As if anyone needed evidence that I am losing my mind, here is a seminal story from just yesterday:
As I was about to leave the house for work, I couldn’t find my wedding ring. Hmm. When was the last time I remember wearing it? Ah, it was when I took the Wolfhound to the corner with me to buy fuel for the lawn mower. Maybe my ring is in the truck, maybe I dropped it next to the pumps, maybe it fell off in the garage. In any case, I didn’t have time to look for it then, so I put a “travel ring” on my left ring finger.
My day progresses normally. Photo assignments. Deadlines. Hurry up and wait. By midday I needed to tell my editor something, so I stepped into his office, leaned on the door frame and started talking, putting my hands in my pockets in the process… wait, is my wedding ring in my pocket? How did it get there? I haven’t worn these pants since last week.
I must have grabbed it thoughtlessly with the earbuds and jump drives and put it in my pocket without telling my brain.
Also recently, my wife needed me to get some of her prescription meds together. I put them in a plastic pill cup, walked from her bathroom to mine, realized I was thirsty, popped the pills in my mouth and swallowed them with a big drink of water… wait. Did I just take Abby’s prescriptions? Hmm. Oh, well. Maybe I’m not getting enough estrogen.
Also, I take credit for ruining Open Mic Nyte with my incessant use of the word “weiner.”
At the urging of my wife and my coworkers, I decided today to try the “Impossible Whopper,” a new supposedly vegetarian offering on Burger King’s menu.
Those of you who know me well might remember that I have been a dietary vegetarian since 1989, and my ears always perk up when I hear of another vegetarian lunch option.
Our local Burger King has offered a Morningstar Farms vegetarian burger for years, but I don’t get it very often because it is expensive and, honestly, not particularly nutritious. Well-heeled vegetarians know that vegan and vegetarian foods can unhealthy, and it takes some effort to design a legitimate diet no matter what restriction you place on it: low carb, low sugar, no meat, no dairy, no wheat.
A healthy diet is composed of balance, and, in my opinion (which is not without merit), is composed of whole foods, vegetarian foods, and foods that have been vetted through history as good for the human body as well as the environment. The best meal I had this week was a bowl of Anasazi beans I cooked in my Instantpot. They were amazing, and amazing for me.
So what did I think of the Impossible Whopper?
- It might have tasted a little like meat, but that means little to me, since it’s been so long since I had meat, and I neither crave meat nor miss it.
- It was a good sandwich, but mostly because of the mayonnaise and onions.
- It was very expensive. The “meal” with fries and an unsweet iced tea was $9.49.
- It was too many calories. Vegetarian or not, I am certain that the average American eats too much food, and this meal was about 40% more food than I like to have at lunch.
- The sides (chicken strips, mozzarella sticks, chilli cheese bites, fries, onion rings, and hash browns) are tasty, but not at all good for me. Fast food restaurants are all about profit margins, and as a result they serve sides that are super-cheap to make. I would love sides like fruit or steamed vegetables, but like everyone else, I don’t want to pay $3 for 14¢ worth of green beans and carrots.
About 30 minutes after eating the Impossible Whopper I felt kinda ooky, probably because I ate too much. My conclusion about this item? Meh.
“I love sleeping. It’s my favorite thing to do,” someone at the office said.
“I love eating. That’s my favorite thing.”
Another coworker asserts that playing the bag-tossing game “cornhole” is his favorite thing to do.
The discussion got me pondering what some of my favorite things to do are, and it marries well with my recent Dream Job post.
All of these items can be appended with the phrase “with Abby.”
- Photography is almost all of its incarnations
- Hiking in all its incarnations, including walking our Wolfhound.
- Travelling, especially in the Four Corners region
- Gardening and working in the yard
- Teaching photography
- Writing, especially outside-the-box fiction and experimental writing, and writing that I can share online or in front of a microphone, or when I commit pen to paper.
- Speaking in public about myself or my craft
Okay, about two items mentioned by my coworkers…
- Sleeping: I don’t sleep without some kind of assistance, and only like to sleep as a remedy for exhaustion.
- Eating: thought we all enjoy eating to some degree, for decades I have been an adherent of the maxim, “Don’t live to eat. Eat to live.”
Finally, I love the self-expression afforded me by the internet, with some important caveats…
- I stay out of comment wars, since there is no way to win, and internet commentiers tend to deliberately push your buttons to get a response. It’s a lot like being in a sixth grade boys basketball locker room. Thus, this web site.
- I don’t take quizzes, for two reasons. First, if they are legitimate, I always ace them. Quizzes are aimed at adjudicating egos, not actually finding out anything. Secondly, most quizzes are data mines for corporations.
- There’s been a lot of promise of rejuvenated web presences recently, and I guess we’ll see.
As I write this, I feel like I am in the midst of my usual August-heat-waves writing doldrums. My writer friend and next door neighbor Jen has recently “lost her mojo” in the same fashion, but recently told me she got it back. As a journalist and columnist, I can’t really afford the luxury of letting my mojo sleep, so my favorite thing to do when I am in heat (August heat, that is) is to power through it. I start a paragraph and type, or pick up a journal and write. It works.
“Our intern’s last day was Friday. It’s been years since we had an intern, and we had all kind of forgotten how great it can be to have fresh eyes and fresh ideas in the newsroom.”
This was the lede for my column today, part of a straightforward telling of our intern’s adventures this summer. On a more personal note, I won’t hesitate to say that Ashlynd and I became friends this summer, and we both had a great time throwing her into our news cycle, changing her from a slack-jawed Snapchatter into a white hot grease fire of journalism. Okay, okay, she wasn’t really a slack-jawed Snapchatter, but I could make jokes like that all summer with her and she would laugh and laugh.
