Tag Archives: Obama

A Blog Transfer from Deviant Art…2007-2012

What follows is a re-posting of various blog entries from my previous digital home. I re-post them, not because they provide awesome insight [don’t get your hopes up] but they cover from the end of 2007 until October of 2012 and show my thoughts on politics, photography, friends, and life through some very interesting, turbulent, hard times.

At some point the entries took on a seasonal theme…hence the titles.

EDIT: I removed the On Photography sections, this thing is just too long…they are still on my deviantart page.

There might be something of interest. Or not.

Falling Forward…again

Oct 6, 2012, 5:47:16 PM

On Life…
Fall is back. From the looks of my photo gallery that is my favorite time of the year. At least that is when I am most motivated to go out and enjoy nature and take the cameras with me in case something interesting comes along.

I am in a better mood than I was in the last journal…we have not had a drive-by of mass murders in over a month. The multiple instances of senseless slaughter in July and August were too many…that tears at the fabric. The ONLY good thing to come from all that is that we, as a society were still greatly offended…still pissed that people can and do act that way against fellow human beings. I was beginning to believe we had become too calloused but this was a hard way to prove me wrong. Now, it is time to figure out how to solve an imponderable. They say it can’t be done. Challenge accepted.

On the Election…
It is just over four weeks until the National Election here in the United States. Tempers are on edge…folks are taking and twisting every little nuance of every word and spinning it to the benefit of their favorite candidate or party. That part has been going on for decades…centuries. But this one has something else. This one is trying to split the people, trying to pit one group against another, US v THEM, Democrat v Republican, Smart v Common Sense, Roadrunner v Coyote. We thought after the 2008 election that folks would pull back together and work as a team to dig out of the worst recession that this country has had since the Great Depression of 1929. Boy, were we wrong. While the President was being sworn in a meeting on K Street with opposition party leaders was mapping a strategy to make sure the brand new administration failed. At no point in the last four years has it gotten any better. And the country has suffered because of it.

I make my voting decisions based on one really simple rule. Will this candidate promote the ideals of a society that is strong enough and moral enough to take care of those who are least able to take care of themselves, even if their votes are against their own personal interests?

If you have not registered to vote…DO SO NOW. It is most important. The fabric of this nation depends on everyone participating in every way they can. Voting is one of the most important ways in which you can participate.

And no matter who wins this November, we have to remember that if we act like the losing side did in 2008…everyone loses. We are ONE COUNTRY…it is time we began to act like it.


Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues.

Aug 6, 2012, 9:09:55 PM

NOTE: For those who read these, this won’t be normal, Sunshine. Bear with me.

On Life…
This is where I like to write about going out and shooting photographs, about enjoying nature and seeing what life has to offer. There be clouds. No, not the towering Cumulonimbus or wispy high Cirrus — I can work with that, and some of my best photographs come in weather than others call inclement. These clouds come through the TV, through radio and over the interwebtubes. We seem to now get weekly reports of folks going off with firearms and either killing or trying to kill many people. 12 were killed in Aurora LAST WEEK, Seven in Wisconsin YESTERDAY and the now forgotten Tuscaloosa Alabama guy who “just” went into a bar with an AR-15 and started firing and injuring 17. That was WAY BACK 20 days ago. And none of this counts the guys who decide to kill their family and then squirrel away to the bunker and, after they have figured it out…kill themselves. I can’t begin to count those, there are just too many.

And since the shooters are all “lone gunmen”, the spin to try to attach them to one political dogma or another has become blood sport. Then they are just marginalized as “crazy” or “angry”. What made them get to that point? What pushed their buttons to the point that they moved from Facebook pontificator to cold blooded murderer? What brought them to boil?

I think Aurora will be different, that it will cause that big middle of America, those neither pro gun or pro gun contr0l to stand up and demand that something be done. And it has to. Neither the public nor commerce will stand for our malls, restaurants, schools, churches, and theaters being unsafe.

Just before writing this I read of a mosque burned in Joplin Missouri. It is its second arson in a month. We have watched as folks, armed with hate and bigotry have protested the opening of mosques and community centers throughout the country. Besides the loudest, most obvious one near Ground Zero in New York City there are examples in Murfreesboro, TN to Mayfield, KY to Buffalo to Wisconsin to Ohio or California, and those are just the ones making national news in the past year. The protests are all generated by hate and rationalized by demonizing “those people”…those who attacked on 9/11 or in Afghanistan or Iraq…even though that radicalized minority represents less than 1/10th of 1% of the Muslim faith.

