Abby asked me to order the movie Wonder recently, and it arrived Wednesday. With much of my work cancelled due to a slight accumulation of ice, Abby and I settled in to watch it. It was surprisingly engaging and involving until … boop!
Apparently the ice storm was icier than forecast, because the power went out after a huge gust of wind made the woods crackle. I guess it was just our turn, because we in Byng were the only major outage in the state. We considered our options, but as we discussed going to town for dinner or going to my office to stay warm, we got a text message saying the estimated time for restoration was in a little less than an hour.
When the power came back on, we finished the movie, which we both liked.
Then yesterday, Abby got inspired to make pasta, so with another day of sports cancellations leaving my evening free, we had pasta, naps and Netflix.
By late afternoon the ice was just about melted, so I took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound for a squishy walk.
Many know that we are currently in the midst of a sea of human communicable disease, particularly rhinoviruses and influenza. For most of the winter, I was lucky, but in the last ten days, it’s been my turn to have mocus, the snorfels, fnorks, the crud, whatever. I am glad I wasn’t handed influenza, which I had in 2002, and which was difficult as you’ve heard. I have a head cold that is presently migrating into my chest. I am hammering away with large, maybe even dangerously large, doses of over-the-counter cold remedies, plus plenty of super-nasty whiskey-containing teas to break up the mucous sheet in my head. A good sneeze is a welcome change to the mostly useless coughing.
Anyway, an observation. Years ago, Abby and I noticed in the winter that our glasses (in my case, readers) would blotch up. Back then I postulated it was because of the Glade air fresheners in the house, but since we no longer use those and still get blotchy glasses, it’s got to be the cold-air humidifier in the hall causing the schmeer.
As an aside, when I was growing up, we had a household humidifier in the hall, about the size and shape of a modern college dorm refrigerator. It had a slot in the front panel for filling it with water, and four control buttons to set degree of humidity. I thought it was the coolest thing because I could pretend it was a control panel on the star ship Enterprise.
Last semester a photography student of mine told me that she visited this site and took a trip “down the rabbit hole,” meaning she got involved and lost in the content. It was very flattering to me to have someone say that. I try to be as entertaining as I can and as poignant as I can. The internet can be unforgiving, particularly when you tell a truth some people don’t want to hear. I appreciate any approbation offered.
Here’s a little history. In 1978, I started a journal for English class in tenth grade. I wrote in full-sized spiral notebooks for 20 years. After that I switched to smaller hardback volumes. In 2007, I started a blogger.com page. Within a year I migrated to my own web site, and have administered it using WordPress since then. That gradually replaced writing in longhand.
Interestingly, I bought a number of hardback blank journals in the early 2000s that remain unused. I have toyed with the notion of giving them away, but we live in a world of such plenteous paper and so little demand that I expect anyone who would take them wouldn’t use them.
That leaves keeping them for either a special project or some kind of handwritten journal reboot, neither of which is likely in the internet age; I am much more comfortable at the keyboard these days than I am with a pen or a pencil.
An Open Mic Nyte buddy of mine, Timothy, calls them his notebooks “codex” books, which is an elegant name for the same thing. Another OMN friend, next door neighbor Jenn, keeps journal notes all the time. Ideas?
I am home again today, taking another sick day. I am doing this for two reasons. 1. So I don’t spread my illness those around me, particularly my coworkers. 2. In recent years, I have found that despite being able to work when I am sick, I get well faster when I stay home.
Thought for Today...
There is a saying in journalism: “I have ink in my blood.” This parallels school slogans like, “I bleed black and gold.”
I, however, feel like I am more of a photographer than a journalist, so my slogan might be, “I have developer in my veins.” I know. Kinda gross.
Today’s biggest surprises were found at Wal Mart, where I went for cold medication and basic supplies. Normally we don’t think of big box stores as places that can make us smile.
The first was a huge bin full of stuffed ladybugs; I brought one home for Abby, who I know loves ladybugs.
The second was on the bean aisle. I know, a surprising bean? The beans I saw were Anasazi beans from Adobe Milling Company of Dove Creek, Colorado. On our travels, Abby and I have passed through the sleepy town of Dove Creek maybe a dozen times over the years, usually on our route home from Moab, Utah. I also love the idea of eating a product grown in high country sunshine.
Name Those Beans...
The bean bag says Anasazi means “ancient ones,” but in the Navajo language it actually means “ancient enemy.”
