Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the ups and downs on 2009...

As the year winds down and the final 24 hours approach, I am trying to decide if this has been an overall good or bad year for me. There have been some nice highs, but they seem to have been balanced by some pretty dark lows. I will admit that my lows haven't been nearly as bad as some peoples. I haven't lost anyone in my family to date, and I still have my own health, so what I consider a low right now, is still pretty good in the big picture. So let's take a look....

A few of the "ups" in my year, I finally bought a new DSLR camera, and a lens for it. I love them both so far, and I am looking forward to getting years of use from them. They have already begun to get me noticed at least locally, and in a good way. Ups!! Through the summer months I managed to shed nearly 65 lbs! I was feeling better, and enjoying the lighter feeling in my step and my bearing. definitely an up! I have been writing more and looking at the world from a new perspective overall. I can't really describe the new world view, but It seems to be slightly more positive overall. I see possibilities in stuff that I haven't noticed before. Especially photographically. I have found in my brain a true goal for myself, that is actually achievable, so I will consider that a definite up. I got to see my brother this year! Haven't seen him in a few years and it was way cool to have him around for a little while. Tried Spaghetti squash for the first time, both growing it and eating it! Yummy! Have reconnected with old friends and acquaintances on facebook. That's a little it of a double edged sword, but I will get to that later. That's the first few that come into my mind, I almost wish that I had kept a list this year!! LOL Oh yeah, I have been helped in the paying of my health insurance this year!! That's a biggie!

So now some of the lows, the biggest one, finding out that My gramma has cancer and it is beyond being operable. So It is only a matter of time in how long it will be before we lose her. That sucks. Buying my new camera and lens... Making it REALLY hard to pay my bills. I spent way more than I should have, and now I have to pay the associated bills, so That camera better really start paying off in he next few months or I'm gonna be buried past my eyeballs in debt! At least I'm not gonna lose a house over it like some people, so like I have said, in general my downs aren't all that bad. I haven't had a real vacation in a few years. I have been constantly at work every day that I should be for almost 2 full years. The best I have done is a 3 day weekend, and I usually end up working at least one of those days! I haven't progressed on my goal of getting my own home.

As they come to me from now on I will be adding and subtracting.... so let's see...

Got a new Lawn Mower...+ spent more time in my garden...+ Got to ride my motorcycle quite a bit this past summer...+

Started gaining weight as the weather turned cold...- kept gaining weight...- not getting enough exercise in the cold weather...- joined facebook and now people that I would rather NOT find me keep finding me...- Realized that I HATE my current cell phone and I can't upgrade for another 5 months...-

OH Yeah a BIG plus... Found some of my cousins from my Mother's side of the family and at least one of them is REALLY cool! +++

Yeah there are a million little things that make up all that is my year, and I guess that overall I think it was a good year. So I'm gonna chalk this one up as an overall winner. So long 2009, I'm glad I got through you without too much problems when compared to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I love Christmas, BUT...

Ok, First let me say that I'm not a scrooge by any means, but there are a few things about Christmas that drive me nuts. They are easily remedied, but highly unlikely to be so. If this is the season of giving why is everyone so freaking greedy? Driving aggressively in the parking lots for crying out loud! Your THERE, take it easy, things will go smoother and you will have less of a problem when you stay calm and take your time. Ever notice how moods are just as contagious as yawns? When you cut someone off in the parking lot, they get pissed, and then they will do something rude to someone else and before you know it the whole dang store is in an ugly mood, and nobody has a merry Christmas.

There was a story this past week, that was just the opposite, A couple paid the tab for a group of diners at a restaurant and then split with not a peep. This lucky group then paid for another table, and left, before the day was over almost 30 such incidents occurred. How cool is that? Just like a bad deed spreads the crappy moods, so do good deed spread the happy moods. Getting into a store and simply using a little of the courtesy that you were taught as a kid makes a big difference in the day of others. A simple please and thank you, or simply saying "Excuse Me" when walking among too close store aisles can make the day just a little more pleasant.

Don't you hate it when people walk right in front of you when you are looking at things on a shelf? most of the time they walk by like you aren't even there, and it's annoying. I always acknowledge that they are there and excuse myself when I have to step in front of them. Generally, this small courtesy makes a difference, because I often hear those same people doing the same thing later on. I often can't say whether they have done it before or not, but I know that they usually do it after, and that's all that matters to me.

How about not budging in line? A very simple thing here that takes 2 parties to pay attention, when you are standing in line, make it obvious that you ARE standing in line, don't dawdle 5 feet back from the next person, get up there and close that gap. This is a 2 fold thing, because without the gap, nobody will be able to line jump, and secondly it will show people where the line actually is. And when the lines stretch out across the aisles, don't just shove through with your cart, again, say excuse me, and allow people to move. Impatience breeds impatience, and when the stores and roads and parking lots are crowded, impatience is the last thing that we need to deal with.

Anyway, those little things can make a huge difference in peoples days. Not only at Christmas, but surely, every time of the year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The "Friend me" paradox...

Ladies and gentleman I wish to present to you an interesting phenomenon, that I have begun to refer to as the "friend me" paradox. This is a situation in which the classmates from your school wish to "friend" you on Facebook, whether they were ever actually your friends in school or not. I could not understand the reason that someone whom I haven't talked to, thought of or even wondered about in over 20 years would wish to have me on their friend list, and yet here they are. 25 years ago they couldn't be bothered to help you pick up your notebook when you dropped it, they teased you relentlessly, or worse bullied you, and now they wish to be your "friend". The people who spent what seemed to be their every waking hour making your life miserable through your whole childhood and teenage years, now wish to be part of your life, and way too many people just let it happen. Why? Is it about the connection to the past, the nostalgia, or is it because you want to find out if their life is now better or worse than yours?

So think about it, if you're on the great social networking site known as Facebook, then you have run into the dilemma of whether to "friend" someone whom you know, but would never truly consider a friend. You can "ignore" them, and hope that they let the matter drop, and you don't actually run into them in person, (and then have to explain why you ignored their friend request) or worse yet, they continue to pester you with friend requests until you finally relent and confirm the request. If the second ( and more common) result is what has happened to you, then you face a new problem, that of actual communication.

Now that you have "Friended" ( interesting how the dynamic English language is adapting to technology) this acquaintance, you have to decide how much you wish to allow them into your life. Depending on how much you actually use or share on Facebook, you may have no need to care, but if you're the kind who shares loads of info, then you may have to tinker around with individual settings, a pain in the ass, but a necessary evil.

There is also the "friend of a friend" thing, a situation that makes the online forum like a crowded room, and one conversation can be overheard by many groups. Do you want your family to see the conversations with your college buddies? How about your friends from the bar? Should they know about your sister's divorce or your brother's colonoscopy? Yet soon everyone that you have on Facebook knows everything about everyone that you know on Facebook.

You need to make some separations and set some limits. Yes, it makes it harder for the various groups to listen in to your various conversations, but it can help to keep your lives separated. The last thing you want is for your work friends to get wind of your fraternity high jinx, and get word to you boss about the time you got photographed sucking a goats teats! Not the best situation for advancement in the office! The real question becomes what do you want to do with your Facebook?

Do you wish to make/find friends? Do you wish to advance your business or career? Do you wish to keep up with family and friends from your past? Each one of these pursuits is what Facebook was designed for, yet in many cases they really are mutually exclusive, and so one MUST take the time to make the appropriate settings so that these worlds don't overlap and cause problems with each other.

And a last thought...There are many types of people who use Facebook ( or any other social networking site) but they can generally be divided into 2 basic groups, those who will clutter your wall with gifts, requests, quizzes and games, and those who will share words and thoughts and things that actually have personal meaning to them. And many are the opposite of what you might suspect!! But that's a WHOLE 'nother Rant!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Motivationally speaking...

