With the “X” stories voting block on its last three days — and this being (Saint) Valentine’s Day — I can think of no better romantic activity than spending quality time with one’s loved one and reading the short stories.

And then, in addition to voting for your favorite — and if you feel like it — forwarding it to couples you might know who need a boost in their relationship’s romance quotient.  Of course, you should encourage them to read all the stories for maximum romantic effect.

No matter how one comes to the stories, if you’ve read them and voted, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge X-Stories” are HERE(link). Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

So, it’s Valentine’s Day, or Saint Valentine’s Day. Truthfully, we don’t celebrate it per see (one could argue every day is Valentine’s Day . . . as evidenced by the open box of chocolates usually on the counter). But, for them who only celebrate their relationships on special occasions, here be some flowers.

The flower photos in this post are some of my earliest digital photography efforts (from 2003).

The Alphabet Challenge “P” Stories are up and some readers have already voted. While you can no longer claim the first vote, you can certainly contribute to the total.

Perhaps you have the modest goal of being one of the first ten voters. If so, there is still time as — sadly — the voting has stalled at an even lower vote count than it did in the previous round. I mean, I assume most readers would enjoy making their preference known.

If you are one such reader, and if you’ve not already done so — please read the stories and then cast a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge P-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link

I’m still tethering my PC to my phone, so, after this post, I might cut the number of photos I include in each post because — at my location — I only have two bars for my 4GLTE signal, and while I can do most things without much of a bother, uploading is one of the things that are slow. 

Anyway, this post is a copy of the previous one, with the monochrome photos replaced by their color versions.

And, yes, these have been treated with Topaz Impression 2.0  . . .

The Alphabet Challenge “P” Stories are up and running and the writers hope many readers are eagerly consuming these fine offerings and jumping at the chance to vote in this round.

If you are one such reader, and if you’ve not already done so — please read the stories and then cast a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge P-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link

A quick note: workers in my neighbor’s yard damaged or cut the Mediacom Cable that provides me with Internet service. Meaning, I’m without high-speed internet.

“How are you posting this, oh great and powerful Disperser?”

Well, I have my phone tethered to my PC. Meaning, I’m using my phone to provide internet to my PC via a USB connection. We’re also using the phones as a hotspot and connect devices to them as we would to Wi-Fi provided through a Router.

This functionality is built-in on most phones (at least Android phones running Verizon). The speed is not something to brag about (100 times slower than my regular Internet) but you know what? I can still upload photos and author posts, read other people’s blogs and even watch YouTube videos. Melisa has the Kindle Fire connected to her phone via wi-Fi and she’s streaming Netflix.

In other words, perfectly usable. Anyway, here are some Hawaiʻian flowers . . . and in a twist, I’m posting the Monochrome versions before I do the color versions.

And, yes, these have been treated with Topaz Impression 2.0  . . .

This is a quick long update regarding my ongoing photography equipment odyssey. Some might remember my previous forays into the difficult landscape of photography equipment (HERE and HERE and probably other places . . . like HERE and HERE). Before we begin, it might be worth remembering what I currently have in addition to the Nikon P900 . . . look HERE.

If it’s not clear from reading the first paragraph, this post is all about photographic equipment. I’ll throw in some photos (90 or so) but the focus (focus . . . see what I did there? . . . nevermind) is on photographic equipment. You might have seen other posts of mine that seemed long; too long, even . . . well, then, you won’t be surprised by this one.

By the way, there’s no SmugMug gallery for these photos but you can click on the individual photos and a larger version will open in a new tab or window. There will also be a gallery at the end of the post.

I should be transitioning to my PC as early as tomorrow (this being Saturday, here on the Big Island). However, I had worked on some photos for a phone update, so I’ll use them.

Warning: this will not be a long post.

First, an original doodle . . .

It don’t look like much, but a little Pixlr magic and . . .

In lieu of better things, I gotz more Samsung Note 8/Snapseed/Pixlr stuff I can share as I continue the litany of “woe is me for I have no PC!” Say, I could make a play on Ellison’s title (and hopefully not get sued) . . . I Have No PC and I Must Post.

