Galleries

History Unraveled

One maxim that is bound and determined to keep rearing its head is that people who forget history are bound to repeat it. Today’s pictures serve to remind me of this. Seeing a dilapidated Air Force C-119 Flying Boxcar sitting on the side of the road reminds me that we have a rich history in our country. 

When I look at this picture, I wonder to myself, “Who sat in the cockpit? What sights did they see? Where has this great beast flown when it took wing?” This, dear friends, is why I love pictures, and history. We forget things like this, and when I see a sight like this I am inspired to write about it (even if it’s just a blurb on a blog – oh how I hate the word blog, but that is for another day). 

I’d like to write a short story about this picture, I think. Perhaps when I have a bit more time, I will and perhaps I will post it here for you to read, if you are interested. 

Unexpected History
History as a Muse

Bonus: The Lights

Today is not the day I normally post pictures, but I was looking for a new header image when I happened upon this shot. Since I neglected to post yesterday (I’ve got an idea for a fun post but haven’t had the time to put it down on paper yet), I thought I would quickly post this for your enjoyment.

The power had gone out and so I resorted to candlelight for the night! How old-fashioned of me. Anyway, I love the way the light plays on this shot, and while I staged the layout, I didn’t expect it to come out this well. Enjoy.

The Lights

Uncles are Fathers Too

My Uncle - Jesse

I loved my uncle Jesse very much. He passed away in December, and we all miss him quite a bit.When I was looking through my pictures today, to decide what to post, I found a couple of my uncle taken at the same time and at the same place as The More Things Change. I thought that I would let you all see the man who was like a second father to me in many ways, and a man who was my friend.

My Uncle - Jesse - B&W

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t show off my other uncle too. My uncle Eugene has been as big of an influence as Jesse was. I love him just as much. Both of my uncles are fun-loving men. Until recently, Eugene still had a motorcycle!

My Uncle - Eugene - Vroom!
My Uncle - Eugene - Vroom! # 2

I would post a picture of my mom going “vroom” too, but I would fear for my life. I will leave that one to your imaginations.

Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D.)

Love is being stupid together.

Paul Valery

Image courtesy of http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/02/18/10-tips-to-mend-a-broken-heart/

Today is a singular day every year – it’s the day when the world stands up and says “I love you”. A bunch of lemmings, that’s what we all are.  One person says it and then another. Reflex, that’s what saying I love you is. Bah, humbug. (Note: for those who don’t actually know me, sarcasm is my stock in trade.)

I find myself one half of nothing this year – I’m flying solo. For years, I’ve realized that today is a day that millions of people dread, and sadly no one is around to notice that they do. Those of us who are single on this day, if we are thought of, are thought of with pity and sadness. Today, dear readers, is Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D.).

Many years ago, when I was a reckless teenager, my friends and I suffered a day unlike any other. My girlfriend had just moved to Florida; Stacy’s boyfriend broke up with her, and Melissa was single unexpectedly as well. That  year, I coined the term Single’s Awareness Day, because if you are single on February 14th you are aware of it.

But don’t despair or pity me this year, as I sit alone at the computer in the dark listening to the cars drive by and the puppy play. You see, I am content being alone. I have my friends and I have Riley. I am loved, even if I am not in love. And the truth of the matter is, I’ve learned something about myself. I can live, and live happily, without being in a relationship.It’s a important lesson, I think.

Maybe, just maybe, Single’s Awareness Day is not so sad after all.

The point is this – don’t despair when the stores remind you what today is. Don’t despair when you feel sad today. Don’t despair.

Love yourself, and know that your true friends don’t pity you, they love you. And isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about? Now, if you will excuse me, I have some small candy hearts to deliver to some wonderful people at work who are like a second family to me.

Public Service Announcement: Safe House – See it to Make Your Car Happy

My car is a 2008 Ford Mustang. Her name is Summer’s Shadow, and she likes to go fast. The only problem with this is that I’ve become more responsible now that I’m in my 30’s (no comments from the peanut gallery about my level of responsibility or age, please). Summer’s Shadow understands this, and is patient with me. The reason she is patient with me is because of movies such as Safe House. You see, after an action packed enjoyable movie, she knows  I’ll let her loose at 1am on the streets of my hometown. She knows she will get to growl and let loose and go fast and all kinds of other things that Mustangs enjoy.