Then there is the Great Chick-fil-A scandal of 2012. Much ado about nothing until you realize that CFA donates millions of dollars to hate groups that openly lobby to deny equal rights for some people. And folks lined up for hours to support their hate. That cannot be something of which you can be proud.

Back to hate…really it should be HATE for a moment. We spread hate through political beliefs, through religious beliefs, through social history and we now have the technical ability to propagate that hate and bigotry through social media, through blogs, through the news media, through TV at the speed of light. At some point, with saturation it becomes everyday, OK, part of our community fabric to speak openly about “those people”. But it really isn’t. It only seems so because we tend, in society to cluster with those who think like us, to agree with our positions and to support our thoughts. Hate, reinforced through a social echo chamber is still hate.

What to do…when you see or hear hate…point it out. It won’t make you popular but it might just sink in to one of ten folks, and that’s a start. We are all responsible for solving this problem…and the problem will not go away as long as it has fuel.

Regarding Resolve…
From the Richard Nixon 1972 Presidential Campaign…NOW MORE THAN EVER This below seems important and if nobody else reads it, that is OK. I read it myself and refocus.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”


Some, Some Summertime

Jun 26, 2012, 8:26:22 PM


On Life
Well, kiddies, I am back on my feet. After a nine month, extended recovery I can now pretty much walk and do steps and all the things I should be able to, albeit a bit slower right now. I should be off the Warfarin by July 4 and back to normal, rat poison free blood and PT is now “just the gym”. Travel and photography are next on the list. There have been a couple of small trips but I have so far been too tired to shoot or to process. That is coming back fast.


It’s Fall…I Fell

Nov 18, 2011, 12:56:03 PM

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. This was looking like it was going to be a beautiful fall, good rain, right temperatures and all the right ingredients for some great photography trips. And the rolling tripod [Jeep] was ready for the challenge. Just one little problem…
9/9/11, while walking down some steps at home my quadriceps tendon exploded. This pretty much stops everything. So, into surgery a bit later and a hip to foot cast that has/will last until the first of the year “if everything goes right”. Never one to just keep it simple, I managed to develop a 36 inch long blood clot. So now I am fighting that special fun with Warfarin, which is in essence rat poison. But I dodged the reaper which I consider a good outcome. So no new photographs for a while. The view from bed is just not that interesting.

My goal while being parked in timeout is to gather new perspective and to come out the other side a better person. That and to “Mind the Gap”.

Good holidays and good shooting to everyone. I look forward to seeing your always excellent work.


Spring has Sprung

Jun 11, 2011, 8:12:23 PM

On the World
When you do your work, your art, your life…look at those around you. They are important. Whether they are in your peer group, above you or below you we are all interwoven in our lives. Sometime in life someone has helped you. It might have been small or big; expected or unexpected. When you get the chance to repay that, pass it forward. Do something for someone else that is in need. They need it now and might not know how or who to ask. Don’t ask for or expect anything in return. If you are able to help you have already received that. Just pass your good fortune forward.


A New Year Begins

Dec 26, 2010, 8:37:55 PM

On the World
When you do your work, your art, your life…look at those around you. They are important. Whether they are in your peer group, above you or below you we are all interwoven in our lives. Sometime in life someone has helped you. It might have been small or big; expected or unexpected. When you get the chance to repay that, pass it forward. Do something for someone else that is in need. They need it now and might not know how or who to ask. Don’t ask for or expect anything in return. If you are able to help you have already received that. Just pass your good fortune forward.


To Every Season

Nov 21, 2010, 2:09:55 PM


Thoughts while sorting through thoughts
In going through the 400 or so photographs I took at the Rally to Restore Sanity I began thinking about all of the folks who have stood on that very ground at the National Mall, America’s front yard to plead their cause. Some have been very controversial, others seem so blatantly obvious that is was surprising that there was a need to bring the attention of a Nation together to point it out…but it was.

From the Woman Suffrage March in 1913 that started it all to the Civil Rights Rally in 1963 to the 1969 Viet Nam War Protest to rallies for Equal Rights, Civil Rights, Human Rights and protests of yet another war, folks have converged on Washington DC to present their case to the Nation, to those who represent us and to opposing views.