“If you had to use one word to describe me,” she asked, “what you it be?”
Before she finished the sentence I knew the answer. “Fun,” I told her.
“RICH-CHARD!” she chided, hoping I would say something like “journalist” or “professional,” but the truth is she’s a really fun person.
Ashlynd has been tagging along with our staff, including me, as we cover all kinds of news events this summer, including items like the severe thunderstorms that blew down trees and power lines across the area June 19, and a tragic fatality accident near Asher July 11.
It was amazing to watch: the scanner would page out a fire or a crash, and she would instantly perk up. “Are we going?” she asked me with anticipation in her voice. When I said yes, she would burst into action, grabbing her phone and her cameras, and putting on the orange safety vest we gave her that was about 11 sizes too big. By the time we got to the car, more details would come over the scanner, and she could hardly contain her excitement.
Ashlynd and I attended the two-day Oklahoma Press Association‘s annual convention in June, and both came away from it with great memories of the event. Part of it was that she was so excited about being around so many journalists.
“I think I learned a lot about photography this summer,” she told me recently. She’d been struggling with it, so I made a point to drag her to a bunch of my assignments. Nothing forges a young journalist like being thrown into the fire. On several occasions with her, I didn’t even grab a camera, telling her, “It’s your show.”
While photographing a trailer fire earlier this month, she got a little too close to the action, so I urged her to step back out of the way. A Byng firefighter looked at her and pointed to me, saying, “He doesn’t know much, but he knows how to get out of the way.”
Ashlynd got to meet my wife Abby and our dogs, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and Summer the Chihuahua, on one of our assignments. Ashlynd is a “dog person” and has a dog of her own, Jack Frost Huffman.
We were at a basketball camp earlier this month when a coach asked me, “Who’s your little helper?” and after that the newsroom and I would tease her about her new title being Little Helper, which she thought was hysterical. I also began calling her “Ashlynd America” because I liked the ring of it, and it halfway stuck too.
Ten days ago we needed some art for an open page inside the paper, so I suggested the splash park, and took Ashlynd with me. Not only did she shoot it really well, as we were leaving, one of the moms told her, “You’re beautiful.”
Maybe the thing I like best about Ashlynd is that she looks up to our profession, and she looks up to me. Few things are as flattering as when people, especially young, talented people like her, look up to you and your craft.
As a lifelong photojournalist, I know how great this job can be, and I will be absolutely delighted when my “little helper” becomes a full-time professional journalist.
The amateur radio and the scanner scene was turned on its end in recent years by the introduction of a very cheap Chinese-made two-way radio from a company called Baofeng. This company makes two-way radios for all kinds of applications, but at the top of my list is its use as a public safety scanner and amateur radio transceiver.
The radio I bought is the UV-5R Plus. Some thoughts…
- Programming the radio and interfacing with it are poor compared to most other radios. The menu system seems to have been developed in China by non-English-speakers, then awkwardly translated into English in the manual.
- Audio is tinny but loud enough.
- Through some legal loophole or mistake, this radio will transmit on any frequency in its range, 136-174MHz VHF frequencies, which includes 2-meter amateur radio, government, and public safety (which is some police and fire around here,) and 400-520MHz UHF frequencies, which includes a bunch of government frequencies, the entire 70-cm amateur radio band, and another huge swatch of public safety frequencies.
- This radio is sometimes marketed for sale as a Family Radio Service (FRS) or General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). GMRS supposedly requires a license.
- The radio is great-looking, but plasticky enough that time will tell how it ages with regular use. It came with an awkward-looking SMA male antenna, but I like compact antennas with compact radios, so I use a BNC adaptor and a 2.5-inch stubby, which seems to work pretty well.
- It uses a proprietary lithium battery and custom drop-in charger, so when it dies, the radio may die with it, since batteries probably cost five times what the radio cost.
- The three-color display lighting changes when it’s receiving, transmitting, or in use, and you can program which color means what.
- The Baofeng is small enough to fit in the front pocket of the safety vest I wear at crime scenes, fires, and car crashes. It is easier to hear in that pocket at those noisy scenes.
For some reason, YouTube has gotten ahold of the Baofeng scene. Some of it is that the gun community, one of the most entitled-feeling in America, buys these things thinking they will use them when they have to “bug out” when society crumbles. Beware: if you tell them they need a license to transmit on amateur radio frequencies, they will throw you under the bus, claiming, incorrectly, that they don’t need a license since the airwaves aren’t government property. They are bullies, and they are wrong. If you are an amateur radio operator and hear these guys on the repeaters, notify the club administrator at once.
I bought this radio to see what all the fuss was about, and it is mostly that: fuss. It’s not a great radio, especially compared to “real” gear like Motorola, Kenwood, Yaesu, Alinco, and Icom. And this radio can’t hold a dim candle to the ultimate handheld ham radio, Radio Shack’s excellent HTX-202/404. Still, I don’t regret getting it for the absurdly low price of $36.
If we are what we eat, at the moment I am about 30% peach.
It’s been the spring and summer of the peach for me. I’ve had peaches on my trees before, but this summer was the bumper crop. I believe this is due to a normal, cold, wet winter, and a wet spring, so my trees had abundant deep moisture, and healthy pollinating insects.
I have picked peaches almost every day since May, and I have been able to eat most of them. Except for some losses to brown rot, my peaches have been big, beautiful and nutritious, and I couldn’t be happier with them.
