Saturday, May 13, 2017

Questions, I have questions..


Why are the " data markers" that companies use to follow your trail on the Internet called cookies and not cookie crumbs?

Why is profanity called "adult" language when it is clearly used when there are more adult words available to those with adult vocabularies?

Is it only in America that we have the "avocado hand epidemic"? and if so, why?

Why are Americans worried about North Korea attacking our Northwest coast when Hanford, Washington is dealing with 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground, leaking tanks and collapsing tunnels?

What does it tell us about our culture that Amazon sells $10 handbags and $10,000 handbags?


Do you ever get to a time in your life when you think that you actually 'get it"?

Do you think the marriage of that couple that wed on Mt. Everest will last?

and finally:

How annoying is it that I am asking all these questions and do you think this is what is causing my insomnia?

Monday, May 08, 2017

More About Being "In or On" Time


I may have mentioned that on my good days I read a few pages of Marcus Aurelius book titled "Meditations" before I take a nap - not to disparage this classic but saying it puts me to sleep.   It is a challenging read since the language has the cadence and vocabulary of a Roman Emperor in the mid- 100's A.D.   That was certainly a time that was filled with intrigue and powerful people.  Time that moved very differently than time today.  

I went to Wikipedia and this is what they wrote about his book:  "Aurelius' Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity, a state of psychological stability and composure, in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration."

Certainly fits these times, does it not?  So what did this philosopher/ruler have to say about time?  "Every instant of time is a pinprick of eternity"

I think that I like that it reminds me how I have so little significance on this planet that my worries would not even fill the tummy of a mosquito.    Some cultures move in monochromatic time and others in polychromatic time. Is that why we do not always get along with each other?  You arrive too early for dinner and I arrive too late and no one arrives on time!  We cannot agree on the correct time.

Have I moved us closer to an understanding?  Now does that make you feel better?


Friday, May 05, 2017

Time is a Moving Thing


Time has been a very relative thing for me these days. Spring is always a rush. Flowers bud, bloom and petals fall in just hours as the sun chases night across the sky.  Within a month we have days of spring, summer and fall crammed together like a mixed race family, each with their own pleasures and pitfalls.


I watch a bluebird househunt in the morning, build a nest in the afternoon and lay her eggs while I am sleeping that evening.



The purple iris blossoms race each other down the strong stems while spewing out grape scent across the yard and finally giving way in the strong rains bowing down to the lawn.  My roses cover the arbor and then in what seems just a day or two drop all of their lovely pink petals like best wishes at the wedding march.



My days have been full of tasks and errands and trips and schedules and spring continues on her way not waiting for me or anyone.  My obligations are only on my time.  Her time is hidden somewhere in a space continuum over which I have no control and little awareness.  Did you know that a long time ago towns had their own schedules and set their clocks without coordination of any nearby village?  Their time/space continuum did not depend on anything other than their view of how fast the sun was moving.

Time is relative.  Someone, somewhere, has a spring that lasts at least a month.  They sip tea and watch the morning sun kiss the buds of roses and then watch as Dianthus burst forth with their cinnamon scents and pink lace-edged blossoms.  They watch the bird building the softest of homes with bits of grass and tufts of seed pods along several days.



Mother Earth has her own time clock.  It goes so much slower than ours that we miss the melting of icebergs, the increased flooding of coastal planes which climbs each year, the death of tiny microscopic beings that hold hands with larger microscopic beings until entire coral reefs centuries old are gone...and so on, and so on.

The data gatherers notice these things because their clock moves much slower than mine.  They can gaze over decades past as they thumb through their well-worn penciled notebooks of graphs and numbers and they count the changes in meaningful ways.  Soon this earth time will catch up with us all.



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Walking is Good For Your Health

It seems official that I have become a weekly marcher. The benefits are tremendous: I get to hang out with like-minded strangers that smile at me and nod;  I have conversations with people who actually are knowledgeable about chemistry, history, poetry, immigration and how government works (and it DOES work); I am getting some well-needed exercise; and I get to walk by some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. 




While I think this new museum has too large a footprint it is amazing in style.
I worked on the inside of the Federal government for decades and while there were "pencil pushers," braggarts, lazy folks and political appointees who were there because they were related to some Congressperson, 90-95% of the workers were people with training and expertise in their field, a vision to make things better, and no interest in making a fortune off the backs of others.  A little naive, maybe, but honest, certainly.