It seems odd that, after hundreds of rallies and protests to draw attention to the issues that plague this country we still have many of these problems. And that brings us back to the Rally to Restore Sanity and Reason. When did it leave? When did the ability to have reasoned debate stop. When did the allure of snake oil salesmen and their partisan hate-mongering, intent on dividing become so strong? When did the priority to “win majority” become more important than the priority to do what is right for the country, even if it means sitting down to compromise?

Before we can have success with solving the problems that we protest we first have to be able to have dialog with those who matter, those who make the decisions and to have that input mean something other than minutes of a meeting. We have to start by talking, by looking at the important issues realistically and honestly.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t read on a forum or blog an argument that is rife with errors or downright lies. Sometimes it is intentional, to “win” the day, other times it is simply repeating what was heard from someone else’s blog or forum and, since it fits in their view it is worth repeating…all without looking to see if the information is valid.  This happens on all sides of the discussion, not just that with which I might now agree.

The first step is going to be the hardest, for everyone. Change goals. The goal should be the success of this country as a whole, not success of this country “as long as my side is running things”.  It worked that way for a couple of hundred years. It can work that way again.


Fall Forward, Fall Behind

Nov 14, 2010, 3:00:36 PM


It’s Fall, the MIDDLE of FALL
OK, so I am late in writing my quarterly missive. I am smack dab in the middle of Fall and looking at the first cold snap of the year. Trees are losing their leaves and the squirrels are working to prepare for winter.

It has been an interesting Fall so far. I went to my High School/Boys Choir reunion which was much fun. Caught up with some folks that I had not seen in decades [Protip: DON’T wait that long to hook up with old friends, no matter how cool your excuse seems at the time].

My wife and I also went with friends to The Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC at the end of October. If you have never been to a gathering of 230,000+ folks for a political/social rally, do so. The energy is amazing and it puts much in perspective.


Summer in the City

Jul 16, 2010, 5:14:20 PM

Summer is here, baby!
Summer came in hot this year with many more 90degree plus days so far than the none of last year. That means playing in the pool and watching the stars at night while floating. Not a bad way to end the day. It has also meant more storms and thunderboomers rolling through. Pretty and great to shoot but they can be dangerous when they spawn tornadoes and violent wind. So we get the good with the bad.

Something came up the other day about resumes and whether it was OK to “embellish” or to “lie” on them in order to get your foot in the door for a job. It has bugged me enough that I am writing this everywhere. The long and short answer is NO! Either stand on your own accomplishments or stand aside.





June 9, 2010

An Eventful Spring

This has been an interesting Spring. Big storms blowing through Kentucky have produced some big floods, bigger storms, awesome lakes and a couple of drives that included avoiding three inch [7.6cm] hail. It has made for a lush, green spring in the Bluegrass with the downside of having to MOW twice as often.


I looked at the previous entry and decided I like it just find. Cut and paste is wonderful.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”.


Spring Rewound

March 27, 2010

A New Year
Blue Skies, chirping birds, cardinals, finches, buds on the trees. It is time for Kentucky to pop. And about time. Time to dig out of the malaise of a winter of cold, of politics, of levels of negativity that have permeated nearly every facet of everyone’s life.

Now we get to shoot new photography, square up the yard and address the ducks in the pool. No Duck a l’Orange planned, instead a remote control helicopter…Huey-a-Huey. You can bet there will be photos.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”


Skating through Winter to the New Year

Jan 6, 2010, 4:47 PM

New Year
Well, the New Year is off to a good start. TSA will most likely be checking underwear [now you know why your mom always said you should have on a clean pair], Play-Doh is the new WMD and Joan Rivers can’t board a flight. At least they got the last one right.

Friends lost work as shuffles occurred and with a cold wave wandering through the flaming electric transformer last night proved to be a fitting end of Week1 to Y2KX. As Tom Jones would lament – Baby, its Cooooold Outside.

I have already been warned not to resolve to “get in shape” as it just clogs up the gym for the hip and fit folks who live there year round. No prob, pizza is too important, style, not so much.

But the big resolutions are important. Responsibility and art. Nothing else is on the radar right now. Work and hobby both need to achieve a focus that allow growth and achievement of long term aspirations. There is much that needs done in the world besides just working to make money and pay the bills. Experience gives us the chance to combine our accumulated knowledge, our skills and motivation to do good. To do less is a waste.

The art [in my case photography and writing] allows me to project a point of view, to show what was, what is and what can be. It also allows me to meet many new folks as I look forward into this aspect of the hobby.

The work now has to be meaningful, not just profitable and to that end choices have to be made. I have done this to a degree all my live but now it is time to tighten the focus, to do it right.

