Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Caught You A Delicious Bass

I never was much of a fisherman.

In high school however, a couple of my best friends, Mike and Jim took me bass fishing. Mike and Jim, identical twins, loved all manner of outdoor sports. Hunting, fishing, the works.

I had no rods and reels for fishing, but they said they had plenty and I could use some of their stuff, so off we went.

Monroe, Louisiana has a few bayous that run through town, and in one area where Desiard Bayou ran close to the road, an old man had a little shack and a bunch of aluminum boats for rent. (There's TONS of fish in these bayous.)

I can't remember the price, but you could rent a boat for the day for about $5, and $2 for a floatation device, usually a seat cushion that floated.

So we went down there and rented one and paddled off.

The plan was to slowly paddle up and down the banks of the bayou and cast our lures into the vegetation that grew along the bayou and into the water. In theory bass liked to lay in these grasses and whatnot and wait for bugs or whatever.

I was totally ignorant of this, but totally into it too. Sounded like fun to me.

Before we had gone, Mike and Jim patiently taught me to cast lures with an open faced reel. We were in their yard and just simply tied a weight to the line and I learned the basics of casting a lure with one of these reels. You had to be careful or you could end up with a "bird's nest" of tangled line if you didn't cast the lure in a certain controlled way.

I took to it pretty quickly and we had gone and rented a boat.

What had me totally hooked on bass fishing for a long while was that first day of fishing with Mike and Jim, I caught my first bass within 30 minutes or so and there were enough bites on our lines to keep me out there for however long they wanted to stay.

I was having fun.

They taught me how to attach a rubbery plastic worm to the hook a certain way and on that day and many other days in the future we seemed to have the best results of catching bass with a 6 inch purple worm.

Bayou water is dark like a glass of tea is, and I never could quite figure out just how the bass were seeing these dark purple worms in that dark water, but they sure did.

If three men are in a boat fishing, the guy in the front and the guy in the rear have the best shots at having a good cast, but I caught the first bass that day, and by the time we quit fishing I had caught four bass big enough to have kept.

Three teenage boys are full of themselves and after we had been fishing a while, we saw some friends of ours from our high school coming toward us in a canoe.

Now I'm not the sharpest guy in the world, but even I thought it was pretty risky for 3 guys to be out fishing in a canoe.

At any rate, they came over to us, we had gone to the other side of the bayou by then and were working our way back up, fishing the other side.

Mike knew that these guys would be freaking out when we showed them all the bass we had caught, so he decided to play a joke on them.

As they slowly worked their canoe over to where we were fishing at the time, Jim took the paddle and turned our boat so that Mike was pretty much out of their line of sight.

Mike had a "joke" lure in his tackle box that he was trying to attach to his line before our friends got over there.

The lure looked like the classic rubber ducky, like you would have in a kid's bathtub, only smaller. The little hard plastic ducky had two, three pronged hooks hanging from the bottom of it. In the water, the ducky would float just like a small little bathtub ducky but had these scary looking hooks on the bottom.

The guys got over to us and of course they asked how the fishing had been going for us.

Jim held up the 7 or so bass we had on the line at the time and said, pretty decent, only John and I haven't caught anything. These are Mike's fish.

Their eyes got big and of course they asked what type of bait we were using.

Jim said, that's why these are all Mike's fish, he has a certain lure he's used to catch all of these and he's the only one of us that has that lure.

Mike pulls his rod around and shows them the little ducky "joke" lure on the end of his line. "Yeah, we weren't catching anything until I tried this lure and the bass LOVE it. I can't hardly reel em in fast enough."

The guys in the canoe each got a good look at his lure and one of them asked where he got it. Mike said, "Sutton's Sporting Goods."

The guys in the canoe looked at one another and one of them said, "Man, we're going to go get some of those lures, right now!" and the said their goodbyes and paddled off.

They had just gotten in the water when we had seen one another, and here they were, heading off to buy lures that didn't exist anywhere other than on Mike's fishing rod.

We laughed about that for years. The looks on those guys faces at Mike's impressive catch.

We also were amazed that we were all three able to keep straight faces throughout the whole exchange and not blow the joke.

We kept fishing for a good long time that day, but we didn't see those guys come back out to that part of the bayou again. We caught a decent batch of bass, but every one was caught using a purple plastic worm.

At the end of the day we would either give the fish to someone fishing on the bank near the old man's dock we rented from, or we would just catch and release.

The fun was in the fishing.

We wondered if they actually went to the sporting goods store and asked for and described a little yellow duck lure to the workers there.

I wonder if some guy somewhere tells a story about having once worked in a sporting goods store and three guys came in wanting a bass lure that looked like a little yellow rubber ducky.

It appears that the joke was on me, sort of. I tried to google and find a joke lure like I described here for the picture. There are some lures similar to the one I talk about in this post, but they look more like a real baby duck and are real lures.

Who knew?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It Didn't Surprise Me. Much.

The other day as I was heading into work I was stopped behind a grey Hyundai Sonata.

On the rear window of the car was a bumper sticker that read ominously: Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.

Being the brilliant sort when it comes to translating high-minded and high-falutin' speech, my blazingly quick mind almost instantly translated this to plain spoken southern American English:
I'm a mean, vindictive, bee-yotch that would just as soon step on ya as look at ya, so watch out!

(Please excuse the language.)

Then as I sat there thinking that women who make history rarely drive Hyundai Sonatas either, a woman's hand reached out and flicked a green and white Marlboro menthol cigarette hard pack out of the driver's side window onto Sarno Road.

Having read the bumper sticker and realizing this woman was a real piece of work, it also hit me that I couldn't recall the last time I saw someone blatantly throw litter from their car like that.

Here in Florida, you can have your windows tinted very dark, and the windows in this Sonata were very dark, so I couldn't see but just the basic outline of the woman's head, and of course her hand as she threw the cigarette package out the window. But I would have liked to have seen her face to file away for future reference.

I wanted to know what she looked like so that if I ever encountered her in, say, Walmart, I'd know to head down the next aisle and avoid her.

But then again, a woman who is as great as she obviously is would never stoop to shopping in Walmart like a low-life such as me, so I guess I shouldn't worry too much about encountering her there.

Jerk. Times two.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Strange Turn Of Events

Several years ago Number One Daughter was going to her Aunt's house.

At the time, we had a little Ford Escort station wagon for her to use.

Number One Daughter had, over time, amassed a pretty impressive collection of music CDs. She had these CDs in a big zip-up binder so that she could carry them in the car and listen to them.

On this particular day, as she was putting her stuff in the car, she apparently laid the CD case with $1000 worth of CDs on the roof of the car and then left, forgetting the CD case.

Later in the day she realized that she didn't have her CD case. Of course she was "sure" she had put it in the car with her, but it could not be found.

