten or fifteen minutes when serious amounts of gun fire broke the silence and sent much of the wildlife around me into panic mode.

Over the course of about a half hour, there must have been nearly a hundred shots fires and if I had been confident where they were coming from, I would have returned to my car and abandoned the trail.

But I had no idea where they were and there were moments when I half expected to see some lunatic with a shotgun would appear in front of me. But, thankfully, I didn’t.

I don’t have a definitive answer to what all of this was, but according to one trail-traveler, it appears that there were duck-hunters on the other side of the lake and they were clearly having some murderous fun.

I do not agree with hunting in general, but I find it incredibly Florida that these blood-thirsty goons would be allowed to hunt right beside one of the county’s major reserves.

I mean, seriously, to whom does it make sense that birds flying within the geographic boundaries of the reserve are fine, but fair game once they cross some invisible line on a map? I somehow doubt that the ducks were afforded the luxury of being given a map to indicate where the no-fly zone was.

While I was shooting (with camera), I spotted three instances where Osprey suddenly flew scared from their perch, two of them were right in the middle of eating.

It is incredulous to me that these morons don’t understand that the chaos they cause among wildlife within hearing distance of their hunt, is very real and very damaging.

The reserve is supposed to offer a natural and peaceful home to wild creatures, but there was no peace today.

Or maybe they do understand and just don’t care. I oftentimes feel I am in a minority in a blood-red state like Florida. All I can do is shake my head.

Anyway, I did manage to get some decent pics with the new lens on the A7. This was my first time using the lens and I went out so early because I wanted to measure its performance in low light.

I was pretty pleased and hope you enjoy some of the shots at the end of the blog.

I was still annoyed as I drove home and my mind mainly wandered onto the whole blood-sport culture. And I mused as to how this culture and others like it have gotten savvy over the years to where they use positive wording to describe what they are doing.

For example, many say they are culling in order to save the animals from over-population. Now, this is very akin to those who say they are not anti-abortion, but pro-life. Or those that say they are not anti-gay, but are practicing their freedom of religion in refusing to serve those who find love in their same sex.

They get away with this shit because media and politicians alike generally refuse to call out any of these groups for their transparent spin.

But in the 50’s you were a sportsman with a telescopic sight, an anti-abortion crusader who shamed the “wayward and fallen” girls that needed help, and a righteous hetero that beat the queer guy that you felt was undressing you with his eyes.

You were equally despicable back then but at least you were honest about it. Today you hide your hate behind soft and holy words, but you are nonetheless hateful.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, was a line from Romeo and Juliet. And man, do you smell!

When it comes to treatment of animals, humankind will never be able to make up for the damage we have done. We abuse them, eat them, vilify them. We eradicate their environment to where those that remain become crowded into smaller spaces. So then we murder them … oops, sorry, cull them, in order to avoid overpopulation in the remaining space.

Pacifist idiots like me fools ourselves into wandering a trail, thinking what a lovely environment we have created here for the animals to live naturally.

Lovely as long as they don’t stray off the reservation, that is.

Or lovely as long as they don’t get “too big”. Yes, they kill alligators that they fear have grown too big. Because of the danger they present, is what they tell us.

Why not kill the people that get too big? Can you imagine? “I’m sorry sir, but you are a hundred pounds too heavy, so we have to shoot you in the head. But don’t worry, we will tan your hide and make some really cool cowboy boots. Yes, the same boots on that guy with the shot-gun over there waiting on the ducks.”

See, it’s all well and good to rationalize how we mistreat animals, until we personalize it by imagining we did the same to people.

Truth is, cruelty is cruelty regardless of who the victim is. And I would argue that cruelty towards innocent creatures is the most cruel of all. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

… just a thought.

Success despite myself

True to form, I set off into the morning darkness today with another experiment in mind.

I had my battery pack, light strips, bottles of water, a strainer, a couple of different props … all thrown into a bag and my new A7 resting on the passenger seat beside me.

I was half way there when I realized I had left my phone behind, but that’s ok. It wasn’t going to kill me to be without my cell for an hour or two.

My choice of venue for these experiments is the pier at lake parker. Not because of the scenery or view, but because at this time of day it gives me the darkest place around, with the fewest distractions or traffic.

