Frozen in time

The artic storm reached all the way down to us this morning and we dipped below freezing overnight.

I worry about wildlife and how they cope with such an extreme weather event and feel guilty that we humans have exacerbated such events on them with our unnecessary climate change.

I managed to get all the cats locked in overnight except for Ruben who is a stray that I have been feeding for a short few weeks. I am hoping he is ok.

The house struggled to maintain a good temperature but I still managed to get out from under the warm blankets at four and deliver breakfast to all the babies.

I opened the office door to the six little guys that were there overnight and while a couple ran off into the cold darkness, others looked at me as if to say “are you fucking kidding?”

But once the early morning chores were complete, I grabbed a camera and headed off to Lake Parker. Cold as it was, the air felt super-clear and I wanted to see how that would translate into twilight colors on the horizon.

Mother nature didn’t let me down and the colors were quite breathtaking.

My fingers got so cold, it got to the point where I honestly couldn’t feel the function button on the camera when I wanted to change settings and it gave me a stark reminder of how us folks in Florida typically don’t own gloves.

There were a couple of guys putting a boat out on the water as I left and we all agreed that the color-show was worth losing a few finger-tips for.

Anyway, I have added a few shots at the end of the blog and you can see the nice progression as the horizon lit up for me. Hope you enjoy!

As I drove away, I was thinking about how much I love still photography as opposed to video. Video has some wonderful advantages such as movement and sound but still images take a moment and freeze it in time.

I then began to think about how memories are much the same yet very different.

We build memories when we encounter something in a moment and our brain captures it just like a camera for us. We can often retrieve the memory at will and if it is a good one, we can use it to warm our soul when we need it.

But unlike a photograph, our memories get altered over time. We might enhance something or even alter a perspective that betrays the original capture, often times without even knowing.

We develop an obsession with the “good ol’ days” that likely were never as good as we remember them. I’ve said it before that old photographs in particular where everyone was smiling, disproportionately alter our view of the times we were living in. We were all told to smile for the camera and we dutifully did.

Similarly we will alter a memory of an argument or disagreement that was already distorted by our perception of what happened. Over time, that same memory is additionally subjected to reflection and possibly even our own change of perspective.

As righteous as we may feel in any memory we have, it is quite likely to have been colored over time and therefore trusting our own memory of something is very likely a flawed position.

Throughout life this is just another example of how little of our journey plays out in simple black or white, right or wrong, good or bad.

It plays out in shades of grey and shadows of innuendo and perception.

And that is ok. Our life journey should never be about absolute and our path should be fluid, as we impact and are impacted by those we are lucky enough to encounter along the way.

Nothing in life is ever really frozen, other than an occasional finger-tip on a Christmas Eve down by the lake.

… just a thought.

Opportunity, Ability, Decisions

Yesterday morning’s escape to Lake Hancock was pre-planned more than most.

I had decided to walk the trail there in the near-total darkness of pre-dawn and the previous evening was spent assembling all the bits and pieces I would need to take with me.

My intention was scenic-level shooting rather than creature shooting and so the lenses were the 11 mm and the 24 mm. The 11 mm is a fun one but doesn’t have the clarity of the slightly narrower 24 mm. However its fish-eye ultra-wide view can create lovely views that, uncropped, generate “keepable” pictures.

I also brought the mid-zoom of 70 mm to 300 mm which would allow me to get closer to the horizon, should something good be happening there.

I remembered the spare batteries and threw everything into a backpack that had the tripod clipped to one side. I even remembered the flashlight for the long walk in the dark.

From where I parked the car to where I encountered the lake was about 3/4 mile journey through a forest of large live-oak trees and their umbrella canopies shielded any light from above so that there were several patches where you could see nothing around other than what the flashlight was pointed at.

Being woods, there was no likelihood of encountering alligators but there was always the possibility of stumbling into some wild hogs, or wildcats and there had even been a sighting there a few months back of a black panther.

On my last such attempt through these woods at dark I heard several large animals moving in the shrubbery nearby and even some growls or grunts that raised my level of anxiety. But this time, other than some large winged creatures that I disturbed on one section of the trail, I didn’t hear or see anyone.

The twilight itself wasn’t particularly wonderful but it was the experience of getting there that mattered. Breathing in the fresh air and feeling alone and at one with nature was a wondrously special way to start a day.