I told her that if she had laid it on top of the car and forgotten it, it could be somewhere between our house and her Aunt's house, so she walked that short distance back and forth a couple of times.

Still couldn't find it.

Thing is, I had recently started working with an engineer who had taken all of his music CDs and made copies onto inexpensive blank CDs so that he could carry them in the car and not have to worry whether they got stolen.

I had told her about this and had started the process of making a travelling copy of all of my CDs, and she had done a few, but the vast majority of her CDs were in that lost case.

Not only did she have the original CDs in there, but she had also put all of the CD booklets in there too, because she liked to look up and learn the lyrics to the songs she liked.

She was justifiably sick at the thought of having lost all the CDs she had bought over the years.

I told her that the only explanation for their loss was that the case had fallen on the street and someone had picked it up and carried it home with them.

I told her to go buy two large white poster boards and a black magic marker.

When she got home I had her write really large as to take up the entire poster paper, "Lost CD Case With CDs. 867-5307". (Of course that's not our real phone number. It's Jenny's.)

The CD case had been lost on a Sunday afternoon, and the sign was made and one poster paper placed on each side of our mail box beside the road on Monday.

My reasoning was that whomever had found the CD case might live in or visit someone in our neighborhood and had no idea how to return the case to the rightful owner.

Days went past and no one called. She was becoming resigned to the fact that all of her CDs were lost.

Then the next Monday, over a week after the CD case was lost, we received a phone call from a man who said they had found a CD case.

My daughter was able to rattle off a whole list of the CDs that were in there, ultimately to the satisfaction of the man that the case was indeed hers.

Lovely Wife took her over to the man's home who explained that his wife goes over to our neighborhood to visit a relative every Sunday and had seen the CD case lying in the road in front of our house and had stopped and picked it up.

It was the nest Sunday when she went to visit that they had seen the signs on our mail box and wrote down the number and called when they could.

The man told Number One Daughter that she had a really strange taste in music, that he and his wife had never heard of any of the bands the CDs were for.

Lovely Wife and Number One Daughter told him that they were Christian bands and that all of the CDs were Christian rock and contemporary Christian music bands.

So they came home with her case and all her CDs and the booklets for all of her CDs.

She eventually made copies of all of her CDs and used those in her car, knowing that if they were lost or stolen then it's not a big deal, she could make more.

I had done this very thing for many years with cassette tapes. I would buy CDs to listen to at home, but would make a copy onto a blank tape to play in the truck that I had at the time. The Supreme Court had ruled that you could make a copy for yourself as long as you weren't trying to copy copyrighted material to sell illegally. The same principle holds for making personal copies of CDs.

It was nice of the man and woman to call and return the CDs, and they wouldn't accept a reward for it either. But Lovely Wife got the impression that had the music been more mainstream, things this couple liked, they probably would have just said, "finders keepers, losers weepers."

Our family learned that listening to and buying Christian music CDs had other advantages than just simply lifting a persons spirit.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday October 28, 2007

In the past month or so I have posted some panoramic shots. I have been going back as I felt the desire to the highest quality images that make up each panorama, and have been creating new ones with these higher quality images. The one's I posted originally were made with low resolution JPEGs, and while they looked good, I wanted to use the RAW images and recreate them so that I would have the best quality of these panoramas that I could get.

Here's another one. This is at Ocean Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida. It's one of the nicer beach parks around here, yet one of the closest ones from our home. We can be on this beach in about 20 minutes from our house. It's not an exciting photo, no killer sunrise or anything, but I wanted it to look like it does when we go there for a day on the sand. Lovely Wife has picked me up from work many a lunch time and we came here to eat. They have a small pavilion above the beach with a great view. It was a nice, hot day when I took this (these) photo, kinda late in the afternoon, but still, see how few people were on this beach?

Since the above panorama was taken in the city of Melbourne Beach, Florida, I thought I'd throw in a couple of other Melbourne Beach images. This one is the pier that has been the star of many of the photos I've posted on here.

Here's another in Melbourne Beach. The street in this photo curves 90degrees to the left just past the blue building and goes striaght east for about a mile and takes you right into Ocean Park where the panorama above was taken. It's an easy walk and a beautiful little town out there.

This final shot was taken in a park in Melbourne, Florida called Erna Nixon Park. It's just a few miles from where I work and have gone there and walked on the boardwalk that winds through the park. It's a nature park, showing natural Florida, not a swings and slides kind of park. These palm trees crossing one another caught my eye.

Have a great Sunday, folks!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent...

...since the end of June, when U.S. forces completed their build-up of 30,000 extra troops to stabilise the war-torn country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.


In Baghdad, considered the epicentre of the violence because of its mix of Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs, car bombs had decreased by 67 percent and roadside bombs by 40 percent, he said. There had been a 28 percent drop in the number of bodies found dumped in the capital's streets.

Read the whole article written by Aseel Kami for Reuters here.

A 70% drop in violence since June. That's amazing. That's saving lots of American and Iraqi lives.

Today on John's Daily Digital Images, My Street, Looking East.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another "It's A Small World" Story

Don C. (my father) worked most of his career on off-shore oil drilling rigs.

Many of these rigs are what are referred to as "jack up" rigs. They float. The legs of the drilling platform are raised high by motors and the platform floats on the water. The rig is then towed by ocean going tugs into the area they want to try to drill for oil.

The legs are then lowered to the sea floor and the rig is readied for action.

The rig might be there a couple of years as the prepare and then drill for oil.

Over the years my Dad worked with a lot of the same men as long as the rig stayed in one place. There were a lot of men on there, and some came and went, but there were always a core group of men who came to know one another really well.

He might later be assigned to a different rig with a whole new group of guys to get to know and work with.

On an oil drilling rig, the man in charge of the whole rig is referred to as the "tool pusher." Don't ask me why that name because I don't know. It just is.

This one guy that he worked with for several years became familiar to our family because Don C. would refer to him and a few other men and we came to recognize their names and positions on the rigs when my Dad would tell stories about things that went on while they were off shore.

Around 1980, when I finished high school and started my first foray into college, I read a book that I had checked out from the library called, "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins.

In around 1973-1974 Peter Jenkins, a young man, decided to walk across America to try to "find" the real America. The book is the story of his beginning on the east coast and his walk through the south and he would stop and live with people who welcomed him into their homes and then when he had some money saved, continue on his trek.

The first book ends with Mr. Jenkins having made it to south Louisiana, where he had stopped and obtained work as a roustabout on an off-shore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the book, he describes in detail what the work was like and some of the people he worked with and even had some pictures in the book from that time.

Mr. Jenkins had a picture of and talked about the tool pusher on the rig he had worked on for a while, and I recognized the name of the tool pusher.