Seeing the bag of beans with the same logo I remember from the bean mill in Dove Creek definitely made me smile. I bought them and brought them home to Abby, who also smiled, and suggested we have them for dinner.
We all know about stress. It is the body’s and the mind’s reaction to difficulty around us. Often, when I think I am stressed, I try to imagine what it must have been like during the Black Plague, or to be on a chopper about to hit the DZ in the Ia Drang Valley, or trying to take care of your family during the Turnip Winter. So what if my deductible hasn’t been met yet when I see the dentist; at least I wasn’t just loaded onto a cattle car headed for Poland.
I believe our population is under stress at the moment for a lot of reasons. Our head of state is a dangerous idiot. Our intellectual and spiritual health is unbalanced. Our planet is being poisoned.
In my own circle, many staff members at my newspaper are ill this winter, including me last week, and beginning again last night. I imagine part of that is that our business, which we value and cherish, is backed into a corner, and the future is uncertain. I feel our ownership is like Kodak’s ownership, unable to see the future and insistent until very recently that “people will always need newspapers.”
The Los Angeles Times was just sold to a billionaire, heralded initially as a move forward and out from under an unpleasant relationship to present owner Tronc.
Anyway, I am sick. I often go years without using a sick day, and suddenly I took two last week, and am home again today. I have an upper respiratory tract infection without fever, so I’m thinking rhinovirus. I probably could have worked in the office today, but everyone seems to be getting sick over and over, so staying home might break that cycle.
Another stressor for me last night was a poorly-forecast ice storm. The weather called for “icy in spots,” but by the time I was done shooting basketball at Latta, it was insanely slick, so much so that I even had some difficulty walking to my car. The scanner was loaded with “subject slid off the road” traffic, and on at least one occasion during my drive home, the wind blew my car sideways on the ice. Every brake check was met with anti-lock brake chatter.
My normally 10 minute drive took almost 40, and I never broke 30mph.
I am trying to express myself even more on this site. This is a deliberate counterpoint to the tweet/fakennews/hashtag scene that seems to be destroying real thought, particularly in regard to journalism and politics. I’m not saying I’m some kind of “bastion of truth” in a wilderness of lies, as much as I am taking another step away from the clatter.
Religious Freedom in the Home?
Someone told me recently that his wife kicked him out of their house for expressing his religious views, about which I was incredulous. Abby and I have always accepted the differences in religious belief in each other, and it has never come between us even once.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I walked three miles yesterday afternoon, prowling even deeper into the woods, oil leases, and homemade ATV trails. Every walk is another adventure.
All this walking has been good for my Photographer’s Syndrome (also known as achy breaky back.) The longer we walk, the better it feels. Also, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I am very grateful that I have such healthy feet. They never hurt. Even after three miles up and down over varied terrain, with a dog in tow, my sidearm on my belt and a camera on my shoulder, my feet feel just as they did before we went, fine.
Eye Contact Making a Difference...
I just finished teaching a very engaged beginning digital photography class. Everyone seems to understand, learn, connect, and have fun. This is why I love teaching the most. An important concept of which I am always mindful: make eye contact with everyone, but especially with those who seem lost or stalled. It engages and involves them in the lesson.
I sometimes wonder how much of the bitter anger we see around us comes from people simply being in pain. Why was the Burger Barn waitress so hateful to us just now? Shingles? Hemorrhoids? Knee pain? Maybe she just got an eviction notice? A divorce decree? Blinding abdominal cramps? Why was that Sangyamnischi customer service guy so condescending? Maybe he just got demoted? Bad news at home? From the doctor?
You Can Lie without a Smartphone...
We like to pretend our generation, the internet generation, invented fake news, propaganda, half-truthing, mass hysteria, but we didn’t. The lies on social media are the result of human nature. Think about it. Did Stalin ever tweet? Did Pol Pot have a fake news MySpace page? Did the Spanish Inquisition post their manifesto on their blog?
Yet, how many purgatories are self-imposed? How much suffering is in the hands of the shallow and dramatic and childish?
We filter the world through idealism. We expect everyone to be on their best behavior just for us, even if we don’t give that best behavior to the rest of the world.
So sure, little things matter. Yes, sir. Thank you, ma’am. You look sharp today. I’m glad to be here. It was a pleasure talking to you. My favorite at work: “Thank you for reading The Ada News.” Sure, it’s manipulative, but with all the right motives.