Motivation is an odd thing, as some people only need the smallest amount of motivation to tackle the largest projects, and then there are other people ( like me) who need HUGE amounts of motivation to tackle even medium sized projects. I have always wondered where some people get the drive they have to do the things that they do. Why torture your body to run a marathon? Why put your life at risk to climb to the top of Mt. Everest? The old saw, "because it's there," or "To prove that you can," are cute, but what do they really say? If I want to stand on top of Everest, I'm gonna find a WAY easier way of getting to the top, it's just my nature. Doing something hard has never been the thing that draws my attention, at least not physically hard, I do like a mental challenge. I have always been into puzzles, crossword, jumble, cryptograms, I live that kind of stuff, but I see it as keeping the mind sharp and the mind is what you need most when your body is beat up from running marathons and climbing mountains.

Obviously I bring up motivation, because I am looking for mine again. I am not sure what has cause me to lose my motivation for losing weight. I still want to get down, but for some reason I have lost my willpower and I seem to be on the verge of a binge every day. It's a fight, constantly to keep myself from just diving head first into a wheel barrel full of chips and dip, or skinny dipping in a pool full of big macs. The siren call of sugar is torturing my dreams and I don't know why. I am fighting a losing battle lately and It is really beginning to take it's toll. Chocolate, and hard candies, all manner of potatoes and breads just calling my name softly in my dreams. Sometime around the beginning of October, I binged out. I knew it was wrong and I did it anyways, and I have not recovered myself from it. I don't know why, and now the Holidays approach fast and furious, and I am sure to eat way too much of the wrong things for the next few weeks. Do I wait until New Years to Try again. Or do I simply take it day by day.

I know that I am a food addict, and that when it comes down to it, I am pretty powerless over food. The worst part of the whole thing is that My dad is now on a diabetic diet, and It would be the best thing for me to follow as well, because it is what works best for me to lose weight. I don't know why this is so hard for me.

I will search and see if I can find my motivation once again. I know it's here somewhere!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Crazy crap, fun stuff., and who knows what else...

SO my blogging has been a little sporadic lately, but I feel guilty about it!! I have been concentrating so much on photography and editing stuff, and making up stupid status updates on Facebook that I let the blog go dormant for much longer than I want. If the TV is on I'm distracted and I just don't have the concentration to write. I wanna write, but seems like my subjects are all kinds of scattered in my head, and my coherence level is way down. So anyway, here is what I have been doing lately...

Thanks giving has come and gone and it;s already December, and Christmas is approaching fast, but first comes My Birthday. No major date this time just 42 years. Never believe it. I don't FEEL 42, and I sure don't think like I'm 42. Oh well.

Thanksgiving turned out to be another interesting holiday. There is this odd little quirk in my family that people get sick around Thanksgiving, and Gramma stayed true to tradition. She ended up in the hospital with a tumor on her ovary. It was so big that it was blacking her ureter and so the Docs had to put in a stint to keep the kidney functioning. Ok that's not too bad, but the tumor.... turns out that she is what appears to be stage 4 cancer, it has affected her kidneys, her lungs and her liver so far, and the news isn't all in yet. 85 years old, and she suffers from Vascular dementia due to a stroke she suffered a few years ago. The family is in an uproar, because Uncle Steve ( the one who lives with her and is her main caretaker ) wants to get her Chemo, and we all feel pretty strongly, ( and Gramma did to when she had all of her marbles before her stroke) that she doesn't need or want chemo. It is so hard on a body that it is more likely to sap what strength that she has, and so diminish her quality of life for the time she has left that it will be torture. With her dementia and her lack of short term memory, it is likely that she will never fully understand why she is in such pain and discomfort. When she had all of her faculties, she made it known with her healthcare proxy and her DNR that she considered chemo to be extraordinary measures and she didn't want them taken should she get sick and it wasn't caught early. She watched Grampa die of Pancreatic cancer, and she spent 35 years working in one of the Best hospitals in the state, and she knew what she was saying, and asking.

So here was Gramma in the hospital, and Dad and I come home and along the way dad tells me that he doesn't feel good. Ok, I can drive, as we are getting off the Thruway, he tells me just take him to the hospital. Turns out he was a few minutes away from falling into a diabetic coma! His blood glucose was up over 600!! No wonder he was feeling faint!! His blood ox was low and his pressure was down along with his heart rate. Man!! Don't let Gramma get all the attention!! So he spent 24 hours hooked up to an insulin pump, and a few more days in the hospital as the Docs assessed his response and taught him how to test his levels and change his diet. Our house is changing and now Pops is eating much more like Me. More veggies, Less fat, and actually watching carbs like a fiend. We may be able to share more meals again! I just wish it hadn't come to this point to get him back on the healthy train.

Taking Pictures, Pictures of everything I can find. Bands, people, kids, nature, scenery. I take pictures of whatever I can find to interest me. I learn from my mistakes and study my pics to see what I like and what I don't. I like to think that I am progressing, but sometimes I think I am a little static in what I am doing. Perhaps I need some more inspiration, or maybe I need to find the thing that I like. I will find out eventually.

Family and future, don't know which one will make my life more interesting, but I hope I find out sooner than later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What have I done?

Can't figure out what I have done to stop the weight loss... but I know it can't possibly be the food I'm stuffing in my face! Heck no, half of that food is twice as much as I need!! LOL I have no idea why I have no freakin' control lately, I try as I might but it seems like these last few weeks I can't keep food out of my hands. Sweet, salty, spicy, cheesy.... I just want to eat and I can't seem to stop! Am I pregnant? I don't think so, need a partner for that don't ya? Enough is enough, I need to stop stuffing shit down my pie hole and get off my ass. The cold weather doesn't help! I don't want to be out in the dark and the cold doing much, but It needs to be done, and when I can show a net loss for the week, I will be happy, but right now I have been on a climb, and it needs to stop!
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't bitch if you don't participate!

Once again I have seen a letter to the editor in the local newspaper crying about how the person and her husband refused to vote in the recent election because there was no candidate that they felt they could vote FOR. Why, oh why, do these piss poor citizens continue to express their poor logic? Simply abstaining from voting is not going to do ANYTHING except allow your opinion to go unheard at the local polls. And then you have the gall to write a proud letter to the paper and say that you didn't vote! The very reasons that you have chosen not to vote are the same reasons why you SHOULD vote!! You didn't like the candidates.... Then WRITE IN the candidate that you think should be on the ballot. If you can't think of anyone, do what I do, write in " None Of The Above" signaling that you are not happy with any of the choices or possibilities.

One of the things that REALLY annoys me about the election process is when a candidate is shown on more than one line of the ballot. Why is the same person listed as a Republican, a Conservative and an Independent? If you're a Republican you SURE aren't an Independent. This is one of those things where you just can't be both. So people cast their ballot on the Independent line... so what? The Republican still wins, and nothing changes! Half the time these candidates are the incumbents to boot! WTF!!! I have participated and by the sacred Internet I'm gonna bitch.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that the None Of The Above line is becoming a necessity in the American Electoral process. The system has become so stacked and slanted that a true grass roots change is nearly impossible, and it seems that there has to be some new method of change instituted . The founding fathers gave us the mechanism within the constitution to adjust our process and to adapt to the climates of the unforeseen future. They knew what history had proven, that change was inevitable and there needed to be a way for the laws of the land to adapt with the times or the law would not last and hold. 200 years ago our constitution was quite unique in it's formulation, and today it stands as a model for fledgling democracies around the world. But we need to once again prove that we are a leader for a reason and we need to show the world once again that we can change and find a way to make the system work again as it was meant to work.

The system was meant to be, of the people, By the people and FOR the people, and today it seems that it no longer is of, by or for the people. We need to bring the system back to it's roots, when the politician wasn't a lifetime career, but a part of a man's life. The farmer or shopkeeper did his turn in the government, and then went back to his real job. A lifetime politician was a king or a queen. Royalty and aristocracy were the only lifetime politicos. They served at the will of the people, because a good revolution could always change the balance of power. There was a time when the governing were rightfully fearful of the governed, but today it is quite the opposite. The money is the power in America today. The rich businesses, the banks and insurance companies hold the true sway in government, and the average person , the voter, has only the power to pick one of the money's choices and one is as bad as the other.