I was sitting on the couch in our den at home when I was reading this part of the book, and Don C. was in the kitchen cooking something. I called over to him and asked him the name of the tool pusher on his rig and he named the man in the book.

I walked in there and explained to my Dad what I've just explained to you here, what this book is about, and showed him the picture of the tool pusher that the author had worked with.

My Dad confirmed that this was indeed the man that my Dad was presently working with on his rig.

The next time Don C. came home from his week off-shore, he told me that he had mentioned the book to the tool pusher and that the tool pusher told him about having worked with Peter Jenkins for the few months Mr. Jenkins stayed in Louisiana to work and save money.

It's really no big deal, but I always thought that whole situation with reading about these men and my Dad working with one of them was cool. At the age of 17, that was one of the biggest "It's A Small World" stories I had personally encountered.

Peter Jenkins wrote a second book detailing the rest of his trip across America from Louisiana to the west coast called "The Walk West." He later walked across China, Alaska, and all kinds of places.

I don't read a whole lot of non-fiction, but when I do, a good portion of it is personal travel stories like those written by Peter Jenkins.

I might never visit these places in my lifetime, but I can experience them to a certain degree through the eyes of others who have been there and written about it.

Check out the amazing sky looking west down my street this past Tuesday, on my John's Daily Digital Images blog. My Street, Looking West

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Palm Bay Makes The Drudge Report

Yesterday I checked to see what headlines had been posted on The Drudge Report, and one of the news items was "Florida City Tries To Ban All Chinese Products."

So I clicked on that one to see exactly which city in Florida was being talked about, and lo an behold, it was Palm Bay.

Then I had to see if it was positive news for the City.

Our mayor, John Mazziotti is trying to put into effect a ban on Chinese products when the city buys something.

It isn't a total ban on Chinese products coming into the city, just that the city itself when making purchases for the city, cannot buy Chinese products.
"I don't think people have the slightest idea how much is from China," said Mazziotti. "I remind people every day. Pick up that label and see where it's made. You might surprise yourself."

I think it's pretty cool myself.

Then last night as I headed home from work, I turned on a local AM station to listen to the Jerry Doyle Show, an independent conservative talk show, and he was talking about the issues with all of the recalls and political problems with China going on right now. (Jerry Doyle was part of the cast of the science fiction show, Babylon 5, and also ran for Congress as a Republican in California. He's now an independent and a talk radio show host.)

Then Jerry Doyle starts talking about "this city in Florida, Palm Bay" whose mayor has announced a ban on the city purchasing Chinese products and how he supports that and that this mayor has a lot of guts.

Then, on the air, he asks his producer to call and try to get "the mayor of Palm Bay on the line" and after the next commercial break, he had John Mazziotti on the show as a call in guest.

They talked about the whole range of issues going on with China right now and I thought Mr. Mazziotti was quite articulate and very plain spoken (always a plus in my book) and made his points quite convincingly.

It was kind of surreal driving around town here while listening to our mayor talk live on a nationally syndicated radio program.

Go Mayor Mazziotti!

I certainly don't agree with all of his policies, for example, he opposed a local ordinance that would have fined local businesses for knowingly hiring illegal aliens that I think is a great idea, but I do agree with him on this issue with China.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Iran And Nuclear Weapons

For years we lived under the threat of mutually assured destruction.

We had a whole passel of nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union had a bunch too.

We knew if we sent ours off at them, that they could send theirs and poof, the world would be back to the bronze age or something like that.

What few people survived that is.

But as we were developing nuclear weapon capabilities, we never ever said to any other country or group of people, "Hey! We're building super weapons that we're gonna use to kill all y'all." (at least that's how a southerner would have said it.)

The Soviet Union didn't either.

Luckily, the Soviet Union/Russia ran out of cash.

But repeatedly in the past couple of years, Iran has declared that they are working lickety-split to develop nuclear weapons capabilities and that when they have them they're gonna blow Israel off the map.

This is SUCH a different situation. A country led by a group of ultra-radical muslim clerics have basically said that Israel has no right to exist, and when we get the bomb, soon after Israel and the Jews will no longer exist.

The honestly believe it's their duty to destroy Israel. Literally.

So you have a very powerful, rich nation that has openly stated they're trying to build nuclear bombs and missiles and that when they do, their first target will be to destroy Israel and the Jews.

The more radical groups within islam believe that it is OK to kill other muslims if they are in the way. In other words, they excuse the collateral damage in the killing of innocent muslims as long as the intended target is worthy.

We let Iran's President Iminajihad come over here to speak at the UN and at Columbia University and he's all smiles and had this total "Aw, shucks" attitude, but he has made many speeches to his own people and openly declared that they, Iran, feel it's their responsibility to destroy Israel and the Jews.

Now or later, somebody is going to have to take out these nuclear research facilities in Iran.

Will it be the US?

Will it be Israel?

I don't know, but if we don't, Israel will.

I'm just sorry to say that we live in a screwed up country and world that will throw their hands in the air and cry foul when whoever has the guts to do so, makes a preemptive strike or series of strikes against Iran's nuclear weapons facilities.

I'm sorry, but I say it's getting close to time to fire up the stealth bombers and the stealth fighters and turn 'em loose.

Because if Iran gets nuclear capabilities, Israel is in trouble. And Israel is the one true friend we've ever had over in that part of the world.

And if I may go off on a crazy, fundamentalist Christian tangent here, I personally believe that the United State's reason for being is to have helped and supported the founding of the nation of Israel in the 1940s and supporting them up to now.

Crazy? Maybe. But I truly believe that, and I cannot fathom an America that would stand idly by and watch Israel become a nuclear waste land.

I do not want war for anyone. But to me it's as if the guy two houses down the street were to start assembling a howitzer in his front yard while saying that when it is completed he's going to start blowing up the houses belonging to the rest of us. We can't sit idle and watch the howitzer come closer to completion each day that passes.

There are few easy answers in this world. One of the advantages of being in the cold war was that, at the end of the day, the Soviet Union loved their families as much as we loved ours. They knew that to start a nuclear exchange would guarantee their wives' and kids' deaths.

The Iranian government, like all of modern, radical islam, have no such feelings. They consider it an honor to kill whomever is innocent to achieve their aims, even if the innocents are their own families.

They are ten times the menace the old Soviet Union ever was.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The Space Shuttle Discovery just lifted off on time at 11:38am Eastern time.

I watched until the solid boosters separated, and then I could see the main engines for another 30 seconds or so and then came back into work.

When we first moved to Florida, Numbers One and Two Daughters attended Discovery Elementary School.

They didn't go there but half a year, but I always take note when Dicovery has a flight.