I have attached a few images at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy. They are on the dark-side so best not viewed in the brightness of some well-lit area on a phone. But the very darkest ones of the moon through the trees are probably my favorites.

It was just after twilight and before dawn when I switched lenses to the zoom and I stood there for a moment just looking from the shore across at the horizon in hope that something might happen.

Just then an Osprey dropped right in front of me, hit the water with a splash and emerged with a sizeable catfish in his claws. I can’t tell you the number of times, I have wished for such an event when my large zoom would thrive in capturing the moment.

But unfortunately for me, the lighting was terrible, and my camera was still in manual mode, set to a shutter speed of 1/10 of a second, and in my hands (not on a tripod). I furtively took some shots of what was happening but I knew I was getting nothing.

I tried to figure out if I should change the settings on the camera in order to get something but it happened all too fast for me and the moment was gone. He then flew right over my head, fish in claws, and I thought I felt a drop of water hit my head as the beat of his wings thumped in my ear-drums.

With the moment gone, I had conflicting emotions. On one hand there was the huge thrill of witnessing what I had just seen. On the other hand there was the feeling of abject failure in missing such an opportunity with my camera.

As he flew on to a distant tree where he could enjoy his breakfast, the latter feeling was the one that really took hold and I scolded myself on such a dismal performance by someone who likes to think of himself as a somewhat decent photographer.

And that is where the thought for today’s blog took shape in my brain.

I decided to call it the R.O.A.D. of our journey through life. This is the Realization of Opportunity vs Ability and Decision.

You see, Opportunities happen along our journey quite possibly on a regular occurrence. Some of these can be life altering and others simply moments that could enhance our life experience in some manner.

Realization that an opportunity is happening is the first step in not letting it pass you by. I suspect that there are many in my life that I never even knew were there at various points in my journey. Perhaps they are moments where I was looking another way, or distracted in a different thought, or maybe I even completely misread the moment to where I saw but didn’t recognize it.

A very important aspect to the success of an opportunistic moment is our Ability to seize it. Oftentimes we may lack the skills or the resources even when we do recognize it correctly. For example, there may be an opportunity to make millions if we had ten thousand to invest in it but if we don’t have the ten thousand in the first place, then tough shit on us.

I have read a lot over the years about this important combination of Opportunity and Ability and while I agree that it is true, there is another significant quality to the moment that is equally important.

And that is our ability to make the right Decision in being able to seize and convert the opportunity and making it something real in our lives.

For example, in yesterday’s moment, I made the wrong decision and it cost me any chance I had of seizing what was happening before me. Had I switched my camera into auto-mode rather than cripple myself with possibilities of settings that needed to be simultaneously changed in manual mode, I would have very likely got something.

Yes, the lighting was incredibly wrong but still it would have improved my likelihood of success.

Our decision making skills get tested at many points in our lives and while I pride myself on my ability to make a decision regardless of the pressures in place, like most people, I sometimes get that decision wrong.

And when we make the wrong decision, it doesn’t matter how well we recognized the opportunity, how real the opportunity was, or how able we truly were to take it.

Decisions haunt us throughout our lives and those of us who look back at bad ones, carry them like a mill-stone around our necks.

But the point in looking back at them at all is to realize that we made a bad decision and to learn from it so hopefully we don’t repeat that again in the future.

You can bet that if I ever find myself in a similar situation to yesterday’s Osprey experience, that my first reaction will be to throw the camera into auto mode.

Lesson learned.

… just a thought.

Upon Closer View

It was one of those things where the details completely escape you at the moment and only later that you end up noticing something quite spectacular.

Yesterday’s haul from Honeymoon Island ended up soaking in a bucket overnight and then I hosed them off this morning and put them outside to dry.

On the finger-shaped coral piece I noticed teeny floral-like imprints embedded into it and Morgan this morning noticed the same in another chunk of coral.

We haven’t had any luck identifying it yet but to give you an idea, each flower shape is about a millimeter in diameter. If I hadn’t accidentally noticed it in an image I took, it is so small that I probably wouldn’t have at all.

So this morning, I lit the two pieces properly in studio and took a small few shots that would correctly bring out the detail.

I have added four of them at the end of this blog and hope you enjoy.

The thought that I was left with that forms the subject of this blog is how we go through life in a rush caught between taking in the bigger picture and missing out on the finer details.