Something that has always troubled me a lot: people with inaccurate self images. It troubles me because I have known people who thought they were the spit, but were, in fact, insufferable losers. Also, I worry I am like that.
A perfect example of this is “Katy,” a woman I knew who killed herself years ago.
At one point she wrote in her journal a list of things she had to offer a partner, but only a few of them were true…
“Nice looking, loving, great (at least real good) body, honest, healthy, easy to be with, terrific cook, good in a crisis, good listener, intelligent, independent, affectionate, honorable, accepting of other POV than my own.”
In fact, she wasn’t honest with herself, she wasn’t emotionally healthy, her independence and affections were tainted with neediness, she was a judgmental listener, and she wasn’t easy to be with. In fact, when I was with her, I found her one of the hardest people to “be with” I ever dated.
She also had a long list of requirements of a potential mate, but everyone in the real world fell far short.
This fundamental lack of understanding herself led to intense conflict inside her, resentment and self-loathing that eventually led to her suicide.
Self image is different than self esteem. Self esteem comes from accepting who you really are.
So what about you, Dick? Are you perfect?
Ha! I make a point to see through my assholity, not always successfully, and accept my shortcomings. And it’s not just that I look like a doofus when I try to dance of that my voice is nasaly. I resent incompetence. I’m eager to rush to judgement about other people’s idiocy. The tone of my voice is often condescending, even when I don’t mean to be. I brag too much about being happily married.
On that last point, I freely admit that a small portion of my loving being married is the old saying that, “the best revenge is being happy.” In your face, miserable loneliness!
All these observations come on Super Bowl Sunday. Abby and I customarily spend it together. We watch the game no matter who plays; it’s because we do it together, which is nice. I got a big pizza, which we are eating all day. Abby is watching the Puppy Bowl and laughing out loud.
Finally, I took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound for a two-mile-long, spooky winter walk. We took several trails and routes in the woods behind the property that we’d never seen before. In a few spots, I got a hint of The Blair Witch Project.
So, with the Super Bowl tomorrow, which Abby and I have always spent together whether we have a dog in the fight or not, I think to myself last night, “We should get a deli pizza with extra mushrooms and extra cheese.”
I opened my mouth to say it when Abby says, “We should get a deli pizza with extra mushrooms and extra cheese.”
I recently took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound to my office at the request of one of our dog-loving ad reps, LeaAnn. It was a good visit, but LeaAnn noticed an enlargement on Hawken’s elbow. I ran him by the vet, who told me it is a hygroma, a benign fluid-filled sack common to large dogs, that appears due to repeated pressure on a joint. I ordered a hygroma pad.
I won the lottery again. Actually, I won two lotteries, Lotto America for $4 and Megamillions for $30. I plan to buy one of those jet skis that’s also a mansion and yacht.
There was a funny moment at Ada High’s soccer media day when I asked Sadie Criswell to throw the ball from one end of the group to the other. (Last year when a bunch of kids to whom I had become attached graduated, I told myself I wouldn’t let that happen again. But I did. These are such great kids.)
First, an epiphany: while considering a stat I read recently stating that 95% of all blogs are abandoned, it dawned on me that when I was writing in my paper journal every day, I routinely told my friends and interested parties, “You should keep a journal, too.” The next time I saw them, they had written one entry and stopped. 95% of all journals are abandoned.
Secondly, I started feeling puny yesterday afternoon, so today I am staying home. If I stay home and avoid stress, I might be able to feel better soon. I am taking a ton of cold medicine, drinking hot drinks, and attempting to sleep my illness away. I’m not crazy sick like a lot of people I know this season, and I don’t have fever, so this might work.
Thirdly, we are bringing Hawken the Irish Wolfhound into the house several times a day. It is noisy and chaotic, since he can’t turn around or wag his tail without knocking something over, and while he wants to play with the Chihuahuas, they want to assert territoriality, so there is a lot of, “Woof! Yap yap yap yap!”
While I was writing this, it turned into an all-purpose rant/repository for my angry notes.
Alternate title: The Lame Naming Scheme of Marketing
“Oh, yeah, bro. The XX-series is totally 2016. You should upgrade to the YY!”
And thus, marketing is born. Products are sold mostly on their perception, and much of that perception is muddled into deception by the use of model number, almost none of which have any correlation to the actual product.