My coworkers didn't even wait until the boosters separated before heading back inside. Yeah, it's hot and humid outside, but still...


National Novel Writing Month, November 2007

Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Participant

Like millions of people, I dream of writing novels for a living.

A big, beautiful home by water with huge yard and a little air-conditioned shed away from the house where I would write my blockbusters.

Oprah would love me and give me lots of free press and I'd start the winter fires in the fireplace with hundred dollar bills.

Then the press would find out I'm a conservative and the dream would crash and burn but it would have been fun while it lasted, ya know?

Each November is the month that some of us wanna-bees write an entire novel of at least 50,000 words.

The rules are simple.

Start the first words on the 1st of November and by midnight of November 30th have written at least 50,000 words, even if you aren't quite finished.

Last year was my first year to try it. You are allowed to do character sketches and outlines and so forth before you start, but you know me, I just sat at the computer with nothing prepared before hand and shot from the hip. An entire novel.

It was a stupid book but every word and character was original and I didn't cheat one little bit.

In times past I couldn't "write" on a computer or typewriter. I wasn't a good enough typist and the effort of typing distracted me and caused me to lose my train of thought and I would give up, grab a nice pen and some paper and write that way.

But early 2006 I started this blog. While that's no big deal, then or now, but the act of writing on a keyboard so much for day after day after day paid off by allowing me the freedom to "write" into the computer and allow me to participate for the first time in National Novel Writing Month last November.

I felt as if I had been set free from a huge weight, not from the pressure of writing a book, but that it's one thing to fancy yourself a writer, or to dream of writing a novel and another thing entirely to actually complete the task, regardless of how bad the work is.

As I said, my book stunk to high heaven, and I won't EVER allow it to see daylight, but I was excited that I was able to prove to myself that I could start and finish a novel.

In fact it was easier than I would have ever thought possible. Even when I had no idea what to write, just reading the last of the previous day's entry would have ideas popping into my massive cranium and I would take off on that day's writing.

Due to the constraints of life there were a few days that I didn't write at all, but on my makeup days I would pound out 5,000 or more words and totally amaze myself.

Let this post serve as notice to my loyal fan(s) that my posting here might be spotty during November.

Who knows, all that writing may make posting blog posts easier instead of harder. Hopefully the air around me will be thick with inspiration.

If you are interested to see what this is all about, they have a web site. Just click on the icon at the top of this post and it will take you there and you can see what all the hubub is about.

Since National Novel Writing Month is such a mouth full, us writer types usually just call it NaNoWriMo.

Lovely Wife is all for the huge house by the water with big yard and is wondering when that part of the dream shows up. (And I'm sure that if Big Sis is reading this she's wondering where her and Long Suffering Brother In Law's new cars are.)

Hey, at least I cleaned and straightened up My Man Corner on Sunday.

You can't rush greatness.

On John's Daily Digital Images today, I posted a couple of photos that I took of President Reagan in 1983. Check 'em out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Copy Cat-er

I saw this over at Dane Bramage's blog, and thought it was different enough for me to try. There have been various forms of this meme around and I've never done it, because I've NOT read so many famous and "classic" books.

The meme rules are:
Bold those you've read.
Italicize books you have started but couldn't finish.
Add an asterisk* to those you have read more than once.
Underline those on your To Be Read list.

I'm going to add to this my own comments, because it's hard to read a list and remember what bold, italics, etc., means.

I try to read at least 100 pages in a book before I decide to keep reading or stop.

The List:
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (never even heard of it)
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude (never even heard of it)
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion (Number One Daughter has a copy, but I haven't read it yet.)
Life of Pi: A Novel (It had glowing reviews, and I WANTED to like it, but I HATED it. I gave it my full 100 page limit, then I gladly put it down.)
The Name of the Rose * (Loved it. Also loved the movie with Sean Connery)
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey (Had to in High School)
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities (I'm weird. I love Charles Dickens.)
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies (never even heard of it)
War and Peace (Didn't even make it to my 100 page limit.)
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife (I liked it. It was graphic, but very inventive and broke all of the "rules" of time travel that's usually stated in time travel books and movies, so I liked it even more because of her breaking these rules.)
The Iliad (Had to in High School)
The Blind Assassin (never even heard of it)
The Kite Runner (never even heard of it)
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations (Have I said that I love Dickens?)
American Gods (never even heard of it)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (never even heard of it)
Atlas Shrugged (I've always wanted to, and almost got it at the library the other day. I didn't have a wheel barrow.)
Reading Lolita in Tehran (never even heard of it)
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex (never even heard of it)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (never even heard of it)
The Canterbury Tales * (Under duress, in high school AND college)
The Historian (never even heard of it)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (For college)
Love in the Time of Cholera (never even heard of it)
Brave New World (Under duress, high school)
The Fountainhead (On the to-read list with Atlas Shrugged.)
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch (never even heard of it)
The Count of Monte Cristo * (One of my all-time favorite stories in both book and movie form.)
A Clockwork Orange (I just couldn't make it.)
Anansi Boys (never even heard of it)
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible (I love Barbara Kingsolvers other books and gave this one my 100 pages but hated it and put it down.)
1984 * (A favorite, but such a downer)
Angels & Demons * (So much better than DaVinci code, that the whole hoopla over DaVinci Code had me scratching my head.)
The Inferno (I couldn't even finish this for school. Made a C on the test thanks to Cliff Notes.)
The Satanic Verses (I've always wanted to read this. Anything that pisses off radical Muslims enough to put out a fatwah against the author will make it at least onto my to-read list.)
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park (never even heard of it)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (The movie is a classic, but the book is way better.)
To the Lighthouse (never even heard of it)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist (Dickens, what can I say. The musical movie version is worth watching for the "Please, Sir. May I have some more." scene.)
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections (Didn't make it through. I've read one complete Jonathan Franzen novel, he's way over rated in my opinion.)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (never even heard of it)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (never even heard of it)
Dune * (I loved this and it's sequel and the rest of the series were horrible swill.)
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things (never even heard of it)
A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (never even heard of it)
Cryptonomicon (never even heard of it)
Neverwhere (never even heard of it)
A Confederacy of Dunces (never even heard of it)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (never even heard of it)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves (never even heard of it)
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake (never even heard of it)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (never even heard of it)
Cloud Atlas (never even heard of it)
The Confusion (never even heard of it)
Persuasion (never even heard of it)
Northanger Abbey (never even heard of it)
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid (In Latin) (never even heard of it)
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit * (I've loved Tolkein's books and read this again a few months ago.)
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island (A classic that I loved.)
David Copperfield (My favorite Dickens book)
The Three Musketeers

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday October 21, 2007

Growing up in Louisiana, Spanish moss in big old oak trees was just part of the scenery. Everywhere. I still get a charge out of seeing Spanish moss in big trees. It's some sort of ingrained emotion that makes me think of the area where I grew up.