So I wandered out in the darkness to the end of the pier and set up to take the first shot, only to realize that I had left my memory card in my PC. Luckily the A7 has two slots and there was a spare card sitting in slot two in the camera. So, I swapped it over to slot one and I was back in business.

I began pouring water through the strainer only to realize that the strainer’s holes were too big to emulate rain, so that was a bust. So I just soaked the ground around the props to at least give me a reflective surface.

That’s when the lights went out because I hadn’t charged the battery pack.

And that’s also when the light of the full moon behind me gave me enough light to keep shooting with … hence the sudden disappearance of blue light in the photos at the end of the blog.

I hope you enjoy the little selection. The quality of the images was terrific in my eyes and well worth the early morning excursion.

So I felt proud of the results, albeit on the back of a pretty poor “neville- performance”. Forgotten phone, forgotten card, forgotten charge to the battery pack … I would have forgotten my head ‘cept it was glued to my shoulders.

Thankfully there are times in life when our ball-dropping is recovered by something or someone about us. In this case, if was the camera and the moon to my rescue. But in other times it has been someone or something stepping in and saving the day.

It is one of the reasons why I preferred team-sports growing up. The sense that you didn’t always have to bring your A-game. That someone else would help carry you to the win.

It is a comfort that is very much part of belonging to a pack; working together and for each other.

Life’s journey is never fully alone and our best successes are rarely achieved without the help of someone or something outside of us. To think that our wins are ours alone is a foolish, conceited thought and it is important to understand that our life does not play out in a vacuum.

I have long been blessed with help and support from friends and loved ones and honestly can’t think of a success that is solely my own. There is also more joy to be had in a success when you can share that with others around you. A feeling that you achieved something all on your own is not just foolish, but it is hollow.

Success shared is truly more joyful and definitely more honest.

I love how some idiots describe themselves as self-made and they bask in their shallow claims of success. There may be a false-appearance of success that they can attribute to themselves but it is always at the very least on the back of someone that they stood on, or someone that helped them.

John Donne in 1624 wrote that no man is an island and unable to process the thought properly, he attributed the success of man to his god. You see this same response on the field of play sometimes where a goalscorer gives thanks to the skies or at the award ceremony when the actor gives thanks for his talent.

But the truth in the thanks is really to the parent that nurtured, the teacher that taught, the friend that helped, or the partner that encouraged. There are so many players in our success story and it is with those that we share our success.

I have long since understand that my successes belong to so many. It is only my failures that belong to me alone.

… just a thought!


This morning at the lake was more about what I didn’t have than what I had.

I had a beautiful start to the morning but apparently no one there to share it with.

This fact was made all the more obvious than the props I used to create my little mini-shoot with and despite the cools pics that I ended up getting, I left the lake feeling quite dissatisfied.

It also didn’t help that I had missed most of my time slot because I had to use an alternate location to shoot. When I arrived at my primary spot, there was too much ambient light from a nearby building and it ruined the early morning darkness that I needed.

I can never understand this aspect of America. They not only have no regard for the wastefulness of energy in leaving every light in a parking lot on throughout an entire night. But, they also don’t think of the effects of light pollution not just on silly photographers like me, but on the whole family of nocturnal creatures that comes alive at night.

I can only imagine the disturbance it causes to such lives that have to seek out new abodes and hunting grounds, just because mankind has an obsession with leaving the light on.

Anyway, that isn’t what this blog is about, so enjoy the pics at the end of the blog, if you make it to the end.

No, what I actually wanted to write about is how there are times in our lives when we seem to be alone but in truth no one ever is completely alone..

When we find ourselves at beautiful moments like an imminent sunrise, for example, there is a distinct benefit to being able to share that moment with someone, or even to toast it with that someone special in your life. Which, was actually the thought behind bringing the glasses with me in the first place.

You see, there are a few people that I have lost over the years that have left major holes in my heart. People like my Dad, my Mom, and Brittany. People that in some ways fashioned who I am or pointed me towards who I might want to be.

When you have been so lucky as I have, in getting to feel the love of some very special people, it is not enough to just remember them.

We need to honor their memory and sometimes, we have to raise a glass and share an experience once more with them.

For me, the most meaningful experience I share is the arrival of a new day or the departure of an old one. Sunrises and sunsets are moments when the world pauses for a moment in its rotation and marks the passage of time.