NOW the fun begins. Let’s make art and make a difference.


Winter Highs and Sighs

Sun Dec 13, 2009, 7:03 PM

It’s that time of the year. No, the other one. A smidge to the right. Yeah, that one. It’s time for the Halloween to New Years Day “please, oh please make this a good retail season.” The mall, sorry MALL is packed to the gills with lookers but it is hard to tell who is buying. I really hope the season is a success. We, as a country can really use a boost of confidence. And nothing says confidence better than being in the black.

That other reason. Kids, let’s get this right. With Christmas, Hanukkah, Muharram, Amitabha Buddha Day and Winter Solstice all within a two week period, it is a wonderful time for everyone to celebrate your beliefs and have an opportunity to look upon the world with just a bit wider view. We are all in this together.

And don’t forget Festivus.

You gotta have friends
If the trip to Harlan this fall did nothing else it taught me that you gotta have friends. Most of the time we are busy working on work or something that has little consequence when it turns out that family and friends are what really matter. The rest is white noise. We know that but the key is to exercise that knowledge.

Phantom Reality
In 2009 we have switched between the best of this Country to the worst. From the celebration of an orderly change of leadership and the beginnings of our move out of this hard recession to the horrors of mass murder on an Army Base, the gunning down of four police officers in Oakland AND Seattle and others in between to the absolute absurdities that is Reality TV. Balloon Boy, Jon and Kate, and now the Tiger Woods Open. At least he has an even dozen “friends” which should make for a lovely Valentine Calendar gift.

There was a fear that the decade would start bad as clocks and computers converted to the year 2000. No Prob! For me this decade started January 1, 2000. With a new Mercedes and while driving home in upstate New York the driver in front of me blasted a very large deer. In the 12 degree evening my car was painted with deer blood and guts. So THAT’S how it is going to be. I am ready for REALITY to return and just write off “The Decade of Zeros”.

Everyone have fun at your many parties and get-togethers this holiday season. Be careful and make sure to come out of the season healthy and refreshed. There is a bunch of art to make.


Fall Out

Thu Sep 24, 2009, 4:55 PM

All Dem Leaves Must Fall
The Summer of Hate is slowing unwinding. I can’t tell if folks are finally getting a clue and checking their facts before typing and whining or if they have just realized that their leadership team of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, DeMint, Bachmann, Palin and Boner are the new…nee, NEO Confederacy of Dunces. Either way, Birther Nation appears to be taking a brief holiday.

That High School Reunion Thingie
The 100th Anniversary of Harlan High School brought out a very good crowd with folks from 90 to 18. I saw some folks I had not seen since I left Harlan over a third of a century ago [yikes!]. That was real good. It was the success that I hoped it would be. Now comes the hard part. Following through on those promises not to make it another 30+ years before we see each other again.

On a separate note, high school reunions were not anything like portrayed in Hollywood movies. There were no really catty fights between the “popular” folks and the “nerds” that switched places over the years as the nerds rolled up in the hot cars and there were no prom reenactments to highlight the worst of anxieties that many folks had with their first and last efforts on the dance floor. And there were no stalking killers roaming the halls waiting to extract revenge for that slight in Civics class back in 1969. Other than those disappointments, it was a very good reunion.


The Summer of Hate

Fri Aug 28, 2009, 10:29 PM

What the Hell is going on?
Between the whining and bitching and scare tactics used by those opposed to a reasonable healthcare bill and the loons that feel that expressing their 2nd Amendment rights include carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle into a crowd at a politically charged, heated debate, it seems that some 40 years on, the Summer of Love has dissolved into the Summer of Hate.

Add to that the machinations and paranoid delusions of Glenn Beck and the rest of the talking heads, preaching everything short of armed rebellion and it is time for some serious timeouts. Folks need to step back and suck in a few breaths of reality before someone gets hurt. Way to show maturity when losing an election.

On Friends:
The first break. It looks like I will be going to the Harlan High School 100th Anniversary All Class Reunion this Labor Day. It will be the first time that I have seen many of my class mates in 30 or more years, some since the day we graduated. It is time to start hooking back up with some of that group. You can only work and travel so much before it becomes time to reconnect with the roots that made you what you are. I hope that will be successful.


Spring Ahead

Thu Apr 9, 2009, 3:45 PM

Spring is here. The dogwoods are out, the trees are greening up, the foals are out in the paddocks, Keeneland in running, the sky is blue and it’s 30 degrees…wait…what???