I saw a shiftload of this when I was younger and into stereo systems. The names of components had nothing to do with their use or capabilities. It was based on how certain numbers sounded. A Marantz TC-5000 was neither anything “tc,” nor were any of its specifications “5000” anything.
I am reliving all this because I recently discovered a webizen from Great Britain, a bloke? chap? called Mat who runs techmoan.com, a site in which he collects and reviews old tech, mostly old audio tech, everything from 8-track tapes to Betamax video.
Also, I tried to figure out the latest lineup of mirrorless cameras and was flummoxed when I had to “sort by price high-to-low” to figure out which was a top model.
For many years, products, particularly cars, have included the letters “SX” in the model name or number because you can’t say “SX” without saying, “sex.”
While it’s true that I am annoyed by cameras being named irrelevantly, at least lens names make sense, mostly. While there is some hemming and hawing about ED, L-series, G, FD, etc., the bottom line of lens descriptions is very straightforward: focal length in millimeters, and the maximum aperture in f/number.
Okay, on with the other rantings. This won’t take long, but you might want grab a cup of covfefe to enhance the experience.
Another Fun Fact!
As I write this, the world is in the midst of a fairly rough flu season. You might not know that now is not the time to take vitamin supplements and eat nutritious foods. That was 6 months ago. The human immune system isn’t like a tank of gasoline that you fill up when it gets empty. It’s like a child’s mind that you nurture and nourish until it is fully functional.
Smoke can’t cause a sinus infection any more than water causes drowning. You have to put the two together.
Other fun medical fact: By the time a doctor says you have type II diabetes, half the beta cells in your pancreas are dead.
“Someone on the internet tonight told me I was ‘too eloquent.’ ” ~Journal, November 2000
A sudden, unprecedented groundswell of sexual abuse and sexual harassment accusations followed by some other distraction: does that sound like a step toward the truth, or history repeating itself?
In the pantry looking for pie filling, I see a can labelled “Beef Consummate,” and thought, “Bow chicka bow wow!”
Our dogs are made of the Biggs-Hoson, the so-called “dog particle.”
Beautiful women who claim to have low self-esteem: I don’t understand this narrative. You’re a demonstratively beautiful woman. (I know; beauty is subjective, and I tell myself that when I think a woman is beautiful, she is, because I get to define beauty.) I know you’re a bitch and got pregnant in high school and dropped out of three colleges on your father’s dime and fücked over a dozen nice guys and … hm. You know what. You’re right.
Sh!tbag? Am I using the word right?
“I’ll slap the taste right out of your mouth.” ~movie
The number one kind thing I do for my wife: put a blanket on her when I see that she’s cold. (I know this doesn’t belong in an angry rant, but I put it here for balance.)
“There was no blanket handy, so I built a pillowmid around myself and slept for two hours.” ~Journal, May 2001
Instead of Fixer Upper, I am watching a show on the Death Channel called Tearer Downer. It’s hosted by Trent Reznor.
Also, while I am blah blah blahing about this and that, I want to say that this is not a blog. I read recently that 95% of all blogs are abandoned. Add to that the fact that blog is short for web log, which this is not, and that most blog posts go, “Sorry I haven’t posted in so long, but quack quack quack.”
This is the web site you want to read to feel complete. It is the very first completenesssite. I’m sure that term will go viral five minutes after I click “publish.”
Wil C. Fry’s site isn’t a blog either. It is a site for getting that red pill shoved right down your latte-drinking throat. (See red pill/blue pill reference in handy search engine results using the same device you are using to read this.) And Anderson Conner’s site? F*ck me gently with a chain saw.
Question for the Taliban: have your actions ever resulted in the outcome you desire?
Question for child pornographers: have your actions ever resulted in the outcome you desire?
Question for people who call these people monster, perverts, bastards, or worse: have your actions ever resulted in the outcome you desire?
My friends know that my wife Abby and I live on a sprawling acreage of the bucolic splendor of southern Oklahoma.
Now that a hard winter is at hand and the ticks and poison ivy are no longer a factor, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I have broadened our daily, and sometimes twice daily, walk route, to include all four corners of the property.
The route is about a mile, and varies slightly depending on what we want to see.
Hawken and I always have a great time. I never need to be reminded why I love living in the country.