Mike, our next door neighbor, rolled his tractor while brush hogging, his business now that he is retired. He was injured and spent some time in the emergency room, but he’ll be okay. It’s a good reminder that something as simple as mowing merits extra care to be safe.
My DR all-terrain mower started with no effort last night, which is nothing short of Twilight Zone weird because I hadn’t started it in three years, and when I did, it took half a bottle of starter fluid to get it going. “Maybe it just needed the rest,” Abby jokingly suggested.
So, with the pasture partially mowed last night and the last of the peaches picked, I hope to get some more of that done today, and concentrate on my next crop, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.
Those who know my wife Abby and me personally might be aware that she and I have both lost some weight over the past couple of years. Neither of us was overweight, but as we get older, we are both cognizant of the benefits of staying at a healthy size and shape.
One amusing consequence of this is our clothes. We are both wearing smaller clothes now. I am, for example, able to wear large t-shirts in addition to extra large. Large t-shirts now fit me but don’t fit her, so I have inherited a new casual wardrobe.
I am saddened to report that Open Mic Nyte, which I have attended since June 2017, has suspended performances.
We saw this coming when its long-time home, Mojo’s Coffee, closed in October 2018. The Grandview hosted us for a while, which was unassailably generous, but the space wasn’t quite conducive to our scene. Another factor that contributed to this was that many of the musicians who performed at Open Mic moved to Sessions, a new live music and alehouse venue, which hosted performances on the same night just down the street.
Sterling Jacobs, a friend for decades, organized the event, and though he has been a poetry rock star, attendance has been faltering. Sterling said in a video that he hopes to keep it going via Facebook, but it’s definitely not the same, not a scene. Besides, my writing is overwhelmingly here at richardbarron.net, not on social media.
We had some great times at Open Mic Nyte, and I feel like I expressed myself well. I always looked forward to it. I met some great people, and reconnected with some old friends.
I hope to find another frequent open microphone event where I can read soon.
I see a lot of poll cards on social media like “Salt on Watermelon?”
It got me thinking about memes, the idea of sharing fun stuff about ourselves, and, through my usual long, lengthy, long thought process, about what would be my dream job if I wasn’t a professional photographer. Forgive me if these seem pretentious, but hey, dream job. All these jobs assume I would earn a decent wage…
- Desert trail guide
- Ski instructor
- Any pilot job, but especially fixed-wing medical aircraft pilot or flight instructor
- Antenna tower rigger and/or antenna installer
- Peach grower and seller; orchardist
- Writer, but only if I am left alone to create my own narratives
- Travel journalist/blogger
- Radio announcer/DJ
- “Actor!” Dan Marsh suggested on the phone, and while the profession of acting is a fascinating career, the truth is that most of us are actors most of the time. But sure, yes, actor.
A young coworker recently asked me if I would retire if I won the lottery. I gave her an unhesitant “yes,” but she was incredulous, since she is just starting her career as a journalist. “I love my job,” I told her, “But I love my wife even more, and if we had the chance to be together all the time, travel, make pictures, fly. Maybe we’d stay here, buy a new RV. Maybe we’d move to Santa Fe or Taos.”
I would love to hear about your dream job… let me know in the comments!
There are a lot of holidays and observance days in the spring and summer. Memorial Day. Flag Day. Independence Day. I continue to cover events that include a lot of flags, a lot of patriotic feelings, and a lot of references to god. In the mainstream eye, god and country are inseparable. What does this mean for me and those like me, who love many things about our nation, appreciate the sacrifices of honorable veterans, and yet do not believe in god?
Adherents love to champion the idea that America is a Christian nation, and thus, its Citizens should be Christians. I know that sounds ridiculous, the same way that Islam demands that its citizens be Muslims. I know that doesn’t matter to a lot of Christians, since they are convinced and sincere that their religion is not only the correct one, but that everyone would benefit from it: gays could be “cured,” atheists could be “saved,” criminals could “repent”…
I’m not sure this even makes any difference to me, since I am an atheist, and more to the point, an explicit atheist, one who asserts that I know positively that there are no gods of any kind. (This can be another topic for another day, but suffice it to say that I am certain about gods the way theists are certain about unicorns.)
I recently read that there are about 4500 active religions on earth. It can be asserted positively that everyone who practices all of these faiths believes their’s is true, since they would change faiths if it were not.
And I know I’ve said it time and again, but no, atheism is not a religion. I’m tired of hearing this argumentless argument, which only the religious ever trot out. It’s meaningless. It’s demonstrably untrue. I always hear it from petty, white Christians who have run out of actual arguments, and are frightened by, for lack of a better term, change.
As most educated people know, the phrase “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance on Flag Day in 1954. Anyone who understands basic psychology knows why: who recites the pledge the most? Children. How do you get children to believe something? Have them repeat it.
I find the Pledge of Allegiance among our nation’s most callow and empty rituals, barely one step from a loyalty oath. Why would you need constant assertion of loyalty to a nation if that nation truly merited loyalty? Wouldn’t being loyal be self-evident?
But back to the original question: can you be a patriot without god? The answer is, of course, yes. Just because some adherents say no, you can’t, doesn’t mean anything, since, at least presently, we live in a nation in which we can define ourselves and speak freely about it. Telling me I’m not loyal or not a patriot because I don’t believe in god is nothing more than bullying.
I love our nation, and I am a patriot.
Today is the first day of summer 2019. Spring brought tremendous rain, gorgeous pastures, peach and plum trees sagging from the weight of fruit, and early yesterday morning, widespread thunderstorm damage in our neck of the southeastern Oklahoma woods.