We met up with the Union of Concerned Pissed-off Scientists to get some signs before heading out.


No, they are not all that young.

The Park Police were in all their glory waiting the impending storm.  They are terrific workers in that almost every Saturday these days there is some protest march going on!

Last week I was involved in the March for Science.  I got to see Bill Nye the Science guy; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Pediatrician, Michigan State University who was the Doctor that discovered her young patients had high lead levels in Flint, Michigan; Mari Copeny, aka Little Miss Flint, who at 10 while overwhelmed by the crowd read her speech with great aplomb; Leland Melvin, astronaut and S.T.E.A.M. Explorer, and a bunch of other beautiful geniuses and leaders.   We also were entertained by the Jon Baptiste House band while waiting in the cold and pouring rain for free!  What a dedicated bunch of nerds!

We were a little far from the stage but certainly close to one of the Jumbotrons.




This weekend it was the March for Climate Change, which included a larger and more diverse group of people and a larger march.  We got together for breakfast with my Sister-in-Law from Colorado and her family and friends here in D.C. and made some signs at their hotel.  Some were affiliated with the Fair trade USA Group  and so we went to the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream sponsored float since he had donated money to their cause.  He was there being interviewed by network television, but we missed that.




We then left our posse as they took the kids out of the heat and we marched with the indigenous peoples group that had some very cool dancing and the best drums (even in the 90 degree heat - climate diversity anyone?) as well as several ceremonial "smudge pot breaks" in the middle of the street.




Gotta love free speech!  There was only handful of of anti-science protesters and absolutely no violence or arguing.  We had received our "marching order" to focus on our mission and avoid dissension and that worked just fine.  It was like a 1960's  meet-up without the pot because that is illegal in D.C.  So what did you do last Saturday?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Mistake


I just spent an hour writing my post on the second part of trip and out meet-up with Mage in San Diego and posted it on my "other" blog. I am not going to try and cut and past that baby back to here as I have spent too much time at the computer.  So...you are going to have to go read it THERE.  Please.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Pennies Found

Like a bad penny or a fond memory, I am back. I have had a very full two weeks. I have not even had time to read a single blog post from all of you until a few days ago. Today I have a short reprieve and can post. My student had to work and cancelled her class. I should be weeding the garden on this cool and misty day. I have a house that really needs cleaning and at least two laundry loads to do. 

But instead, I will blog about my trip.  California was beautiful.  We stayed at a resort near the Crystal Cove State Park and did get to glimpse the spring flowers and the ocean on the first few days.




The grandchildren loved the beach but the Pacific is usually wet suit temperatures, so they did not swim. It was also a bit "surfy" and they scared the you-know-what out of me while their Dad explained that raising children meant you let them take risks.  Fortunately we only spent a short time here as there were many other activities on the agenda.







Even the heated pool at the resort required some baring it all in the cooler winds to enjoy.  The mist in the mornings off of the Pacific was lovely, but cooler than expected.  Yes, it was a "fancy" place.



Hubby had visited Knotts Berry Farm when he was about seven years old, decades ago, and wanted to revisit with his grands.  It had that old fashioned charm of an amusement park without all the dazzle, except for a wild ride or two, and while my grandchildren are really spoiled with fancy vacations, they were not so jaded that they could not enjoy the place.




Two of the grands panned for gold as hubby had done so many years ago and came away with a small jar of gold flecks (salted by the miner, of course.)
 



The youngest got into the spirit of the place at the gift shop.  The next day we toured Los Angeles Staple Center with all its bronze statues, saw the original Capitol Records building, Jimmy Kimmel's studio in Hollywood (door), walked on the "stars" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, tested the hand prints that many stars placed at the Chinese Theater, and did a drive by of the homes in Beverly Hills.  I will not bore you with the hundred or so photos.  I had never done this type of tour, but my son-in-law was over the top with excitement, and my daughter was thrilled to see her favorite comedian's, Lucille Ball, former home.

We also spent an afternoon touring La Jolla beach and ate at a nice restaurant overlooking the beach.  I may share the lovely late afternoon photos later.

We spent five days here and then had to leave the resort as they could not accommodate us for the full week, but we got to go to the "real" San Diego and meet up with Mage and her husband for an outdoor lunch!  That in the next post.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Odds Are


One could wonder why I would ever want to leave this place and its beauty. but I have a lovey family and they demand time!  I will be gone in the coming weeks to take a trip with the grand-children and their parents.  San Diego for fun in the sun and then back though Denver to visit my relatives.  I hope to meet up with Mage on one of the days.

