Wordless Wednesday . . . not

I’ve been seeing them a while now . . . Wordless Wednesday posts. I’m not sure if intended as a sign of solidarity with people who can’t speak — be it for physical, emotional, or persecutory reasons — or a protest of the cacophony that surrounds us, assailing our inner and outer peace. Perhaps it’s none — or all — of them reasons. 

Whatever the reason, I don’t like it. Having spent the early part of my life fighting a heavy stutter that still occasionally frustrates me, I’m not partial to people voluntarily curtailing their voices.  

The Mirror

OK, OK . . . I suppose I should respect other people’s choices, but I — for one — aim to word, and word a lot. 

So, Wednesday . . . sure seems quiet out there. Let me put on some music . . . 

So, this post . . . I started writing Part 3 of my “We Are Doomed” series but when I write those, it changes my mood. So I put that aside for now and started to play with photos. Specifically, photos from 2009 through 2012. Why those years? I hadn’t looked at those years for a while so I went back to see if I really was as amazing as I thought at the time. 

Sure, sure, I knock myself down, show my awareness other people — many other people — are more dedicated, more talented, more creative, more, more, more than I am or ever will be . . . but, you know, I still think I’m pretty good. I mean, I won’t admit it . . . wait . . . doh!

The Skull

Pay no attention to the false modesty behind the curtain. 

So, what have I been doing? Oh, this and that. I’m very close to finishing the Michelle Maul story I’ve been working on since last year. Wait, that sounds like it’s some sort of epic . . . nope. It’s only about 15,000 words or so — something I should be able to knock out in three or four days — but it tends to sit unserviced as I do other stuff. 

Weird that, ain’t it? Here I sit, often referring to myself as someone who likes to write. Specifically, write fiction. I’ve been here in Hawaiʻi for a shade over a year with barely anything to do. By now, I should have written a couple of novels, a bunch of short stories, lots of flash fiction, and all that atop voluminous and frequent additions to this blog. 

The Train

Except . . . it feels as if the world is in the same place as I was in the above photo, unable to move as a train comes barreling down the tracks. 

It saps all motivation, the contemplation of just how much splatter there will be.

The thing is, just the effort of keeping current with the news, results in brain cells dying. Yes, the stupid does that; it done kills brain cells. You, dear reader, might assume I refer to the Head Stupid, but no. I refer to the two parties, to Liberals, to Conservatives, to the vast majority of pundits. It’s so that I can’t listen to the news anymore but I also can’t read stuff because it drips with partisanship and is aimed more at sowing discord than offering solution, educating the masses, and turning a critical eye not just on the opposition but also at themselves. 

Luckily, I have a secret weapon that helps me rebuild brain cells. Sam Harris

You know them questionnaires where they ask who you would like to meet? I used to have two answers but Hitchens passed away, so Sam Harris is all that is left. 

Even as I say that, it’s not really that I would like to meet him. It would be nice if we were friends, but seeing as we are both adults and have nothing in common, that’s just idle introspection on the fact that it would be nice having someone as articulate, as deep-thinking, as smart as Harris to sit around and shoot the bull with. Not sure what he would get out of it . . . nothing, I’m sure. 

I can, however, listen to him speak, and that’s one of the things I’ve been doing despite having heard everything available online and on his podcast. Hear it multiple times, at that. 

I know why I do it . . . it’s to hear the clarity of thought, the mastery of language, the use of logic, the ability to be convinced by a sound counterargument coupled with the ability to admit when he’s wrong about something. The honesty in discussions, in interviews, in his examination of political, religious, and social things. All qualities missing from most people in office, all the news anchors I can think of, and the vast majority of people. 

I won’t insert the videos here, but I will link his podcast, and link videos I think are well worth listening to; videos like this, this, this, and this video which also features Hitchens as he was well on his way to eventually succumb to his cancer. 

But, it’s not just Harris. Occasionally, I’ll listen to some Dave Allen for a change of pace. Kind of the same message but with a different delivery.

I’ve also been reading THIS blog . . . Crispian Jago is the author of a number of excellent graphics that can be found on the sidebar of his blog. He’s also dying of cancer and is documenting the process in a BOOK that he has online for all to read. I am particularly impressed by THIS chapter.

OK, that last thing might be a downer for some. I mean, it is and it isn’t. We can admire courage in all its forms. Still, perhaps something to bring a smile . . . 

 

I do think that focusing too much on what’s going on can lead to palpable and real issues of anxiety, unhappiness, despair, and a general feeling of hopelessness.  