A fortunate collision of timing allowed our good friend Robert to join me in our coverage of the storm damage from a fast-moving line of severe thunderstorms that rolled through about 3 a.m. Damage was widespread and caused damage to numerous trees, and downed power lines across the region.
More than 15,000 residents were without power, including us in Byng. As luck would have it, we did have power at the office, so we got the paper out, but the Pauls Valley paper wasn’t as fortunate, and I don’t know how they eventually got their product together.
Robert lives in the D.C. area, but came to Tulsa to photography his niece Rowan’s wedding, and had some time to come down yesterday, just in time to round up some nice storm cleanup images, which are in today’s Ada News.
After a long day of that, and Abby texting us “Power!!! Power!!!” at 2:04 p.m. (for an outage time of about 12 hours), we went home to shift to phase two of our day of photography, photographing our pets, our patch, and each other.
Readers might recall that Robert photographed Abby and me in November, and those image ended up being some of my all-time favorites of the two of us, and I hoped to recreate the magic, and the session was everything I wanted it to be.
In recent weeks my wife Abby and I have gotten in the habit of me picking up dinner from San Remos Pizzeria hera in Ada, a baked ziti for her and a big veggie pizza for me, and eating on those items for several days, since it’s a lot of food. I always feel happy when I can bring it home to her, and she feels happy when I do.
Abby’s been walking our Chihuahua, Summer, when I walk our Irish Wolfhound Hawken. It’s been unbelievably warm, green and beautiful out the last few weeks.
It’s Father’s Day, and though I am not a father (except maybe to our dogs), I am a step father, and I also have a birthday coming up shortly, so I decided I wanted new shoes. On Amazon, I found a nice pair of casual black shoes to go with dressier clothes, and I got another pair of Keens.
I got my first pair of Keens from my sister as a Christmas gift, and I like them so much I tend to wear them so much I wear them out. I learned years ago that different styles of Keen shoes fit very differently, and if I find a style, I should stick with it. Mine is the H2 Newport. They are rugged, waterproof, and super cool-looking.
Our trees and the pasture and garden are all happy and healthy. “It’s sure pretty out,” Abby commented as I wrote this. Tonight I’ll be out there again, walking dogs and tending tomato plants on our little patch of green in the country.
Updated July 2019
As some of you might know, I am a licensed amateur radio operator. My FCC-assigned call sign is kc5tfz, which is also the custom license tag on my Nissan Juke. I have several friends who are licensed “ham” radio operators. Almost universally, we use our amateur radio privileges less and less. I got my license originally to aid in storm spotting, but like most communications in the 21st century, amateur radio has been, or is in the process of being, replaced by the Internet, or more fundamentally by the “datastream.” Even our personal two-way radio needs are better met by Family Radio Service handheld radios available everywhere. Abby and I each carry one when we hike.
I have made a few antennas in my day, like the occasional j-pole or quarter wave, but I was never all that into it. I am actually pretty good at identifying antennas on towers and vehicles.
As I was driving to Utah a few years ago, I had lots of time on my hands, so I decided to make a list of all the police scanners I have owned. It was no small number, due in some part to improvements in technology and changes in the scanning environment, but also due to scanners wearing out and dying. Sometimes even boredom takes a role, and I’ll pick up a scanner as a bargain from a pawn shop or a garage sale just to play with it.
I have a vague recollection of picking up some scanner traffic on an analog multi-band radio I got as a birthday gift when I was a young teenager. I was 15, because I noted it in my journal. “Does this subject want to breath or bleed?” I quoted in my writings. The question was asked to determine if a DUI suspect wanted to take a breathalyzer test or a blood test. I suspect this was on an unpublished frequency, since my radio didn’t pick up the UHF band used at the time by Lawton police. That was my first experience with listening to public safety communications.
In 1982, I got an internship in a newspaper in Lawton, and there was a scanner in the newsroom, and one in each of the cars the paper owned that we photographers used. I recall that one of the scanners was the venerable Bearcat III 8-channel crystal-controlled units, and the other a 16-channel programmable. They were getting long in the tooth even then, with the emergence of better microprocessor-controlled scanners, but they got the job done, since Lawton only used about four frequencies on a regular basis.
I was so enamored of the notion of “spying” on the police and fire departments (which prior to that I thought was illegal) that for my July birthday I asked for a scanner, and my parents obliged. Thus began a hobby that has lasted to this day. The list of scanners I owned throughout the years goes something like this (red ones are dead):
- Bearcat BC-150, 10 channel (birthday gift 1982.)
- Radio Shack 4 channel crystal scanner (scanned VHF great, but very poor for UHF, which it was supposed to do.)
- Bearcat III, 8 channel crystal (garage sale, installed in my first car, a 1973 VW.)
- Bearcat BC-100, 16 channel, the first ever programmable handheld scanner (bad battery setup, bad antenna design. I later got one from Ebay just for kicks.)
- Uniden 10 channel with Service Search (installed in VW and later Renault Alliance.)
- Radio Shack 10 channel handheld (big radio that used six AA batteries, hard to carry, but nice and loud.)
- Radio Shack Pro-2021 200 channel (scans too slowly; in my car for a short time in the early 1990s, currently in the garage.)
- Cobra SR-15 100 channel handheld (with leather case, one of the best handhelds I ever owned.)
- Regency MX-3000 80 channel (slanted front, blue display, worst receiver circuit of any I owned.)
- Uniden BC760XLT 100 channel mobile (died in stages over about five years.)