This tree filled with Spanish moss was in a local park.

I saw several of these trees in the park, but wasn't able to figure out what kind they were. The smooth bark almost made these slender trees look as if they had been stripped of all their bark. I liked how their reddish-brown color stood out in the forest.

If you look carefully at this next photo, you see what appears to be on huge horizontal branch of a tree with another large tree growing straight up behind it. That's NOT what it is. The tree that appears to grow normally behind the horizontal branch of another tree is itself a humongous branch growing straight up out of the horizontal one. Look carefully and you cannot see any tree trunk from the horizontal branch to the ground.

I was amazed that this big horizontal branch could levitate in the air five or so feet off the ground with what must be a tremendous weight of that massive vertical branch. I thought at first it was simply an optical illusion based on my position, but I walked around and confirmed that this weird looking thing is just that, simply weird.

Yet another of the many, many sunset photos I have. I really like this one because when I first started work down here I used to bring my lunch from work and eat right here at this scene on the Indian River Lagoon. I've seen all manner of water fowl and even dolphins and manatees sitting right here. Of course there's no sunset at noon, but it's awfully pretty here during the day too.

I've milked the white ibis photos I took at the library here recently for all they are worth. Here's one more. I just liked the way they were almost in the same position and how they were reflected in the water there.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Thoughts On Politics

I've had a number of posts lately regarding things that are out there in the news that are related to politics.

I've had this blog for over a year and a half now and have made over 600 posts here.

I've plainly spoken that I am a conservative, fiscally and socially, and I do not apologize for that.

Thing is, I know what I believe, and I know why I believe what I believe.

But if you are a liberal, a Democrat, or even a "progressive" then I have no problem with that. I have friends who are as well.

By and large the engineering world that I have been exposed to has lots of conservatives, the ones that care one jot about politics that is. But a number are die-in-the-wool liberals and like me, sure of their positions on the issues of the day.

When I talk about politics here, it's usually can be plainly seen that the underlying emotion of them is "How can liberals believe this way?".

But though I don't understand liberal trains of thought, I have tons of respect for anyone who is firm in their beliefs and knows why they believe what they believe.

If you have thought about and looked into matters and arrived at different conclusions than the ideas I express here, that's totally cool with me.

I might vehemently disagree with your conclusions and even your logic, but if you've truly thought it out and disagree with me, fine.

A blog is a strange thing. It's a way to express myself to many people which makes it seem like I'm feeling all special about myself and that I'm going to ram my ideas down your throats, but in reality, that's not what my intent is.

I think a lot. My job is thinking related. Thinking can be hard work but I have no illusions that I'm any better at it than anyone else.

I like to think I'm fairly logical and reasonably smart, but I also know that there are lots of folks out there way smarter than me.

This is just one man's blog. In the banner up there at the top of the page I say this, "Whatever I feel like talking about on any given day. You know. Stuff."

I mean that, I'm just shooting from the hip. This blog is a sounding board.

At least we live in America where, for the present time at least, we can express our own ideas in relative freedom.

So if I go on a political rant and you think I was a total idiot or a total genius, I respect that.

You would be surprised after reading all of my politically conservative rants over the past year and a half +, to see how many blogs I read where the people are politically liberal and although I disagree with them on many points, I like them a whole lot as individuals and our comments back and forth make me feel that they are my friends.

Can you have friends that you've never met in person? I think so.

Anyway, I guess the whole point of this post is that I do realize that my politically charged rants from time to time may cause folks who lean liberal or left of center or are flat out progressive not come back and read here any more.

While I don't lose any sleep over that because I'm sure a number of people just read and leave and never come back without commenting, so that I never know that they were here in the first place; I am concerned that my heavy-handedness in my political posts might cause someone to mistakenly feel I'm not worth the time to comment or hang around and read long enough to get to know me.

I'm a strange mix of things. I'm by nature a loner. I have to make an effort to engage people, and while most folks don't find interacting with others to take effort, for me it really does.

That's why this whole blogging thing is so strange. It's as if I can be a loner and also engage the whole world. A true dichotomy.

I like ideas and thinking, and I welcome an honest exchange of thoughts, ideas, and reasonings.

I totally understand that a person can be the political flip-side of me and yet be a much better person than I am. I have no lofty thoughts about myself about being superior in any way to anyone else, even though some may assume this after reading some of my posts.

Hey, I like to eat; everyone likes to eat, so come back sometime and, as they used to say in the 80s, let's do lunch.

If you don't want to comment on this blog, but you have something to say, a link to my email address is on my Blogger profile page. Feel welcome to write and send me an email with your thoughts.

That is all, carry on.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Geeks Win The Day!

Before recently, perverts and pedophiles could post pics of themselves doing their unspeakable acts on their victims on the internet, and not worry about identification because they digitally swirl their face and heads in the photos.

But just as some smart software geeks wrote the programs that allowed this to be done as a special effect in programs such as Photoshop, other geeks have come to the rescue by developing an algorithm and writing the code to un-swirl these monster's faces.

This guy has been on Interpol's list of folks they would like to have a chat with for a while now; a known pedophile.

And some enterprising software writers have undone the swirls of his face and head in the photos he's posted on the internet.

The last reports I read, they believe he's somewhere in Thailand, and that it will probably not be very long before he's caught.

An Associated Press article said this: "While Interpol declined to release the suspect's name, police in Thailand said a 32-year-old Canadian named Christopher Paul Neil is the person sought. "We believe he is still in Thailand and we are now collecting information from neighboring countries where he committed crimes of pedophilia so we can issue an arrest warrant for him," Thai police Col. Apichart Suribunya said."

I think that's a cool use of technology, and the brains behind it.

My Dad used to say there's a special place in hell for people like this creep.

I sure hope so.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tax The Rich

Hilary Clinton (what happened to the Rodham part, anyway?) and Barak Hussein Obama and especially the Breck Girl, John Edwards talk about the inequities of the rich vs poor in America.

They say that George Bush has been too good to the rich Americans, that rich Americans don't pay their fair share of income tax.

Let me throw a few figures at you from the latest Internal Revenue Service tax numbers; who pays what and in what amounts, OK?

The top 1% of income earners in America, folks making over $350,000 a year, paid 39.38% of all the income taxes paid to the government last year.

That means that the top 1% of income earners in the US paid a larger percentage of the total income taxes collected by the IRS than at any other time in the history of the United States!.

The top 5% of income earners, making over $145,000 per year, paid a whopping 59.67% of all income taxes last year.