  
When I return I may bore you with photos or maybe not.  We will see.  I may have time to read blogs, so that is good.





Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Telenovela Season

There is a reason that one's instinct should be honed.  It is a tool that we often ignore in this chaotic world of multiple stimuli.   When something lingers in the back of your mind, you should invite it on in and offer it some coffee and pick its mind.  Then you can make a pro and con list before you do something or decide something.

But what if you have conflicting instincts?

I do have two conflicting instincts.  One tells me to hibernate  at home with my forest and my birds and my garden and stay safe.  These activities rarely disappoint.  They often reward.  The other instinct tells me that hibernation means the mind and spirit will become sterile and stale and may just eventually die.  Therefore, I am routinely battling with these two noises in my brain.

I fought the instinct to just veg because I do that a LOT of time in my retirement days.  I read, I cook experimentally, I play with photography, I garden, I watch TV, I download courses on my laptop, I blog, all of which allows me to remain in my cave and face challenges at a snail's pace.

Master Gardening activities do force me to go to meetings, participate in events and work on projects with others.  My family is just near enough that I am called upon to babysit or share an activity with grandchildren who will, all too  soon, be young adults themselves.  I force myself to offer dinner to friends a few times a year.  It  is work and I  get nervous (odd at my age), but it always ends up being time well spent.

My instinct told me that volunteering with the Adult Basic Education office would be both a challenge and a reward.  The reward has been in inspiring people to bring their best to the table.  Another reward has been re-learning all that I forgot!  The challenge has been  in taking the time to prepare lessons and work through the clunky library computer software to schedule a study room and then to find this was all for naught as my students, who have their own challenging adult lives, cancel on the day of the lesson.

I am  currently working with a woman from Peru who has passed her high school equivalency but still  finds everyday English an effort.  She wants to go to community college, but her lack of command of English would hold her back.   She also is still saving money for this from her  full-time job.  One recent afternoon we met for a lesson after she had cancelled the prior week.  She  had said that her husband had  a "cholesterol emergency."  She had to  take him to the hospital.

Once we had settled in and spread out our work, I asked her how her husband  was.  Her face fell and she said he was just fine and back home.  She  looked very tired and claimed she was fighting a cold. I opened the vocabulary book and looked at our lesson and asked her the first question.  She fumbled a bit and when I looked up her face had collapsed into pure  misery as she tried to hide her weeping.  Suddenly the lesson was forgotten as I reached out to hug her and asked what was wrong.

I never expected the "Telanovela" episodes she was going to bring forth.  It seems that along with PTSD her husband has a cholesterol problem, yes, but more significantly he has a serious drinking problem and that is what brought him to the hospital.  He  tells his therapist that he is going to quit drinking and like many with addictions goes home and starts drinking, and as many know, the turn away from alcoholism has to really begin with  the alcoholic.  When in the Navy he was very physically fit,  but now a knee injury and an arm injury have left him far less able to be as active as he would like.  He is retired but did some work with a construction company and had a falling out with the boss.  I am sure he sees his life as useless.  He  has lots of excuses.

Well, this is only one of  the issues as her concern for his drinking has made him violent and threatening  to her.  She grew up in an abusive home watching her father abuse her mother, and perhaps without knowing it, she has returned to something familiar here, and she is frightened. 

Then there is the Telanovela episode of her not being able to stay in  the  country if she divorces him.  She is about nine months and $1000.00 away from getting permanent residency and the immigration officials are already suspicious that her marriage was one of convenience and not love, and perhaps it was.  
When one is living in a country filled with crime and poverty and daily dangers an inroad to that golden America is hard to pass up.

If you do not think this story could get any more complicated, she is living  with him and his ex-wife!  According to my student the ex-wife is very kind  to her and helpful...to the point of buying her a car for her to get to work.  The ex-wife still works full time at a good paying job for Navy intelligence but has severe arthritis problems and is looking forward to her own retirement.  The ex-wife is still on the husband's retirement pension.  I know,  it is all very strange.

I am  certain that a psychotherapist could complete a research paper on all three of these people.  I, on the other had, could only recommend  she walk on eggs for now, call an abuse hotline and make an appointment with a legal aid lawyer.   (I  did offer to pay a legal aid fee, if there was one.)  I was terrified for her but knew I was in no position to really give advice and knew all these problems were taking their toll on her.  For me it was a dangerous and tragic story, and I was not naive enough to think I had the whole story.  For her it was her daily life.  She works in retail and  it reminded me to be  ever so nice to  those workers as we have no idea what their daily life may be like.