- Uniden 16 channel with 2-digit display x2 (very cheap, good speaker – one was destroyed in a crash in 1990.)
- Sporty’s Pilot Shop A300 aviation band transceiver.
- Uniden 500 UBC9000XLT 500-channel (most expensive scanner I even bought, died within three years.)
- Radio Shack Pro-2026 200 channel
- Bearcat BD144XL 16 channel (pawn shop, gave to a friend.)
- Radio Shack Pro-23 50 channel handheld (bought for next to nothing from a coworker.)
- Radio Shack Pro-94 1000 channel handheld (confusing “trunk” radio programming, terrible battery performance.)
- Radio Shack Pro-2035 1000 channel
- Radio Shack Pro-2039 200 channel
- Alinco DR M06TH 6-meter amateur (not really a scanner, but will scan 30-50 Mhz in addition to 6m; at home, fed by Cushcraft AR-6.)
- Cherokee AH-50 6-meter amateur handheld (not really a scanner, but will scan 30-50 Mhz in addition to 6m; not in use.)
- Radio Shack HTX-202 and HTX-404 handheld 2m and 70cm transceivers (not scanners.)
- Icom IC-207H amateur dual-band + public safety (installed in Abby’s Nissan Frontier.)
- Icom IC-2350H amateur dual-band + public safety
- Kenwood TH-79A amateur handheld + public safety
- Kenwood TH-22A amateur handheld + public safety
- Uniden BD175XL 16 channel (given to me by Abby’s late father.)
- Radio Shack Pro-2030 80 channel
- Radio Shack Pro-2028 50 channel
- Uniden BC72XLT “Nascar” handheld 100 channel (one of the best handheld scanners I own because of its small size and good audio.)
- Radio Shack Pro-2055. After installing an additional quarter-wave on the roof, I poked around a couple of pawn shops and found this radio for next to nothing. It will scan trunked radio systems, though most of the agencies in my area are still using conventional channels.
- Radio Shack Pro-2020 20-channel scanner of 1978 vintage, bought from Ebay for its nostalgia. It is noisy and doesn’t squelch well, so I only use it for experimental purposes. I paid about $10 for it. It is the heaviest and largest scanner I own, maybe 10 pounds and the size of a cassette deck.
- Icom IC-2200H. I got this from a pawn shop for $80. It doesn’t operate properly, so I just experiment with it.
- Baofeng UV-5R multi-role transceiver. This tiny radio is all the rage, so I bought one in June 2019 for next to nothing to see what the fuss was all about. Read it’s review here (link).
I had a few Citizen’s Band (CB) radios over the years, and found them to be just as useless as most of the internet is today, littered with vulgar, ignorant, undisciplined chatter.
My wife is annoyed by the daily chatter of the scanner, but I am able to filter it very effectively, and my ears perk up every time I heard a code that corresponds to something that might be newsworthy, like an injury accident, house fire, missing person, high-speed chase, severe weather, and more. The best example of my brain filtering scanner traffic was one night in March 2000. I kept the scanner on at a very low volume level, so that I could barely hear the routine comms, but sirens or urgent voices would wake me, as did, that night, the very urgent words, “The roof of the Ada Evening News is on fire!” After hearing that, I was downtown covering one of Ada’s biggest fires, of the Evergreen Feed Mill, in about three minutes.
So as long as I am able, I’ll be listening.
My main source for scanner frequencies is http://www.radioreference.com/
I spent Friday and Saturday at the Oklahoma Press Association’s (OPA) annual convention at the Grand Casino and Resort in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I offered my services as photographer since they were so happy with the product I gave them in February at their Legislative Summit. I shot well, and had some breaks between sessions, so I was able to deliver images as I generated them. I feel like they will be happy with them.
Some ideas for the coming year regarding OPA….
I should make a hard push to enter my work, both in photography and in column writing. I didn’t really get around to it last January, nor did my staff, so we were unrepresented in the competition…
- …as were many newspapers across the state, probably for the same reason. I feel like I should compete.
- There is also a monthly photo contest I should enter. It’s easy as my career winds on for decades to regard contests as “been there, done that,” but I think it would be fun to rejoin the ranks of the competitions.
- I like dressing up. I think I look good in a tie and a dress shirt. This might be because I am tall and thin.
- They fed us constantly. I probably had more calories in the 24 hours of OPA than I did in the preceding week combined, much of it starchy and sugary. I kept asking myself how these people eat so much all the time without getting fat, but then took a closer look around me and realized that…
- Journalists still fit the doughnut and Snicker’s bar paradigm. Very few of my friends and colleagues seem thin and healthy.
- Everyone was glad to see me, and they all seemed to hold me and my work in high esteem.
I am finished with my images, and uploaded them to the server for the OPA staff. It was a good time.
I am a big adherent of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a very well-vetted theory, and has always made sense to me. For much of my life I was stuck in the center of the pyramid, lacking what I perceived as a necessity, romantic love. I had it off and on, but never with much promise or stability.
As I thought about this…
“My life is filled with undocumented suffering.” ~Journal, 1998
I listen to music as much as I am able. I am particularly attached to it when I am in my car, traveling around for work. My car has a USB port, and can control my iPod from the dashboard stereo and even from the steering wheel.
I almost always have it set to shuffle the songs.
Sometimes a song will shuffle through that will take me back, often way back. 1997. 1992. 1986. 1979.
As those songs shuffle past to memories, particularly memories of times after breakups, I think about what it was like then. Maybe I felt like a failure. Maybe I was angry. Maybe I was down. Maybe I was feeling sorry for myself.