There is no other such moment in a day, month, or year that marks itself so. All other markings are human in manufacture … a new week, a new year. A new season, a new century … these are all just markings made in human calendars.

But the planet itself gives us each sunrise and sunset and so it is shameful to just take them for granted and show no significance.

In ancient times, pagan Ireland (and likely pagans elsewhere) marked each sunrise and sunset as a time of worship. They worshiped the gods or goddesses responsible for giving them the start and end of each day. They gazed respectfully to each new horizon and gave thanks for the start of another day.

And they likely looked around them at that moment and gave thanks that those they loved were there to share it with them. Which is one reason why “sláinte” (to your health) became the common toast at each sunrise shared.

When loved ones were no longer there “i do chuimhne” (in your memory) became the correct toast as each day ended.

Sharing a moment with those that have passed was very much a part of the Irish culture, to where once a year they shared food and drink at harvest with those that were no longer with them. They set out the food and drink at the graves or stone markers at harvest in the belief that their loved ones would return for just that night and share the moment with them.

This was the feast of Samhain and provides a simple understanding for why we celebrate Halloween these days with images of ghosts, skeletons, and such.

But beyond the history lesson of my last few paragraphs, what I really wanted to express was my belief that moments shared with those we love or loved truly forms the basis for correctly marking the passage of time.

Eventually we pass with time also and hopefully someone will stand on a shore somewhere and raise their glass to us in memory of times we spent in their lives and living moments we shared.

So, I guess my message is simply this … never go to a moment alone, with just a single glass. For, you are never truly alone and the soul waiting for you there may well be thirsty for being remembered.

… just a thought.


When I arrived at the lake yesterday morning, I did so with the intention of taking some glass sphere pics. I wanted to explore some of the light direction a little better and to play with a camera setting or two.

As I set up on the dock to begin my session, I could make out the power plant on the opposite shore, as it plumed its smoke up into the night sky.

I had been probably only shooting about ten minutes, moving my light bars, throwing water at the sphere, and such, but generally not paying attention to my surrounds. When, all of a sudden I noticed that I had become engulfed in fog.

I could barely see the near-end of the pier I was standing on, and the opposite shore was completely gone.

The air around me tasted differently and sounds were heavily muted.

It was a stunning moment of seclusion and it happened in an instant. There was no gradual build-up and it made the moment so magical.

As I looked out into the lake, my eyes were greeted by nothing but a solid sheet of grey and when I looked behind me, I saw the lovely effect of lights cutting through the thick fog. Took a couple of shots and I have them at the end of the blog together with three more from this morning, when the fog was much lighter … hope you enjoy.

Anyway, yesterday as I drove home, I thought about being suddenly engulfed and then I smiled at my use of the word within my mind and how emphatic it was.

And then I thought about how we use words these days and have drifted to the point where so much of our thoughts and expressions rely on words that are over emphasized.

For example, you can tell somebody you “like” them, but they are left wondering why you don’t “love” them. And then when we want to let our special one(s) know how much we love them, we choose “adore” or qualify the love with “really” or “truly”.

And it is no longer enough to say she is a “good looking” girl or “nice looking”. She needs to be “gorgeous” or “stunning”.

Of course, in recent years, social media has made things even worse. Every “acquaintance” is now a “friend” and it’s not enough to acknowledge a comment with an “ok” … we have to “Laugh out Loud” apparently at everything that is being said to us. So, now when things are genuinely funny, we are left apparently “Rolling on the Floor, Laughing My Ass Off”.

I mean, seriously, come on! Where will it all end?

And in the meantime, what has it actually done to our ability to communicate or even express ourselves?

We have effectively narrowed our vocabulary to where many words are no longer satisfactory and this is a shame. Anything that reduces the range of our ability to express our thoughts is actually a negative shift and is in fact counter-evolution.

Think about it, we emerged from caves and began to express ourselves to fellow humans. Then we developed languages to handle our expressions and these languages evolved too over time to include all the new things that began to appear in our lives.

Physical things needed to be captured in words, as did new thoughts and words became expansive as languages and cultures inter-mixed.

But with the narrowing of the vocabulary, we end up returning towards the point and grunt level of expression of our forefathers.

So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that we should watch ourselves and how we express a thought, how we communicate with others. Using our words wisely is not simply choosing words that don’t offend or cause concern. It is about using all the words we have available to us in order to color in our expression as much as we can.