Well, if that does not inspire your week and encourage you to listen to your instincts, I do not know what will.

Monday, March 27, 2017

This is Political, So You Can Move On


I have been paralyzed by politics. I have been a "snowflake" being held over a candle. The fact that the far right held their ground and stopped millions (more) from losing health care has given me hope.  I have tried really hard to understand those who voted for a man whose speeches sound like an angry grade school bully.  He has claimed he graduated at the top of his class, but this is certainly not reflected in any of his rhetoric or his endless golf.  He has no favorite books, interesting American history quotes, or rich pals that are intellectual businessmen.  He has no detailed vision of how to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.   He has no plan of how to spend the increase in budget for the Defense Department which even the Generals agree they do not want now.


He claims he is a good businessman, but my broker (whom I just called to adjust my investments to make them less risky as this market adjusts) just told me that according to their experts (this is one of the largest brokerage firms in the country) he did worse than possible based on his investment and all his bailouts from his dad over the last two/three decades.  If he had taken that money and just invested it, he would be worth far more than even he could imagine.  But he did not beat the market in 3 decades with the money he was given!

But just being wealthy would not give him the endless visibility he demands.  Watch almost any popular New York TV show and he was walk-on over the years.  He finally had to create his own shows.  He demands attention.  

He is not a Republican or a Democrat and I keep thinking this is some wry God's humor as he will use this President to bring both parties together on at least a few functional bits of legislation.  Far stranger things have happened this year.

Imagine a Congress that actually meets, compromises, and SLOWLY get stuff done!!
 

OK.  No more political rants.  Next post is about my Peruvian English student...not necessarily much happier though.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

My daughter is an amazing woman. I wish I would have been more like her when I was a young working mother. She has a very demanding job with a consulting industry, works with some good people, is active with a women's legal organization, and also has to deal with some male chauvinist pigs in the company. Yet she has managed to hold her own while raising three children and running the household activities. This past week she came down with the flu on Monday after nursing her oldest who had contracted the flu the prior week.

She rarely calls us for help but she had to as she had scheduled a last minute fly-out to Chicago for just the day (an important luncheon with a group where one of the leaders, a cyber security expert, wanted her there for various reasons)  She also felt the meeting was important for her career.  Due to snow delays the week before, a repairman and a furniture deliveryman were scheduled for the day she was to fly out. We were happy to head up and house-sit since we had planned on driving up that weekend anyway for a Smithsonian lecture.


She made us an amazing Thai shrimp dinner the night before she caught her plane.



As luck would have it, the youngest son came down with the flu the afternoon before she left, so we did nurse duty, took him to the doctor's, and completed our house-sit duty for the next two days.  He seemed to weather the illness as children sometimes do.  Periods of rest...



 followed by creating a magic show for his granddad.


Hubby had been nursing a mild sore throat the day before we went up, so he was a bit compromised already.   Here we are four and a half days later, and back at home, and neither of us has gotten sick! We did get our flu shots this fall, but were told that they are only 50% effective this year.  Maybe we dodged the bullet?  I am still keeping my fingers crossed.

Daughter did not cancel the dog-walker which was good as I had not brought snow boots and the sidewalks were pretty slushy.  (Yes, some people call this a dog...).


I do not know how young parents juggled all that comes their way and I try not to think about it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Fling Back

I have been thinking and thinking and trying to be nicer and more polite, but I am still in warrior mode.  I just cannot seem to find a safe place to put down the armor so....I will link to this post long ago and hope it gives you strength, as it did me when I re-read it.


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Shrink Wrap it


The news each morning is just too depressing. I find my brain has fried and once I get it re-hydrated, I will return. I am waiting for those mornings when I do not think "What fresh new hell..."



Thursday, March 02, 2017

Silliness

March 20 (2?) is the spring equinox, and I guess I missed it.  This roller coaster ride of days pushing 80 F followed by tornado warnings and then days with threatening snow, (and that was just THIS WEEK) it is no wonder that we are a bit confused about the seasons.




Bravely and with marshmallow faces
daffodils thrust through brown leaves
confused by the applause of the wind
with a boldness that only a newcomer would have.

