Wednesday, June 14, 2017

GETTING THE SHOT


Carry on an interest in photography long enough, inevitably, you will find yourself getting some unexpected and interesting pictures.  I have learned through the years that to get such shots you must be camera-ready, able to spring into instant action,  or you will miss opportunities  that rarely present themselves.   From hard experience, I  learned that being prepared can mean having to have my camera  preset to the available lighting conditions.  It's takes vigilance and living in the present, to always be ready, or the chance can come and go, leaving you wishing.

Another piece of the successful equation to "getting the shot,"  is having a working knowledge of your  subjects.  In my case, that was animals.  The better I understood their behavior, the better I was able to estimate their tolerance to my presence, how close and in what way I could approach, how they tended to move, and when they might take flight, be they a bird or a four legged creature.  Were they solitary creatures,  what time of the day was I most likely to encounter them,  what was their favorite habitat?  Were they migratory?

 Many mammals migrate from higher elevations to lower elevations to avoid harsh winter conditions, Sage Grouse, for instance.  Blue Grouse do the opposite, they migrate from lower to higher elevations with the onset of winter, contrary to what one might think.   Better photography comes from greater knowledge.

Learning to be observant,  to really see,  opens up worlds of opportunity.  With each passing year,  my ability to see has improved, despite my declining vision.  The natural world is fascinating, if we only take the time to see it.  It will never run out of interesting subject matter. Whenever I pick up my camera, I become more alert, observant, and more in the moment.  It has become a habit.

Photography has been an interest for years, an avocation.   But, I could never be confused with a professional.  I have read and conversed with professionals; I am not that. The rest of us have recently been made near equals by the photographic abilities that has been programed into cell phones.    Virtually anyone  can now point and push a button on a cell phone, and with a little luck,  get a result that is acceptable to the masses.  This is largely due to the technology imbedded in our phones.   Be that as it may, the chasm between the cell phone user and a true professional will never be closed.   The computer savvy can alter photos in Light Room and Photoshop,  producing results that were not obtainable by the untrained just ten years ago,  but producing professional work requires more than just computer skills.

Because I was ready and because I was able to anticipate  behavior, I've managed to be there to get pictures  that I would have otherwise missed.  I have caught deer  in mid-jump,  have anticipated Osprey fledging,  and caught hawks making an mid-air kills.  I have managed to get a few good pictures of rising quail that included a hunter and  his pointing dogs all in the same shot.

I'll  end this blog with the mention of a couple photographic experiences that provided humor and unanticipated surprises.  The first involves a photo shoot I undertook here in Tucson.  I found a group of Burrowing  Owls residing in dens in the side of a drainage ditch that ran adjacent to a main thoroughfare.  Golf Links  Blvd. is a major Tucson artery.  It is six lanes wide,  running East to West along Tucson's South side. Beyond the roadway, the the south, lay Davis Montana Air Force
Base.

A friend and I were out with our long lenses to photograph these birds in the early morning light.  We set up laying down, straddling the sidewalk adjacent to Golf Links Blvd.  About fifteen minutes into our picture taking, all hell broke loose.  Suddenly,  in front of us appeared  an Air Force Military Police vehicle.  Its red and blue lights were flashing, and its siren was wailing.  Three Military Police  jumped out, each armed with an M 15.

It took some time to convince them that we were photographing owls and posed no threat to the security of the air base.   Apparently, more than just a few of the morning commuters had phoned the air base,  alerting its personnel to the presence of two possible terrorists pointing cameras cameras at the air base.

An unexpected event  ended another picture taking session.  It occurred when Jim, my photo buddy, and I headed to an area  golf course to photograph ducks.  I had noticed migrating ducks,  almost a dozen different species.  They  were using a small water hole near the 7th green as a rest area during their migration north.

Jim and I were blazing away with our cameras,  while being steadily helled by each new foursome teeing off on this short par three hole.  The water hole lay just short and to the right of the green, not a safe place to be, we learned.    Five or six disgruntled foursomes walked by us being somewhat verbally abusive.  They found perverse   pleasure verbally taking out their lack of golfing skill on us.  It was insult added to potential injury on my score card..