Words and our ability to conjure them up are not just tools of communication. They are in many ways the very essence of humanity.

… just a thought!


When I left home around 5:15 this morning, the plan was to head to St Pete and take sunrise pics at North Shore Park. I have been there just a couple of times and it gives a lovely sunrise view across the waters of Tampa Bay.

Last night before going to sleep, I checked the weather and it said “partly cloudy” which sometimes bodes well for a really colorful sunrise.

But as I hit the interstate, it became apparent that fog and heavy cloud was the order of the day and the prospect of a sunrise at all was virtually zero.

By this time of course, I was already heavily committed with my trusted cup of coffee by my side and all the cats either fed and locked up or fed and allowed out. So the thought of turning back, never really played out in my head as a serious option.

I remembered the boat docks at St Pete near the pier and I figured I didn’t really need a sunrise for those shots. Particularly if I could get there early enough to catch whatever ambient lights might be in play.

So, I reset the navigator destination and while still heading to St Pete, targeted the pier just a few miles further south than the park.

In the back of my mind I wondered if there might still be a breakthrough of sun, should the clouds break up a little. But looking out into the darkness of the early morning, I couldn’t really see much chance of that happening.

From my parking spot near the boats, I could see a dim glow of blue from something at the pier and it was only after going out the pier a little that I realized it was an art-piece that was getting hit by blue and some red lights that were dimming on and off. Hence the shots, I got.

The value of the glow was wonderful in the dark, touching the fog and creating a surreal feel to the photos. But as the sky began to brighten, the effect washed out. So, I was glad I got there when I did.

I have attached some images to the end of the blog, hope you enjoy!

It was on the way home that I began to mull over how well the adjustment to my morning went. And I thought how much of life itself is really an adjustment.

I mean, yes there are definitely times when we have to implement a Plan B and totally change what we are doing, but more often than not it is a simple adjustment that works best.

Most adjustments are seamless … they may even be invisible to us as we slow down or accelerate along a given path. For example you find yourself at the grocery store adding some things to the shopping cart that you didn’t originally intend to buy.

Other adjustments require us to recognize something is wrong with a specific plan or action and so we have to devise a slight improvement or redirection that gets us to where we are trying to go. For example perhaps we are driving to a friend’s house and the road ahead is flooded so we take a detour. We are still going to the same place, just taking a slightly different path to get there.

Then there are times when we have to reevaluate what we are doing and compromise ourselves in some fashion in order to get the same end result. For example, you are in college pursuing your degree and the studies are more demanding than you had originally allowed for. So you have to dump the boyfriend because a relationship is too much of a drag on your ambitions at this time. Sorry, Johnny!

In each of the above situations, the end point hasn’t changed. We still got our groceries, we got to our friend’s house, and we got our degree.

Being unable to adjust can be the difference between success and failure. We don’t get the sugar because it wasn’t on our original list and it turns out we had not at home after all!. We never reach our friend’s house because we flooded the engine trying to get through too much running water on the road. And we ended up not getting the grades to complete our degree and Johnny ended up leaving us anyway for another woman (someone who got their degree apparently).

Aesop’s Fables has the reed surviving the storm because it happily bent in the wind, while the strong oak refused to bend and eventually fell over.

When we feel the wind, we need to move with it. Adjust our approach to things so that we eventually get there.

Keeping the end goal in sight and being humble enough to know that occasionally we have to trim our sails, is a wise way of going through life.

“My way or the highway” too often leaves us upside down in a ditch somewhere and is a fool’s approach to life.

Today’s adjustment meant that I still went to St Pete, still got photos for this blog, but they just turned out to be a bit different than the images I went to sleep with in my head last night. Such is life sometimes!

… just a thought!


No. I didn’t head to the lake to watch the sunrise today. I shudder to think how many of these blogs start like that and in a way I apologize.

Being a morning person (and I definitely am) there is a resurgence that normally comes in my spirit with a visit to the lake and the chance to watch another sun rise as I sip on my first coffee of the day.

It is like nectar to the soul in so many ways and in tough times I milk it for what it is worth.