We certainly don’t want to miss the big picture. This is what guides us in our best direction through life and provides us the overall plan that our journey follows.

But we also have to occasionally stop and take a closer look at things so that we don’t miss out on things that potentially constitute our most enjoyable moments.

Oftentimes, we push through the years, glibly dealing with the finer points of life while we pursue what we consider bigger things.

For example, we just consume the dinners our mom puts on the table without thought of her effort in their creation. Only later to realize that she is gone and we have no idea how she created such fare.

Or we take work home with us and become consumed in our efforts to get ahead at the job, oblivious to the first steps that little Debbie took or how Brad scored the winning goal for the junior varsity team and became a momentary hero.

In these types of instance, we typically get reminders in later life of what we have missed. Mom dies, the kids grow up. And we strain for memories of both and we feel sad.

But the vast majority of detail that we missed, never reappears. We don’t even know we lost it. We are oblivious to the fact that it was even occurring. And this becomes an invisible sadness within us; not even knowing what we missed out on.

Yes, we aren’t left looking at a grainy polaroid of a time long gone and wishing for “the good old days”. But we spend our lives in a diluted or paler version of what we could be experiencing.

Failing to live our life to its fullest potential is probably something that happens to us all. We each come up short on what could have been and this is primarily because we all have short-comings and occasionally have failings.

But living a poorer life because we raced through it not noticing what was right before our eyes, is nothing to do with our short-comings. Yet is everything to do with our failings.

“Taking time to stop and smell the roses” is a well-worn phrase and yet most of us never do that. We run through life as if in a race to get to the end, when each step we take provides us an opportunity to pause and take in the details of our journey itself.

… just a thought.

Washed Up

Cassandra and I set off at the crack of dawn for Honeymoon Island, just north of Tampa. The start to the day was heavily closed-in with thick cloud and this suited us perfectly as we were intent on beach-combing rather than sun worshipping.

I had in my mind the collecting of anything that looked like coral or agate for Morgan and she was intent on finding shells and precious minerals that she could use in her jewelry making efforts. Although we had no expectation of one, she was also on the look out for a sand-dollar.

The place didn’t open to the public until 8am by which time early access members had been let loose on the place about a half hour ahead of us, so there was very little likelihood of the latter.

Undaunted we set off slowly heading north, picking up and examining anything that looked cool and the keepers were gently placed in the bags that we each had.

The company and conversation was excellent and we were a couple of hours in when tummy rumbles told us that we needed to turn around and head back for something to eat.

By then, we had picked our way through tons of shells and stones, examined shapes and textures that we struggled to identify and even took the time to watch some dolphins off-shore, surface and dive in the distance.

It was a wonderful journey, enhanced by our discovering some amazing sand-designs that looks like trees made by the retreating tide.

And it was capped off with Cassandra unearthing an almost completely hidden sand-dollar on our way back. Such a bonus!

I have included some images taken along the way at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy.

If you haven’t been to Honeymoon Island, it is a wonderful beach area, with lots of soft sand but adorned with heavy amounts of shells and stones washed up by the gulf tides.

There was one moment as we stood there that it occurred to me that the amount of shells was almost overwhelming and considering that each was once a live creature, it represented an amazing ocean-graveyard.

Their were occasional living creatures that we came across such as hermit crabs that we helped back into the waters, but essentially all around us was dead.

And yet in this death, represented an amazing beauty that captivated the imagination and teased the soul.

Each creature lived its life in the sea, until eventually their remains were washed up so that we could pick through them and marvel at the colors and shapes.

There was nothing morbid or sad about the situation and on the contrary, their deaths had become a source or life to the souls of those of us on the beach enjoying the morning.

It is hard to imagine that there was much great mourning, eulogies, and flags at half-mast for any of these creatures that lost their lives, by their relatives still swimming the seas.

And as if to reinforce the natural passage from life to death, mother nature had created a tapestry of beauty and awe so that their deaths became a part of the larger celebration of life.

We humans have grown to fear death, make vain attempts to prolong life, and have imagined a self-important after-life in an attempt to soothe the eventual loss that we know eventually comes to us all.

When faced with the loss of our loved ones, we wail and moan about how poor Aunt Maggie was taken from us so soon (even though she was 95) and drop to our knees in prayer that her everlasting life will place her with the angels.