So when Hilary, Barak, or John Edwards, or anyone else for that matter say before the cameras that the rich are not paying their fair share, they are lying.

They are lying and they know it.

The bottom 50% of all income earners, earning less than $30,800, paid a measly 3.07% of all income taxes paid to the IRS last year.

George W. Bush's administration, in spite of big tax cuts for everyone, has soaked the rich for more taxes than any other administration in history.

Remember that when in the coming year the Democrats throw their tired old class warfare pitches to get votes.

George Bush has collected more taxes from the rich than any US President in history.

Don't let the Democrats make you believe that the rich don't pay their fair share.

They pay MORE than their fair share.

And just remember this when you hear the "fair share" lies in next year's Presidential election runup:

The top 1% pays 39% of all taxes,

The top 5% pays 59% of all taxes,

and that the rich have paid more taxes under the Bush administration, despite tax cuts, than the rich have ever paid before in US history.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

If You Want Socialized Medicine, A la Hillary Care...

Then this is just a teeny tiny bit of the fun we all have to look forward to:
Mon Oct 15, 7:19 AM ET
English 'pull own teeth' As Dental Service Decays

LONDON (AFP) - Falling numbers of state dentists in England has led to some people taking extreme measures, including extracting their own teeth, according to a new study released Monday.

Falling numbers of state dentists in England has led to some people taking extreme measures, including extracting their own teeth, according to a new study released Monday.

Others have used superglue to stick crowns back on, rather than stumping up for private treatment, said the study. One person spoke of carrying out 14 separate extractions on himself with pliers.

More typically, a lack of publicly-funded dentists means that growing numbers go private: 78 percent of private patients said they were there because they could not find a National Health Service (NHS) dentist, and only 15 percent because of better treatment.

"This is an uncomfortable read for all of us, and poses serious questions to politicians from patients," said Sharon Grant of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health.

Overall, six percent of patients had resorted to self-treatment, according to the survey of 5,000 patients in England, which found that one in five had decided against dental work because of the cost.

One researcher involved in compiling the study -- carried out by members of England's Patient and Public Involvement Forums -- came across three people in one morning who had pulled out teeth themselves.

Dentists are also concerned about the trend.

Fifty-eight percent said new dentists' contracts introduced last year had made the quality of care worse, while 84 percent thought they had failed to make it easier for patients to find care.

Almost half of all dentists -- 45 percent -- said they no longer take NHS patients, while 41 percent said they had an "excessive" workload. Twenty-nine percent said their clinic had problems recruiting or retaining dentists.

"These findings indicate that the NHS dental system is letting many patients down very badly," said Grant.

"It appears many are being forced to go private because they don't want to lose their current trusted and respected dentist or because they just can't find a local NHS dentist."

(That was the entire article from Agence France Press.)

Now doesn't that sound like something you want to be part of?

Don't you REALLY want a government-run US health care system that is so poor that although you can eventually get your tooth fixed for free, it takes so long because of there being that many people in line in front of you that you pay through the nose anyway to a private doctor just to get relief?

This is absolutely the tip of the iceberg.

People who like the idea of government run health care need to remember that they would then have their medical needs met with the same "efficiency" as when they go to get their driver's license renewed, or get a new tag for their vehicle, or when they have to make a Social Security claim, or when they have to try to rectify a situation the the Internal Revenue Service.

The fact is, that to get really good, quick health care in these countries that have already instituted government run health care, the citizens not only pay the horrific taxes to attempt to support these systems, they also have to go ahead and pay out of their own pockets to see a private doctor anyway.

Strong national security, especially clamping down our borders to the point that ONLY legal immigrants can get into the US, and NOT trying to pass a socialist style, government run health care system are two of the main reasons I will be voting for whomever runs against Hillary/Obama or Al Gore.

The folks in the UK, Canada, France, etc. might truly prefer the health care systems of those countries, and I know our system is very flawed, but asking someone as inefficient as the US Government to run and control health care is a much scarier proposition in my mind.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Day At The Library

I have nothing written and also no inspiration for writing anything.

Y'all know what that means...


There's a rumor that this place has some of them book things inside, and that reglur folk's like me can go inside and borry some.

Iffen I's could read, I maht just do that, but I tookted some pitchers instead.

Just kidding. I actually scored a Dean Koontz book that I haven't read.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Comrade Stalin Gore

It's tough being a conservative these days.

It was years ago that I realized that the Grammy's and the Academy Awards were "strangely" being won by folks with ultra left political leanings. (Photo credit: Cornelius Poppe/European Pressphoto Agency)

So the Grammy's and the Oscar's have long been a big yawn to me; whoever makes the biggest politically leftist movie or music CD gets the Oscar or Grammy (see Green Day).

(And now that Bruce Springsteen has put out a new CD with the E-Street Band, and that it has politically left lyrics that have the critics feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, I predict a big sack of Grammy's for Mr. Springsteen in next year's Grammy love-fest.)

Whoever makes the biggest public splash with his leftist views in his personal life tends to win an Oscar for best actor. (See Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon)

But one might hope that awards that have had respect in the past wouldn't get caught up in and destroy the respect they've earned in the past by bowing to such base politically motivated voting.

Alas, the once august Nobel Prize has suffered what it probably a fatal chink in it's armor.

Awarding Al Gore and the UN Climate group who are screaming and preaching the evils of man-made global warming proved once and for all that even the once respected Nobel Prizes have followed suit and just become a politically liberal rubber stamps on leftist world politics.

So Al Gore, the biggest hypocrite of the young 21st century has an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize under his belt.

He preaches one way of life and then lives another, non environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Al Gore is a massive hypocrite of the Church Of Global Warming. He tells his flock how to live and act, while living and acting in the opposite way in almost every aspect of his life.

Congratulations to the Nobel Committee. You've proved that you are just another once proud group who have been corrupted and used as a bully pulpit for the far leftists of the entire world.

I won't say congratulations to Al Gore. He's a dangerous man in my opinion, and if I might give another personal observation, I believe he's pretty much the embodiment of evil; the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.

Besides, was it just me, or did the "looking far into the future" photo that was shown of Al Gore in the Peace Prize announcement look an awful lot like the old Soviet pictures of Stalin, Lenin, Chairman Mao, and the murderous thug Che Guevara?

I truly believe that every human alive has, at one time or another, been hypocritical; that we have each said one thing and done another.

But most people learn from and adjust their lives to not do that again. It's human nature to both screw up and then make it right again, you know?

However, when you have someone like Al Gore, whose hypocrisy is now documented in great detail, winning Nobel prizes in spite of this, the Nobel Prize becomes tainted beyond repair.

At least the voters in the Nobel group have shown their allegiance, and we now know about it and can ignore these awards from now on. Just like we ignore the other, once lesser awards for music and movies.