First of all, here’s a photo . . .

I’m trying something new and perhaps more expedient as far as sharing the photos. These photos are all in THIS SmugMug Gallery. All I’m doing is pasting the link here and the photo shows up. I assume that clicking on the photo will take you to the actual gallery. (Note: I just checked, and it does . . . HOWEVER . . . whereas I set my links to open a new window or tab, I can’t set these links to do the same (thanks, WordPress; you’re a joy to work with). If you click on the photo, it will open in the same tab which means to return to the post, you need to hit the “back” button. Alternatively, if you click on the pictures, do so with the “right mouse button” and choose “open in new tab” or “open in new window”. If you are confused by this, then these instructions are not for you.)

Interestingly (or not), the photos are not physically added to the WordPress media library, and hence I don’t think I’ll be able to do a gallery at the end. Which means that I’ll have to post all of the photos as opposed to only a few and adding the rest in the end gallery.

Now, if this is confusing and/or difficult to follow, again, don’t worry about it. Just know there are a lot of photos (40 something, I think) and many may look similar to each. However, rest assured that if a photo appears more than once it’s because it’s processed differently.

If you only fast-scroll and never click on anything, then not only will you have not read the above words, but even if you had, they would mean absolutely nothing.

The flower above is from the parking lot to Tex. That’s right . . . on Easter Sunday, after a busy and tiring week of moving and settling in the new place, we treated ourselves to a drive, a hamburger, a loco moco with brown rice instead of white rice forming the bed for the hamburger patty topped with an egg fried over easy, and four malasadas.

I understand other people celebrated a blood sacrifice; to each their own, I suppose.

Still kind of busy. Also, my computer is not connected, so I’m using the wonderful WordPress app. That, for them who know me not, is sarcasm.

First of all, here’s a photo . . .

Not sure if this will work, but all these photos are also in THIS SmugMug Gallery. Also, if the app works the way I think it does, each photo is linked to the corresponding photo in the SmugMug Gallery. At least, that’s how I hope it works.

Of course, I won’t be able to check until I have my PC up and running.

So, anyway, the above was the view from the condo we had been renting since the end of June 2016. Because the owners decided to sell the place (the Kona market is pretty good right now) we looked for and found another place. The view from the new place is not as amazing . . .

I felt like posting some quick stuff so I took some of the Note 8 flower photos from a few post ago and played with them using a mix of the tools I have at my disposal. 

The full-size photos can be seen in THIS SmugMug Gallery, but since they are overly modified, the pixel-level view may be of limited use. Readers can also click on a photo to have a larger version open in a new tab or window.

I also decided to share some of the movies Google Photos assembles all on its own from photos from a given day. It’s not like it does it every day, so I don’t know how they decide to do it at all. They are occasionally not bad as far as these things go. For instance, here’s one:

Those are from the same day that I took the photos I’m using in this post and it also used snippets of the videos I took that day. It also used a couple of photos I deleted. You see, my photos automatically upload to the cloud, and not just in one place, but two. 

There are two more videos but they are too short to load on YouTube, so I’ll load them directly here.

I occasionally get bored . . . wait, check that. I occasionally have things on my mind and need to indulge in mindless and yet engaging activities. Some people might remember the October Flowers posts, one in color and one in B&W. Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember it or even look at it before engaging with this post. 

Well, I up and Topazified . . . or is the correct term Topazed? Maybe, Topazinefied? Whatever, the point is I ran some of the color photos and the corresponding B&W photos through various Topaz plugins and filters. 

For instance:

I didn’t bother writing all of the filters down but, mostly, Glow, Impression, Simplify, Restyle, and Textures. 

Here’s the B&W version of the same photo run through a different filter. 

You can click on each photo for a larger version or go to the gallery at the bottom of this post. There is no SmugMug gallery because there is no advantage to looking at these at the pixel level. 

This will truly be a short post . . . a couple of photos and a gallery at the bottom of the post.

I’ve added the B&W shots to the original SmugMug gallery HERE where one can get down to the pixel level. The gallery at the bottom of this post or clicking on any photo will get you a version with the maximum side length of 1280 pixels. The galleries (either one) is probably the best way to look at the 101 photos I took. 