My suggestion? Bring that view back . . . back to a narrower and more focused view; focus on stuff you can affect, stuff that is at least somewhat under your control. 

The Yucca Plant Seed Pods

Music and reading also help, but those are distractions of a different kind. Useful, often enjoyable, often effective, but I think one also needs to go beyond the passive and get into the active side of things. 

Spending time with family, friends (if one has some), hobbies, perhaps writing, if so inclined. 

Wait . . . that doesn’t sound quite right. Not a good example. . . 

The point is that if I look at what I can do I’m willing to do — vote, write a few letters, write a few opinion pieces — once I do those, I should move on with my life. Just. Move. On. 

Basically, forget about the stuff that weighs heavy. I’m betting that if’s you’re worried about the world now, you were likely worried eight years ago, or sixteen years ago, or thirty years ago (if you’re old enough). What did that worry actually accomplish?

Do you even remember the problems that consumed your life twenty years ago? Again, if you’re like eighteen, change that to “six months ago.” 

And yet, here you are, still living, still breathing, still making grandiose plans you’re not likely to keep and will likely blame the world for your failure to follow through with them.

The Yucca Plant Seed Pods with Salsify Seed

It’s difficult to do because the stakes seem so high, but really, how much are you willing to do? Some like to go on marches. Me? Voting and writing letters. 

I wrote about marching HERE. In the comments for that post, I wrote about a particular march held in Washington. Let me duplicate part of my argument here (copied as written with 500,000 referring to the number of marchers):

Imagine, instead, if all the people who traveled to Washington donated all that money they spent to a fund that hires lobbyists and lawyers to put pressure on elected officials and bring about lawsuits.

Let’s see . . . 500,000 * 200(travel) + 500,000 * 150(lodging) + 500,000 * 200(meals) + 500,000 * 0.25(chewing gum) = $275,125,000

That’s a lot of money to put toward enacting change. The interesting thing is that if someone asked all those people to each donate $550.25 they might have balked at it.

But, OK, if you want to march, go for it. The point is, after your march, after writing letters, after voting . . . life still has to go on. 

I know it’s difficult to “unhook” but one should practice it . . . do what you can, and stop worrying. The worrying adds nothing. It might shorten your life, in which case at least you’ll have less time to worry about. But, it might also make you miss important stuff like family, like friends, like, you know, living life.  

Again, if you enjoy worrying, getting all worked up, loosing sleep, letting every piece of news raise your heart rate and blood pressure, well, then, you must be really living the life right now.  

The Yucca Plant Seed Pods

So, what else can I write about on this wordless Wednesday?

I could show THIS or THIS video but that would be another downer. By the way, guess which video the Right Wing people are not too keen on?

Nope. Instead, how about this video:

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like that guy in the video. 

Also, for them people like me who’ve been hitting the gym, some exercises you can do at home . . . 

OK, OK, that’s just plain silly.

But, on a more serious note, here’s a commentary on something I notice more and more on news shows . . . er . . . pundits shows.

For the life of me, I don’t know why so many pundits like to share what their viewers think. As if I care.

I mean, I might care if I knew the composition of the audience, their grasp of current affairs, their education level, and their propensity to use a tissue as opposed to their forefinger to clear obstructed nostrils. Unfortunately, for many of these shows, I’m imagining their audience sitting at home in their underwear, a beer in one hand and holding a phone with their other hand — a Cheetos-stained hand — trying to remember how to spell “incensed” and ending up with “incinta.”

The Yucca Plant Seed Pod with Salsify Seed

And that concludes this Wordless Wednesday post . . . although, in some places it’s already Thursday.

. . . I hear there’s also something called Throwback Thursday . . . I think it has something to do with fishing, but I’m not sure. 

These B&W photos were generated from the photos in the gallery below. You can also see them in THIS SmugMug Gallery.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, sympathy, or complaining about my life, or asking for help and advice, know you’re  likely missing my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor.

Posted in Black & White, Black & White, Macro Photography, Musings Stuff, Photography, Photography Stuff | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Post-Processing Tools – A Comparison

I’ve written before about my Workflow and general Post-Processing of my photographs. Just yesterday, I read a post by Leanne Cole about a hands-on trial of ACDSee Ultimate 10.

I was severely tempted to buy it, but then I looked at the tools I already have:

Lightroom/Photoshop
ON1 Raw and ON1 Photo 10
DxO OpticsPro 11 (including FilmPack and ViewPoint)
Topaz Studio & Adjustments Pro Pack
Topaz Plugins Suite
Nikon View NX-i and Capture NX-D 

I have a few other stand-alone programs but they are aimed at specialized editing like HDR Express or PortraitPro Studio 15 or PortraitPro Body Studio.  Also the now discontinued but still available Nik Collection (recommended as a Photoshop and Lightroom plugin). By any metric I can think of, I’m awash with tools and not likely to need more . . . but, that might not be the case for everyone.