“Robert, Karen and I made pictures in the cold last night, at Oral Roberts University. There’s nothing better than friends, a nice night, good subject material, a bag full of lenses, and a bunch of Tri-X. It’s really why I take pictures.” ~Journal, March 3, 2001
Over the past months, something has happened to our marriage. Abby and I have stepped into a new phase: we are more affectionate, more understanding, and more appreciative. I don’t know why this has happened exactly, except to say that she and I hold the same fundamental belief about marriage: you build it and work at it, and reinvent it every day. We grow apart and back together, we face stress and difficulty and work it out, we get sick and recover, we get mad at each other and forgive.
At the core of all this is our commitment to our marriage.
Narratives I don’t understand…
Men who divorce women who I find insanely attractive.
Nagging. Do you know who likes being nagged? No one.
Women who are freaked out when I talk to them about real stuff, like their lives; I get a “how dare you try to get close to me when you’re married” vibe. It may be because they have bad experiences with other men, and it is likely that they equate intimacy with the opposite gender with sex.
Women who are freaked out by the fact that I am physically affectionate with them. Women like Karen Hudson, Lisa Bratcher, Margaret White, and Jamie Pitman are totally comfortable with this and we throw our arms around each other and enjoy it, because they understand how secure and faithful I am in my marriage. Everyone else gives me the one-arm genital-hold-away hug.
Years before Abby, a married woman in another state told me she was “thinking about having an affair.” What did she expect that would accomplish?
Later that year, alone with her and verging on having that affair, I turned it down, because she was still married and had two small children, and because I’m not a total bastard.
It is also possible for me to appreciate the femininity and sexiness of another women without betraying my wife. I think prohibiting this is a slippery slope of distrust that can damage a marriage.
Thus, the “deal.” We all make a deal with our partners by asking for their commitment to marriage, and the “deal” is that we not only relish everything good about each other, we accept each other’s flaws. For Abby and me, the “deal” paid off, and we are happy.
January: I was able to use some credit card rewards points to acquire an iPad Pro and an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4.
March: Excellent basketball seasons for several teams were very engaging for me, including a hard charge at the championship by the Ada Lady Cougars, and a Class 2A championship for the Latta Panthers.
March: Abby and I drove to Rolla, Missouri, to buy an Irish Wolfhound puppy, Hawken Rifle Trail.
April: We sold our RV, the Kokopelli, to Abby’s cousin.
April: My iPhone 5 died, and I replaced it with an iPhone 7 Plus.
May: Our hometown Byng Pirates won a state baseball championship.
August: Abby and I met my sister Nicole and her husband Tracey in Park Hills, Missouri, to witness and photograph the total eclipse of the sun.
September: My newspaper and it’s parent company, CNHI, were bought by Raycom Media.
My wife Abby’s daughter Chele, her husband Tom, and our grandson Paul (collectively known as “the kids”) just left for the airport this morning after an excellent five-day visit, and the most amazing thing is how much quieter the house is now than it was yesterday.
We enjoyed the time together, exchanged gifts, saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, drove to Abby’s hometown, Ryan, Oklahoma, to see her sister, brother-in-law, and niece, and played with the dogs. The last point is particularly salient because Paul has always bonded with the Chihuahuas, Sierra and Max, especially Max, who adopted Paul as an infant and looked after him. It was also fun introducing Paul to Hawken the Irish Wolfhound.
Finally, this weekend a shock of cold weather arrives, so I bought a portable propane heater and some extra gas to keep Hawken warm.
With cold weather bearing down on us two nights ago, I decided to put foam covers on the outside faucets to help keep them from freezing, since it was the first really cold night of the season. My friend Dan Marsh noted on the phone that when he tried the same thing that very evening, his terrier Leo immediately chewed it to pieces. I replied that Hawken the Irish Wolfhound could certainly do the same, but I would still put the cover in place. What could I lose?
With the cover snugged over the faucet and the heater set on high in Hawken’s doghouse, I went to town and covered the coldest Parade of Lights in memory.
It warmed up quickly yesterday, and I had some of the afternoon off, which is often the case during basketball season when I work a split shift. By late afternoon, I noticed the water pressure was low, then a few minutes later that Abby and I both heard water running outside. Uh oh.
I scampered out into the back yard to find it flooded, the foam cover in tatters, and water spraying into the air from the faucet. I though to myself, “It’s 4:30 Friday afternoon, so I have 30 minutes to find a plumber.”