Innocent of their subordinate role
in Nature's ambivalent plunge forward in time
we can pretend this immature spring
is just an anomaly in proportion.

Daffodils entered stage left before their cue
with that eagerness of innocence
and that silliness of a daffy down dilly.


Above with stage make-up.

(Yes, this should have been posted on my other blog...my bad.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Suspending Logic


Pretend with me a minute.  Let us say that a group of workers, perhaps they cut down redwoods, or capture rare owls, or make their living harvesting areas of rare algae, are finding their work more and more difficult as their resource dwindles.  They are following in the footsteps of their ancestors for generations, and therefore, politicians have given them a percentage (>70%) of the area that the resource is in to continue their work and feed their families.  The other 23 or so percent is set aside to keep the environmentalists happy and is put in sanctuary where only scientists can collect data for research and allow the resource to improve the environment.  Now imagine that pollution, climate change, and disease is shrinking living redwoods, flying owls or nutritional algae in both the harvest areas and the protected areas.  The workers are having a difficult time making a living and must take a second job.  They think this is unfair.  They feel the land owes them this harvest as it did their forefathers and they go to the politicians and say they realize that they must rotate their harvest to allow the product to replace itself, but they feel the politicians must also allow them a legal permit to harvest a rotational portion of the sanctuary part as well---up to 10% for now.  The environmentalists see this as a slippery slope to total extinction in a decade as the wild resource is at 1% of what it was 50 years ago.  In the state next door many of the citizens have sold their industry harvest tools and some have taken to growing the redwoods, owls, or algae as farmers.  The result being that they have actually turned the situation around and are making money and increasing the tax base substantially by farming and increasing the availability of the resource in farmed areas.  Unfortunately, the harvesters see this as a "cop-out."



One wonders why the "harvesters" in my state cannot see the light.  This in reality is about oysters.  Hubby testified at the State House building last week to keep the sanctuaries as sanctuaries and hopefully the delegates will see the light.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Though the Mind's Eye

We had this strange couple over to our house the other day.  They appeared to be in their seventies but  were rather gregarious and energetic for that age.  It was a bit exhausting, and a little bit annoying on my weekend off from work as they seemed to be talking all the time and they had enthusiasm for anything and everything.  Maybe they did not have many friends and had all that pent up stuff to share.  Yet, in all honesty, it was somewhat our fault, as we had initiated the call to visit their yard.  A friend had suggested that they also had some hillside erosion issues when they built their house and that we might get some ideas for our yard.

It was a three day weekend for my husband and I.  I was glad to be out of the city and back into our newly purchased get-away on the river.  The house is over 70 years in age tucked against the trees, but has been well maintained.   It was not large and still needed a lot of superficial work as a son of the prior owners had lived there a year and repaired nothing.  The rooms with contemporary high ceilings and track lighting and the wide windows overlooking the river on the left side and overlooking the backyard with a view across the river and the softer view of the marsh on the right from our rise of land were what I looked forward to soaking in with a cup of tea each Friday.  Each view was a painting.  Everything at the CIA had been tense these last weeks, and even though I was in the history section of the department writing biographies, I could feel the confusion and craziness just outside our section.  Warden, my husband, could shut everything out while he worked on his computer code, but I was in a room of people separated only by cubicles and could feel the distraction.  I was working on a detailed biography of Sarandji of the Central African Republic which had not been all that intriguing.

Anyway, Warden had called this elderly couple for a tour of their yard on the river.  They did sit on a bit of a hill, but the slope down to their tributary of the river was much softer.  It was hard trying to keep up with the couple, casually dressed in jeans and hoodies, on what was our warmest day of the new year thus far.  They showed us every single tree they had ever planted in their ten years of living there.  They pointed out various birds in the woods, the vegetable and flower gardens, and finally we got to the side of the hill where they had placed retention walled supports that we were interested in studying and the river where they had put in rocked reefs to deflect the waves from eroding more shoreline.  

The couple talked over each other and corrected each other like long term married couples do.  I decided that the best method was to divide and conquer.  So Warden took the husband for a while and I followed the wife.  Then mid-way we switched.  When we finished, we of course had to invite them back to our house to get their advice on our land challenge.  They were like happy dogs, covering paths and identifying plants and suggesting reinforcements in our yard while we tried to keep up.  By the time they left at 1:00 PM I was both hungry and ready for a lie down.  I was also wondering with some trepidation if our paths would cross more often when we fully moved down here.