Welcome to Kentucky in the Spring. It is the time of year where we go from 70 degrees to 30 degrees and back again a couple of times in a single week. No tornadoes so far this season [or tarnaders as some like to call them]. The good news/bad news is that the pool now has a pair of mallards that somehow feel compelled to nest in it. It has become “the cement pond”. Nice.

Since the world is somewhat upside down, the time has come to look into the past and find old friends and look to the present at new ones. THAT is going well. It looks like there is going to be a High School Reunion in my little town for all classes for its 100th year of sending kids out of the mountains with a very good start in the world. It should be fun and I look forward to it.


Winter on Ice

Tue Feb 3, 2009, 2:06 AM

I think I need a new section just for weather. We are now in the middle of the Great Kentucky Ice Storm of 2009, or as I like to call it, The Storm of the Century of the Year of the Month of the Week of the Afternoon. Yes there has been ice. The power was out for 25% of the population of our state of 4 million. As I told a friend in Beirut, we had NO Hellfire missiles coming through the roof, it is an inconvenience. Much like in photography, perspective is very important.

On Business I didn’t go to the North American Auto Show in Detroit. My understanding it was very cold and inhospitable in the area and getting to Cobo Arena would have been a pain. I missed some new car introductions but will catch them at the New York Auto Show in April. There is nothing quite like New York City in April. It really is nice.

On Politics Brother, can you spare a…WTF!!! We need to tell our politicians that it is NOT alright to throw the TRILLION word around like pocket change. First, it’s our change and second, apparently we are giving it to folks who don’t understand the concepts of gratitude and humbleness. $15Billion in bonuses for an industry that lost Trillions seems a bit…questionable.

I’m leaving the next part from the last entry. It is important.

We still have to fix this thing, It is NOT going to fix itself. So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.

Spring is just around the corner. The trees will be budding out and the leaves popping. Dogwoods in bloom and horses back on the track. MOST will be right with the world.



Thu Jan 8, 2009, 8:41 PM

It’s just cold. Wind and snow and rain and cold. Not the kind of cold that stops everything, just the cold that requires you to add extra layers and impedes outside work. But, thanks to a bunch of work, all the outside work is done except rebuilding the retaining wall [apparently they don’t do well when hit with a backhoe – who knew?] First few 50 Degree days will fix that.

On Business

I may or may not be going to the North American International Auto Show. I have still not heard back from the folks who make the decision and the show starts in just days. I can shoot during the public part of the show but it doesn’t do well for either the client or the manufacturer or the photos. Time will tell.

On Politics

And I thought things would calm down and folks would settle into a “let’s work together” mode and start fixing this thing. Apparently the knife fight that was the 2008 Election was just too bloody. I have not seen this level of hate and anger from a losing side ever. And what’s with the new found prejudices? WOW. It is as if we lost an entire century of national maturity in two years.

We still have to fix this thing, It is NOT going to fix itself. So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.


Heading toward Winter

Mon Nov 17, 2008, 12:15 AM

The seasonal theme takes an interim step with a post election, moving update. The move it in progress. Things are finally happening correctly and it looks like all the holidays will be at the new place. It is down to just nits now.

On Politics

It’s over, now the hard part starts. Digging out of a brutal Recession, restoration of our image throughout the world and re-instilling a moral compass into the fiber of this country. THIS IS GOING TO TAKE MUCH WORK BY EVERYONE.

So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.



Mon Sep 29, 2008, 11:32 PM

Yes, the seasonal theme continues. I am finally done with fixing up the house and that is behind me. Between painting and contractors and cement trucks taking out power lines and the local utility company taking over a month to hook up a line, it is TIME. Yeah. Now we can get to the work of learning Photoshop and shooting, shooting, shooting.

On Politics

Christ, will this never end? The only thing good to come from the election so far is the Comedy Styling of Sarah Palin. Would it have been too much to ask for McCain to have at least tried to pick someone who didn’t sound like the cheerleader who got caught by the principal in the boy’s restroom with her panties hanging from the stall door.

The election has made me want to make little posters to “help”. They are in the gallery later tonight. I tried to be nice. Really.

If you are even thinking about not voting, stop it. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE. You have to vote. This election is that important. Just do it.



Sun Aug 24, 2008, 9:53 PM

Apparently I have taken a seasonal approach to Journal entries. So it goes. I am in the middle of getting a house ready to move into. It is taking longer than expected but then, they all do, I am told. Once finished I will prepare the house I have lived in for nearly 20 years for sale. That will be interesting as there are so many memories in this house.