None Of The Above could truly bring about the needed changes, but what Politician has the courage to do what is right, instead of what is politically expedient?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I am actually running!!

So in my quest to increase my activity level in the cooler weather, I have begun trying to run at least a portion of my daily circuit! So today I actually ran 1/4 of it!! 1/8 at the beginning and 1/8 in the middle! ( plus a short shot at the end!) which for me is astounding! I am hoping to keep it up, (despite the shin-splints) and perhaps before the year is out I will be able to actually run my whole circuit! That would be absolutely amazing and perhaps it would make me wish to increase my circuit! Who knows? Miracles DO happen! LOL

Monday, October 26, 2009

The weight watch...

So I made great progress for quite a while then in September I plateaued at 65 lbs down. I could live with it for the most part, but still have at least that much more that I want to lose. That said, somewhere along the line I have begun to lose ground!!

SO I have been trying to figure out what triggered my gain. I Think it is a combination of pent up cravings and a recent feeling of rejection, coupled with stress of my current financial situation, and the normal autumnal metabolic slowdown that is normal for my race, and add to that the loss of my free fresh vegetable source and You have a recipe for me gaining weight. It is too darn easy to spend money on cheap food that is bad for a body than to get the produce that is good for you, but costs way more so you can't buy as much!

I realized today that I have spent way more time on my butt the last few weeks too, so I have to redouble my efforts to get some exercise, and Today I actually gave running a little try. Nothing spectacular, just a few 50 yard jogs, with some fast walking, but it got the heart rate up and that's the important part.

I need to keep my attention on what I eat so that I DON'T eat too much. Gotta stop the snacking, which has snuck in, and get more active. Gotta push! No more screwing around!

The feeling of rejection is over a few people that I have talked to about doing some pictures of them. Sadly they have been rather non-responsive, and I guess that they have decided that they aren't interested.

as a Native American I can tell you for a fact that our metabolism tends to hit a natural slow-down in the autumn. Suddenly we all seem to start gaining weight. depending on the body type and lifestyle anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds can pile on in short order.

My veggie garden is done for the season and so now I don't have the unlimited veggies to eat every day, my starch intake has gone up nearly exponentially! Gotta quit that mess!

Keeping the faith!

Death By Taxation...

Have you ever heard the cliche, " The only sure things in life are death and taxes."? the truth of the matter is that it is most likely that the death was caused by taxes! Why do I say such a strange thing, you may be asking. Well, recent events have given me an interesting take on this phrase.

Every person in the world who has ever punched a time-clock has dreamed of being rich, retired or their own boss, doing what they love, and not answering to anyone but themselves. It's a great dream and those who achieve it are generally glad that they did. Mostly...

The retired and the wealthy have different agendas than those who become their own bosses. Those who opt for self-employment learn a lot of things and one of those things is that if you can't keep your own books, you need to find someone trustworthy to do it for you. Many a business venture has bitten the dust because the people keeping the books and handling the finances were either dishonest or incompetent. The product was good, and the service was excellent, but the money didn't get where it was supposed to go, and eventually the discrepancies caught up with the business. Sometimes it is creditors, but sometimes it is the taxman himself. Yep, The I.R.S. Uncle Sam.

Some uncle he turns out to be, let me tell you. Do you know that if you owe taxes that the I.R.S. can seize your assets? They can go directly into your bank account and take the money that they think you owe them. With not so much as a "heads up" that it's coming out. They get into your account and pull out the funds. Doesn't matter that you have checks written on the money in the account. It means nothing to them. So what happens? Well if you don't have money to put back in that account, those checks are gonna bounce sky high, and you know what that means, your gonna be getting calls from all of the people that you wrote those check to and they are going to want their money, NOW!!!

This compounds an already big problem, because now you owe even more money that you don't have because not only will your bank charge you for every check that bounces, but everyone who has one of those checks will be charging you for the fees that THEIR banks charge them! How the hell does this help anyone?

Now I'm not talking about a multi-million dollar business here, I'm talking about a small fry business man who answers his own phones, and does his own inventory and still talks to his suppliers on the phone every week. If he is lucky he has one or maybe 2 employees who know every cent he spends on the business and are happy to do without when the times call for it. This is a guy who takes a cut in his own pay so that his employees can continue to get their full pay when things are slow. This is a small business in every sense of the word, and these are the people that truly make America work. They are the ones truly living the American Dream.

The taxman cometh, and with him the death of a dream. So this is why I would like to try and collect $1 from 5000 people in the next month. I know a small businessman who is looking down the barrel of the I.R.S. gun and if he can't pull some money from thin air he will probably lose the business that he has built up over 20 some years of blood, sweat and sacrifice. The problem is not of his making, but it is his responsibility. And so I would like to try and help him.

He did everything right as far as he knew. And he made the calls and asked the questions and everything he did was right as far as he knew, and as far as he was told. But then earlier this year he finds out that there was something not done correctly three years ago and since the I.R.S begins fining from the start of the problem rather than when they notify you about it, the bill has grown to be quite hefty.

Why would you help? Hasn't everyone at one time or another dreamed of being a hero to someone? They say that you can't fight city hall, and it's true, you have a better chance of pushing you head through a concrete wall, than winning this type of argument against the I.R.S. But with the help of the heroes of America it is possible to help one Little person with a big-ass problem. All it takes is a little spare change. who doesn't have a dollar to spare? The lose change in your couch cushions, under the floor-mat of the car, or in the ashtray. The change from your coffee break for a day or 2 adds up to a dollar. With one measly, little dollar you can help one guy keep his dreams alive. All I am looking for is for 5000 people to give up the cost of one McDonald's cheeseburger. The difference in the cost of a large coffee to a medium. A regular value meal instead of a super-sized one.

I believe that there are enough people out in the world who can do this. I believe that there are enough people out in Facebook-land who can spare a single dollar, this month, and help one guy keep his dream alive. How many times have you given money to a cause, and never known where it goes? Never see what it does? Here is a chance to give to a cause and every penny goes to the cause. There is no agency taking bits and pieces out of it. And here is the kicker, if I get MORE than is needed to cover this I.R.S. fine, I will donate the rest to a very worthy charity in Rochester NY. called "Wease Cares for Kids". Another worthy cause that gives 100% of all donation back to the community. What could be better than helping out one person? Helping one kid!

So what do you say, People of Facebook? Friends, friends of friends and friend- friends friends.... Go viral and make something cool happen!!! Just $1.

Karl White
14485 Puzzey Rd
Albion NY 14411

Saturday, October 24, 2009

End of the season...

So the fall is upon us and it is a week until Halloween, and this week I put my motorcycle away for the season. It's always a bittersweet thing to do, because I wish that I could ride year round.
Not so much because I love riding that much, ( but I really do!) but because it is MUCH cheaper on gas than driving my truck. So I put the fuel stabilizer in the gas tank and got all my stuff out of the back pack, and put my helmet in its storage bag. Then I cleaned the floor where I was going to put it, and worked it into the back corner of the shop. There it will sit for the winter, taunting me, with the promise of spring and what we will be able to do in the coming spring. In the middle of January while the wind is howling outside the doors and the driving snow is piling into sculpted drifts across the driveway, the bike will sit quietly in the back of the shop, and I will look back there and think of the spring that is to come, and of the adventures past. My motorcycle will be the dream that keeps me from giving in to the depressions of February, and get me through the last snows of March. When we get the warm weekend in April I will get it out of the corner and take it for the first ride of the spring and the feeling of freedom that comes from the wind and the road and the shifting of the gears will give me dreams of the hot, hazy weekends of summer and riding along through the NY terrain.

One of the things that drives the average NYer nuts is snow removal. I'm not one to worry so much about it, because I have the tools for the job. I plow the big open parts with my 4 wheeler, and for the walks and drifts, I have a great snow-blower for my garden tractor. It works great for opening up drifted in areas that the wheeler can't blast through. Between the two pieces of equipment, I have to shovel only a very minimum, and usually only the stairs that I can't exactly plow!