I’m only going to show a couple in the body of the post, and by a couple, I mean no more than ten or so, and probably less. 

On any given year, readers of this blog would be treated to a slew of flower photos in posts that span the timeframe between June and October. That was the case for most years of this blog’s existence with the majority of photos coming from the flower beds at what used to be our house in Monument, Colorado. 

Those who miss my regular flower posts can easily find them either by clicking on the category that’s under the “Photography” topic on my menu (right under the header photo) or by making use of the calendar function on the side and picking any summer months or by choosing “flowers” from the category cloud on the sidebar. 

With a few exceptions, most of the flower shots were macros shot with my D7000 and either my 70-200mm f/2.8 or my 105mm f/2.8 macro lens. The exceptions are shots from my phone, the Samsun Note II (yes, I’m way behind the times; the Note 8 just came out, but I tend to resist the temptation to own the latest and newest when what I have still works). 

Of course, I now also have the Nikon P900, and I once again went out to test it out in the midday sun, here in Hawaiʻi.

There is a SmugMug gallery for these shots HERE where one can get down to the pixel level. The gallery at the bottom of this post or clicking on any photo will get you a version with the maximum side length of 1280 pixels. The galleries (either one) is probably the best way to look at the 101 photos I took. 

Don’t worry, I won’t put all of them in the body of this post . . . probably. 

Have you ever had so much pent up inside that instead of producing a flood of content you end up being creatively constipated and produced next to nothing?

No? . . . it must just be me, then, and when it happens, I fall back on posting a few photos and talking about random stuff.

These are all photos from the P900, and most of them are shot at maximum zoom. If not right at 2000mm, then pretty close to it. For instance, the above is a shot from the third-floor balcony of a flower on the far side of the pool below us. 

All of these will be in a gallery at the end of the post and the originals are in THIS SmugMug Gallery. You can also click on the individual photos for a larger version. 

Anyway, earlier today I had yet another urge to write me some fiction but, I resisted. Well, actually, more like procrastinated by snacking and surfing for articles about . . . well, dang! . . . I don’t rightly remember right now, but I’m sure it was important at the time. Productive, too. And, of course, worthwhile. 

I’ve mentioned before — or should have — the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area is the haunt for our daily walks. Depending on the day, we walk anywhere from 4.3 miles to 6.4 miles before hitting the gym. On this particular day — February 24th — we walked in the morning and enjoyed an additional walk in the evening. 

These two photos were taken in the morning . . . 

They show the MS Westerdam and the Safari Explorer anchored in the bay. 

The rest of the photos were taken later that evening. This might be a long post. If you are only interested in the photos, there is a gallery at the bottom of this post. There’s also a SmugMug Gallery HERE. (almost) All of these photos were taken with the Nikon P900.

There is so much I want to write about. Not just want; almost have to . . . I can’t quite put it into words but it stems from looking around and wondering if others are seeing what I am seeing. 

I want to ask Republicans/Conservatives if they know what they are doing and if they have thought things through? I want to ask Democrats/Liberals what the hell is wrong with them and do they know they are losing the moral high ground?

I want to, but it’s all such a mess.

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Plus, many people seem to just shrug their shoulders and go on as if nothing is happening. I mean, yes . . . one hundred years from now — one way or another — all this will be but a memory, perhaps no more than a footnote in the annals of history. 

I don’t think so, but even if that’s the case, we — the people living and breathing and talking and shitting in this time and place — are going through it, and it’s not “nothing.” It’s something and it’s potentially something big. Global, even.

Yes, there are strident voices on both sides shouting this or that warning . . . but that’s the problem. They are strident; they exaggerate, they distort, and their calls to action are not comforting me. Most of all, there are no measured, deliberate, reasoned voices addressing the concern of the centrists, the non-partisan moderates. 

I recently listened to a podcast where Sam Harris put the focus on what I intuitively knew but had not solidified in my thinking; he said the moderate can no longer find any room — a space to exist — between the far left and the far right.