While there is always and rightfully the sadness of loss with someone dear to us that is taken in an accident or at their prime, universal feeling of loss is frankly ridiculous.

Our lives are to be lived in love and enjoyment as much as we can, but when they are over there is no need to try to weave a story of how we all live together in the clouds, listening to endless harp music and basking in the eternal love of our long-bearded creator.

Apart from being abject nonsense and appealing only to the simple minded or perpetually fearful, it devalues our lives here, right now in this present moment. Our moments of life are fleeting and yet important and their importance is truly moreso to those around us than to us ourselves.

According to the dictionary, the term washed up means “no longer effective or successful” but to this planet our effectiveness or success is irrelevant and we are really just a part of the tree of life.

… just a thought!

Blue Christmas

Thick fog and cloud blanketed the area this morning and even though it was pitch black when I was deciding how to start my day, I knew it held no promise of any kind of dawn.

That being said, I could have stayed at home. But the kitty chores were done and there were still a couple of hours until daylight and sometimes that itch just has to be scratched.

So I grabbed the camera with the new 24mm lens and headed into downtown Lakeland to see if they had the holiday decorations up yet.

I wasn’t disappointed as the small park area just off main street was lit up beautifully. Yes, it is only small-town decorations and not vying for international recognition but it was tasteful and well-appointed so I felt this was a good way to continue testing the new lens.

Unfortunately for me, once I got out of the car with the camera, I couldn’t find my glasses and was pissed at myself for leaving them at home.

“You taking pictures?” a homeless dude asked as I fumbled the camera onto the tripod.

“I hope so” was my reply and I went on to explain that I can’t see shit on the camera settings without my glasses. “So, who knows what I’m gonna get” I added as I took the first picture.

I took some shots there and then finished up by Lake Mirror a couple of blocks away. I have added some of what I got at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy.

By the way, when I arrived home and went to take the camera off the tripod I found my glasses that had attached themselves to the strap on the camera. I had them all along! Such an eejit.

In any event, while I was there, I noticed there were about fifteen or twenty homeless people scattered around the park (and another couple down by Lake Mirror on benches) and with all the lights and seasonal music that was blaring away on speakers, I wondered what they thought of the holiday season.

In contrast, the nearby streets were a hive of activity as street vendors began setting up their stalls for some kind of Christmas market that must be running this weekend.

As I drove away, I wasn’t begrudging at all these small business vendors and whatever monies they would make, nor the customers that would throng the stalls later getting more “stuff” for under the tree. Everyone is fully entitled to do that.

But I was left wondering on how the homeless people there saw this contrast and what it does to their own sense of well-being.

The lights and seasonal music must remind them of the holidays that they will not be spending with loved ones. And the market mayhem later will serve to remind them of everything they don’t have under their own tree.

Oh wait, they don’t have a tree of their own anyway, so what’s the deal?

Well the truth is that everyone has a tree, even if only in their own mind. It becomes the focal point of the material side of this holiday celebration. Just as the gathering with loved ones becomes the focus of the emotional side.

This is not just about homeless people either. There are lots of people out there who will have nothing to celebrate nor anyone to celebrate with.

Loneliness is the true blue Christmas that these folk experience.

Some of this is caused by loss of loved ones or even loss of love itself.

But much of it is caused by our continued evolution into a more isolated society. As we move more online and shy away from personal contact, we give our lives a distinct blue pallor that colors every facet of our lives.

We remote shop, remote work, only eat take-out or food that is delivered. Our relationships move online, with both loved ones and family. And we avoid contact with our neighbors.

I re-watched that movie Surrogates a couple of weeks back and startled myself at how accurately it paints a society that embraces isolation. I am not recommending it as a wonderful movie experience by all means, but its message is one that we need to be aware of.

Humans, like much of the living planet, are social creatures. Our development has revolved around social interactions and yet we are now shunning them at an alarming rate.

How many of us dutifully use the self-checkouts now at our grocery stores? These are becoming the norm and unlikely to reverse course.

And the number of people that are shifting to “customer pick-up” spots rather than getting out of their fucking cars and walking the aisles, where god-forbid, they might actually encounter another human or two that they might have to acknowledge.

I went to Walmart in Brandon during the week and they were promoting their new home delivery by drone service, so soon we won’t even get to meet the person that brings us our stuff.

Much of this shift becomes invisible to us throughout our normal existence but at times of the years where we are supposed to be celebrating with our fellow man, it becomes more obvious.