Looking closer, though, I was relieved to find the water was spewing from a tap valve I keep screwed onto the faucet for filling Hawken’s water bowl, and the faucet itself was undamaged. It also happened that I had another on in the garage, which I screwed on, stopping the deluge.
I gapped a big piece of the foam cap and took it inside to show Abby, and when I held it up, without missing a beat she asked, “What did he do now?”
Our community, greater Ada, has been supporting their Ada Cougar football team this season more than usual, since they finished strong and charged into a Cinderella scenario with their eyes on the gold ball in the Class 4A championship game last Friday night against undefeated Heritage Hall at Choctaw High School.
Sadly, despite a deep gut check by all the players and a huge fan presence, Heritage Hall prevailed in an epic defensive battle for a final score of just 14-0.
The season didn’t start great, and it initially felt like a “rebuilding year,” with a new coach and some inexperienced starters, but the Cougars got better and got lucky, winning their district, then winning, usually in the fourth quarter, excellent playoff games against Elgin, Oolagah, and Bethany.
In the end, Heritage Hall was just too big and too talented for our scrappy Cougars. Sports is a fickle mistress.
Seasons like this are rare. Earlier this year, the Ada Lady Cougars had a similarly heartbreaking run at the basketball title, and we were all just as invested emotionally. (The next night, the Latta Panthers won their state basketball championship.)
Ada fans know that the Cougars have claimed 19 state championships, five of which I have covered. The 20th seems repeatedly out of their grasp.
Seasons like these and games like Friday’s are at the heart of what I love about being a photographer, and being a part of a great community.
No one will deny that A Charlie Brown Christmas, which Abby and I watched last night, was right on the money about Christmas being trivialized and commercialized. It’s easy to imagine the corruption of this beloved holiday as a latter-day event, A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast in 1965.
Commercialization of things we loved as children is never new in a capitalist/mercantilist society. The only thing to do is hold in your thoughts what is truly meaningful about Christmas. For me, in all honesty, Christmas is about photography and not much else.
One thing about Christmas that irks me to the bone (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?) is how utterly crappily-made Christmas stuff is. Fake trees, toys, garland, lights, decorations, etc., are all cobbled together with the frailty of an injured baby squirrel. The margin must be incredible; do you think $1 worth of Christmas decorations cost even 1¢ to manufacture?
I think about this because for the second time in seven years, I am having to remove the lights on a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree because the wiring and rigging is so flimsy that when I plugged this one in today, none – NONE – of the lights came on. No amount of jiggling or twisting or plugging-and-unplugging of bulbs made any difference. It’s dead.
The commercialist answer, of course, is to buy a new one, but you know what? I already showed up once with my money. I’m not buying another $129 piece of plastic crap.
I took yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving, off so I could cook. Last week I found a nice light+dark boneless turkey for Abby, and bought two Tofurkys®, one for the office potluck and one for me for the actual holiday. I baked Abby an apple pie at her request. We also had asparagus, stuffing (the subject of an office debate Tuesday as being properly called “dressing”), and broccoli rice casserole. Except for her Abby’s gravy, I cooked it all.
We sat through a couple of movies and napped. I walked Hawken the Wolfhound. The Chihuahuas stayed in our laps.
I have waxed romantic about burning my brush piles in the past (here, here, here, here, here, and here), and last night was just as romantic and meditative as ever. The weather was calm and cool.
The pile was a secondary one I made from branches around the pond, so the pile was on the dry center of the pond. You can make up any joke you want about my pond catching fire… I certainly did so last night.
One thing about listening to music last night: I was really chasing it. I had my finger on the “next” button of my iPod Shuffle, and as a song came on, I would skip it in a second or two, trying to find the right song for my mood, which changed as soon as I let a song play.
I thought of everyone and everything. If you are reading this, I was thinking about you.
“Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat.” (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies)
Criminal conviction by public opinion, usually through the media, and more recently through social media, is one of the most dangerous aspects of 21st century society. It feeds into a network of rage and powerlessness that makes people into a bloodthirsty mob.
Why? Because “police say XXX abused over 70 children.” Did you know (and I am guessing you did but don’t care) that no one is guilty of anything because “police said so.” It takes more than that, because police are fallible and can make mistakes, can be too eager to believe what they want to hear, and are as easily corrupted as any other human beings. Most importably, it is because the Constitution, the foundational document of our nation, says so.