We knew something was screwy in Norway when Jimmy Carter won one of the darn things, but this is 100% proof that the Nobel is a hollow award.

I feel so dirty after talking about Al Gore, that I'm going to spread some cheer here with a couple of pretty pictures from my part of Florida.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday October 14, 2007

This past Thursday, after work, I went over to the Eau Gallie Causeway and took some sunset pictures.

This is a panorama I made of a sequence of shots that evening. I really like the way it turned out.

Although I was mentally zoned in on the interesting cloud formations and the sunset colors, I thankfully noticed that the sun was way larger looking than normal. This was all I could do, was to simply point my camera and take a few shots. This was the best one. The sun (and moon for that matter) moves through it's own circumference in two minutes, so it was either take the shot and not worry about the poles and cars in the way, or forget it. I couldn't get to the other side of the road for clearer shots within two minutes.

I got a couple of shots like this, with the color at it's height, but I also noticed that some cloud, somewhere out of view was blocking the sunlight in such a way as to create this nifty looking streak of shadow all the way across the sky.

This was a cute little house I saw the other day across from the library. I loved the green of the roof and shutters on this well-kept little place.

Just after taking the above photo I noticed a whole bunch of what looked to be white ibis flying over. It's not a great shot, but more interesting than crows or sparrows or something; in my opinion at least.

On John's Daily Digital Images on Wednesday, I posted a couple of photos of this guy outside our library, lookin' for food. He kept turning his head like this, to one side and then the other, I figured it allowed him a better look at the pickin's. And you can see from the photo above of the flock of them, just how blue the sky was that day, and that's why this puddle he's in looks so blue. It's just reflecting the amazing sky.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Riding Shotgun

In the American west of the 19th and early 20th centuries, riding in a horse-drawn stage coach was an important and popular mode of transportation. Think of stage coaches as the Greyhound Bus of that era.

It was dangerous, in that the stage coaches routinely carried mail and money from one bank to another, so they were serious targets for bandits who wanted to steal the money or from the passengers.

One man sat up top and drove the horses and coach, and another man invariably rode up there next to him as a lookout and carrying a shotgun for discouraging any untoward advances by bandits or indians against the coach or it's passengers.

Thus the term "riding shotgun" came in to the lexicon of American English and is still with us even though stage coaches no longer are.

In America, when a group of people go somewhere together in a car someone invariably calls out "Shotgun!", thereby staking their claim on the front passenger seat. That way they get the view and the coolest air from the air conditioner.

Alas, folks don't carry shotguns with them any more. Well not legally anyway, but the term is known by and used by most Americans.

I often ask Lovely Wife drive when we're going somewhere together. I usually have my camera in hand and can take the occasional photo or two out of the passenger window without worrying about driving.

The brand of shotgun I take on these trips is Nikon.

If something really appealing comes up, she can pull over so I can quickly get out and snap a few shots, photographically speaking.

These two photos were simply taken after rolling down the window while stopped at a traffic light, first in Melbourne and then again in Palm Bay, where we live.

They aren't great, but things like this appeal to me simply because they are scenes I've seen many thousands of times as we've driven here and there over the years.

I wish I had done this in years past in the different places that we have lived. I don't have many photos of the every day street scenes in those places, and I wish I did.

Lovely Wife tends to believe in the "famous people die in threes" maxim.

I don't necessarily believe that one, but it is totally bizarre how I can write a post to be posted in a day or two, and then see someone else talk about that very subject on one of the blogs I read, before I post mine.

Over at Our Seven Qtpies, Qtpies7 talked about a German foreign exchange student that is staying with them.

I had written and slated this post to be on here today, and the other day she talked about how their visitor had never heard of "shotgun" before and how they had to explain it to him.

I guess great minds do work alike.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Baptist Publicly Tortured For 'spreading Christianity'

Muslims beat, murder bookstore manager, claim he engaged in missionary activity.

Posted: October 10, 2007
5:00 p.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2007

The manager of a Christian bookstore in the Gaza Strip who was found dead last weekend was first publicly beaten and tortured by Islamic gunmen accusing him of spreading Christianity, according to witnesses and Palestinian security officials speaking to WND.

The body of Rami Ayyad, who managed the only Christian bookstore in Gaza, reportedly was found Sunday riddled with gunshot and stab wounds. Ayyad had been abducted the previous night as he closed his shop, according to a local Christian group.

Ayyad, a Baptist, was accused by Gaza-based Islamic groups of engaging in missionary activity. His bookstore, owned by the Palestinian Bible Society, was firebombed in April after which he told relatives he received numerous death threats from Islamists.

The day of his abduction, Ayyad reportedly said he was being followed by a car that had no license plates.

According to witnesses and security officials associated with Hamas' so-called Executive Force speaking to WND, Ayyad was publicly tortured a few blocks from his store before he was shot to death.

The witnesses said they saw three armed men, two of whom were wearing masks, beat Ayyad repeatedly with clubs and the butts of their guns while they accused him of attempting to spread Christianity in Gaza. The witnesses said that after sustaining the beating, Ayyad was shot by all three men.

Hamas security sources told WND Ayyad's body showed signs of torture.

Ayyad was buried Sunday, leaving behind a pregnant wife and two young children. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.

Christians warned: Accept Islamic law...

This is the start of an article from WorldNetDaily on Wednesday.

This is how Islam, the so-called religion of peace is practiced these days.

Imagine what it will be like when Europe and then America become Muslim countries.

Well, you don't have to imagine, this article shows exactly what it will be like.

It's darn scary, ain't it?

That's a picture of the victim, up there, Rami Ayyad, in a photo from Baptist Press.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What NOT To Say At A Wedding

I arrived at the church two hours before the wedding was to start. This was two and a half weeks ago.

I was in the sanctuary taking some practice photos and seeing what decorations had been put into place for the wedding.

I was also getting a feel for how I needed to adjust the output of my flash for different situations.

At the same time, a young man was there practicing "The Wedding Song" that has been a staple at weddings for 30 years or so. (It was also sung at Lovely Wife's and my wedding in 1984.)

He was up there so that he could adjust the guitar and mixing board for any feedback the acoustic-electric guitar might cause, and prevent it happening during his performance.

The picking style on the guitar in that song is pretty intricate too, and he was going over and over both the picking on the guitar and singing the lyrics so that he would be perfect during the ceremony.

At one point, he and I were the only ones in there, each practicing and getting a feel for what we needed to do during the wedding.

One part of the song's lyrics goes like this:
He is now to be among you
at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour
is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits, here,
has caused Him to remain
for whenever two or more of you
are gathered in His name
there is Love, there is Love.

Well, a man shall leave his mother
and a woman leave her home...

