Monday, December 28, 2009

Where did Christmas Go

As I sit here, pondering the past few weeks or months, trying to come up with a respectable post I realized that the Christmas season was over. To me the Christmas season runs from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve. The reason it starts with Thanksgiving is that is when the pre-Christmas sales begin and the reason it ends with New Years Eve as that is when people turn their Christmas lights off. Why don’t I call it “The Holiday season”? I don’t because I am a Christian and the “Christmas season” is about celebrating the birth of Christ. There are others that celebrate their religion during this same period and they call their celebrations something other than Christmas, such as Kwanza or Hanukah and are all celebrating something other than the birth of Christ so I don’t blame them for wanting to call the time by a different name. That is their right. Don’t ever minimize or make a mockery of that last sentence because a lot of us had it in our heads that one of things we were doing over in Vietnam and the North Atlantic, back in the 60’s and 70’s, was protecting that right called the “Freedom of Religion”. At least that is what we told ourselves as we buried our friends and comrades back then and even more so today.

Back in the day [whatever that means] Christ was definitely in our Christmas celebrations. Christmas was in the school play; it was still in the Church in the sermons, the church play; it was in the shopping, the wrapping paper, and the music as we shopped; it was everywhere. Christmas was for kids and celebrating Christ.

It slowly started getting different as each year passed. Christmas became about presents, not just for kids but for everyone. Now the internet has rolled in and it is about something else. There are very few web sites, that we use to purchase our presents, that wish us a Merry Christmas but rather send us a Happy Holidays greeting while silent praying that they haven’t just offended some person or a group. As we shop those web sites, we don’t find much in the way of Christmas music which keeps us in the “Spirit” of the true meaning of Christmas. Yard decorations became about outdoing your neighbor, or the whole town, and nothing about the birth of the Christ child. There are less manger scenes displayed and fewer stars and wise men are depicted. It is all about lights as LED lights make their debut along with super obnoxious florescent colored light strings. What happened to the Christmas TV specials? All are now probably relegated to PBS to save. No Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Barbara Mandrel, or Dean Martin.

I just read an editorial in our local paper [yup we still have one] complaining about the same thing as I have and she said in summation that it has stopped becoming “Christmas” and is now “Santa Day”.

Merry Christmas to all

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Here I am just getting back into blogging and a major malfunction occurs. I have had my desktop with my computer guy to clean things up and he did a good job. I just brought it back and set it up, plugged in my new Tera drive, then I put in a SD chip to download photos and BOOM. A bright yellow screen appeared with bright blue letters. What the.........? You must shutdown your computer, a problem has occurred with a device, unable to save. Something of that nature. I have never had this happen before. After restarting my computer, I found that my terra drive was now empty, zero, nada, MT. Gone were all of my files and all of my pictures. Oh what should I do, what should I do? Think I'll start over again.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Laptop and so forth

WHAT this guy just bought a new camera, a Cannon Rebel T1i no less, and now he goes out an buys a new laptop. What gives? Is he rich or what? An acquittance just posed this question to me last week. I would answer that I am just CRAZY! I have had this camera for a few months now and I still don't know how it really works. I never expected this kind of a learning scale to be involved. I didn't know what a histogram was; how to balance the white scale or even why anyone would ever care. I have 40 years of photography behind me but I wasn't prepared for all of this. Film is all but gone and little tiny cameras, that hook into a computer, have taken over. I bought one the other day that cost $10 and it worked. That wasn't enough, most cell phones take movies along with still pictures. What is up with that? It is tough being old as the toys and tools advance at the speed of light and I foolishly try and keep up.