(P.S.  The above is mostly true and happened last weekend.  We are the elderly couple, of course, so I have no idea what was running through the younger couple's minds, although I wrote this as if I did.  But I do know we (hubby) talked way too much.)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Fourth and Last on Photo Lying

This will be the last in my series of "adulterated" photo editing posts. The photo below is not one I took, but something my daughter-in-law took a few years ago when we were out exploring a state park. She took it with her phone which had an effect included that put the "grunge" filter on it. It includes my son and his nephew and niece (my grandson and my granddaughter).  It has that almost fisheye look as well.



Note the hand in the frame on the lower left. This is a better example of how hard it is to clone certain elements out of the photo. I tried to pay attention to detail, but it becomes obvious when you repeat a pattern from somewhere else in the photo over the part you want to clone out, particularly when there is not much background to choose from.  I also took out my sweet granddaughter but just left the light color of her clothing and it looks like a jacket or backpack, perhaps.



As a follow up to my prior post I had given up on getting the geese as the focal point of my photo.  I could have cropped it down, but the focus was too poor to be useful.  I just removed my neighbors for the heck of it to show how photos can lie.

Errol Morris in his book that I am reading wrote: "It is an error engendered by photography and perpetuated by us.  And it comes from a desire for "the ocular proof," a proof that turns out to be no proof at all.  What we see is not independent of our beliefs.  Photographs provide evidence, but no shortcut to reality.  It is often said that seeing is believing.   But we do not form our beliefs on the basis of what we see; rather, what we see is often determined by our beliefs.  Believing is seeing, not the other way around."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lying Through the Lens

This is the view from my side of the river from my deck looking across the river. I lightened it a bit and sharpened it but did nothing else. I was trying to get a photo of our bunches of geese that were resting before take off. But they are too far away to hold the attention of the viewer.


This is the view that is falsified which makes it look much more rural. If a printing company took a magnifying glass to this they would see my edits, because I used shortcuts and was not careful. But to the untrained eye, I think the edits are hard to see and it makes it look as if I have no neighbors. What do you think?




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Follow Up to Before

Spending time "faking" the photos with change in style and not content.  My hellebores (Lenten roses) are blooming very nicely this week under my bare sugar maple.  They have become the subject of this experiment in photography.  The first is the original with a little change to exposure to lighten it.  Then each photo below has a layer which changes the original in a different way.  This is not a change in content, just lighting and tone.







Saturday, February 18, 2017

Is It Fake?



These colder days have given me time to focus (and I do mean that as a pun) on photography.  I am reading a book titled "The Mercury Vision of Louis Daguerre by Dominic Smith."   I am also reading a book titled "Believing is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)" by Errol Morris.

While both books are about photography they could not be more different in tone or focus or era.  The first is a biographical fiction written with the prose of a poet or a romantic or a photographer.  Paris in the 1800's is seen through light angled scenes and colors and scents that makes it easy for me to think I am there. The city is dirty and ugly, marred by revolution and class separation, but still filled with lovers and artists and lamplight.  The fictional theme of the book is Daguerre's search for the love of his life at the end of his life while becoming mentally compromised by the cloud of mercury poisoning from his years of photographic work.  While it is fictional, it is done very consistently.  A series of nude photos are taken by Daguerre of an important figure in his life and we see how he decides to pose them and why and how photography began to change the society.  He asks one elderly woman whether she wants to have a daguerreotype made of her and she scolds photographers for trying to capture "death."  It is a frightening new technology and considered as a sin among many religious people at that time.

Daguerre talks in the book about how the person changes the minute the camera lens is upon them, and therefore, it is impossible to get an honest essence of the person in a picture.  At that time a person may have to sit for several minutes in front of the camera, and candid shots were unknown.

In the second book I am only 30 percent through the 300+ pages.  It is a discussion of the truth of photography and the accuracy of interpretation of a photograph by others when viewed years later.  The writing is a bit tedious and forces the reader to question almost everything in what we see and how we come to conclusions about what we see. "We may know the order of the photographs but that doesn't mean we know whether they were authentic or deliberately posed."  This struck me as certainly important today with the magic of digital painting.  Some of you may remember the photo of the dusty and bloody Syrian boy sitting shocked in an orange ambulance chair after an Assad/Russian bombing of his home.  Assad claims the photo was fake, even though witnesses attest to its reality.  There are so many photos of children in pain and maimed after the war, one wonders why the Syrian President claims this one was fake?  Is it because it truly captures the emotional horror of this war?