On Politics

The election that will never end. It appears there are only about 70 or so days left until Election Day 2008. If anyone is considering sitting this one out because their particular candidate did not get through the primaries, DON’T. It is too important to not vote. There are going to Supreme Court choices in the next four years that will change the balance of the court so your vote is important, not just for President but for the Congress as well. You can scan my profile to guess my preferences but JUST VOTE.

This is the most important election cycle since 1968. The stakes have not been higher.

Time for some changes. New house, new [final] career and hopefully a change of government philosophy. I am looking forward to the next few months. Let’s be careful out there.



Sun Apr 6, 2008, 9:53 PM

Maybe a journal should be updated more than once a season but we will have to work on that. Spring has finally come to Kentucky. The flowers are blooming, trees budding, wind blowing shingles off the roof and squirrels trying to get in the house to nest…AGAIN.

I am finally out shooting again. It took longer than I thought to get my brain around being creative again after the somewhat less than fun fall/winter. I have several new projects on the front burners so the “keep looking busy” part of my life is doing well.

On Politics

I am reading John Adams, the book from which the HBO series is based, a history of our Second President and one of the Founding Fathers of our Country. I am left with the deepest sense of dismay that the politicians of the 21st Century would not even be allowed in the same room as these Founding Fathers. There would be someone at the door to send them to the children’s table down the hall.

How have we let ourselves accept such mediocrity substitute as the best and brightest that our generation has to offer. We have so much better to offer, we have so much more to give but apparently the price is too high for the true leaders to subject themselves to the rigors of the political game. So all we get is American Idol 2.


It’s a New Year

Tue Jan 15, 2008, 8:25 PM

A couple of weeks late in entering a New Years Journal so I guess that first resolution should deal with procrastination. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Last year saw some interesting life changes. On the bad side my mom [83] passed away at Thanksgiving, on the good side of the year, I met several new friends that I have known for a while on the internet, I started back into photography after a bit of a rest and hooked up with one treasured friend from long, long ago while I was on my California trip in October. Resolution 2, remember your friends. I also decided to take a fresh look at what I have been doing, is it making me happy and what I really want to do. I figure I have one really good job left in me between now and retirement so it makes sense to think about it, make sure it is the RIGHT ONE and go out, have fun and do it.

Past artistic work has allowed me to be very creative and publish literally millions of my photographs [postcards allow numbers like that] and have my work [postcards and photography] all over the world. My technical work has been very challenging and rewarding and taken me globally. So I can’t complain that I have neither been challenged, rewarded, nor acknowledged for my work.

In the meantime I will be shooting more and more. I get to escape the cold of Kentucky for the first races in Daytona in February. The cameras are clean, batteries ready and laptop cleared to take on as many shots as I can shoot.


New Toy for the Holidaze

Thu Dec 6, 2007, 11:35 PM

I got a new toy to play with for the holidays and beyond, a Nikon S51 CoolPic. This is my first baby camera EVER. Now I don’t know what I did without one. It allows me to have a camera with me everywhere without the bulk of the DSLR or even bigger Pentax 6X7.

So far I have only shot family type pics and a few funnies but I anticipate that somewhere creativity will sneak in if time, luck and experience all wander into the same field of view.


Work and Play

Wed Nov 28, 2007, 12:18 AM
Entry begun Nov 17…

Well, REAL work is getting in the way of Photography this month as I try and find a 3000 sqft area to set up a parts business for my Mercedes Restoration Biz. The parts sort of fell from the sky and I will be selling them for a client that is going out of business but I need space NOW. Of course this would all happen as Fall finally shows her colors. Timing is everyth ing.

I could do a great photo series on For Lease signs, they are everywhere but none that have the space and/or access and security requirements that my client requires. The search continues.

Hopefully I will be back shooting by the holidays. Some of the houses have already started loading up on Holiday lights, statuary and the new blowup lawn art motif [ WTF?!!!!?] that has spawned over the past few years [thanks, WalMart].

And soon we will have the lawn parades of campaign posters, staked out like duelists of old, red yard to blue yard, each proudly heralding their like minded candidate AND providing each of their neighbors with a “I thought Babs and Skippy had more sense than that!” moment.