I was having some problems with my desktop, actually a lot of problems, and I was getting very stressed so my Daughter and my wife took me to Staples and bought me a new laptop to make life easier. What they didn't realize was Windows 7 came along with the package and I had to learn a new operating system as well as learn how to use a touch pad. As I write this on my old desk top, my laptop is also running in front of me as some of the things are stowed on the laptop. but sometimes I move the mouse and nothing happens on the laptop. Frustrating at best. I have a cell phone that I am trying to learn how to operate and it has a little flip out thing that is a key pad or something. Look at the photo as those are my hands on that little dinky pad. My daughter is testing me or trying to make me learn how to

use it as she is constantly texting me and I have to text back. My phone is no exception to those fancy phones I described, above. It takes pictures, movies and goes on the Internet. I have taken a few pictures and they looked OK but I don't know where they went. I haven't taken a movie as all that looks to me is something that eats up my battery and memory and I have accidentally gone on the Internet twice but I didn't know where to go? Both times it scared me and I turned off the phone and let it cool down before I turned it back on. I wish it would stop calling people when it is in my pocket and I wish it would turn off properly when I finish calling someone so they can't hear what I say after I hang up. Sometimes it is kinda embarrassing. I wish someone would publish a dictionary for the shortcuts so I know what they are talking about in my messages. I know that I never sign off with BFF or call another guy my BFF. What the heck does LOL mean anyway. I can think of Lots of laughs, laughed out loud, lots of love?

Then there is Twitter and Facebook. Tried them both and I couldn't get the hang of it and people who I didn't know, never heard of, and probably wouldn't want them around were trying to be my friend. I quit them both. Now my daughter wants me to go back on and start a farm??? There are about six separate posts running around in this one post and I think, if I can come up with something about each one, I might write a couple of more posts.

Those that are returning after such a long hiatus on my part, thanks for coming back and it is really good to see you again. I will try to get out there and visit you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Memory Overload

My computer was rapidly becoming full to overflowing with photos taken with my new camera, my Canon Rebel T1i. Because of the 15.1 mega pixel sensor the photos are all in the 3-5 megabits range on every photo and I was taking hundreds of photos. I resisted using my movie capabilities with the camera as I could picture megabits bursting out of the seams of my poor little hp computer besides I didn't know how to do it and unload the movies to my computer and I was unable to show my photos on our HDTV as was advertised. Also I have had my hands full understanding the full working of the still capabilities of the camera. I said that I was worried about the megabits bursting out the seams of my computer well it was really the information bursting out the seams of my poor little head. In an effort to solve the overload [computer] concerns I found myself at Staples discussing the problem with an on site techie and I walked out the door with a Western Digital Terabyte memory thing. All I had to do was plug it into my computer and put all of my photo work on it and my computer would be safe from overloading. Much easier said than done.

I was unable to make the transition of sending all of my photos [or anything else for that matter] to my new terabyte drive though it now had a name as my computer had decided on "Drive L" as the official designation. Well drive L was not making things any easier for me as I could not "wrap my head" around the problem. Wonder where that saying comes from? Anyway, the teradrive has been languishing on the side of my desk, taking up valuable space, and contributing nothing for about a month now so I had to call in the big guns to solve my problems. I called in my own personal "Geek Squad" also known as my daughter Ellen. In about fifteen minutes she downloaded step by step instructions of a document intitled "Change the default location of the 'My Documents' folder", typed in the necessary commands to my computer and while it was working went into the living room and took a nap. When she awoke she checked her work out, announced it was a success and went home to fix me supper [my wife is away for a few days in Los Vegas and without someone cooking for me I would probably starve]. These daughters are really a great thing to have around.

Today is the day to test out my movie making talents of my new camera and I have chosen my sister-in-laws dog as my subject. I was left with the dog because my sister-in-law went with my wife to Vegas and left me with her brand new Yorkshire Terrier 'Chulo" to take care of along with my two dogs and a cat. See if you can tell which one is the new Yorkie. Tried to get the cat to sit for the Pic but no luck. Tried taking a movie of the foursome but no luck. Seems that you need an 8GB, class6 SD memory chip to record the proceedings. None in town but are available online and at the camera store in another town. Amazing what you can learn from the "Owners Manual" when things don't work. Movies will wait for another day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Papa gets a new camera