Blue Christmas is a lovely old song by Elvis Presley. But that’s all it should be.

No one deserves to live a blue life.

… just a thought!


I was just upstairs a few minutes ago having washed my hands from putting out the possum and raccoon food for the day when I noticed Finn sleeping on the air hockey table.

I stopped in my tracks, not just because I love the little guy but because he reminds me of how lucky I am to have such wonderful little babies that care for me.

It is easy to focus on all the negativity that has been in my life this past year but important to recognize that simultaneously I have been experiencing the love (and devilment) of an amazing collection of little guys that have more than compensated for any such negativity.

Finn is the most recent adoptee that is now a permanent resident upstairs. He arrived on the property very badly mutilated having lost half of his tail to an attacker.

For over a month (maybe even two) I would feed him outside, hoping desperately that the end would heal itself but it never did. So, finally when I had his confidence in doing so, I picked him up and brought him in and scheduled an amputation surgery for a few days later.

There were initially some miserable complications but finally after about six weeks of nursing him carefully in the bathroom, he was healed and so we integrated him with the other upstairs guys.

Since then he has put on weight, sleeps on my bed with me most nights and torments the hell out of Marty, Marcy, and Rocky. But deep down, I think they love him anyway.

Morgan and I have often looked at him these past months and seen him at a kitchen or bathroom window looking out on the hostile world he came from and we smile to ourselves at how much his life has changed in his time with us.

His feelings of comfort and personal safety have evolved to where he worries for nothing other than occasionally how he can get Marcy out from under the sofa.

Seeing him here today and thinking about how his life has changed is very much a victory in my life as well as his. I revel at the thought of the difference made in the life of a little guy that might not have survived at all if left to the world from which he came.

It serves to remind me that in the middle of all my failures, occasionally I find a success.

Finn is a major one.

… just a thought.


When I opened the front door a little after four this morning, there were some packages from Amazon left overnight. One was the new lens I had been waiting on yesterday, so I decided to take it down to the lake and see how it performed.

I was quite prepared to reject it as it was a lens manufacturer that I had no experience with and if the image quality isn’t good from it, then happy to send it back.

Once all the babies had been fed and taken care of, I took the camera and headed down by the pier. I know that I shoot a lot there, but it is a good spot with a lot of water round it but more importantly, it is very dark. No street lights and so if I want to shoot low-light, this is my best place to go.

I got down there just after they opened the place up and so for the first twenty minutes or so, it was just me, the pier, and occasional sounds from waking birds.

There is a genuinely magical aspect to experiencing a beautiful twilight in such a way. It is almost unlike any other experience and particularly when you are alone with your thoughts and distraction-free.

It was a clear-sky twilight so there were no mad clouds to set the skies on fire. But there was the most wonderful glow on the horizon that morphed from pastel hues to vibrant heat over a ten or fifteen minute period. And I was enthralled.

The new lens, by the way, performed just fine and it won’t be sent back to Amazon. I have attached some images at the end of the blog with what it manages to capture in low-light conditions. It is a keeper.

As I drove out of the parking lot to head home, I thought about the whole aspect of rejection and what it means.

Rejecting a bad product is something I am sure we all have experienced and it has little if any effect on us.

But in recent times, I have traveled a road that directed some serious rejection my way and this has had a profound effect on my sense of happiness.

Whether it was just a really bad year, or the fact that I am now old, the amount of rejection this past year seems to have exceeded all prior experiences and has come close to dragging me under a few times.

When we feel rejection as a younger person, it can be life-forming. If we are brimming with over-confidence, then we take the rejection as a learning experience or perhaps even just refuse it outright.

If we are young and vulnerable, it can push us further into our shell, damage our self-confidence, and have a pronounced effect on our goals in life.

By the time we hit old age, most people don’t experience a lot of rejection because old folk are notorious for sticking with routine and rarely challenging themselves. They tend to interact with the same people, try things they have already experienced and work within pre-defined limits that don’t really challenge them.

In fact, by not stretching themselves people (old or not) shield themselves from possible rejection to where they live muted lives.

Muted lives allow people to stabilize themselves into a slow moving pattern that guides them gently until they die. There is very little pain involved in such a life.

But I would argue that such a life is not a life at all. It is merely existing.