The political season, and avoiding the Media Talking Heads telling me what to THINK gives me more time to learn my two new toys, Photoshop CS3 and Wacom Tablet. I think I finally found a way to look 40 pounds lighter. I don’t want to use it to manipulate images for photography [other than titles/borders and stuff] but it will provide a new direction for me to play. Fun to ensue.

EDIT: Complaining about finding space for the parts seems superfluous now [although I DID get a space] as my 83 year old mom died last week. I just wrapped up the funeral a bit earlier this evening so time to put things in perspective and look back at over 50+ years of good times and support from a parent who fully backed a son who I am sure she would rather have had been a Doctor or Lawyer but Photographer and Systems Architect turned out pretty good. MANY Thanks for that.

As I go back to work, both REAL work and photography I think there might be a slightly different perspective and that is a good thing. All these calluses in life provide the texture. Nothing good comes from everything just being smooth all the time.

Obama Swings His Boomstick


The deniers came out just moments after the New Republic posted an interview with President Obama where he was asked if he had ever fired a gun. His response “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time” gives us the first denier conspiracy of the year.

The questions immediately began from the ummm, well we have Truthers and Birthers…so let’s just call them Skeeters. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) took the first shot “”If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos?” Never mind that the President – all presidents since Eisenhower have used Camp David to get away from the press, get away from the glare  and don’t have their every move documented by photography. Odds are there are other things that have gone on at Camp David without many photographs…say walks in the woods, talking on the phone as examples.

Gun enthusiasts fora had a field day in criticizing the comment, the reality of it, and even circulated a photoshopped photo of Obama with a shotgun in an effort to discredit it. In their world view, it would not be possible for a person who wants to increase the safety of Americans with gun regulations would also shoot from time to time.

And that deeper issue, those in the gun community who intractably support the 2nd Amendment, who support the NRA position, who want no regulations on firearms, they don’t believe, or don’t accept that there are gun owners who aren’t “on their side.” They present the case that ALL gun owners believe the same and ALL gun owners are anti-regulation and that “the other side” wants to confiscate their guns. The 30-40% of gun owners who are classified as liberal would beg to differ – well, if they weren’t banned from many of the gun fora when they try and make that simple point. Liberals also have a presence on the internet – The Liberal Gun Club…and they don’t tend to ban folks who have opposing views.

538 gun poll 150

This issue will come down to this. Either folks will accept the statement by the President and the photograph for what they are or, for those who don’t live in an evidence based society, I suppose that, for years we will hear Skeeters talk about the time Obama went to the NASA sound stage where they had, 44 years earlier shot the fake Moon landing and whipped up “proof”. “Can’t you see the shadow of the chem-trails on the far right of the photo, on the pathway?”

So it goes.


NICS Firearms Background Check System: Filling the Gaps

One of the compromises of the 1993 Brady Bill was that, rather than a five day waiting period for criminal checks and a “cooling off period” the development of the NICS instant background check would be used for the purchase of firearms. Nearly six years later, in late 1998 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System came on-line. Its design intent was to provide a comprehensive, national system from which a quick decision could be made as to whether a gun buyer was legally allowed to own on.

The process to the end users, the gun shops and buyers is very simple. The buyer fills out an ATF Form 4473 [May5, 2013 EDIT, the ATF has taken this link down] which provides information such as name, Social Security number, place of birth, and a series of questions that would, if filled out correctly filter out those who can’t purchase. And if purchasers lie, it stands as evidence of lying on a federal document. The gun dealer then calls NICS and within minutes [usually less than 10] the purchaser is taken to the cash register to pay for their new weapon.

With any system there are flaws…with NICS there are many. Currently the database, maintained by the FBI, holds more than 7.3 million records of people who are barred from buying guns: felons, drug users, domestic violence offenders, fugitives and people who have been committed to mental institutions. But that database is only as good as the data that is fed into it.

And more importantly that NICS database is only used in an estimated 40% of all gun purchases.  60% of purchases are either done friend to friend; through on-line contact which results in either person to person [PTP] sales or firearms illegally shipped from seller to buyer; at gun shows that often have over 1,000 tables of used guns for sale on any given weekend.

The basic design of the database is that date is delivered to the NICS system by at least 60 disparate sources, each with their own data design, their own policies, and their own budget limitations. Each state and the District of Columbia must submit crime data, mental health data, and records of domestic abuse restraining orders. Further that data is derived from thousands of police and sheriff’s departments and courts. Each faces dwindling resources to maintain the completeness and integrity of their data. And further, the timely delivery of that data to the federal system. The Department of Defense, TSA, Homeland Security, Customs and other government agencies also are required to channel data to the NICS system. And with those multiple sets of data, in various states of completion and accuracy come the problems. Integration and data integrity.