But when the young man got to the point where he was supposed to say the "a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home" part,

he accidentally sang: "Well a man shall leave his wife, and a woman leave her...whoops! I better not sing it that way during the service."

And he backed up and started over, but I got a good laugh out of it.

And during the wedding when he sang the song, both his guitar playing and singing were perfect; accurate lyrics and everything.

I was listening for it too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Big Creepy Guy With A Camera

Yesterday afternoon I went to the library after work to get my next "fix."

After finding a few books to read and putting them in the Camry, I got out my camera and walked around the library grounds for a bit.

This particular library branch has a huge pond (man-made) out behind it, and there are always lots of ducks and other interesting birds.

They also have lots of pretty trees and plants growing all over the place there too.

I started by photographing some white ibis (birds, see my other blog today for pics of them) and then moved around taking photos of the rain trees that are starting to bloom and create their fall seed pods, one of my very favorite things to see here. (That's one of my photos from yesterday, on the back side of the library. click it.)

Now this branch of the library, though it's the largest one near where I live, is also a favorite of the homeless to hang out in during the hot summer days.

Yeah, it's technically fall, but this far into Florida, that doesn't mean much; it's still hot as blue blazes on most days.

As I was slowly moving around, taking a good look at things and visualizing my photos, there was one tiny little older lady with crazy hair that looked at me like I was going to grab her and then a few seconds later ran down the sidewalk screaming at the top of her lungs.

She was chasing a city bus that had stopped beside the library, but was too late; it took off without her and she went back into the library.

I continued my photo excursion and about 10 minutes later, I came around one corner of the library, still walking on the sidewalk, mind you, and she came around the corner from the other direction, heading for the bus stop again.

She took one look at me from a good 50 feet away and turned right around and went back into the library.

I remember thinking, "Is she scared of me?"

As I continued at my slow pace, stopping to photograph the dates or seeds or whatever they were on some huge palm trees, I noticed two of the librarians I've dealt with for years now, standing out in front of the library.

I also smelled cigarette smoke and just thought they were out for a smoke.

But a couple of minutes later the lady librarian came over to me and asked what I was photographing. She was nice and smiling, because I had been taking photos up into the trees.

I told her that I had checked out some books and that I was taking pics of the rain trees and palms as they were going through their fall changes.

She said that a "patron" had come in and said there was a creepy man out there with a camera, taking pictures of the kids.

I said, "No Ma'am. I'm a rocks, trees, and water photographer. If you'll notice, I've intentionally stayed away from the playground equipment and the kids over there practicing soccer. I'm fully aware of the times we live in and photograph accordingly."

She laughed and said that they could tell I was not there to photograph kids, and that it was public property anyway and that I had every right to take pictures out there, but when the "patron" had come in there upset, they had to come check me out.

She told me to take my time, and was sorry to bother me.

I told her that I understood and that I would have done the same.

We went our separate ways.

I was tempted to wait for wild-haired lady to come back out to go to the bus stop so I could make faces at her, but that would have been mean, so I didn't.

It sure made my mini photo excursion interesting though, and I'm glad I stayed 400 yards from the nearest kids too.

Don't forget to go over to John's Daily Digital Images to see the ibis photographs.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Five Minutes In Photoshop Elements

I haven't written anything, so sue me.

Here are two versions of the same photograph.

The first version is pretty much as it looks off of the camera. It's not spectacular. It's pretty, maybe, but nothing worth writing home about.

But the first version was a big disappointment; it has none of the emotional impact that afternoon sky put into my heart. If that makes any sense at all.

The old saying, "Photos don't lie" is itself a lie.

I saw this and went, "it's OK," but nothing more.

So in Photoshop Elements I added a "photo filter" with a red cast to it to enhance the reddish tones in that one layer of clouds that tells most of the story here.

That helped, but not much, so I added a neutral density "gradient filter" which adds a colorless gray tone to the whole photograph, just a little at the bottom, but gradually getting denser toward the top of the photo.

This has the effect of darkening the upper portion of the photo in a gradual progression which looks natural to the eye, if I did it right that is.

Although the second version is not strictly accurate to what the camera originally captured, it is MUCH more accurate to the emotional impact that the sky had on me that evening..

So, am I telling a lie by photoshopping the image? I don't think so.

If I did this right, your first view of the second image imparts into you a feeling similar to me standing there in awe of God's handiwork.

To me, that's as "honest" as I can make a picture; to convey to you how I felt standing there that day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Word Verification Psychology

I long ago disabled the word verification feature on my blog. Since then I've only had maybe 5 or 6 spam comments, so I leave it off to make it easier for any commenters to do so on my blogs.

I understand that many others haven't been so lucky. They have to keep the word verification on for their comments or the spam engines will bury them in stupid business comments.

Anyway, I was at Miss Norma's blog, Collecting My Thoughts (a favorite of mine) and went to leave a comment.

What was the security word I had to type in to leave the comment?


It kinda creeped me out. I felt as if the random letter generator they use somehow saw into my soul.

Monday Photos

I haven't finished any posts to put on here today so I'm adding a few more photographs.

Most of my photos, I have a feel for how I want the final image to look when I press the shutter button.

Some photos I know as I take it I'm going to play with it in Elements to try to get as close as I can to what I envisioned when I took it. It doesn't always work, but it's fun, I learn new techniques in photoshopping photographs, and sometimes magic happens.

Most photos I know that I'm going to turn them into black and white shots and most I know they'll stay in color.

But today's photos are those rare images that I know I can make nice color AND nice black and white versions from them.

After you enlarge and check these out here, you can go to my photo blog, John's Daily Digital Images, for today where I've posted the black and white versions of these two different shots.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday October 7, 2007

Yeah, it's another panorama, but I made this one from the highest quality versions of the photos that were assembled to make it. My previous attempts, the ones I've put on here lately were from lower quality JPEGs just to see how the panoramas would come out.

I've really liked them and am going back and starting to remake them, using the best quality versions of the photos.

This one is from one of our favorite spots to watch sunsets, so this one represents many hours of Lovely Wife at this park absorbing this view.

Have you ever seen an entire downtown in one building? Then you'll see that very thing in the next picture. Melbourne Beach, Florida has the Fire Department, the Town Hall, and the Police Department all located in one convenient and stylish building. Spiffy, eh?

Looking down a street in Melbourne Beach toward the Indian River Lagoon and the evening sky. If you compare that big cloud formation with the clouds in the panoramic photo above, you'll see that these photos were taken a few minutes apart from each other.

This massive and beautiful tree is in front of a wellness center. I think this is a type of mimosa, one of my favorite trees. I love the two different shades of leaves this tree has.

This plant was growing in this eye-level crook between branches of the mimosa tree in the above photo.

Have a great Sunday, folks!