Then, as I was walking our wolfhound recently, an epiphany: no one else witnessed that, and especially, the ex girlfriend the song was about didn’t witness it. It was just me, in that small downtown apartment or in my room in high school or on the road trying to do my job far from home, night after night, thinking about her. She never heard those songs or had any idea what was happening to me. She moved on.
So I assumed, anyway. Maybe she was all torn up inside and listening to a whole different cadre of music to wallow in it or get over it.
In any case, when Forever Autumn or Mercy Street or Impossible Things or Do What You Have to Do shuffles past again, it will mean something different to me. Melissa never heard those songs. They meant nothing to Michelle. Pam moved on. Kathy found someone else. And so on.
A ginormoose advantage to being married is that I don’t have to deal with courting. I somehow ended up going out with quite few women in my youth (a friend told me her 40-something husband was a virgin when they got married and had never been out with another woman more than once… eeep!), but I got smote on five times that many occasions trying to get women to go out with me, or, fate forbid, go out with me again. That was an even harder blow… “he seemed nice, but after lunch with him, ick.”
A long-ago girlfriend, who I had loved very deeply at the time, recently confessed to me that, “Now – I know with all my heart – you were who I should have been with.” I have to admit to being very flattered by such a pronouncement, but at the same time understanding that it was neither true nor had any relevance. Or maybe I should say that there was certainly no way to determine it was true, at least not without a time machine. Sure, I would have loved her like sunshine, but that doesn’t mean we could have married and stayed married. Marriage isn’t magic or in the stars, but the result of patience, planning, working, forgiving, building and rebuilding it every single day. I was 29 and she was 27 when we were together, and neither of us was ready to be married.
She was a writer, a good one. It’s one of the most interesting things about her. Now, decades later, despite my encouragements, she doesn’t write much. She puts pen to paper and nothing comes out, a result of her physical disabilities and the treatment for them. It breaks my heart, because she was brilliant, and I think she could still be brilliant if she could find a way.
There was a fair amount of unwitnessed suffering about her and our breakup as well. Songs. Pictures. Smells. Memories. I had no choice but to let her go, with no real idea if any of her feelings for me were real or if she felt anything after I was gone.
I see this a lot: someone will start a blog or website, post content to it, be disappointed in the result, abandon the site, and start another site with another URL, and post the same content with a slightly different style or stated goal. This is tail chasing, and here’s why…
- Changing your URL from iheartphotos.wordpress.com to ilovephotos.wordpress.com has no effect on who sees your site. This might have mattered in 2001, but today, very few web users care about URLs.
- You can change your existing site to reflect your new ideas and presentation without abandoning it or moving to a different web address; just change the theme and move the old content to the drafts folder or delete it.
- If you do abandon a site or blog, do us all a favor and delete it into the stone age. Nobody likes link rot, and it will divide and confuse your potential readers.
- Abandoning a site alienates people who visited it, and they often just give up rather than adjust their bookmarks, because people don’t use bookmarks like they once did.
- Nothing about changing where you blog will change how you blog. If you generated boring stuff for 123.com, your content will still be boring on 456.com.
- Changing your site or your blog has little chance of changing your life. Really, that whole millennial “reinventing myself after long hours of soul-searching” is just bullshift.
- “I plan to start a blog” means nothing. Start. Your. Blog.
I write this as yet another friend has reinvented herself for about the fifth time. Her work remains exactly the same, as does her notion that changing web addresses will change everything.
I planted my small orchard in a semicircle around the garden in 2007. It has been an amazing adventure to watch them all grow and thrive, but for the most part, weather and circumstance have limited the amount of fruit I’ve gotten from them. In fact, previously my plum trees have only ever produced one plum. One.
This year, however, has been different. All my trees have numerous fruit on them. My early Elberta peach tree is delivering huge, juicy, flavorful peaches this week like I have never seen. My cherry trees are both loaded with fruit, though they are smaller and not as sweet as grocery store cherries, possibly because the trees are immature. I also have dozens of small, sweet plums that are hard to eat because they are so juicy.
I expect this bounty is a combination of abundant rain and “just right” temperatures.
My good friend and fellow photographer Courtney Morehead came out last night to pick a dozen or so peaches and sample a couple of plums and cherries, as well as meet Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. Courtney and I have been working on sidelines and courts for years now; me for newspaper and her as a senior/portrait photographer. It was great to share the fruition with her.
All the fruit on the early Elberta is ripening at once, so it will be gone soon, in me or on the ground. I have six more peach trees what should make fruit on July.
I am also cultivating an excellent selection in the garden that includes regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Cherokee purple tomatoes, two kinds of bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, and cantaloupes. Between them are marigolds and some pollinator flowers my other photographer friend Wes Edens gave me Tuesday when I went out to his place to shoot some of his guns, which is always fun.
I feel happy when I think of being a part of nature.
“Hay fever. Hay pneumonia. Hay coma. My last breath is a sneeze.” ~Green Bük, 1994
“…a falsely heightened sense that my own morality was superior…” ~Wil, 2019
One of these days I’m going to have the ultimate sneeze, one that gets out all that bad stuff: the anger, the stink of old age, the accumulated mistakes, the pollen.
The product will sit in the sink, stunned for a moment, then scurry off to infect someone else.
I started the morning by weighing myself, 145 pounds. My wife Abby and I are both thinner now than the day we met, maybe even a couple of pounds too thin.
Yesterday I covered the Artesian Arts Festival, a growing, super-popular Native American street festival in Sulphur, Oklahoma. I usually go early so I can beat the heat, and even though I was there right at the start time, it was packed.