This picture of the moon sent my heart racing as I looked at the camera and couldn't be happier. Got the camera with a 18-55mm zoom; a 75-300 lens; A tripod; backpack camera case; extra SD memory chips and a special one to use for movies. In case I didn't mention it has a 15.1 Mega Pixel CMOS sensor; 3" clear view LCD with live view;HD 1080p, 720p and VGA Video Capture. This is way more camera than I need but I had to spend my first social security check somewhere. I have had the camera since August 9th and I still don't know how it works for sure. Oh I can take dynamite photos alright but I haven't begun to understand the cameras potential. I spend all of my spare time[that is time I am not taking pics or working] trying to learn all about it but by the next morning I have forgotten everything from the nite before. I am old you know.

This afternoon I made an inspection trip to the cemetery to see that all was well as we were not working this weekend. At the top, where our forest starts, I got out of my truck and walked around. As I stood at the edge looking around I noticed some movement in the trees and about 20' up in the tree was a Pileated Woodpecker and his flaming red crest was glowing in the afternoon sun. He looked about 18 inches tall. My camera was back at my office, tucked away in the camera bag, waiting to spring into action. I flew back and retrieved my bag and as I got back I parked away and walked in, trying to be as sluthie and silent as an ex-Submarine Sailor could be. I found a spot where I could observe the tree in case the Woodpecker came back and froze for the next 45 minutes, tolerating being eaten alive by insects all for that one shot that I had just missed. You all know how this story ends so I won't bore you with the details. I have seen that woodpecker one other time. I think I will start sleeping with my camera just so I won't forget it again. So far I have missed the Woodpecker, a double rainbow, and a Bald Eagle. Just because you spend big bucks to buy the fancy camera and gear doesn't mean that you are going to get the good shots. You just have to be at the right place at the right time with your camera at the ready.Today I was at a funeral and as it was arriving, there were two Red Tailed Hawks circling a corner of the forest at about 50 feet and about 100' away but they might as well been a mile because I didn't have my camera. The list grows longer.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Papa wants a new camera!

This was my graduation present, from my parents, upon getting a High School Diploma. I was thrilled, not about the Diploma but about the camera as it was a single lens reflex and a Pentax H1.

I was very involved in photograph from about the age of 10 when I made my first contact print in our basement. My brother had received a contact printer and didn't
really use it so I just made it mine. There was a red light bulb with it and I set up a dark area and followed the directions. The chemicals weren't any good but I got new ones from the Rexall Drug Store downtown
along with some good advice on how to use the contact printer. I chose a negative I had of my Mother and Father; put the negative on the glass; put the paper on top of the negative; cycled the light on for a couple of seconds. I sliped the paper out of the contact light box and slid it into the developer. As the photo was in the developer, I could see the image form under the developer because the red light was on and cast an erie glow over everything. My heart felt like it was racing 90 miles an hour, and with trembling hands I put the paper, which was now a picture, into the stop bath for a few seconds and then into the fixer and then I could turn on the white light. I was hooked. I printed every negative I could find until I ran out of paper. As soon as I could come up with the money, I bought an enlarger and more darkroom supplies and started looking for a camera upgrade. I found it with the Kodak Pony 135 and I paid about $65 for it. A lot of money for a kid w/o a paper route. My Pony 135 lasted to High School where I soon became the school photographer and they had great cameras and a brand new darkroom. At this time I started taking photos for our local paper The Sturgis Tribune where the editor Bob Lee took me under his wing and taught me the ins and outs of press photography. I loved it. I was constantly getting my photo's published in The Sturgis Tribune , The school newspaper and yearbook and some real freelance assignments. Sturgis is home to the Sturgis Motor Classics every year which got lots of national exposure and I got some assignments from a couple of national motorcycle magazines, one I remember was "Cycle World". Getting paid was really exciting. I spent one year at the University of Montana where I worked as a yearbook photographer. 6 years in the Navy and I traveled the world with my trusty Pentax H-1. That was then and now I think it is time for me to upgrade my H-1.