Yesterday and the day before, I went down there but not today. Today was a pause in the proceedings, mostly a circumstance of being over-run with kitty chores. Although it is difficult to use the word “chores” with a straight face as the first couple of hours of my day today involved being smothered in hugs by Tetsuo in particular and then being crawled all over by the six four-week-old kittens that have suddenly decided to explore their surrounds.

Life is tough lol

Anyway, the first of those visits was met with disappointment. I had gone to Lake Mirror and wanted to play with water against the backdrop of the brightening skies.

I brought some bottled water with me, and a DVD to act as a shiny surface. I brought lights and a couple of other props that never made it out of the bag.

I was only about fifteen minutes into it, when I splashed the lens (see below) and that’s when I realized I had no cloth to dry it and my clothing was material that didn’t really absorb, just smeared.

So I actually had to walk away and call it a day.

Apart from that sense of failure, even the shots I did get looked more like I was relieving myself than anything artistic. So, that thought didn’t translate well at all from my mind to reality.

(I did go to Lake Parker the morning after btw and those shots are at the end of the blog too. No relieving oneself involved.)

It was a definite sense of disappointment that consumed me as I drove home from Lake Mirror that first morning. And the disappointment was solely on myself. There were no other factors involved in the failure.

It was this aspect of disappointment that created this train of thought for today.

You see, we are often disappointed in life and in events and even in others. When we experience that disappointment, we may attach anger or excuse things or even just acknowledge that life is often outside of our control.

So this behavior softens the disappointment … mitigates the damage, I guess.

But when the reason for failure is solely our own, we can have no excuses.

Many times, the disappointment is because of an error we have made. In this case, I was half-assed in my preparation. I was also careless in my pouring/splashing. And I also didn’t envision that the shot could be construed as a urination.

In a situation like this, the learning process requires that you examine how you have failed and develop answers to prevent such lapses in the future.

Thankfully, none of these were actual limitations of my skills and so solutions are possible.

But oftentimes we fail because we are not good enough. We don’t have the skills we think we have. Or perhaps the correct approach to succeed. What then?

Well, there are really two options in that situation. We can either lower our self-expectations or develop our skills or approach.

Forward looking people will always choose the latter and they will succeed in areas that they have previously failed.

I believe that this should always be our first response.

However we should also be realistic on what we can accomplish within our own set of limitations. Limitations such as resources might change and perhaps we can overcome these over time. But if you have lost both hands, then tying shoelaces is quite frankly out of your reach. Time to buy slip-ons.

Repeatedly disappointing yourself is destructive in the long run and recognizing your limitations is a key ingredient to happiness in adverse situations.

As I drove away the other morning, I was singing that Kenny Rogers song “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run …” and we do have to know.

Accepting defeat is not just gracious, it allows you to move on and it is an adult response to a failure. Throwing a tantrum or claiming that you won by a landslide, is not just destructive. It is pathetic.

As we look at ourselves, we need to see who we are. Not who we want to be. We all want to be young, beautiful, and Irish but some of us are old, ugly, and OMG … I’m Irish!

But seriously … know yourself and leave your conceit at the door. You can put it back on as you leave.

… just a thought!

Not so amazing, amazon

Like many of us, I have switched so much of my shopping from bricks ‘n mortar stores to online and no one has benefited more from my switch than amazon.

My order history for the past three months alone shows 74 orders so I am guessing several thousand orders over the years. Many of these have been small in the single digit dollars but many have been large, even over $2,000 in recent times.

So, I have seen a lot of performance from this company much of which has been comical in their over-packaging. And upon receipt we have shared many laughs between us at the sizes of box and air-pockets versus the item being shipped.

Yesterday’s arriving package got here at 8 pm and it was a rather expensive lens. Around $1,400

So, perhaps I might be forgiven for thinking this would be a rather well-packaged item.


The lens arrived in a partially sealed bubble envelope. A 50 cent envelope that you would buy at Walmart!

This is exactly as it arrived … not even sealed!

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

I guess they used all the air-pockets on the packet of seasoning send to Mrs Smith in Idaho.

It has taken an impact (big surprise) and the Sony box showed damage. Here are a couple of shots …

I immediately contacted amazon and spent over an hour and a half in chat mode with eventually four of their agents, ultimately being dealt with by a “supervisor”.

Their offer ranged from a 10% refund but I would not be allowed to return the lens if in fact it was faulty, to a $20 coupon to be used against further purchases.

