New Tricks

I went ahead and invested in a new filter for my lens; one that would allow me to shoot long exposure in daylight. Expense wise it was very little but it required me to learn something new and I had to watch several YouTube videos that explained the whole concept of me and how such a filter would allow me to exercise camera settings that I never could before.

I don’t know if old age has thrown me into the Neanderthal level of understanding but I felt really challenged just watching the videos and trying to figure out the math involved.

It arrived earlier in the week but with all that was going on, it stayed unopened until today. Finally I just decided WTF, let’s take it out somewhere and see if I can get it to do what I think it can do.

So I did and it did.

I hadn’t been to Hillsborough River State Park in a million years. I might even have still had hair the last time I was there … it’s been that long. But I needed a moving river in order to make the long exposure effect work, so lakes and such were a non-starter.

I found a section that had some rapids and though the flow wasn’t wild and turbulent, it absolutely worked the way I imagined.

I have placed a number of images at the end of the blog. Check them out and enjoy!

By the time I was done patting myself on the back for getting such cool pics, I realized that during the week, I had allowed the thought of trying this to become so big that I doubted myself. I had focused in on the nitty gritty of trying to understand formulae that just wouldn’t sit comfortably in my head and for a while I had lost the whole just give it a try mentality that has gotten me this far in photography already.

I will never be an amazing photographer that draws accolades for the work I do but that is fine. As long as I can continue to see myself moving the stick forward and making a little progress with each passing year, then I am on the right track.

I didn’t get into nature photography to win hearts and minds. I only got into it to bring some neat outdoor images into my injured father’s mind. And I achieved that one many years ago. He would have been thrilled to see how far I have taken the skill beyond just capturing images for the letters to him. And in the reflections of the rushing waters today, I am sure I felt his smile of approval.

But the real thought for today’s blog is on the whole aspect of learning. You see, with what I already knew, I could keep on shooting different things and convince my huge fan base (both of you) that I am doing great things with my camera. Yet, something inside drives me to keep learning more and so resting on my laurels isn’t an option.

When we drive ourselves forward in a learning mode, we expand our minds and in that expansion, we stretch the boundaries of our lives just a little further. Just because our knowledge will never reach infinity, doesn’t mean we should stop reaching for it.

Knowledge isn’t for the sake of knowing things; it is for the sake of learning. So while knowledge may be the destination, learning is the journey.

We can convince ourselves that we are too old to learn new tricks, or that we know enough already. But such conviction is a lazy and pale version of what a life full of learning can give us.

Don’t sell yourself short. Whatever age you are, your brain still has lots of unused space in it.

Enjoy the journey!

… just a thought.

Pro Choice

I was watching Everest and Lincoln yesterday as they in turn were watching a woodpecker in the trees.

I love all my cats. Dearly, in fact.

But I struggle with understanding why they choose to engage in activities that could lead to a loss of life for some little creature.

“It’s in their nature” is the common answer I get from friends whenever I pose that question and I am sure it is. But they are well fed and have no need to chase littler creatures than they. Both Everest and Lincoln are feral in nature and so, hunting comes naturally to them.

I can talk about it until I am blue in the face but I doubt if they understand my frustration at what they do.

I have rescued many little creatures from their grasp and failed in my rescue attempts at least as many.

I have put a few pics of the predators and prey at the end of the blog and I hope you like them. No one got caught, by the way.

Though it is their choice to chase or not, there is always the option for me to take their choice away. I could, for example, turn them into house cats, or put a noisy bell around their necks so that they can’t surprise anyone.

But either option is incredibly wrong.

So, when yesterday’s decision came from the supreme court, taking women’s choice away from them, it prompted the thought in today’s blog.

If you are fucking stupid enough to think that life begins at conception or at some stage prior to viability, stop reading this now and do me a favor … don’t come to this blog any more.

I have enough fucking idiots in my life, I don’t need any more.

Life is precious and I don’t argue that. I could argue that the life of a self sustaining woodpecker is every bit as important as a human life that is often quite smaller and unable to live by itself (if it were to miraculously exit the womb at that stage).

I reject the proposition that humans are somehow fundamentally better than other animals and just like the cats, there are humans fishing and hunting that don’t need to. I rail about it frequently and appeal to a reason that isn’t there.

So, my thought here today is not about life and death. That is a false narrative. And if you don’t think it is false, then ask yourself why so many of these anti-abortion morons are for the death penalty, against gun control, and couldn’t give a shit about the children born into poverty with families that don’t want them and can’t adequately take care of them.

The answer is simple. These idiots are not anti-abortion. They are anti choice.

They are only happy for people to have the freedom to make a choice, when these people make the same choice as they do. Worship the same false god they do, and live a life that they would choose to live.