Periodically, society goes through strange, self-induced, self-sustaining, and ultimately self-destructive waves of bullying disguised as justice. If you don’t believe and behave in favor of their conclusions, you are the enemy, and advocate the target of their outrage by proxy. It’s not enough to be silent. If you don’t condemn their enemies to hell, you, too, are the devil. Trends like #ICantBreathe, #blacklivesmatter, and in the last few weeks, #metoo invite you to comply or be cast out.
A Facebook thread on the ironically-named “Friendly Atheist” page recently called me as “asshole” for suggesting that everyone, including an accused child molester, is entitled to due process. Their argument was that, “He’s charged with 160 counts, and that’s good enough for me. He’s guilty as far as I’m concerned.” Dangerous. Dangerous.
I don’t participate in any of these recent social media/social justice trends for several reasons…
I don’t let popularity or peer pressure make any decisions for me, good or bad.
I don’t let the internet or the people around me label me as anything, since they don’t know me. It’s one of the stupidest games groupthink can invent: “Hey, that’s guy’s not wearing a Holocaust ribbon. He must hate Jews!”
I have first-hand experience with a trend I was bullied into accepting, satanic cultism, that turned out to be demonstrably false and debunked. At the time, though, I felt a lot of pressure to accept it and the thousands of claims by women who said they’d been molested and raped in satanic rituals. In the end, that whole scene was an example of mass delusion and mass hysteria, and many lives were ruined by it (see link for an example), for absolutely no reason at all.
So I don’t wear Colin Kapernick shirts, I don’t use #ItWasMe, and I have no intention of apologizing for being myself, even if I made mistakes. Honestly, a bloodthirsty social justice cadré hates me for my race and gender, and already blame me for all that is wrong in the world.
Also, free speech: Aside from being guaranteed by the law of the land, it is actually fairly difficult to exercise free speech. If you say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong people, even jokingly, even speculatively, you could face complete ruin. On the other hand, if you say things that are universally insensitive and yet are in certain situations with certain people, even genuinely terrible things, you can still prosper.
At this point, we are going through another period of mass hysteria, certainly about child molestation and sexual harassment, but also with the inclination to believe one thing with one ear and despise it with the other, not really knowing anything about any of it.
I have half a dozen angry rants halfway composed in my drafts folder. I am very sure all this anger is bad for me, especially for my teeth, which I grind when I feel outrage.
So, what’s going well in this mortal coil?
I walk Hawken the Irish Wolfhound every day, and twice on days when I have time. The experience is good for both of us, and adds nearly a mile to my already active lifestyle.
My health is fine, and though my wife has underlying health problems, she’s doing okay too.
My newspaper is using my images like never before, thanks to a vacancy on our staff leaving us a little short on content, our decision to stop using irrelevant content from around the state (which our readers don’t like), and the fact that I shooting as well as I ever have.
Also at work, I am scanning and publishing old photos from the film era, which has been nothing but fun.
I am teaching well lately. I just last night I wrapped up another beginner session last night.
The days and nights of November are beautiful.
I don’t like to dwell on troubles, since it doesn’t help. Politics, crime, injustice. I can vote, and that’s about it. I need to remember to breath, and stop grinding my teeth.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound has slain another gopher.
Meanwhile, I’ve been baking pies for Abby. You can tell when I make pies because I make a happy face with the extra crust.
Finally, Tuesday is Halloween. I have been making related pictures, but none better than at the recent Mummy and Son dance, where I photographed a mom dressed as a hot dog and her son a mustard, a mom as a burglar and her son as a State Trooper, and this image of an astronaut son and his moon mom…
Readers might recall that three years ago my media cohorts and I were treated to a “media ride” on the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 1929 Ford Tri-Motor. The “Tin Goose” was in town again this week, and we took the usual media ride.
It was fun, but in all honesty, as a pilot, I’ve flown a lot of airplanes, and done a lot of crazy fun stuff in the sky, so puttering along in the world’s slowest airliner wasn’t exactly a thrill ride. Still, it’s always nice to be in the sky, and fun to meet up and do something unusual with my fellow media friends.
It’s fall on the Patch, and the weather goes between stormy and sunny, cooling off day by day.
I plastered Abby’s truck with mud at the family reunion two weeks ago, on the improvised road between Aunt Judy’s and her son Donald’s place. I personally think four-wheel-drive trucks are happiest covered in mud, but Abby wanted it clean again, so I fired up the power washer Tuesday and got both our cars clean.