I now have thousands of slides and 4x6 prints which are so numerous I can't even sort them. A few years ago my wife bought me a Kodak DX6340 zoom digital to get me into the digital world but I needed something bigger, faster with more battery life. I have put thousand of pictures through the 6340 but I am looking forward to the new upgrade. stay tuned

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Really getting old

As I write this posting I am 66 years old, which means that I have been on Medicare over one year and officially retired as I am soon to receive my first retirement check from the US Government. In this past year I have joined Kiwanis and joined Facebook. My wife and I went on diets and are really doing well at that and I need to share that information as we have discovered a new diet which we call The Dickson PYAFTDT Diet. I quit Verizon as my Internet supplier and hired Comcast to do it, which could easily blow up into 8 or 10 posts. Which means I changed my main mail account also. The latter doesn't really mean much as I have email accounts with Google, Microsoft, Verizon,Yahoo and a few more that I don't even know about or rather remember. It has been a while since I last logged on to this blog and I found that I have 8 postings ready to go, most of which I forgot about. All of these mentioned items are postable and I think I will do just that and slip in one of my posts, waiting in the wings, ever so often.

Canon Rebel T1i
I get my first check in a couple of weeks and this is what I am going to get with my first check. YES! The trials and tribulations that I went through in making this decision will be the subject of my next posting, probably. Bet you all are on pins and needles and just can hardly wait.

Or I might just post about the Cat.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stanley Park - pre-spring visit

Stanley Park..../early spring visit

My Daughter, Grandson and I took one our nicer mornings off and headed to Stanley Park in Westfield. Sam was app pumped up about the Ducks in the park and had read a bunch about them and the Geese on line. The Park isn't completely open yet so you have to do a lot of walking to get to everything. There were a ton of people walking dogs but all of them were on the leash. Lots of parents with little kids. A little tough to get down to the duck pond as the park waits for Mother Nature to remove the snow and ice she put there. Little bit to big to shovel all the sidewalks but it was manageable. Besides the snow lets you remember your in New England and Spring is not here yet. We had a great time.

My Grandson Sam looks over the Duck/Swan/Goose pond

There was a real Gaggle of Geese

Beautiful Mute Swan

Mallards everywhere and noisy to boot

Stanley Park in Westfield MA is a very beautiful facility and only a few blocks from the cemetery. We are very lucky to have it and it doesn't cost us a cent. Not even a tax dollar. Lots of wildlife, walking trails along a beautiful river and more picnic areas than you can imagine and all with a charcoal barbecue stand. We always have our family reunions there. Beautiful playgrounds for kids and lots of soccer fields and basketball courts. This doesn't even account for the world class flower gardens and the world renowned rose gardens and fountains and........

A very enjoyable moment for all three of us
Take a look for your self: Stanley Park

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

In a Perfect World

This is one of the best Political Cartoons that I have seen in a long time. I like political cartoons and I look at a lot of them. Some really make me laugh, as this one has, and makes me want to share it. Very rarely can I find someone that enjoys them as I do. Sometimes I don't get them but that is usually a product of my education or worldliness or lack there of. So I share this one with you and hope you enjoy the simplicity of it. Hopefully this posting will signify the loss of my anger that was expressed in my past several postings. They caused me to leave the blogesphere for a while as I attempted to dispel my unhappy feelings. I think I need a disclaimer here: I am not racists nor do I have anything against Mexican Drug Lords or Arabs.

Bruce Beattie has been creating captivating and controversial editorial cartoons since 1986. He is also creator of a comic strip, and his work has been featured in several museum exhibits, including the State of Florida's Museum of History. Beattie graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Oriental studies and attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He began his career at The Honolulu Advertiser and then moved on to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he has been editorial cartoonist since 1981. His awards include the Florida Society of Professional Journalists' Sunshine State Award for Excellence in Editorial Cartoons and the Florida Press Club's Award for Excellence in Journalism. Beattie has served as president of the National Cartoonists Society and has been on the board of directors of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, the Newspaper Features Council and the International Museum of Cartoon Art.