Obviously I declined both and so the bottom line is that they have UPS picking it up in the next day or so and then I wait 2 weeks to get my money back.

If this doesn’t sound outrageous to you, forgive me. But I am disgusted. Their customer service in this instance is a clear indication of how they value us, their clients. Amazingly shoddy and full of their standard “we apologize for the inconvenience”.

This faceless customer service is the price we pay for moving online so I am not entirely surprised. My expectations of them are generally quite low, in all honesty.

But their packaging process is stunningly pathetic, in all seriousness. If you gave me the opportunity to train a team of monkeys, I am pretty confident I could do better over time.

At one end of the spectrum with the ludicrous over packaging, it is simply a joke. We shake our head at the waste and laugh at the absurdity. But we don’t complain.

But at the other end, when a sensitive item needs to be properly shipped, this company clearly doesn’t have a process capable of handling it, or a team of monkeys that have been properly trained. And therein lies the problem.

As more and more goods are being handled through amazon, important and fragile items are becoming a mainstream when in fact they shouldn’t.

Amazon set up to sell and ship books. Their process is probably sturdy enough to handle rugged items like that.

But when fools like me think that we can comfortably buy a sensitive piece of photographic equipment from them, we are being foolish in our naivety.

Apart from the obvious external shipment process, I can only imagine the jungle atmosphere that might exist behind closed doors. And even when not immediately showing a damage or failure, these sensitive products have their performance compromised and their lifetime shortened.

It’s a tough lesson, but I learned it last night. Their process is flawed and their customer service are at best “sorry for the inconvenience”.

Shame on you, Jeff Bezos, for letting the monkeys running the show.

… just a thought!

A dark place

Driven by images in my mind of lights and shapes and water, I set out again to experiment a little more down by the lake.

I say “down by the lake” and actually the place itself was going to be irrelevant. My focal point of the images was always going to be the object, the light, and the water, so in truth, the venue was only going to provide me with the right environment for my shots.

I needed near total darkness as ambient light around me was only going to compromise the look I was aiming for.

And so, once again I found myself just before six on the pier down at Lake Parker. The pier not just gives me the dark background but it also doesn’t have any light sources that can creep in from behind me and reflect on the glass objects.

In fact the sphere pics below are from yesterday and the cube from today. With the rapidly brightening skyline, I only had a window of a half hour each time, so I decided to spread it over two mornings.

I loved the effect of the water hitting the surface of the objects and how in some instances, it looked like the effect was inside the object rather than on the surface. Looks can be deceiving!

It was fun working with the different color rope lights that Morgan got me and some of the end images are really cool, I think. Not even a hint of photo-editing, btw. Hope you enjoy.

Anyway, it was this morning driving home that I was left thinking about how important having a dark place as the venue was. Taking myself away from any ambient light was critical to be able to work with glass and to produce these kind of images.

And I thought how often we take ourselves to a dark place and how that isn’t always a bad thing.

For example, migraine sufferers will tell you how life-saving a dark place can be when they get a really bad one.

Emotionally we can take ourselves to a dark place and generally, we are advised to pull ourselves out of it. We are told that dwelling on dark thoughts can lead to depression, anxiety, and pain and in some instances, I am sure they are right.

But dark places are also able to ground us and help us identify things that are wrong in our lives that need correction. They remind us that life is not all good times and happy moments. That there is pain all around us and sometimes it breaks through the surface of our lives.

Emotional pain in particular can be quietly damaging as it doesn’t cause bleeding and bruising and rarely leaves you bent over double in the corner writhing in agony.

But pain from a loss can tear away at us without leaving any visible marks until one day it consumes us. Whether it is a loss of a person or a loss of ourselves (a dream or hope), it hides out in the shadows of our mind and waits to jump out on our passing soul.

Some people are happy to sweep away the pain or put it in a box to be dealt with some other time. They don’t talk about it. They don’t confront it. They might not even understand it. And so it just waits in the dark until one day it decides for itself that it will make itself known.

But if we occasionally go to this dark place and look at the secret pains that lurk there, we can at least understand them and try to reconcile them within our heart. We may not be able to cure them. We may not be able to even fully deal with them at this moment in time, but an occasional visit and an acceptance that they are there is enough to remove the element of surprise and catastrophe when we finally do have to confront them.