I saw my friend Margaret, who was showing her art in one of the booths.
I shot well, and as I was leaving, I got two green bell pepper plants and two Cherokee purple tomato plants from a giveaway program. I got them planted in the garden last night.
On the way home, I brought lunch for us from San Remos, a bake ziti for Abby, and a veggie pizza for me, then ate as I worked my images from the festival and delivered them to my editor.
Later in the evening, I decided to pick some of my huge crop of early Elberta peaches, from the tree I felt certain had doomed itself by blooming too early, just before a hard freeze.
I am also astonished by how well all my other trees are doing. I have plums for the first time ever, and a huge number of cherries. Some seasons I am just happy to see my trees be trees, and some seasons shower me with produce. It’s almost impossible to guess how it will go, since there are so many variables, but in many ways, that’s one of the fun things about it.
FInally, I had the urge to shoot a few mags of 9mm through my Ruger P95, the same one I dreamed about recently.
I hadn’t put any combat calibers downrange since January, and felt rusty. It was good to get back in the swing, and I shot competently.
There has been a lot of Oklahoma weather news this month, including tornadoes and flooding, but our little patch of green in the country is doing just fine.
Aviators and aviation fans who follow the news know that recent months have not gone at all well for American passenger aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Two Boeing 737 passenger jets crashed in recent months, both brand new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, killing a total of 338 people.
The entire 737 MAX fleet has been grounded since the second crash. Subsequent investigations have pointed to the jet’s new MCAS system, a computer-controlled device intended to tame the aerodynamic difficulties that came about from the necessity of adding bigger, more powerful engines that didn’t quite fit under the low ride of the original 737, engines that had to be reshaped and moved forward and upward on their mounts.
The whole idea of putting big engines on this jet has its limits, and, as we are now seeing, has a huge consequence.
Where am I going with this? In the 1980s and 1990s, Boeing built an excellent, powerful, reliable, narrow-bodied jet that, had it been nurtured and developed within its role among airliners, would have been perfect in the role the 737 MAX is trying to occupy: the Boeing 757.
Boeing built the 757 from the start to serve to 200 to 295 passenger market. It featured a large, ahead-of-its-time wing, and huge, fuel-efficient engines. It was a beautiful aircraft, and remains a workhorse jet for airlines like Delta, American, Fed Ex, and UPS, who are looking without success for a replacement for the 757.
The problem arises from Boeing’s short-term thinking. When 757 sales slumped, Boeing abandoned it, and tried to work stretched 737’s to take its place. The real answer would have been to make the 757 a priority, in engineering, performance, efficiency, and reputation. Let the 737 be the perfect plane for Denver to Sioux City, then position the 757 for Houston to Seattle.
The same thing happened to precipitate the 737 MAX debacle: when airlines told Boeing they needed a “new” jet right now, Boeing decided to abandon any new designs and “MAX” the 737, a jet that fundamentally dates back to 1963.
I know: who am I to talk but a business dilettante? But I’ve been right a few times about this and that: MySpace, Radio Shack, JC Penney, Sears, Wards, Hipstamatic. And it’s absolutely valid for me to make observations about the business world in which huge, thriving corporations are driven into dust by MBAs who should know better than I.
This week has been loaded like a fast food baked potato…
- The Weather: This week the National Weather Service issued their highest level of severe thunderstorm caution. We all expected to be under the rage of tornadoes all day, but it didn’t rain at all until the next morning, and none of that was severe. I know they have to follow the data, but it seems like a wolf cry.
The Cell Tower: after I posted a survey for a while at the top of this blog (which is now gone), the official nickname of the cell tower being built next door will be Nerdman’s Pride. The first crew from R&S Tower finished their work, installing the road, the gas and electricity, the foundation, and the pillars. They left yesterday, saying the next crew would “stack,” or build the actual tower part of the tower.
- Dressing Up: I’ve very much enjoyed dressing up for covering area graduations the past couple of weeks. I am really thin now, and feel like I look really good in a dress shirt and tie. Most of the attendees are dressed very casually, but it still feels good to clean up.
- Coming Out the Closet: The big clean-out continues for both my wife and me, as we are both a great weight now, and we have lot of clothing that no longer fits.
- New Rides: I got new tires for my Nissan Juke. I always feel like my car is two inches taller when I drive on new tires.
- The Carol Burnett Show: With the recent death of Tim Conway, YouTube has been suggesting more videos of him, particularly his appearances on The Carol Burnett Show. In addition to being surprisingly low-budget in appearance (the staging looks like it could have been done at a high school), it amazes and annoys me that we were so tolerant of truly offensive humor, skits and bits no one could do today because they are so politically incorrect. Some of them are also not funny on their faces; the joke is over in about 45 seconds, but the skit lasts 13 minutes. Watch this hilarity about Nazis torturing a prisoner of war…
Maximum Speed Boulevard, our male Chihuahua since January 2006, has died. He was about 15 years old.
We originally adopted Max from the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) on January 7, 2006, one day before he was slated to be euthanized (which PAWS no longer does). One of Abby’s coworkers told us about him, and Abby took her nephew to the shelter and got Max.
Max was a great pet. He was a trash dog and a burglar alarm, and when he was younger, dug out of the front yard several times every spring.
Max travelled with us to numerous locations from the glittering Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, the deserts of the Four Corners region, Christmas in New Orleans, the Great American Eclipse in Park Hills, Missouri, and even to the east coast of Florida.
At one point on one of the Florida trips, we thought we’d lost him, but someone opened the pantry door, and there he stood.