So, in conclusion, see Safe House. Your car will thank you. Oh, and you’ll love the movie too.

***

So in all seriousness, I had high hopes for this movie when I first saw the previews. When I went out tonight, I had a couple of choices of what to see, and asked a couple of friends. I was leaning toward Safe House, and my friends seem to agree. I have smart friends (S-M-R-T). 

Safe House stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. To be honest, I will see any movie that has either of these actors in it – and a movie with both is one that I cannot resist.

Washington plays a traitor to his country who has sold out and sold secrets. Clearly the government doesn’t like this. Reynolds is a low-level safe house attendant who spends his days listening to music and doing whatever he wants so long as he picks up the phone when the boss calls. This dynamic duo (sorry for the cliché) are a perfect match.

Washington has secrets. People want secrets. People come after secrets. Boy Scout (ahem Reynolds) decides to save him. 

One thing I’ve learned is that to have a good story and a character you care about, a character that is real, the character has to be dynamic. Static characters tend toward boring, or can be anyway. Reynolds plays an innocent (insomuch that he is still a virgin in the espionage game and has no practical experience). Watching Reynolds’ character struggle with the realities of his career versus his moral compass is great. By the end, he finds a way to balance the two, and emerges a stronger man for it. Granted, he is pretty awesome in the fight scenes – I’m referring to the fact that he becomes stronger as a person.

Throughout, you want Washington to really be a good guy. You want the stories told about him to be just that. At the end of the movie, he is a man dressed in black, and you want him so much to be a man dressed in white. Is he? I don’t want to give it away – go see.

I. Loved. This. Movie.

And Summer’s Shadow is glad I did.

(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1599348/)

Soulful Birds

Birds are just plain awesome. Truly, I wish I could fly (this coming from someone who isn’t too fond of heights – yes I’m a strange bird – heh). These photos came on a much needed winter vacation to south Texas. Clearly, these travelers had the same idea I did – a change of scenery, no matter how brief be it a week or a winter, is good for the soul.

Settling Down for the Night
Sunset
Sentinels

In Which Multi-Million Dollar Satellites are Used to Find Tupperware in the Woods

Mankind. Humanity. We have come a long way as a species. We have traveled to outer space, and we have explored the depths of the oceans. We have created quadrotor robots that look like bugs but fly like synchronized swimmers.
We have even created what amounts to cybernetic implants (i.e pacemakers and robotic limbs like the i-Limb).

Truly, technology is amazing.

And I, for one, greatly enjoy the ability to use Multi-Million Dollar Satellites to find those ever elusive plastic containers hiding in the world around us called (get this) Tupperware.

If you prefer a more catchy name, I enjoy Geocaching.

You’ve never heard of that before? Well Tupperware is… Oh you meant you’ve never heard of Geocaching. That’s understandable.

The question to ask yourself: do you like scavenger hunts? If you answer yes, then Geocaching may be for you. The basic premise is that people hide things in the world. The “thing” in question might be anything from a mini M&M tube, to a 35mm film cylinder, to an ammo can, to (yes) Tupperware. In these containers are logs that you get to sign informing the next visitor that you were there. If you remember to bring some swag (you know that old silly key chain you found once, or that coin from France that you have no need for?),  you can even trade it for something else that is just as silly but new to you. All the while, you must use your ninja skills to keep from being seen – the whole point here is that you are trying to find something hidden after all; who wants to go to the trouble of searching for something that has been vandalized? All of this is tracked online through a free website.

Yes – I said the “f” word. Geocaching is free to play.

The real appeal, though, is not signing the log and tracking your find (though there is a certain pride you feel when you get to 50, or 100 caches found). Like anything worthwhile, the joy comes from the journey. I have found countless spots that I never would have known existed before. I have spent time with good friends digging through a bush (happily). Geocaching is another great way to bond with friends and family.