But before winter gets here, there is still the autumn to enjoy, and in Western NY one can never tell what the season really holds in store for ya. From golden trees and fresh cut fields, new green showing in the field of winter-wheat and the piles of pumpkins glowing various shades of orange in the farm markets, every turn is filled with colors and scents and dreams.
Halloween parties loom and the thoughts of what costume to wear, do you dress as a pirate? Maybe a Pimp or a gangsta. Whatever you chose, you can pretty much count of at least 10 other people having the same Idea! It never fails, the more original you think you are, the more likely it is for someone else to have the same exact thoughts. The only difference is in the execution. Details are the key. The more detail you put into the costume, the more likely you are to win the prize at the party! The fall wouldn't be complete without a few haunted hay rides, and a trip to the Maize Maze. And, what about a visit to the cider mill? One of my favorite things about fall, is the promise of some fresh apple cider. Coupled with some fresh, warm donuts and it's just about as close to heaven as a guy can get without a broad in the room with him! Fresh apples too, nothing like a fresh, crisp apple crunching with it's sweet/tangy taste reminding you of the difference between the store-bought, storage apples and the orchard-fresh apples.

One of the best things about fall in NY is the colors. The pumpkins, the straw bales, the Indian corn, and the trees. The foliage in NY can be so diverse and amazing and each year I find something that just stuns me with it's brilliance. Sometimes it is the neon-orange glow of a Maple tree in the sun, and sometimes it is a particular shrub that glows in crimson. When the day has been rainy and dreary and you look out at the world and it all seems grey, the sun can peak out from behind the clouds and light up a Birch tree, it's white trunk catching the golden cast of the sun, and the leaves of yellow looking like little drops of gold shimmering in the sudden sunshine and it will lift the spirit like any good drug. But it's not a drug, and if you're smart you will grab a camera and take a picture of that perfect scene. You never know when you will see it again, and preserving it is the best we can do. I am always amazed at how you can look at a row of trees and one can be bare while another has barely changes colors and one looks like a super hero decked out in gaudy colors waiting for the chance to take to the sky on a wing and a prayer looking to rescue someone from a dastardly villain. And they do rescue us, at least for a little while, because the color that they show the world give us an appreciation of the work that nature does. We can see the colors and be reminded of the cycles of nature and that we are privileged to be able to witness it again. Each fall, I look at the colors and I am happy to be here to see them again. Just as I am happy to get through the winter and see the return of the spring blossoms. I know that the gray skies of winter are coming, and so I appreciate the colors of fall all that much more.
Each season has it's place in my heart. I may complain about each one, but that is one of the privileges of living in Western NY, we get all the seasons every year, even if we get three of them on one week!! But the truth is that I have a choice and I wouldn't live here if I didn't truly love each season for it's individual pleasures. I have lived n the south and I know what it's like to wear shorts and a t shirt on Christmas day, and to tell the truth, lights in a palm tree just aren't the same as the standard fir tree decked out and smelling up the house with it's oily pine scent. The same as the warm spring breezes of April aren't appreciated as much when you haven't suffered through a blizzard in February. And as the fall does what it must, I can appreciate all that it has to share with me. ( Even if our summer did suck!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Charity for the rest of us!

Remember when you spent too much money and to make the months rent you would throw a party and charge by the head, so you could get together enough money to pay the rent? How many times have you been to a fundraiser for some charity organization, or for someone who is in dire need of some financial assistance? Ok, now take these two ideas and merge them into one thought. Perhaps the time has come to throw a few " get someones ass out of hock" parties!!

The idea is this: throw a party like any fundraiser for charity, charge at the door, do 50/50 raffles, and some door prizes. But each person will have the chance to be the beneficiary of the party. by putting their name in the fishbowl along with one bill that they must apply the money to. Somewhere near the middle of the party the name is drawn. On Monday morning the deposit is made in their bank account and the check is written to the designated creditor. This person then must attend the next party for the next name drawn from the bowl. In order for it to work, each winner must continue to help the cause. One may not win and then not help the next party. no selfish bastards allowed!

If by some miracle of the divine winds, someone is not in need of assistance, they may put in the name of somebody that they feel is deserving of the assistance. These days there are far too many people who are on the edge, and helping a few of them is a great idea. Why do you have to be sick to get some help? why not help some of the working stiffs who are barely making it?

It sounds odd, but for most people, just getting one big bill out of the way, could free up the finances enough to make the ends come together again and keep the knee breakers from knocking on the door.

So who's in? and rememeber the bigger the party, the bigger the benefit!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

None of the above...

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me. None of the above.... What the heck am I talking about, you may be thinking. Well, let me elaborate.

I am talking about the ballot, to be specific the American election ballots. If you vote, ( and you really should!!) you know that in far too many cases there is no opposition to the incumbent candidate, and so they win by default. But what if you don't want the incumbent to continue in this position? What if they have managed to rig the system ( this is not a conspiracy theory, look up "gerrymandering" in the dictionary) so that they can pretty much keep their office until such time as they decide to give it up? Well, then we have no recourse except to continue to fight a losing battle to try and get these slackers and losers out of office with candidates that have no chance of winning against the stacked deck.

So why not a "None Of The above" slot on every ballot in every election? For every office up for vote, there should be the possibility that none of the candidates truly meet the community standard, and therefore we should not let them win simply by default. Give the American people back the power of the voting booth. Rather than a race when there is no actual race, it is up to the politico to be responsible and do a good job, because we can actually vote them OUT of office without the need to vote someone else in. Of course this would mean that there must be occasional times when there is nobody to do a particular job. Depending on the job, this could result in either a new election, with completely new candidates (anyone voted out by the" None of the above" vote would be automatically barred from running again for at least 2 election cycles.) Or perhaps the job is eliminated, thereby saving the local coffers the expense of the salary. Another possibility is that the duties of the eliminated position be spread around the local government offices. Not all government jobs are essential after all! ( Especially elected ones!!)

The important thing here is the chance to make REAL change in a government that has become far too bloated and ineffectual for the people whom it is supposed to be serving. By adding the "None Of the Above" Slot to the ballot, we would no longer have to make the choice of the lesser of 2 evils, and therein lies the true possibilities of change.

Until we have the choice to actually say, " no", we will not settle, we want better choices, we will continue to get screwed over by the system that we want, and expect to help us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

100 posts...

I was looking at my post count and I realized that this is # 100! Wow, if my teachers could only see me now!! To be honest it has taken a little less than a year for me to get here, but That's ok, It's not like I am changing the world here, I'm just venting a little piss and vinegar and sharing my views of the world. Sometimes I have something really important ( to me) to say, and other times I just feel like rambling about a variety of topics. But looking over the last years posts I notice that I have hit on a few topics more than others. Travel, religion, politics, and family to name a few right off the top of my head. Friends seem to come up a few times, as well as the future, the past and technology. I have hit on topics of entertainment , death and food. Education and taxes seem to have a few big mentions as well. So I guess that I hit on the things that most directly affect me, and the people in my life.

Number 100. It seems like I should be looking deep and trying to find some special, deeply meaningful topic to get all philosophical about, but the truth is that I don't have anything really pissing me off more than usual today, and since I haven't taken any great pictures so far this week, I don't even have any of those to share. I'm working alone this week, so it seems that coming up with great topics is a little beyond my mental capacity with all the other things on my mind.

I guess that thing that is most on my mind right at this moment is coincidence. It's like when you have been saving that particular thing for some unknown theoretical future use, and then you finally throw it away, and then 2 days later you find the perfect use for it! Some people call it irony, but it's mostly just annoying. Ask anyone who deals with inventory, the longer something has been on a shelf, the more likely that the day you sell it, there will be 4 more people looking for that very piece. It seems to be the oddest force in the universe, Coincidence. If you are waiting for a delivery, and you have to use the bathroom, the delivery shows up at the exact moment that you get your cheeks planted on the toilet seat! right? You know that it has happened to you! It's a matter of the phrase, "It never fails!" and it seems to hold true more times than not, like when you are in a hurry, and what happens? You get stuck behind the slowest person on the road. Some people call it Murphy's Law, the old adage that whatever can go wrong will go wrong, but in truth that's not really the case. The fact is that even the things that can't possibly go wrong, will go wrong at the most inopportune time. If you have looked at every possibility, then you must look for the impossibilities, because they will be the things that will bite you on the ass. A friend of mine used to have a great saying, "You can't win the lottery, but you'll get struck by lightening!" I have always loved that saying, because it is such a truism, you can be sure that if it is a one in a million chance for disaster, it will happen, but if it's a one in a million shot for a happy ending, you will miss for sure.