They envision a sanitized life where we are all the same color, going to school and then work and then politely dying when we get older and take our place with the angels in the clouds.

These are the same people that extolled the devil in alcohol and brought in prohibition. They railed against the demon-worshippers that listened to rock and roll. They politely devised colored drinking fountains and a lovely atmosphere at the back of the bus for “them folk that the good lord cursed with the wrong skin color”.

You see conservatism by its very nature is against change. It requires that we all happily adapt a principle that was in place when we were born.

“If slaves were good ’nuff fer Granpappy, they is good ’nuff fer me!”

Rejection of anything that involves personal choice comes natural to them. It doesn’t matter whether the choice advances our evolution as a society or not.

In fact, even the word “evolution” causes these people heart palpitations. They don’t even understand that basic level of thought.

As a society, we evolve as we move forward. If you think we are perfect then there is no need to evolve and you probably think that making America great again is quite right. Most thinking people laugh at that concept because while the old America might have been great for a small number of rich white folk, tough shit if you were poor or black.

All forward movement as a society begins with a choice. A choice to change something that is unacceptable.

At some stage, we choose to recognize that people should not be discriminated against because of their skin color. We chose to “allow” women to vote. We chose to press business owners to work towards equal pay even if their workers aren’t all white male.

At each point of choice, the self-righteous conservatives pushed hard against each choice. If god had wanted us all to be equal, he would have made us all white. Women are too silly to vote and they should stay at home raising babies, not working.

If you think this same ridiculous attitude isn’t prevalent today look at all the retards that originally voted for Trump because Hillary was a woman. We can’t have a woman president. What if she gets her period and her hormones go crazy. She could push the red button and then where would we all be?

You think I am making this shit up, don’t you? But just watch the morons being interviewed on YouTube about that whole election. This is the “great” in their maga world.

Anyway, the only time in its existence that America really went through a progressive liberal period was the sixties and seventies. Civil rights and human rights issues finally became visible and government reluctantly moved to accommodate this sudden visibility.

Among the many changes that we jumped ahead on was the right of a woman to chose what happens in her own body.

OK, let’s pause for a moment. Why is that even a question? When does a person’s body stop being theirs? Imagine that we somehow started to regulate what men could do with their bodies. Let’s do something forceful that takes control of a man’s reproductive system. Let’s force sterilization on them once they have fathered “enough babies”. Let’s force them to impregnate someone if they haven’t obliged with the 2.5 children that we need from each male.

I struggle with wrapping my head around why it was up to government in the first place to give any member of society control over their own body.

Is it really still debatable that the female of our species is somehow less than the male? Are you fucking kidding me?

Equality as a concept is about as debatable as whether the earth is round, it revolves around the sun, and it doesn’t have an indefinite supply of fossil fuels.

It is pointless to argue any of those facts with those that believe otherwise. They have decided on their own “alternate facts” and happily live in their own delusions.

While we recoil in horror at the decision in Texas yesterday to ban girls from wearing skirts or dresses within a certain school district they will applaud it. If there was a Christina burka, they would happily promote it as long as it facilitated the grabbing of pussy that their hero is famous for.

So, trying to convince any of these conservative morons on the whole issue of women being at least as capable as men, is a waste of time. Their good book tells them that Eve was made from a rib of Adam and therefore inferior to him. If Adam could have been happy with just jacking off and squirting babies out his asshole, there would have been no need for women in the first place. Fucking ridiculous.

Therefore who is really to blame for the mammoth step backwards that we took yesterday? It is not the supreme court, the republicans, or the morons that vote conservatives repeatedly into positions of power. These people are only following their own misguided notion of what is right. These people are entitled to be as fucking stupid as they are.

No, the responsibility for what happened lies firmly on those liberals and progressives that are too lazy to get off their ass and vote people into power that represent their viewpoint. These are the same lazy bastards that will again not show up at the poles in November and will allow their view on life to be railroaded by the more-active retards and their maga hats.

But they will happily bitch and moan to each other about government policies later. They will talk in their coffee shops about how fucking useless their members of congress are and how weak their president is. Yet they won’t make a single effort to get off their ass and empower these people with a solid majority or a clear mandate.

Quite whining and start voting … lazy fucking bastards!

… just a thought!


There are some wonderful ancient ruins in Co Laois at a place called the Rock of Dunamase and on a partly cloudy, blue-sky day, Inna, Erin, and I scouted it for a shoot the following day.

It was a little over an hour from our base in Limerick, and as Erin had business in Dublin that day, we planned the scouting trip to take place on our way there.

These particular ruins date from the 1200s, so they aren’t considered ancient by Irish standards. But they were built on a prior fortress dating from the 800s and before that, the belief is that early settlements date back into the era when the Fianna dominated Irish history in the 200s.