After the sixth foursome rolled through,  I told Jim it was time to remove ourselves.   Being a golfer, and knowing how things work, I knew management would be unhappy to hear of non golfers loose on their turf.   I was right. We met management just as we  crossed into the parking lot.  We exchanged barely cordial salutations as we loaded ourselves and cameras into our vehicle and departed.

On another occasion, Jim and I headed to yet another golf course.  Our mission was a different one from our last one, the duck shoot.   I had recently played this new desert course, Qusil Creek,  and had seen half a dozen coyotes and a goodly number of Jack Rabbits during my round of golf.  Out hope was to photograph both.

 It being July and too hot for golfers to be found  playing mid to later afternoon, I thought we could get on the course to photograph.  We carried our cameras sporting big, long telephoto lenses into the pro shop.  We chatted up the bored-to-tears pro, who, we not only talked  into giving us permission to go out on the course, but talked  into letting us borrow one of his golf carts at no charge.  It turned  out to be an afternoon to remember.  Best Jack Rabbit photo session we've ever experienced.  We got "the shot" many times through  our use of a little knowledge, a little luck, and at the cooperation of a friendly and accommodating  assistant golf pro.

I have been in Montana with a first-time, visiting friend whom I had invited to come north to hunt Huns, only to  drive him crazy.  We were supposed to be bird hunting  but too often I would put aside my shotgun in favor of my camera.   But that's another story for another time.

I have found photography to be fun, informative, a thinking man's challenge, a very worthwhile avocation, an activity that can be engaged in for as long as one likes, from an early to a grand old age.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

NO KANGAROOS IN AUSTRIA


 It was to be a riverboat cruise on a Viking Longship.   It was an invasion of Europe starting in Amsterdam and ending in Budapest.  Prague, with its marvelous architecture, was added as a trip book end, and it was a great one!  The trip itself was a 18 day cruise with extra nights allocated to better cover Amsterdam, Vienna, Nuremberg, and Prague.

After years of coaxing, Connie was able to get me to agree to take a trip to Europe. It was a trip  through five countries with dockings in 15 cities.   We took in many great museums, churches, monuments,  seeing exceptional examples of several styles of architecture, covering nearly a thousand years.

 By inclination, I have not been a person who seeks or desires to take in urban activities.  The idea of traveling through Europe on a a "culture crawl" held little initial appeal, but I took the plunge.   I enjoyed myself more than I thought possible.  I loved the trip and would repeat it,  or take another like it tomorrow. 

We started in Amsterdam, staying two nights at the Radison, in the heart of the "walking" area of  Amsterdam.  It is a beautiful city  with its  interesting architecture,  great museums, seemingly endless history,  and a canal system that enhances any walk through the city"s colorful streets.  Bicycles are plentiful and have the right of way, requiring pedestrians to keep one eye roving defensively at all times.

Amsterdam residents,  like most European,  do more walking  than do Americans.  Due to the much higher cost of fuel, cars, lack of parking, and the narrow, winding streets in these old cities it is easy to understand why.  Public transportation is more widely available and more utilized  than in the States.  Connie and I rode  the subway systems in Vienna and Prague extensively, skipping the provided for,  but scheduled shuttle.  Subways are fast, clean, efficient, and easily get one within a short walk of to virtually any corner of the city it serves.  What can't be walked to can be reached readily by public transportation.

Following  Amsterdam, we boarded our riverboat.  It would be 18 days before we'd have to pack again.  We traveled on three rivers, the Rhine, the Main, and the Danube, all the way to Budapest.   We stopped at 15 cities, taking in the local sights of each.  We crossed central Europe's continental divide.  We negotiated 67 locks in the course of our trip.  The travel was so smooth that you couldn't tell if the boat was moving, was  moored dockside,  or being raised or lowered in one of the locks.

Viking Longhips are architectural marvels.  Like all boats that ply these rivers,  from ore boats to cruise ships, they are built low to the water.  This is necessary because of the low clearance tolerances  of the many ancient bridges that span these waters.   Viking's ships are 30' wide and 443' long.  They carry 190 guests in 95 staterooms.  There is never a feeling of being crowded.  They have 4 decks and a Library.  The dining room and enclosed lounge have floor to ceiling windows.   The food and ship's staff are absolutely first rate.  Wine and beer are provided gratis at both lunch and dinner.            