Life deals lemons so much that we have come up with the old saw, about making lemonade. It's a coping mechanism, just like most of the best cliches are. Life is imperfect to say the least, and too many of us spend too much time worrying about the things that we can't control, trying to live with the illusion that we can take control. We are nothing more that the results of our choices and our circumstances. Each choice we make, brings us to another choice and so on until hell freezes over. In the end we can do what we can do and nothing more, but we continue to try and harness the wind. It's in our nature to try and gain control, even when we know that we can't. Some of us figure out that the best we can do is hold on and ride, and follow life wherever it leads us, and those are the happy people. I hope that I am one of the happy people when it's all said and done.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ah Fall...

The aptly named Season of Fall is upon us and the leaves are doing their part, and beginning to fall from the trees. The colors are emerging from their summer camouflage of green, and the edges of the forest are beginning to look interesting. The Virginia Creeper is hanging in crimson drapes across the landscape and the purple grapes are showing in the vines. Along the roadsides and in the fields the goldenrod is turning, first brown, and then fluffy white with seed fuzz. The purple asters and tiny daisies are fading away and slipping into their seed faze. The Corn fields are quickly losing the green hues of summer and the stalks are drying out and turning that soft tan color that signals the coming of Halloween. Orange pumpkins lying in the fields are being gathered up and brought to the roadside stands to be oohed and ahhed over by eager children anxious to carve their jack-o-lanterns and put on their masks to go trick or treating. The mornings are crisp and the days are cool, soon the frost will kill of the annual flowers and the perennials will be going to sleep. The Apple trees are loaded with fruit waiting to be picked and the cider mill is ready to squeeze. Soon the flavor of fresh sweet apple cider will mix with the tast and texture of fresh warm doughnuts and it will officially be the Start of the Cold season. Enjoy the smells and the tastes and the feel of the fall. Take some time and walk in the leave and smell the fresh scent that they give off. Revel in the cool evening and build a fire to share with friends. Indoors or out! Get the garden ready for bed with the same care that you get your children ready, and when spring comes it will wake up easier. Gather in the seeds that you wish to save for next season. Cut the grass one last time and don't forget to put some fuel stabilizer in the gas tank before you run it. Get the snow blower ready, before you actually need it. Fill the windshield pisser in your car and get a couple of spare bottles now so you aren't scrambling in the dead of winter to find it to get the salt glaze off of your windshield. Fall is both a time to put things away, and to get things out. Enjoy the season while it lasts. I feel sorry for people who don't have a fall season. They don't know the beauty of the earth getting ready for winter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

odds and ends...

So as you can tell it has been a few weeks since I have done much on this page, and believe me it's not for lack of ideas, but more for a lack of time. I have to sleep, so somethings suffer, and since this place is not something that is actually making me any money, I have to back burner it now and then. A couple of other things have also kept me form being a busy blogger, namely Facebook and my new camera! You can see from the last few posts that I have been a busy little photographer.

I have now had the camera for about 5 weeks and I noticed the frame count today was nearing 3000. Yes, I am a prolific snapper. Not all of my snaps are collectible photos, but each of them teaches me something, and therefore they are valuable. In fact, today I have decided that I wished to try and get a better understanding of exactly how flash compensation worked, and so I sat down in the shade and shot a few geraniums at various settings to see how the various flash settings affected the shots. And I recorded the data for each shot in my little data book so that I may later refer to the data to help me perfect my technique. The truth is that I much prefer to use natural light and the shadows that it casts, just as it casts them, however there are times when I do and will need to understand how to use a flash to eliminate certain harsh shadows or to even the light across a subject. Thus I have to learn how to do it, when the situation is controlled and I can learn without the pressure of the shots "counting". Getting a grip to be sure.

Facebook seems to be slightly addictive, and I am trying to find ways of interacting a little more with people and getting some feedback. There are certain people who constantly give feedback, and I do appreciate it to an extent, but there is a limit to good wishes from people. Sometimes rather than simply telling me how much they like my stuff, I would like it if they told their other friends how much they like it, and get me some more eyes and maybe some eyes looking to buy! I have been putting up various pictures that I have been taking, especially with my new camera, and The hope is that eventually I will be able to start selling prints. I am not looking to get rich, honestly, I would love to be able to make a living at photography, but I know that it is a long way to get to that point. I know that I am not the best business mind, I am much more creative. That said, in order to make a living at photography, I have to figure out what my niche is. Am I a nature photography, or an action shooter? Am I a concert portrait maker, or do I capture the raw emotion of an event? I have been taking pictures at fire scenes, and I have shot some youth sports. I love taking pictures of plants and flowers and trying to capture the peacefulness or grandeur of landscapes. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to take some portrait style pics of my niece for her senior pictures. What did I like best?

Truthfully, I liked doing all of it. I like nothing better than looking at the world and seeing what I want to capture and then the satisfaction of getting some shots that turn out to be exactly what I had in my head when I initially looked at the scene.

I have this dream of doing a book about barns, as any longtime (longtime being since last fall when I started it!) reader of this blog can tell you, I love barns, and especially the old gambrel roofed style barns. Sadly, they are a disappearing structure in the American landscape, and the history that they hold is disappearing with them. How many times have you driven down the road and seen a lone silo standing sentinel over an empty field? You can bet that lying below that silo is the remains of a barn, whether collapsed into the ground or burned in some tragedy or demolition, it is the barn that raised the silo. The lone silo is the orphaned child of the barn. I don't know if I will ever have the drive to actually finish the book, but perhaps someday I will get much closer to getting it done.

I have been taking pictures yes, but I have also been writing about them. In more than one place. I have the pictures on Facebook and each one has a little something with it as an explanation, and in some cases I use the pictures to illustrate some narrative about what they are or why I took them. Recently someone was looking at some of my pics and asked me why I took a particular picture, and my immediate response was to ask, why not? In the age of digital cameras, there is no good reason NOT to take a picture. True that in many cases you only get a snapshot and not what the professionals call a "picture", but what is a picture but a well staged,placed and/or planned snapshot. By definition the BEST pictures of the last 100 years have been lucky snapshots when someone was in the right place at the right time shooting the scene. "The Execution" in Saigon, "Napalm girl", The flag raising at Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Granted the most famous one is a staged event, but the original was a snapshot. Part of the photographers job is being in the right place at the right time, and knowing where to look when the action is taking place. The guys on the sidelines of the big league games, they have earned a place there, so that they have the chance to get that special shot that becomes iconic for a particular athlete, like the crestfallen look of Scott Norwood after he missed the field-goal that lost the Super Bowl, or the moment of triumph when Lance Armstrong crossed the finish line for his 5th consecutive Tour De France win. The guy who was positioned to capture the flight of Richard Petty along the fence at Daytona when he went airborne. These guys have only one chance to get that particular iconic shot, and if they miss it or screw it up, they will never get the chance again, and we, the public, will never be able to review it and see if it is like we remember. In these days of video, and cellphone cameras, it is likely that someone got the picture, but what would you rather see, a picture that you have to squint at to see the details, or a giant glossy poster of that perfect shot? Yeah, that's why I took that picture, because eventually no one will have to ask why I took it, because they will be able to see in the frame why I took it, whether it's the tears of defeat, the joy of victory, the gossamer wings of a dragonfly skimming across a lily pond, or the spectacular colors of an August sunset. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I truly believe that the story behind the picture is what makes the picture with it.