Regardless of our age, it is important to enrich our experience with new things, new people, new places. Yes, it may occasionally explode in our faces but it won’t kill us.

Just existing, on the contrary, will.

… just a thought.

Taking Chances

Today has my replacement wide lens arriving, so I felt a little handicapped in planning a sunrise shoot. I dropped the other one and now it refuses to focus and though it costs about $600 to replace it, having it fixed would have been just over $400 and barely worth it.

So I bit the bullet and ordered another wide lens from a different manufacturer … will be interesting to see if it is any good.

In any event, heading down to the lake first thing after a poor night’s sleep seemed like a remedy I needed, so handicapped or not, the decision was made.

I was far too early to go anywhere near the pier so I went to a spot down on the south west corner of the lake and hung out there until the colors started to make themselves known.

There is a lot of lily pads and such that obscure the water close to the shore at that part of the lake and wanting more water in the shot than this position was giving, I wandered up the shoreline a little in search of something that would give me a better reflection.

I found an old concrete pier, which was gated at the near end and a “no trespassing” sign that was visible even in the darkness of the early hours.

For a few nanoseconds, I obeyed the rules, but knowing that the better shots awaited at the end of that pier, I maneuvered around the gate and wandered down in the darkness to where the pier ended and set up there.

The view was much better from there and although I didn’t get millions of brilliant shots, I have attached some at the end of the blog for you to check out.

(By the way, if you check out picture three, you can just about make out the end of the pier where I was standing. Lily pads all around me.)

As I stood there in the darkness, I looked down at my feet and I could just about make them out. The pier I was standing on was sturdy but at its end, it was only about two inches above the water level and I mused at how easy it would be for an alligator to get me now if he wanted.

Truth is, I didn’t care, and worse case scenario in my final act I end up someone’s breakfast. Sounds a good way to go and definitely add some purpose to my life.

Knowing that you don’t care provides a genuine sense of calm in a moment that others might regard as disconcerting and I really enjoyed it. I took out my phone and made a little video or two and recorded the only sounds that seemed evident around me.

There must have been hundreds of birds in chorus somewhere out there in the dark and their early morning sounds were simply amazing and humbling.

I quickly messaged out the video so that if I didn’t make it past sunrise, at least someone would know what happened to me and then I went back to what I was doing, watching the horizon pick up some beautiful ambers to confirm that a new day was on its way.

When it finally got bright enough to see a distance, I saw an alligator probably about ten feet away just lying perfectly still in the waters to the right of the pier. I spoke with him for a moment and then gathered up my shit and headed back to the safety of solid ground beyond the gate.

As I walked back to the car and began to think about whether I had gotten any decent images or not, I smiled at myself for disobeying the sign, ignoring the safety aspects, and making the vantage point my main decision factor.

Taking chances is something that may one day catch up with me but I don’t really care. I have found that my best successes often follow such decisions and when you recalibrate what is most important to you at a given moment in time, other concerns do indeed become secondary.

I don’t advocate recklessly putting yourself at risk for no good reason. Bungee jumping and sky diving are for idiots if you ask me. But when there is a legitimate reason to take a chance, then oftentimes, that is the right thing to do.

For example, if you watch Christian Pulisic’s goal for the US that took them out of the group stage at the world cup, you see that he could have done the safe thing and let the ball go by. But he didn’t. He put his body on the line and went for goal. Yes, he got seriously hurt but he also got the goal.

We oftentimes shy away from a goal because of the risks attached to it. They may indeed be physical or financial risks but they are very often simply the risk of failure.

We allow the possibility of failure to alter our willingness to try something. And that is an awful way to go through life.

Taking risks is very often a key characteristic of successful people (and quite possibly gator-food) and it is often the only difference between those that live a full life and those who shy away from it.

… just a thought.


Around 5 am this morning, I found myself pulling in to the side of the road that overlooked a little place called McKay Bay.

It is one of the smaller bays that ultimately forms part of the greater Tampa bay and I sought it out because I hadn’t been there before and I hoped it might be a good place to catch a sunrise.

At that time of the morning, the place was dark other than a few old street lights that cast their light as far as they could.

Being very close to the Port Tampa docklands, this is certainly not an upmarket area and the houses and general condition of things around me told me that perhaps I wasn’t in the safest of areas to do an early morning shoot.

As I pulled up to a spot that I felt would give me the vantage point that I wanted, my lights hit a car parked in front of me by ten or fifteen feet and I realized there was someone sleeping in there.