To that end, to resolve the limitations of the NICS system President Obama, with five Executive Orders is putting pressure on the federal government to clean up the system, make it was it was originally envisioned. For that purpose he has committed $70Million.

One of the main stumbling blocks is the development of date from mental health sources…data show twenty-five states have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records; six have reported zero.  This means that the cause that most attribute to gun violence, the one set of data that can reduce the number of guns sold to those who should not have them is incomplete or missing. And the problem is not just poor record transfer. Between HIPAA’s privacy restrictions and reluctance by many health care professionals to commit to paper their concerns and the politics of many states which are less inclined to submit reports, the problem is far from easy to solve. It is not simply passing data through from state to federal systems.

After Virginia Tech the Bush Administration signed, in January 2008 new legislation to improve the record keeping between states and federal systems. To date, five years after it was signed there has been little improvement. Officials blame privacy laws, antiquated record-keeping and a severe lack of funding for the failure to comply.

Where do we go from here?

In order to bring the NICS system up to expectations, systems designers will need to redesign and fund federal AND state data collection systems to allow a quicker, easier, less expensive transfer of data between sources. The NICS system should be used as the framework for improvement, not a complete redesign of the system. The key will be in funding the design for disparate systems to bring them into a singular compliance. Further, the political policies that have kept agencies and states from quickly and completely sharing their date will have to be resolved.

And Congress will have to step up to address the 60% of all gun purchases that do not, at this time run through gun shops and the NICS system. A system where all private sales pass through federally licensed gun dealers [FFLs] to insure a paper trail of the transaction, and thorough background check is implemented.

This element of the solution to end gun violence will not be quick, it will not be inexpensive and it will not be without stepping on toes. But, when complete it will provide a more comprehensive system to address the purchase of firearms, purchase by those who are, by Constitution and law legally able to buy and own weapons.

McAllister is a 30 year Systems Analyst and Architect who designs and implements large capacity data systems for both private sector and government.

Read more observations by McAllister at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Over 1,000 Killed Since Sandy Hook

The odometer turned today…over 1,000 murders by gun violence since Sandy Hook Elementary School 33 days ago. In the time it took for those 1,000 adults and children to die the country has begun a process of solving some of the causes of the deaths. It will be a long process.

We have, as a country done two very predictable things. First we separated into political corners…many proponents of both sides of the very hard discussion intractable in their views, unable to move forward, toward common ground in order to prevent at least some of the deaths. But this seems different. The energy and anger are coming from the very large middle of this country, those neither pro-gun nor pro-regulation, having little or no opinion on the 2nd Amendment or gun control. This shift in public opinion is fueled by the anger that in the past year our restaurants, workplaces, malls, churches, theaters, and schools are not as safe as they were…as they can be.

Second to that, we have seen a media frenzy take over much of the flow of information on gun violence, gun control and the 2nd Amendment. The good of it is that we have at our fingertips hundreds if not thousands of facts to present our case…the bad is that the frenzy has contributed to the division that will impede success in slowing down deaths.  Politicians have, for the most part had to stand up and defend their long held position…many funded with tens of millions of dollars spent by the lobbyists at the NRA or Gun Owners of America.

And yesterday, the last day of sub-1,000 murders President Obama released the results of VP Biden’s month long research group to look at options. And so, we look to the next step…Presidential Executive Actions designed to spur research, to define privacy within the Affordable Care Act to allow mental health considerations to be shared with those who now approve purchases of guns for buyers at gun shops across America, to streamline and strengthen the on-line NICS system that verifies buyers, to provide a mechanism to pay for security in schools that request them, to refocus law enforcement to enforce the myriad of laws that are currently on the books.

And further, submitting proposals for legislation to Congress so that they may consider new laws for returning the Assault Weapons Ban, regulating the capacity of magazines, and closing of loopholes in the current way firearms buying and selling is administered.

One month, 1,000 murders, a plan…the journey down the long road to finding and executing a successful set of solutions to the national problem of gun violence has begun. In the next year America will either reach out a hand to help save some of those who will die from gun violence or they will simply turn away because it is against their beliefs. The 12,000 who will die and 250,000 injured in this next year are watching.

Everyone is watching.

Follow more observations by McAllister on his blog Shoot from the Left Hip