This post will concern itself with stand-alone editors and post-processors one might use to edit photographs and prepare them for publication on a blog or for printing. 

I’m going to use a photo I took in 2010 with my Nikon D200 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. Why that photo? Well, I’ve never used it because I didn’t think it was worth sharing. 

I should also mention I have no association with any of the companies and products I link to below. They don’t even know I’m alive and everything I say is unsolicited and my own unpaid-for opinion. 

Before I proceed with the processing, let me show you the photo as output from its unedited RAW capture.

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Posted in Photography, Photography How To, Photography Stuff, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A tiny glimmer of talent

Some people might remember a show called Wings.  Tastes vary, of course, but for us, Wings is one of the few shows that has aged well. The jokes we laughed at in 1990 are the same jokes we laugh at now (it’s one of two TV series we own on DVDs). 

By the way, that is the dominant tree and flower of the Hawaiʻian Tropical rainforest. It’s ʻōhiʻa-lehua and it’s likely to be the pioneer in recent lava flows. I’ll be posting pairs of photos as I write about writing. 

You can click on the individual photos to see a larger version or you can go to SmugMug and see the originals in THIS gallery. 

What? . . . yes; that’s right . . . this post is about writing.

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Posted in Musings Stuff, Opinion, Personal, Writing, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

One year

One year ago today we arrived in Kona. You can read about it HERE

The original plan was to see if we could make Hawaiʻi our home for the next number of years, so how are we doing with that? Well, we’re still here. We’re gonna be here for a while more. 

How do we like the place?

Well, there’s a lot to like about the place. For one thing — and this is strange — you kind of feel like the problems of the mainland are the problems of a different country. It’s not just the distance, it’s a mindset. 

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Posted in Musings Stuff, Personal, Photography, Photography Stuff | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Magic Sands – Big Island, Hawaiʻi

There’s a small beach park here in Kona called Magic Sands Beach Park. The ocean frontage is only about 100 yards, but it sees a lot of use. Here’s an overhead shot of it from Google Earth.

The hotel next to it is named for the park, not the other way around. 

So, why is it called Magic Sands? Because depending on the wave action, the beach can disappear. For instance, we moved here last June and for six months, the site was a popular spot to body surf, the gently sloping sand providing optimal conditions to get battered around by the breakers rolling ashore.

Then, in January of this year, we had a few storms come in from the West and . . . 

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Posted in Hawaii, Hawaii, My YouTube, Photography, Photography Stuff, The Big Island, Travel Stuff, YouTube Stuff | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Google Deep Dream Generator

I’ve been playing with Google’s Deep Dream Generator on and off for nearly a year now. 

“What’s that?” you ask. 

Well, it’s a post-processor of sorts. You throw it a photo, choose either Deep Dream . . . 

. . . or Deep Style . . . 

And it works its magic based on settings you choose. 

If you want to play with it, these are the links: DEEP STYLE and DEEP DREAM. Those links won’t work unless you have an account; they will instead throw you into the signup page. Once signed up, you can easily choose Dream or Style. 

Yes, you need to sign up. You can use your Google ID, if you have one, or just use another e-mail. Be aware that you can get some weird things. For instance, certain settings of Deep Dream will get you lots of dog-like faces . . . 

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Posted in Photography, Photography Stuff | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

The Best of May 2017

I’m introducing a new . . . well, it’s not a feature; it’s a post. No, wait . . . it’s a new type of post; a review of photos in the previous month’s posts. 

That’s not one of them. That’s from a June 2015 post about photos I took on Labor Day weekend, 2005. Why that photo? What can I say; I’m complex. 

Anyway, some people who visit the blog only do so for the photos. The problem for them is that I mix in other stuff with the photos. Things like words expressing opinions and stuff. 

So, I figure I should offer up what I thought were the best photos of the previous month’s post all in one gallery. Mind you, I normally have a more diverse mix, but I happened to do a big Cheyenne Zoo update in May; hence, lots of animals. Also, the operative words are “what I thought” . . . it could be you won’t see your favorite photo in here.  

Going forward, if you want to ensure a particular photo is included in future reviews, mention it in the comments of the post where it appeared.   

Lastly, these are not in order of appearance. Random is a thing with these galleries.

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Posted in Photography, Photography Stuff | Tagged , | 10 Comments