I felt bad for the sudden intrusion on their rest and I also realized there was an old camper parked about fifty feet beyond him that obviously housed some other soul (or two).

There was a little pier right beside where I parked with all sorts of signs on it telling people not to trespass or fish. And when my eyes got used to the darkness, I could see why. It was decrepit to the point of being unstable and the signs were obviously meant to warn people of its condition rather than just establishing a boundary marker.

I stayed there until the sun rose and managed to get some decent shots. I have put them on the end of this blog and I hope you enjoy.

While there I said hi to those that were in cars or trucks and that noticed this old guy with a camera wandering around. Everyone was pleasant and I didn’t feel endangered in any way.

When I was done, I got back in the car and driving away began to muse over how these folk live what most of us would consider a homeless or destitute life. The city clearly doesn’t care about the presence of an old camper nor does it seem to worry about the old pier (beyond putting some signs on it.)

Makes me wonder how such a situation would be handled near Bayshore or New Tampa, where the “nice” people live. I strongly suspect the pier would have been dismantled long ago and maybe even rebuilt.

It was therefore the overall inequity of lives that formed the thought for my blog today.

I drove away thinking about people like Elon Musk and the super-wealth that such parasites are allowed to accrue, while around them others are obliged to live in their car.

Some of the super-wealthy like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos use their wealth for the greater good and I truly applaud them. These people understand that humanity should operate on a common ground of sustenance and opportunity. But shouldn’t everyone understand this?

How can we watch while the Musks of this world buy huge social media platforms only to turn it into their own megaphone, and lay off thousands of workers just weeks before Christmas?

What part of that is right, in anyone’s book?

And the suggestion of his wealth being self-made is disingenuous considering his origins from the apartheid world of Africa where his father’s wealth came from exploitation and abuse of untold numbers of black workers in their diamond mines.

But he is just one example (extreme though he may be) of a greater culture that thinks it is OK for the richest 1% in America to own almost one third of the nations entire wealth, while the bottom 90% own less than a third?

And in case you have been living under a rock and aren’t aware of how these parasites exploit situations to the detriment of the rest, do you know that their wealth during the pandemic INCREASED by 6.5 Trillion dollars?

They call it capitalism but it is not capitalism that enslaves the masses so that the few can live an egregious lifestyle. It is simply exploitation.

The French Revolution is a historical example that such exploitation repeatedly happened throughout history. But the days of the victims of exploitation being able to rebel and reclaim the imbalance are long gone.

These super-wealthy control governments and armies, often with their own private armies to keep the rabble from their doors.

“Let them eat cake” is the famous line attributed to Josephine when told that the poor of France had no bread to eat. But today’s answer would be silence, as these people don’t give a shit.

I have encountered homeless people living on the streets in Tampa curled up on a concrete bench on Kennedy. Met people living in their cars like today and previously that poor guy with his cat down at Ballast Point.

I have seen them lined up outside soup kitchens in the side streets of downtown Tampa and been there to catch the flow of homeless as they pick up their bags and converge on some shelter, much like a flow of zombies from some idiotic futuristic movie.

And all the while, the contrast to the wealth that sits in investment accounts, jewelry safes, and car collections, is all around them.

I struggle to imagine how this is OK with anyone.

I am far from a communist but there is a real difference between capitalism and exploitation. Those who bundle them into one way of life are the very same people that Madame Guillotine greeted in Paris in 1789.

Where is she now when we need her?

… just a thought.


Yesterday morning wasn’t the best I’ve ever had and when life dealt me a pretty cruel twist before daylight had even arrived, I sat shell-shocked at my PC feeling sorry for myself.

But after licking my wounds for a few, I decided that I needed to reclaim the momentum of the day and try to turn it around before it got the better of me.

So, I grabbed the camera (how many of my blogs begin with that phrase?) and headed off to the trails at Circle B. It was a gorgeous Florida day; one that should never be wasted in front of a PC. But particularly on a day like today when an emotional lift was needed.

Though initially battered and bruised, by the time I took the first few steps on the trail, my spirits had already lifted and within a few minutes I was meandering along as though I didn’t have a care in the world.

A couple of hours later, as I returned to the car, I was positively happy. The trails had worked their magic and my step had a distinct bounce in it.