You could see why such a place was chosen for such a castle, as the elevation of the rock itself gave a panoramic view that seemed to extend forever across the plains of Co. Laois and Co. Kildare.

We spent the best part of two hours there imagining life in its heyday and while Erin’s obsessed over where the prisoners might have been kept and where everyone went to the toilet, Inna and I scoured different sections looking for possible shoot locations for the following day.

While there are far more reasons to want to be alive now than then, it was easy to lose ourselves in the romance of what life might have been like back then (unless of course, you are a prisoner or needed to use a toilet). We imagined how they entered the castle, where they lived, how they guarded, even down to where they kept their horses. It was a wonderful mental exercise and each of the three of us came up with original thoughts that pieced life together in a way it all made sense.

Along the way, I was taking pics and I have added them to the end of the blog (the color ones) for you to see. The second day, Inna and I came back just as the sun arose and we got our shoot done before the rains came and engulfed the whole area. Mostly black and white, some of them have been added at the end of the blog too. I hope you enjoy!

Anyway by the time all was said and done, my visit to Ireland was full of wonderful memories and central to them was Dunamase. Though it was less than ten minutes off the beaten track and I mean the main Dublin to Limerick road, I had never been there before.

Up until three months ago, I hadn’t even heard of it.

Bear in mind I had spent a million years living in Ireland before moving to the US and yet here was an amazing treasure that I knew absolutely nothing about. And why was that, I asked?

Therein lies the thought for today’s blog.

Like most creatures on the planet, humans like to live in routine. We create patterns of life for ourselves that allow us to run our daily lives without thinking.

We wake up at the same time, go to work at the same time, eat at the same time, watch TV at the same time, go to bed at the same time.

The older we get, the more routine we become, eating the same foods, going to the same places, mixing with the same friends.

Routine adds stability to our lives, which is why cats love it, for example. It gives us a feeling that we are somewhat in control. When something alters our routine, we begrudge it, maybe even resist it.

Routine creates a reluctance for change and is a bedrock of conservatism.

But when we step away from routine, we encounter things we haven’t met or done before and this step adds excitement and learning into our lives.

Yes, we may occasionally do something that we don’t like or enjoy but that falls into the “lesson learnt” category.

Like most things in life, a balance is essential to healthy living. We should establish for ourselves an accepted level of routine but then balance that out with steps from the beaten track that take us to new places and experiences.

These steps provide the color in our storybook and become the core memories that flesh out the value that our life has had. You see, a life built solely on routine isn’t just boring … it is one that stifles the brains ability to create new memories.

When on our deathbed, do we muse fondly over memories of the days we made it to work on time or that time we stumbled into an old ruin at Dunamase?

… just a thought!


Our second day in Mayo took us due west from Ballina (where we had spent the night) and we ended at the most westerly corner of Connaught, down at the very tip of a peninsula at Blacksod Lighthouse.

The drive itself was quite spectacular and we stopped many times along the way capturing more and more of the views rather than risk losing them to memory.

The whole Blacksod Bay portion of the drive was punctuated with incredible scene after incredible scene and then once we crossed the peninsula at the very end, we found ourselves staring out into the open waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

We got some lovely views of the Inishkea Islands and in the distance, about five or six miles from shore was Blackrock Island with a lone Lighthouse and a building that housed whoever looked after it.

You’ll see a picture at the end of the blog of Blackrock Island in the distance. I think it ninth from the end.

I know I uploaded a bunch but hope you find something there to enjoy!

It was the island and the home on it that brought the thought for this morning’s blog to mind.

I imagine the solitude that must exist for whoever gets to spend time out there.

From a crowded or busy life point of view, we get to look out at it and let our minds play with the fantasy of such isolation. And it is a wonderful fantasy in so many ways.

Isolation from life, or even just stepping away for a while, for years has been a huge draw for me in taking getaway cruises. Abandoning the cell phone and email and turning inwards can give us a wonderful perspective on ourselves and on those important to us.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the craziness of issues we are dealing with in life that we forget why we are here and what it is that makes our lives worth the living.

This is why meditation works to isolate the mind from all the white noise and allows us to focus on the innermost kernel of what our life means to us.

The thought of spending time in retreat on Blackrock Island took on instant appeal to me and had my mind musing about how I could arrange to get there, even if just for a week or two.

The practicalities, of course, is that I never can but that doesn’t stop me fantasizing about it.

Whatever island we manage to get to, even if it is no more than a dark soundproof room away from the madding crowd, it is really important to do so.

Many of us in the modern era live a life that is fraught with stress and pressure. Our lives become a sudden rush of things from the moment we get out of bed until we get back in it. We hurry ourselves throughout and typically even add to the stresses by how we are handling it.