Pictures are art. Every snapshot, every school picture, every painting, every sand drawing. If it is a graffiti tag spray-painted on a building or the doodling of a child on a notebook, it is art. Art is in the eye of the beholder, it is interpretive and has the distinctive duality of being both valuable and worthless at the same time. Each creation is unique, if for no other reason than it is separate from all others, even the copy has it's own individual flaws that make it unique from all other copies. What we create as artists, ( and we are all artists) we always hope to have accepted by someone. Even if it is a small group that sees the innate value of your work, you always appreciate the acceptance. As an artist I know that my art has value to me, in that it is something that I have put myself into, but I hope that it captures something that gives it value to somebody else as well. When I die and the things that I have made are kept as mementos of my life, then they have a new and greater value, because I will never create or capture another piece with my unique vision. From this standpoint, one can argue that even the electrician who puts the wires in the walls of your house, that you may never see or worry about, is an artist, because his work is unique.

We are all artists, and we all deserve appreciation, it doesn't really matter the medium, or even the message, if we leave behind a piece of ourselves, that is appreciated by someone else, then we have achieved a "masterpiece".
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My current favorite pictures

As some of you will undoubtedly remember from a few weeks ago, I have a new camera, and I am loving life playing with it! There is just no stopping the ideas flowing through my brain and the endless possibilities that keep popping up before my eyes. I want to try new things and shoot in different ways. and to show my vision of the world. I feel almost like a veil has been pulled from my creative eyes. I am seeing the world once again in a way that makes me glad to greet each new sunrise. I wait for inspiration to strike, and it seems that I never have to wait very long. Today it was a sunset. Yesterday it was a barn fire!
I am always looking to learn something new, and to refine my own picture style. I am steadily getting my comfort level back with the higher-end camera. I have been using the point and shoots for so long that I have to get my steady hand back for the longer lenses, and to see how to capture the images that I want so that they convey the stories that I am trying to illustrate. Each time I break out the camera I learn a little something that I didn't know before. I find new ways of doing things and especially seeing things. I want to show things in a perspective that maybe nobody else has tried. Although today with all of the amateur photographers out there with high-end, pro gear taking great pictures and trying to be the next Ansel Adams, it's all likely been tried. The odds are that what I do will be noticed by my small group of friends and family on facebook, and perhaps a few friends of friends steered by the linked pictures, and not much more than that.
What I would like to be able to do is to sell my pictures and make enough money to travel and take more pictures. I love to take them and to show them and to have someone tell me that they like them. My firemen friends like the stuff I do for them, at their functions, and after I get a few under my belt and get my technique figured out, I will be much better at the fire scenes too. I have been taking pictures of musicians for years, but this is the first time that I have had the gear to get a good ambient light picture of the guys on stage and not needed flash to keep the fingers from blurring.
The one thing that I don't want to be is the guy with the shingle in front of his house who gets the call for the school pictures. Senior pictures! I like doing portraits of people that mean something to me, I want to show them to the world the way that I see them., I want to be able to capture that little bit of attitude and recklessness that I see in these people. I can only really do that with people that I know. My niece is one of those people. I will give you, that she is so photogenic that it is nearly impossible to get a bad picture of her, but it is still a skill to do it without being boring about it. Catching her being goofy, without being obvious about it, and keeping her in a playful mood makes it really easy to get great shots of her. So what kind of photographer do I want to be? Well, I guess that I want to be the one that people call after an event and ask me if I was there taking pictures, because they are looking for something different, or better than what they have from everyone else. They will know that I will have the background pictures, the pictures capturing real emotion and real action, not some staged, gimmicky, "aww" shot. Not the treacly kiddie shots that most parents take with their cell phone cameras, but the picture of the guys doing the work, the grimace of pain and strain, the dust and the dirt of the events. The stuff that shows how the work gets done, and why people were there.
But then again there are always some really cool "aww" pictures too. They aren't all throw-aways. Sometimes you have to be sneaky to get the really cool pictures. I have been called paparazzi on more than one occasion! It helps that I generally know my subjects and they get accustomed to the fact that I have a camera and they never know when I may be shooting. They forget that the glass is looking for a subject to see, and when they are their most comfortable is the best time for shooting. But there are those who are ever vigilant, lest they be caught being natural, and for those subjects it becomes a challenge to get a great shot. Sometimes you can position yourself in the right place and lie in wait for the right time to present itself, or you just become ubiquitous with the camera and sooner or later you get a great shot of that elusive subject. What ever way works is fine by me, I'm not too picky about the how, I'm much more interested in the "how did it come out?" The bonus of digital is that you can take 200 pictures, be happy with 100 of them, ecstatic about 10 of them and toss the rest and be out nothing but time and experience. A person can learn.

Life is about learning, and photography is about capturing, so a photographers life is learning the art of the capture, I guess.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

On baking and learning...

I have long been a decent cook, and generally somewhat adventurous. I try a recipe and see what I like about and what I don't and then I start making changes, sometimes I make small changes and sometimes I change the recipe so much that it barely resembles the original, but it gives me a place to start and a result to work with. I'm confident enough in my abilities to know that when I venture off the path I can get what I am looking for eventually.

This week and weekend I have been playing baker, making my first ever tries at zucchini bread. Is it good, is it bad? It's hard to judge, but I think I have been doing quite well, working with the recipes that I was given to start with. One a cranberry-walnut concoction, another lemon-pecan, and one blueberry. Each one good in it's own way and quite enjoyable, but none of them quite what I had in mind. In my mind I remember a spice flavored bread, dark colored and a semi-smooth texture. When you bite into it you can taste the spices like cloves and allspice and ginger. Cinnamon is a given, but finding just the right recipe has been pretty futile. So I designed one from what I have found. I'm still tinkering, but I know I'm on the right track. Now it's a matter of refinement.

So I'm learning! I love learning, I like to know new things and to have new experiences. Many people put high stock in learning, but only in specific kinds of learning, what some refer to as, "book learning". Book learning is something specific, that you are taught by a proscribed method for a limited amount of time and here in America you have to pay for anything beyond public school. You can take a test and see what you have learned, and gauge your understanding by telling your teacher about the process. I love book learning, but I have found that book learning will only get a person so far, because books are limited to the experience of the author(s). Far too many of these authors lack the actual experiences that they write about, but rather use the anecdotal experiences of people that they interview, relying on imperfect memories and glazed over truths. Some of the experiences are documented in written accounts such as diaries and journals, and ever increasingly in pictures or video. But we all know that with the advancement of the recording industry there is corresponding advancement in editing and thus, how do you trust these documents? There is also the limitations of the teachers experience. Perhaps they have failed at the field that they are teaching, thus leading to the old adage, " Those who can't do, teach." Cynicism prevails and we find that truly the best teacher in life is none but experience.

Experience comes in many ways, sometimes by design, and sometimes by accident. We often don't even realize that we are learning something new as we go through our day. It isn't always something big, not a revelation such as understanding the theory of relativity, but perhaps you learn that if you stir your coffee with a ball point pen you get ink in your coffee. Or you learn that you need to use the brakes on your car harder to keep the brakes properly polished, or less hard to keep them from glazing. Hopefully we survive the bigger lessons, like don't drive to fast in the rain lest you hydroplane and lose control. But the point is that one of the best teachers is simple experience. Experience is something that we can apply to our daily lives. We know how hard to squeeze the toothpaste, not because we learned a formula in a book, but because we squirted toothpaste all over our hands when we were young. We know not to grab the handle of the frying pan without a pot holder because we got burned when we were young, or perhaps because we tried it as we were learning to cook. Employers come in 2 varieties, those who look for experience, and those who don't.

Those who hope for new employees with no experience want it this way because they are hoping to teach them their own set of bad habits for whatever job it is they are being hired to do. Often times this is for what could be considered a semi-skilled position, meaning you need to have certain basic skills to start with, but not so much skill that you could teach the job to your boss. Basically this is how manufacturers especially, keep employee costs down, because they don't have to pay a wage commensurate to the job they wish done. They can teach a literate dope off the street how to push a button and make a few measurements, and call them a machine operator, when it reality they should have a Machinist doing the job who can work mostly on his own and make the necessary adjustments based on his level of experience.