The last few evenings have included amazing skies I photographed while walking Hawken the Irish Wolfhound.
Tonight while walking Hawken, I came across the Nipps, Mike and Joyce, the next door neighbors who bought Abby’s first mother-in-law Dorothy’s house, and their granddaughters Hope and Harmoni. I confuse their names because the next next-door-neighbors dogs’ are named are Hope and Harley. The girls were super-excited to play with Hawken, who is getting more comfortable with people.
As darkness arrived, the Nipps built a fire and girls roasted sticks. It was a nice time.
Finally, the LL Bean hiking shoes I’ve had since 2005, which I’ve been holding together with glue all summer, were finally completely used up, and I sadly threw them away.
I saw a post on social media recently about the “dangers” of vaccinations. The post included the word “shocking” in the title, and contained unattributed “facts,” and major errors, including misidentifying the FDA as the “Federal Drug Administration.”
I am a vaccine proponent, and here’s why…
I am old enough to know polio and smallpox victims. Polio and smallpox have been eradicated by vaccines. Young people are inclined to forget just how terrifying and destructive many of these diseases were. Read about smallpox here (link), then tell me we didn’t need to vaccinate it out of existence.
Mumps and measles are making a resurgence, thanks to the anti-vax crowd. These are very dangerous diseases that were unheard of for much of my life because my generation came right after the period in which they made a lot of people sick, so we understood the risks.
Even if the illness-to-prevention ratio was 1000:1, it would still be worth the cost to protect a huge majority from serious illness. It is colossally selfish to abstain from risk at vastly increased risk for everyone else.
Vaccines increase herd immunity, slowing or stopping the progress of serious illness in society overall.
Diseases for which there is yet to be a completely successful vaccine like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria are responsible for millions of deaths every year.
Vaccines are one of the seminal breakthroughs of the 20th century, and they have saved literally millions of lives and prevented untold suffering.
Before you start cackling about the “flu shot” “giving you the flu, maybe you need to try to understand that “flu” in vaccination terms is influenza, a dangerous and very specific viral upper respiratory infection. The “flu” is not that snotty, miserable cough most of us get in November, nor is the “flu” a gastric or intestinal malady.
Finally, it is difficult to reconcile a society that is often eager to blame an outside cause, fewquently the government or “big business,” for their problems: My child is disrespectful, distracted, and not very bright because of an unseen, unreported, unverified chemical from the doctor (insert chemtrail reference here if you like), not because of extensive sugar consumption, extensive inactivity, extensive electronic entertainment, and extensively indulgent, lazy, gullible parents.
I told my wife Abby I wanted a picture of me playing tug-of-war with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, since it’s his favorite thing to do with me, and since he has grown some since our last photo session.
Before we could photograph us, Abby asked me to put a bandana on him, and we chose one of his U.S. flag bandanas. Putting one on him is an epic battle for me, since he thinks it’s a chew toy, but Abby is apparently a dog whisperer, and had no trouble at all.
It was a fun photo session that included Abby trying to “ride” Hawken for a photo but finding him too tall to mount, and Hawken stealing Abby’s water bottle to keep as a toy.
Afterwards I took him for his second walk of the day.
In other news, it was cold enough to put sweaters on the Chihuahuas last night. They love their sweaters, and come running when I bring them and offer to put them on.
Also, as readers hopefully saw on my teaching blog, Abby and I attended her family reunion last weekend, and shot a bunch of senior pictures for Abby’s great niece Teddy, with great success. I will post reunion photos on the travel blog shortly.
I don’t consider any of this significant because, aside from an increase in 13-related mischief and mayhem as part of a feedback loop/self-fulfilling prophecy, there isn’t much about the number 13 that interests me.
I thought about all of this as my wife Abby and I arrive at our 13th wedding anniversary October 12. We exchanged vows in Utah’s iconic Delicate Arch in Arches Nation Park on a perfect morning in 2004.
This entry’s title, “Worky Thirteen,” refers to the fact that luck represents about 13 percent of the success of a marriage, and the remaining 87 percent is work, patience, trust, intimacy, work, indecision, mistakes, laughter, tears, work, heartbreak, elation, connection, and work.
I have never worked so hard at anything in my life, but I have never reaped more reward from anything in my life.
You can see the complete trip report from our wedding here (link.)