Choosing your time of confrontation is always the best option. It means that to a certain degree, you are in control of how that particular battle goes.

Every now and then, I like to look at the pieces of my life that are painful, cause me worry, and carry a real risk of derailing my future happiness. Many of these stay where they are after my visit but there have been some that I have been able to bring out into the light and work my way past them.

Some of these cause me to change something about myself or to resign myself to a certain failing and that is ok. Because try as we might, we are not perfect. I gave up walking on water many years ago.

If you do decide to visit, watch out that you don’t stay there too long wallowing in the darkness. It can’t be a week long visit. This is not a vacation!

But to take an hour or two and catalog your pains and sorrows. It is time well spent and you might even find that something you had previously identified as a pain, no longer was. Sometimes, time itself is the balm.

Then close the door behind you as you step back out into the brightness of life and feel confident that there is nothing behind that door that can jump out and surprise you, next time you are passing.

The good and bad is all part of life. We have to deal with it all. As Forest reminds us “life is like a box of chocolates” and some of them are dark.

… just a thought!

In the absence of light

This morning was the last morning anyone should have been heading to the lake for pictures.

It was insanely dark with a thick blanket of clouds smothering anything that might have brightened a horizon.

But I was tired of reading the news by 5:30 and in need of a win, so I figured I would grab a few bits and pieces and the new A7 of course and see what mischief I could get up to.

A hazy light from the power plant on the opposite shore was the only real definition that I could see when I got there and I stumbled a little as I walked out the pier, carrying too many things for a one-armed-man. “A lazy man’s load” as my Dad would call it, but I didn’t relish multiple trips to the car, so I put up with the discomfort.

I had brought some bottles of water, a glass globe, and the light bars Morgan made me for light painting. I also brought a little tripod that would support the camera yet keep it almost at ground level.

And so, I set about hurriedly setting up my experiment, eager to transform a loose thought into a real image or two. The water was poured initially to create a puddle in front of the globe that I rested on the ground at the very edge of the pier. I was hoping for reflections of the globe and any background lights (of which there were none).

The light bars’ purpose was to give me a light on the crystal globe to help pull it out from the dim background. And in turn to create a decent reflection in the puddle.

It worked, but the real moments of success came when I threw the light bars themselves into the picture and even more so, when I poured water on the globe while taking the shots on timer.

Aaah the fun of it all!

Dull brightness in the skies and splashes on the camera lens brought the experiment to an end, but not before I got a whole bunch of good shots.

I have put a half-dozen at the end of this blog and my own favorite is probably number four. Hope you enjoy!

As I drove home it was still quite dark and yet I had the inner glow of a successful outing to light my way.

I knew that in the face of nothing, I had created something and so there was a very real sense of achievement.

And it got me thinking how life often seems very dark and scarcely worth living. And how we ache to see a glimmer of light at the end of a tunnel.

Yet, in the absence of light, sometimes you have to make your own.

When we find ourselves lost in darkness, we have to insert a battery, flick a switch, or even light a candle. Because not all sources of light have to come from an external source.

Yes, we can wait for something to brighten our lives and in many cases, events come along that indeed do.

But finding your own light is a revealing instrument that can guide you forward along life’s path.

When the light comes from within, it is effectively channeling a source of your own strength and using it to help you move forward on your journey.

I am not saying it easy and we may have to look in several rooms in our soul in order to find one. But given that the only other options are to hope that someone else shines a light on us, or live out the rest of our days in darkness, then frankly it is worth it.

The light I am talking about may be a new idea, or a better approach to something, or a willingness to go along a path you haven’t been before. In fact, this light can be anything. As long as it is a means to help you see your path in the darkness, then that is all that matters.

Emotional darkness is a haven for demons. They love to hang out in the darkest places and they undermine our journey at every opportunity. We all fight these demons every now and then. 78888888888hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhb .. dammit Coco get off the keyboard!

Anyway, where was I ? Oh yes …. demons. They love it when we are lost in darkness. They thrive on our inability to see a way forward and they relish our getting lost.

But all it takes is one candle (or in this case a light-bar) and they go running to the shadows in fear.

My light-bars are always with me these days. They sit on the back seat of my car. Now, if I can just find a few to keep on the back seat of my soul, all will be fine and I will be able to find my way forward through the darkest of life’s tunnels.

… just a thought!