This taken from Wikipedia on the truth of photography:  "Charles Peirce's term 'indexicality' refers to the physical relationship between the object photographed and the resulting image.[2] Paul Levinson emphasizes the ability of photography to capture or reflect "a literal energy configuration from the real world" through a chemical process.[3] Light sensitive emulsion on the photographic negative is transformed by light passing through the lens and diaphragm of a camera.[4] Levinson relates this characteristic of the photograph to its objectivity and reliability, echoing Andre Bazin's belief that photography is free from the "sin" of subjectivity.[5]"  So much is covered in the preceding sentences that one could talk all night about it.

Another person who writes about photography, "Sontag also describes the inability of a photograph to capture enough information about its subject to be considered a representation of reality. She states, "The camera's rendering of reality must always hide more than it discloses…only what which narrates can make us understand."[25]"  This is clear to me as I frequently frame the photo to leave out distracting or extraneous stuff and may later photoshop to erase it.

There are lots of photos on social media sites where celebrities state one thing or another about life or politics.  Almost all of them are fake, their images being used without their permission.  There are other photos that have clearly been enhanced with romantic mist or fake snow or something to make them softer and more beautiful than the original.

This seems to be a theme these days.  Viewers are being duped everywhere.  How do you know something that was shown is real or not?  You can search online for testing fake news and a number of sites will come up with guidelines.  Factcheck.org and Snopes are reliable sources for analyzing something written or said, but they do not usually focus on photos.  You can find a reverse source search for some photos here.  This is sometimes used by photographers to see if their image has been stolen and used elsewhere.


Fake stuff has been around for a long time and will be around, perhaps forever.  (Apologies for my very poor photoshopping of the image above.  I was too lazy, and perhaps too low on technique, to present something more believable.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What is in Common?

My neighborhood is not as quiet as someone would think if they came down the side road into the neighborhood.  About half of us are retired and so busy in our yards or coming and going during the day.  The other half are still working and one has a nearby business office, so his workers driving heavy equipment go up and down the road at least a half dozen times during the week.  


This is the road after the last snow.


My  next door neighbor on the right (his house is above across the ravine) is an elder guy who can fix almost anything.  He is pretty much the go-to guy for that stuff in his church that needs fixing.  He and his wife are very religious in that they attend evangelical conferences at least once a a year and sometimes more in Florida.  He votes conservative and thinks climate warming is an unproven theory, and therefore, blows his yard every other day so that it remains neat as a pin.  He has two daughters and a son, none who live in this state.  Two of his children have divorced.  The son has a family in the Philippines although he is not married to the mother.  The son, a commercial pilot, also has an estranged ex-wife and son in South America that he was finally able to see at age 6 for the first time in as many years.  The divorced daughter is raising two girls on her own.  The other daughter has married for the first time at age 40 and has recently given birth to her first child which means they take more trips down to Florida to see the new little one.  They have a comfortable retirement as you can see from above.



My neighbor who lives on the left across the other ravine (their winter home in the photo above sadly empty this month) has lots more money.  I have written about them before.  They have had an expensive motor boat which they recently sold since they do not use it enough.  They also have a fancy sailboat that cost somewhere in the six figures and they take it out a few times a year.  They have a large huge home and even have an elevator in their house!  She started a church under one of those rather liberal religious sects in this community.  She and her husband vote liberal.  They now spend most of the winter months at their condominium in a snazzy area of Florida.  This is a second marriage for him and a first for her, so she holds Christmas holidays for his son's family before they head south.  His son is some genius engineer inventing materials for space.

All of these neighbors are really nice and kind and we help collect mail on travel and exchange tomato plants or baked food.  We go out to dinner with the liberal neighbors several times a year.  Both neighbors are very different from us.  We are comfortable middle class bureaucrats with no religious affiliation or interest in such and do not have the money that they have.  We do have grandchildren or step grand-children in common.  We share gardening with the neighbors on the right and food-eating with the neighbors on the left.  We all live in harmony and we support each other after hurricanes with removing trees and storing food in freezers if electricity is on or in the case of my neighbor on the right assist after recuperating from triple-by pass.  We are all college educated.  

I think about my neighbors when the craziness of the social news trolls starts getting to me.  We do have more in common that not and I keep hoping that we will see some middle ground on much of this soon.  I also realize that this is a rose-colored demographic and not how most of the U.S. lives.