Then there are the higher-end employers who value experience and are willing to pay for it. The thing that immediately comes to mind is security firms, this is why they often hire retired police and military, because they have the experience required to keep the assets they are assigned to safe. But aside from this there are literally thousands of fields of endeavor that benefit from experienced employees, from finance and politics, to machine shops and auto mechanics. Experience show us the little things that we can't learn from a book. It teaches us by letting us make mistakes, and if we are smart, we don't make the same mistake twice.

Cooking is something that benefits from experience. If you make a mistake, you adjust and try again. Sometimes you can eat your mistakes, sometimes you can't. You've wasted time, food and money, and you just might go hungry. If you know what your mistake was you can avoid making it again, you use your experience to affect your future, and as you add to your experience you become better, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Been lazy...

Summer and the livin' is easy... Not so much. Been busy as all hell and trying to keep my head above water financially speaking. It doesn't help that I went out and bought an expensive toy, but I hope that in the end it will pay me back. That will take some time, but I'll keep hoping! LOL

So my summer has been pretty interesting, (If you can call most of it summer! The weather sure hasn't been the best!) I have probably put more miles on the bike than I have in the last 5 years. Been riding it as often as possible because the gas is cheaper when you only have to by $5 worth every 80 miles or so. And when I really push it I buy $7 around 125 miles! How do you like that? For 2 more dollars I go 45 more miles!! As long as I'm not doing any "high performance" riding I have gotten the mileage as high as 52.3 mpg this summer. That's awesome and sure makes it easier on the wallet. As long as the sky doesn't look too forbidding I take the bike. ( or when I'm not going for groceries!)

My weight loss continues. As of this week I am up to ( down to?) 60# gone, I am actually down to one extra chin! The last few weeks have been hard with festivals and carnivals around. I love greasy carnival food, corn dogs, fried dough, sugar waffles, and sausage loaded with onions and peppers, not to mention pizza and candied apples. I took a Friday night at the Onion Fest and chowed on the good stuff. And then last weekend pops went to a festival and brought home bag of sugar waffles. So I had 2 of those too. I have been quite good though most of the time. Since I have been harvesting my squish, I have been eating zucchini and yellow summer squash almost daily. I love the stuff grilled with loads of spices. It is also great in an omelet with some broccoli or sausage. My favorite so far though is to mix it with crushed tomatoes and pile it on a little bit of cooked pasta. Man is that a great treat. I can't do it too often, but when I do. it sure is worth the wait! My meat intake is actually way down this summer. I have been way more veggie centric than usual. Not that I want to cut meat out of my diet, but I think that I'm just better off eating more veggies and less of the vegetarians.

Got a new Lawn mower last week. My old one was getting pretty beat. I have had it for 5 years and I use it for grass in the summer and with the snowblower attachment for snow in the winter. Believe it or not I checked the numbers and it had less than 500 hours on it! I was kinda surprised when I saw that. I gave the old one to my sister. She has a much smaller yard to mow, and the riders are quite a bit lighter than me, so it should last them for a few years. As long as they keep it lubed and sharpened it should serve them well for a good while.

Been watching the news and all this healthcare debate with ever rising bile. I just can't believe that so many Americans are so stupid. Well, I take that back, I can easily believe it, I'm more saddened by how easily they fall for the crap that gets doled out by the republican obstructionists. The Preamble to the Constitution specifically states,:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

To me the general welfare includes the health of the citizens. Public Healthcare is more constitutional than any insurance company collecting premiums and denying coverage ever could be. So you don't want Public coverage? How about this, You don't take it. There are far too many people out in the country who have NOTHING!! They work to make ends meet and they have squat to show for it, and if they get sick? They work through it, usually making everyone around them sick in the process because they can't afford to miss a day of work . If they get sick and can't work? They're pretty much screwed, because you can bet that there are bills that are gonna be late. It is the health insurance that has put me in a freaking hole. How? Because I was paying for "health" insurance that turned out to be more scam that insurance. My own fault for trying to do something without enough research. I dropped that one and got some real coverage, but now the money coming out of my paycheck each week has dropped my net income substantially, so the bills that I should be able to easily pay each month are squeezing my Fridays awfully close together. I push the due-dates of my bills to the limit, and I count on the mail float from the time I write a check until it gets cleared at my bank. So I can send out a check on Wednesday and know that by the time the funds are demanded from my bank, the money will be there on Friday. I have lived paycheck to paycheck most of my life, but this is probably the tightest I have even had to keep the books, even now with a savings account, I can't get ahead. And I don't even pay rent or a mortgage! I can't imagine how a family survives. And the big difference is that I now have Health Insurance. And it is the LOWEST PRICED I could find. Them what has Medicare have it good and they know it. I love to see them on the news shouting "Keep your government hand off my Medicare!" Um... OOOKAAAYYYY.... Medicare IS government sponsored healthcare. My suggestion is that they first expand Medicare to cover anyone 50 and up. That takes a huge chunk of the population in, especially with the aging Baby Boomers. They are nearing 65 fast! Just two years to go before the first wave hits.

Ok enough for now. But remember please, FIND THE FACTS!! Rhetoric sounds great and it can fire you up, but the facts will set you free, and show you what is right and wrong.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The benefits of Technology....

I'm gonna start by saying that in general, I'm not a great proponent of change, I have found that advances aren't always all they are cracked up to be, and sometimes changing things too fast bites one in the ass. Windows Vista anyone? Modern buildings seem to lack the character and charm of the old classics, the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe come to mind compared to the steel buildings that pass as churches in today's "build 'em faster and cheaper" society. That's not to say that all technological advances are bad, Digital Photography for one thing. In the film days, you took your pictures and then developed them, either yourself, or by paying someone else to do it, sure eventually it became about a 1 hour wait. The wait wasn't such a bad thing but the wasted frames, when you snapped a picture you had to be sure that everything was in place and ready and right or that was a wasted frame. AND you had to pay to have it developed before you knew it was a wasted frame. Invariably you would run out of film at a critical moment, and unless you had a loaded camera on stand-by, you were screwed until you reloaded or even worse went and got more film. With digital, it's better than the old Polaroid instant camera, just snap your picture, and look at the viewer. Was it what you wanted? No? Well, snap a few more and try something a little different each time. Memory is cheap and as many pictures as I take in a day, I have never run out of memory at a critical moment, ( Battery yes! Memory no...) So the advance is better.

A few years back, early in my internet experience, I joined a website called "6 Degrees" based on the old game "6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon". Who remembers that game? It was also known as "Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe". The object was to connect Kevin Bacon to another person, ( usually famous, preferably an actor) by pairing him with a known associate, and then pairing that associate with another etc. and getting to the specified person in less than 6 pairings. The goal of the website was to connect people, by connecting their friends. It was an early shot at the social networking idea. I was never too impressed with it, and I think I visited it a few days a week for a couple months and finally lost interest.

Social Networking has advanced greatly since then, and while I was never much for MySpace, and I resisted Facebook for a long time, I finally broke down about 6 weeks ago and joined. One of the reasons that I have resisted is because I know A LOT of assholes, and I don't want them to find me. I don't care if I ever hear from loads of people from my past. But on the positive side, there is a large part of my family that I want to be able to keep up with, and know what's going on with them. (I'm not gonna follow Twitter though, as far as I'm concerned, Twitter is for twits!) Of course I don't need to know everything, but it's interesting to see old family pictures and to chat with the cousins who live so far away and to see how they are doing. We can trade jokes and pictures and share in the special family bond that we have built through years of teasing and torture. ;-)

Family is a funny thing, because as we all know most family trees have hidden places that we either don't talk about, don't know about, or know about but have no way of getting a better look. This is a new benefit of technology. In some cases it can connect an adopted child with their birth family, if the birth family is interested. In other cases it can help someone find a part of their family that they knew was out there, but never knew how to reach. That is what has happened to me. Back in May, I wrote about my mothers, and how I grew up with a step-mom, but I reconnected with my Bio-mom in my late teens. Since I didn't grow up with my bio-mom in my life, I also didn't grow up with her side of my family in my life. I knew that I had at least one aunt, and 2 uncles as well as grandparents connected to my mother. But from the age of 3, I had no contact, until by chance, I met my maternal Grandmother in a parking lot of a local shopping center when I was 12 or 13. I spent and afternoon with her shortly afterward, but then never really heard from her again. The summer that I was 18 I went looking for my bio-mom, by looking for an aunt that I knew was still in the area. ( How did I know? Because my father would tell me from time to time that he had run into her at some beer tent or carnival) I found my aunt, she gave me the telephone number for my mother and I called her. She was surprised and happy. I went to visit her, she came to my graduation, and I met one of my uncles, his wife and daughter. That was 22 years ago. No calls or other contact with the uncle since. Didn't even get to go to my grandmother's funeral, because I didn't know that she had died until after the funeral was over. ( My Bio-mom isn't the greatest with directions, so she couldn't find my house when she was here for the funeral.)