Another fantastic part to this hobby are the Travel Bugs. Travel Bugs are small items that have been tagged and tracked. They have goals, which might be as simple as “I want to see everything there is to see” or very complicated such as “I want to travel to London by way of Australia”. It’s fun to find these, and help them on their way. Be sure to log a fun anecdote about how you found the bug, or some other story that matches the theme of the bug. The owner will appreciate it, as will anyone else who finds and logs the Travel Bug after it leaves you.

And of course, you can hide your own caches in the world. Have a favorite spot you want to share with others? Know a place in the park across the street you can see from you window – and like to watch people try to be sneaky? Have a special connection with the place that you had your first kiss? All great places to hide a cache.

Now, with all great fun comes great responsibility (thank you Uncle Ben for making phrases like this possible). There are some rules to consider:

  1. Hide the cache better than you found it;
  2. Be like a ninja and don’t let the muggles see you at your game;
  3. If you take something, leave something in its place; you can always leave something without taking as well;
  4. If you find a Travel Bug, remember that it is not yours and you cannot keep it – be sure to help it on its journey; and
  5. Pick up trash! Part of the fun is seeing new places – no one wants to see an empty soda can in a park.

In conclusion, Geocaching is a great hobby. Give a try and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your stories. You can either add a comment here or email (thedingowashere@gmail.com).

For more information, visit Geocaching.

In Which the Super Bowl Really Means Friendship

If you were to ask me who my favorite football team was, my first instinct would to be to ask who the Dallas Cowboys were playing this week. In all honesty, though, if I lived in Chicago I would ask who was playing the Bears, or in San Francisco who was playing the 49er’s. I’m a strange bird for whom picking on someone is my way of showing affection, and I’m just not a big football guy. I grew up in a baseball family.

Every year, though, I look forward to the Super Bowl. I joke about watching it only for the commercials, but the company is the real appeal. I know some good people who are always ready with a joke, and I love to watch them scream at the TV and each other. This year was no different. Phil’s disappointment over the loss by the Patriots this year aside, even he had a good time. The game was fantastic and well played – the food was very good as well. Our host, Mary, did a great job. Even Monica’s baby was cheering.

This is my third and final football post of the year (maybe I’ll post another next Super Bowl), and what I want to say is this – to all my friends, thanks for the camaraderie and laughs.

Now, when is Spring Training? The Braves have some atoning to do for the September collapse last year!

In Which Matthew Broderick Will Win the Super Bowl

I’m going to go out on a limb here. The Giants are not going to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots won’t either.Neither, on their greatest day, can out-perform Matthew Broderick.

The halftime show, while it may be as entertaining as Janet Jackson, or as entertaining as the Black Eyed Peas, won’t be the victor. And as much as I am so very looking forward to the new Avengers movie, the trailer for that masterpiece will fall a bit short as well.

You see, there can only be one winner, and this year that winner will be…

Broderick… Broderick… Broderick.

My sister’s boyfriend’s daughter’s bromide’s (don’t ask – I don’t understand this word either) boyfriend’s dog doesn’t have to tell me that a car commercial which parodies the great Ferris Bueller’s Day Off will be the best offering at the game today.

If you doubt my prognostication skills, shame one you.  For your viewing pleasure, I bring you what will surely be the best commercial debuting during the Super Bowl this year: Matthew’s Day Off.

You’re welcome.

(You’re still here? Why are you still here? Go on – read another article.)

Peacefulness in Hill Country, Texas

As a writer, I draw a lot of inspiration from nature. When I look around and see everything that there is to see, I can’t help but be in awe. When I discovered photography, I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to capture images that I can later use as source material for my writing.

While the following pictures are not the source of anything I’ve written so far, they are very much examples of the type of inspiring sights I search for.

Peacefulness in Hill Country, Texas # 1
Peacefulness in Hill Country, Texas #2

I almost always take both a color and a black & white shot when I am out and about for two reasons:

  1. Sometimes, black & white can be more striking than a color picture, and vice versa
  2. Editing a picture on the computer somehow makes it feel less authentic (even if I’m the only one who knows)

This was an occasion where both are beautiful, and both convey the majesty of a small river in Texas.