I have attached a number of images at the end of the blog and, whether it was just the day that was in it or the fact that I was there an hour later than I normally am, the shoot turned out to be Osprey-rich.

I love Osprey and always enjoy shooting them. What can’t be captured in photographs though is that they have the sweetest song of almost any bird I know. You can hear them for quite a distance as they call out and for a while, I just stood there taking no pictures and listening. Wondering what they were saying.

Anyway, do be warned that pictures 26 and 27 are quite graphic and shouldn’t be clicked on to enlarge while you are eating lunch. Unless of course, you are eating sushi.

I took a lot of pictures that I didn’t include because of how graphic they were but I left these two in because I wanted the pictures to be able to relate to the subject of my blog today.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

It was as I was walking back to the car that the subject of the blog formed in my head. I encountered a few people just arriving and they asked if I had managed to see anything worthwhile today so I offered my answer along the lines of how Osprey-rich the trails were this morning. I warned them against the rather brutal aspect of what was happening and the word “cruel” arose in the discussion when I said that Osprey always eat their prey head first.

I pointed out that while indeed it was brutal, it certainly wasn’t cruel because it meant that the fish died quite quickly.

And that was the point that I started to separate the words brutal and cruel in my head.

I often had them grouped together and possibly even occasionally have interchanged them in sentences.

You see, life feels both brutal and cruel at times and we often encounter a barrage of both that leaves us on our knees.

But though brutal is often times the things that beats us up badly, it can in many ways become the pivotal point in our growing experience. When we have been brutalized, it often strengthens us, deepens our resolve, and even educates us on how to cope better next time.

So, brutality because part of our character make-up.

Cruelty rarely has any such benefit and generally just affects our emotional state, leaving us desolate in our moment. When life is cruel to us, we are typically already on our knees and so there is very little to be learned from its barrage or onset.

For a while in my thought process, I began to attribute cruelty as an unlucky or accidental type of damage. And from life, it generally is. Regardless of how we feel at a given moment in time, life isn’t out to get us.

You can become paranoid when it appears to be but frankly that line of thought is stupid. Life isn’t an animate object and even if it was, would it know we even exist? Likely not.

So, is life cruel? Perhaps. But accidentally so.

Then I searched my brain to find out if anything is ever deliberately cruel. I discarded the thought immediately that predators like Osprey are and I even applaud that nature evolved to where their brutality has a distinctly beneficial role on its prey.

Even cats (who I love dearly) may look to be cruel when they play with their prey before killing them. I mean, that looks kind of cruel doesn’t it? But the reality is that their purpose in so doing is to confuse and tire out their prey so that they become easier to kill and eat.

Humans on the other hand have the ability to be cruel without purpose.

Being brutal or damaging to another person or creature is distinctly cruel if we don’t have a specific purpose attached to our actions.

For example, seal culls are extremely brutal and I think they should absolutely be outlawed. But battering these poor creatures to death with baseball bats is done for a purpose and we need to understand that this invalidates the suggestion that it is cruel.

But brutality or abuse without purpose or benefit is something that we are beginning to see more of within our race. Psychologists quickly identify people who engage in such practice as sociopaths and psychopaths and rightly so.

The numbers of these people are growing and their actions becoming more and more evident.

Look at the increase in revenge porn for example. As spurned lovers look to destroy the people they used to be intimate with. There is no benefit to them to do so, only a psychopathic joy in causing another human being pain.

Similarly, as part of your invasion of Ukraine, you have occupied Kherson and proclaimed it a liberated city of valued Russian residents. Then when you lose it, you bomb the shit out of it and destroy the infrastructure that these same people need to stay warm or sustain life. Again on the first view it appears brutal but is in reality cruel.

Human cruelty is an amazing character flaw that is evident on both a local and global level and the growth of such a flaw is synonymous with our devolution into isolated and alienated individuals.

Nationalism and the polarization it causes is one reason. Racism and religious bigotry is yet another. Both allow us to justify actions based on hate rather than benefit and this has been flourishing all over the world in recent decades, after decades more of being dormant.

Hate is a vile tool that is distinctly human and until we begin to tackle it in earnest, we will continually see cruelty to others and to creatures flourishing unrestrained.

It’s a cruel life. It’s a cruel world. These are consolations we often express to brutal moments. But cruelty is neither a part of life nor the world we life in until we introduce it ourselves.

… just a thought!