Max’s long-time sister Sierra died fourteen months ago.
His health was failing in the last couple of years. He couldn’t hear or see, was reliant on two drugs for his heart and his joints, and was no longer able to leap onto couches or laps, which he did like a spider when he was young. His teeth were mostly going or gone. He was prone to yelping at the door when I was outside mowing, and in recent weeks got lost trying to find his food bowl.
After putting it off repeatedly, we decided to put him down. He was a great dog.
Abby and I discovered each other to be awake at 4:30 this morning. We talked for a while in the dark, petting the dogs, holding each other’s hands, laughing quietly, reaffirming our love, our marriage, our lives. We were like newlyweds, teenagers. It was intimacy at its very best, and it comes from the core of our marriage.
In this entry…
- I am home sick, which is very rare.
- Workers are installing a long-awaited cell tower next door.
- Why and when I prefer tablets over phones.
Everyone who knows me is aware that I seldom get sick, and even seldomer stay home from work sick, but the past two days have taken me down, with dizziness, vertigo, and malaise. I thought it might be a bad reaction to a medication, but Abby seems to be having it too, so now we think it might be a virus of some type.
Being down for even a day or two is very frustrating for me, as I am very healthy, very active, stay as busy as a bee, and remain super motivated to get things done. I’m feeling better enough today to be up and about, and will probably return to work tomorrow. If nothing else, being sick helps to remind me that many people deal with chronic debilitating illness, and I should always remain grateful for my health.
Although I mostly laid in bed yesterday, I did get up-ish for a while in the evening. Abby and I watched some game show bloopers on YouTube, then went back to bed, but not before I stepped out to photograph a major change to our patch of green: a cell tower is being installed next door.
My feelings about this event are mixed and complex…
- It will be an eyesore. I have never liked the look of cell towers.
- It is damaging to the land, as the crew dug a fairly deep hole for the foundation, and built a short gravel road to it.
- It isn’t as damaging to the land as it potentially could have been. For example, they only tore down a couple of walnut saplings and a couple of elm saplings, which I had just kind of let grow.
- All the work is on the other side of the property line, on the land that once belonged to the Milligans (Abby’s first in-laws), but which now belongs to the Nipps, our favorite neighbors.
- The builders told me the first client will be ATT. We rely on cellular phone and data service, and Byng was a notorious ATT dark zone. We are glad the service will be better, although in the house now we use VoIP, not tower service.
- The builders, who said they were from Saint Louis, also told me it will be a free-standing 300-foot tower. They said, “it’s not going anywhere. Cell towers like this in the Joplin tornado stayed up.”
- I’m kind of an antenna guy, so it would hippocritcal for me to come down on antennas just because they are in my back yard.
The equipment has been roaring away for two days now, digging and moving earth. I expect it will be another week before the tower is up, and maybe months before ATT gets the service equipment in place, but it will be nice to have a cell signal on our phones for a change.
Finally, a friend of mine recently bought an iPad, nearly identical to the ones Abby and I have, and after using it for a day or two decided it wasn’t the game-changer he thought it would be. I guess he was looking for it to revolutionize his photography in some way, possibly making it easier to shoot and edit with the bigger-screened tablet.
One of the myths of tablets is that they are better than phones, but the truth is they are almost the same as phones, with the only real difference being the size of the screen. To me as a professional photographer, I would almost always carry and use the phone because of its compact size. The times I love a tablet is personal time, when I want to stream a movie or watch YouTube from the couch or the bed.
When Abby and I were first dating in 2003, Friday nights were often occupied watching a show that aired on ABC and ABC Family at the time, Whose Line Is It Anyway? We balled up together on the couch and laughed out loud all night.
In the Netflix era, we watch almost no “aired” television any more, but we own a couple of seasons of Whose Line on DVD, and last night Abby suggested we ball up on the big blue couch and watch. We laughed like hyenas.
It might be fun to pick out a couple of Whose Line games, like “90-second alphabet,” and do them at Open Mic Nyte.
I rode around on my mower for an hour tonight with a question in my head, one I’ve been pndering for years now. I am not attempting to bait and switch. I want an honest answer. I am leaning toward Wil C. Fry, who was well-educated as a Christian, to give me a clear-headed answer on this…
A Christian premise seems to be that the only correct path to eternal life is through Jesus.
John 14:6 seems unambiguous: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”
So my question is: is every Jew who died storming the beaches for the allies on D-Day in hell now?
Sometimes it feels like I want to do too many things. I want to write, I want to load the dishwasher, I want to mow, I want to play with lights in my studio, I want to take an extra walk with Hawken, I want to clean in the garage, I want to experiment with lenses, I want to shoot my guns, I want to tend my garden, I want, I want, I want…
We all get like this, and sometimes the tendency is to not do anything at all.
I, on the other hand, make myself stop for a second, and remember than I can’t do all these things at once, and I should do just one thing. That’s me today, and my first activity is writing what you are reading.
On another front, two good friends who are my age are having health problems. One of them might be having a heart attack (or may have had one), and is being stubborn about seeking medical care, and the other has a nerve issue combined with hypertension, which you can read about in his blog here (link.)
Yes, it’s disconcerting when my young friends are now old friends with old people problems, but the up side is that Abby and I are both fine at the moment, as are Summer the Chihuahua and Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. To complicate the roller coaster ride is the fact that Max the Chihuahua, who is 15, is still sliding toward the inevitable: he can’t see or hear, and he is unable to move like he once could. He remains a loyal and wonderful dog, even though these are probably his last days or weeks.