Enter Facebook. When you make "friends" you can look through their friends list and see if there is anyone you would like to add to your list. Mutual friends are a great way to meet new and interesting people, not to mention make contacts in business. Sometimes though, you stumble upon a name that seems like it should be someone you know, but don't. Especially if you know that there is family around that you don't know. That happened to me. I was looking through a friend's friend list, and I spotted a name that I wondered if I was related to. So I looked at what info was available, and it sure seemed like I should be related, so I took a chance and sent her a note. Sure enough not only was she my cousin, but even better she was looking for me! And by finding me, she also found my mother ( her aunt) and has connected me with her brother also. So now I have two new relatives to learn about! And the funniest part is that one of my newly found cousins lives less than ten minutes away from me! The other one lives more like 2000 miles away, but at least I know that he exists now... LOL I'm guessing that eventually I will get to learn about a few more cousins, and possibly some family history.

Too bad I didn't find out that I was related to philanthropic multi-millionaires, but I'm happy just to make my family a little bigger, and my tree a little more complete.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wandering around....

This past weekend, I took my motorcycle for a ride, and I took my new camera with me. I decided that I needed some subjects that I haven't been looking at on a daily basis, and what a better way to find them than to get out and go for a ride! And for a ride I went.

On Saturday I headed south, it seemed like a great direction, and the weather was nice and hot, with loads of humidity, and south is into the hills where there is plenty of shade and trees and cool breezes coming out of the deep green forests. So as I was riding I was looking at various things that I thought might make some great pics, but

I wasn't really struck, until I decided that I wanted to get some pictures of the Genesee River. Not just any pictures though, I wanted to show the high water level from all the rain that we have had this year, and the beautiful vistas of the river gorge as it winds along its northbound path above the dam. The Mt. Morris Dam, is a great place to get some awesome pictures, and I was glad to have the equipment to give it a good shot. The day was pretty humid, so you can see the haze in the distance in the pictures. I walked along the hiking paths along the rim and snapped pics from various points along the way. Of all that I took, I think this is my favorite, but If I put more out there you may have a different favorite. I do have more of them posted in my Stone Indian Gallery. I took pictures all along my way that day, mostly in the dam area, but I did stop a few time along the way to take other pictures too. I won't bore you with all of them!

Then on Sunday, Yes indeed, I went riding again on another hot, steamy day. This time, I decided to go north, to the shores of Lake Ontario. I figured there should be a decent breeze, and the temp should be a little bit lower close to the water.

First stop on this trip was Point Breeze, I wanted to get some shots of the boats or the jetskis playing out on the water, but everyone was being responsible and playing nice. Fortunately I did see some interesting things to photograph. Since it was mid afternoon, the charter fishing boats were coming back into the harbor, and they come in from the lake at a pretty good clip. They turn into the channel and drop the throttle to run up the creek and they look a little bit like the S.S Minnow. Well, since it was a nice day, and I was looking to stretch my legs with the camera, I
headed out from there, and wandered on down the road a ways. As I was riding along with my eyes open for possibilities, I spotted this gem. If I had stopped immediately I may have gotten a better picture , but then again maybe not. I figure he was gonna be skittish no matter what I did. How close can you get to a Bald Eagle?

After that, I went on for a few more miles and hit Golden Hill State Park. I went to the boat launch first hoping again to find some jetski action to get pics of, but alas, the price of gas, or maybe the fact that I passed about 100 weddings and everyone was invited, there wasn't much in the way of jetskiers on the water. So, I headed over to the Lighthouse at the campground. The lighthouse at 30-mile Point is a great little place to visit, and I think that the next time I go, I will pay the dollar admission and take the tour of the lighthouse too!

After I left the lighthouse I went to visit my sister, and had the chance to get a few of my niece while she was painting her brother's bedroom, and also to get a pic of my nephew who is part ham and part camera-shy goofball. Getting a good pic of him isn't easy, but I managed to do it!

That was three days ago as I write this. Since then I have been playing with my camera in an earnest way, trying to find the sweet spot settings to get the pictures that I want the way that I want them. Some of my favorite subjects to shoot are clouds, and one of the problems I have had in the past is the lack of glass to truly capture the detail of the formations. Sometimes it's not about the detail, but simply showing the size in a setting that it can truly be appreciated. The ones in this picture popped up on Tuesday evening after the hot, sticky day built up enough atmospheric turbulence to build some thunderheads, and I was in a position to capture that view.
Today at lunchtime I noticed that the gladiolas in pop's garden were blooming quite nicely, and they have some great colors. I was messing with some personal settings and I wanted to see how they compared to the factory settings, and to do that I have to take a whole bunch of pictures, and I really liked this one, and figured it would be cool to share.

Have a great day!
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

I had an MRI...

Ok, first of all let me say that it wasn't for anything catastrophic! I had an infected cyst on my back and when the doctor removed it, he found that it was quite deep, and to be sure that there was no deep tissue damage, or damage to my spine, ( it was very close to my spine) that I should have an MRI.

Now I have to admit that I was an MRI virgin, and I didn't really know what to expect, but knowing the the "M" stands for Magnetic, I assumed that there would be some interesting noises. Interesting barely begins to cover it! Having never even accompanied anyone getting an MRI I had no idea that it would be so freakin' NOISY!!! it was like being stuck in the middle of a construction/demolition area with no hearing protection. It wasn't that it was really uncomfortably loud, but it was really drowning out the music that was playing in my headphones!!

Now being aware that the super powerful magnet would be able to do some damage, I was mindful of the tech's reminder to be sure that I had all metal taken out of my clothes and of of my person. At least I thought I was mindful, as I was laying in the tube and the thing was jackhammering away, I realized that I had forgotten to remove my ring! Since I had made it that far, I I figured that it was truly made of sterling silver. After the first scan, and was pulled from the tube, I told the tech that I forgot to remove the ring, and she shrugged and said that since it hasn't been a problem, it probably wouldn't be a problem, which is what I figured too.

Now for those of you who think that my size would make it a problem to get into the tube, well, you're kinda right. It wasn't like sitting in an easy chair, since my arms did rub the sides, but my belly wasn't a problem at all. Having lost that 55 pounds, has really helped in that respect! So anyway, I was loaded in the tube and trying to enjoy my super 70's mix on the headphones over the incessant banging of the machine, when everything went quite and they pulled me out!

I thought that it was over, but it was only half way through! I still had to have a contrast run, so now the injected me with the dye, and this made me a little nervous because my sister had the dye and she reacted badly. and there after she broke out in hives whenever she ate shellfish! That would be bad for me, because I really like shrimp and lobster... and crawdads too come to think of it! So they injected the dye and stuffed me back in the tube for another round of rumbling.

The techs that I had were very cool and had great sense of humor, so I had a great experience. The dye didn't cause me any discomfort, and it looks like all my parts are safe and clear of problems. ( At least the parts they were primarily concerned with!) All things considered, I would not have a problem doing it again. It really helps that I am not claustrophobic in the least, being stuffed in a little tube for the better part of an hour kind felt like when I was working on RV's for a living!

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