“I’m in a hurry to get things done. Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun. I’m in a hurry and don’t know why. All I really gotta do is live and die.” – It’s the opening lines of an old song by Alabama.

Damn, I just realized I must be hitting the bottom of the barrel; I am quoting songs from country music. Good grief!

So, anyway, you’re forgiven if you don’t know that one. But the sentiment is exactly correct. We rush ourselves.

Life has its stresses. Its pressures. But it is us that takes them onboard and rush our way through the rest of life in order to cope with them.

That is such a wrong approach and one that makes so many of us miss out on what life is all about.

The Meaning of Life is not a Monty Python movie. Nor is it some deep religious significance, guiding us to a place up in the skies.

The truth is much simpler than that. Life is what we are living, here and now. It is the way we impact those around us, how we share a love with someone or something. It is how we breathe in the moment we are in and add meaning to it. It is how we pass through moments of happiness and sadness and grow with each.

Politics, wars, religions, work, wealth, they all have nothing to do with life. And when they start impacting our life, we need to find that island and run away there.

In reality I will never make it to Blackrock Island but in my mind I hope to one day. So should you. Grab your boat and with back to shore, leave the craziness of life behind and just take the time to focus a little.

Your life will be all the better for it and when all the screams and stresses die away in the distance, you will end up living more fully once it is done.

… just a thought!


I just got back from Ireland again the night before last. And just as before, we spent much of the time traveling around different places that extended beyond the normal path of such visits.

This time, we headed north and west from our Limerick base and reached into the furthermost corners of Co Mayo. We had two destinations in mind and this one, Achill Island, was the first. That being said, our destinations completely played second fiddle to the journeys themselves as our eyes feasted on the ever changing surrounds and our hearts feasted on time with each other.

The drive to Achill was spectacular and after passing by mountains and lakes, we emerged onto a coastline and then hugged it all the way to Achill.

The skies obliged once again and it is truly difficult to imagine a more beautiful coastline. The amount of time I had spent in Mayo was while I was a child and could be measured in a thimble. And as I had written about Achill in the third part of my Fianna trilogy, I wanted to make sure that some of my memories were factual.

Towards the end of the drive as we made the final leg along the edge of a steep mountain, we marveled at the beauty but were conscious of the danger of veering slightly to the left and landing in the ocean below.

I doubt if I will ever forget this drive as every second already seems etched into my bank of favorite memories.

I have attached a number of images at the end of this blog. I hope you enjoy!

There will be other posts this week from this Irish trip along with photos from a trip to the end of the road in Blacksod and a wonderful spot in Co. Laoise called the Rock of Dunamase. So, do check back!

In the meantime, the thought that I had from this particular journey was how easily memories can get created when you are with someone special.

I have visited many amazing spots and witnessed some stunning moments in Florida but have done so, mostly on my own.

As such, with few exceptions, most of these memories rely on pictures that I have taken as some kind of a capturing of what I have seen and felt. There has often been the hollow feeling associated with not having a fellow witness to share the moment with.

For example, I had the most amazing alligator experience of standing just a few feet from a monster alligator while he crunched his way through a seriously large catfish. With no one there with me, I have struggled to relay the feeling of awesomeness and power of what I witnessed to those in my circle.

But in this instance, I had Inna with me and being able to point as something and express a wonder, to be immediately greeted by a similar response, made each moment more vibrant and meaningful.

We are social creatures, us humans, and try as we might otherwise, it is important to share at least part of our journey through life with someone special.

It is one of those most unusual conundrums that you share something with someone only to get more, not less, of what you are sharing!

Try to think of another situation where that happens.

And so the memories created when you have someone with you on such experiences are more than you could create on your own.

When they talk about getting to the end of our own road and looking back at the journey we took, the rich life lived is one that recalls a genuine string of meaningful memories that made life worth having lived through.

Each of us has the chance to live such a life and we don’t all need to be on the Mayo coastline to achieve it. We only need to have someone that shares our journey. It doesn’t have to be a spouse, or lover … friends work together in creating such memories each day.

And the memories don’t have to have spectacular scenery in order to be special; smiles shared over coffee mornings and funny stories can also form the basis of such memories.

We have all heard statements about the tapestry of life and the threads we use to create ours can come from a broad base of memories. We just have to spin them.

Each day in our lives gives us the opportunity to do something with it. We can choose to let it pass by or get caught up in the stresses of work and monies and such. No one will force us to have fun, or to get off that sofa. No one will beat us at the end of our day for lying down and closing our eyes on a day we did nothing with.

But we should. The “one life” concept is very simple and in recognition of it, we need to embrace every breath and every experience and treat it as if it is our last.

Because one day, it probably will.

… just a thought!