The glass enclosed lounge is spacious,  the floor to ceiling windows  provide excellent  viewing.   It is an extremely comfortable and popular place from which to take in the travel sights. There is a small open-air deck at the front of the ship. There are three or four days when the upper deck is closed  because even a sitting person would be peeled off the deck passing under the Main River's low spans.  Clearance under some the older bridges is just a matter of inches.  At times of heavy rains, the river can be too high to float under these bridges,  necessitating a holdover in place until the waters subside.  Interesting.   The upper deck was an extremely pleasant place  to spend onboard time.  The view was unimpeded in both directions, up and down river. 

A shuttle or bus  would take us on daily nearby  sightseeing tours,  or drop us at nearby sights, to be seen on foot.  Knowledgable guides were provided to inform us about whatever the subject of each day's tour was.  It was the rare day that we didn't have the afternoons to do with as we saw fit, even after a morning of guided sight seeing.  We spent our afternoons further exploring on foot or expanding our walking area. There was always time for shopping and time for a coffee and a pastry taken at an outside  table of a local cafe. 

A marvelous trip with none of the hassles that come when a traveler has to pack and unpack frequently,  searching out dining and lodging facilities.  Not having to sort out travel routes, places to eat, or working out time and distance problems, or finding available gasoline, all make river cruising very comfortable and relaxing.

I spent my waking hours with camera in hand.  I took bazillions of photos and spent considerable  time each day culling them.  I ended the trip with 322 photos.  I was a rarity.  I only saw a half dozen full-sized cameras during our  trip.   Cell phones have virtually replaced  cameras.  Even the groups of Japanese I saw were all using cell phones to take pictures.   With the latest built-in photo  capability, the totally inept cell phone owner can and does get very acceptable results.   I may  join them when my current camera wears out, and they do wear out.  Cell phone cameras produce reasonable photos  and these can be sent to Facebook, family, or friends within seconds of being taken, with notes and commentary added.   We live in a world of immediacy,  and nothing is more immediate than sharing your trip experience with others in real time.  I would no longer have to wrestle with my computer, reason enough to go it alone with my cell phone.

I would and do recommend river boating as a very enjoyable means of travel.  It's made a convert of me.  And,  river cruises are fast growing to be available in many countries around the world.  The possibilities are seemingly endless.  Get started

This seems the place to mention an observed difference  between Americans  and Europeans: Americans tend to think anything two hundred years old is old, really old.   Europeans, on the other hand,  think two hundred miles is a very long distance.  







Friday, April 28, 2017

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT





                                       


 I first heard the word Ishkabibble in the telling of a poem that was recited around an evening campfire.   I was 10,  attending summer camp  in northern Wisconsin.   We campers were turning marshmallows into flaming orbs of molten sugar,  that when partnered with a piece of  Hershey's chocolate and a Grahm Cracker became s'mores.   That I can remember hearing the word ishkabibble while in the throes of creating this heavenly treat,  gives testimony to its impact.  It makes a strong  impression. Once heard, it is hard to forget.

I was in my early 30's, driving west across southern Ontario with my  pregnant wife and first born when I came in contact with this word for the second time.  It was written on an old, weathered board serving as the name of a very narrow, small,  creek that wound through a nondescript, plain-looking grass field.  The stream was in the middle of nowhere.  Much to my wife's surprise, I skidded to a stop, leaped out and I grabbed the sign.  Yup, uprooted the whole thing and threw it in the back of our old Ford station wagon, and took off in a shower of dust like the thief I had just become.  Powerful word to the ear and a strong influence via the eye as well.

Where did that word come from?  Where is it from and what does it mean?  I have finally decided to find out.  When I first encountered this word,  ishkabibble, there were no computers, no internet.  Many years have passed, and now  finger-fast fonts of information exist for quick research.  I was on the job in a nanosecond looking for answers.

 I looked it up.  There is a surprising amount written about this word, but it all adds up to very little.  It is the name of a San Francisco restaurant.  It was taken as a stage name by an American comedian/ coronet player who lived 1908-1994.  He, more than anyone,  put the word in the public's eye, ear, and  into the public vocabulary.

 There have been a few attempts at defining this word,  and the consensus is that ishkabibble actually has no definition.  It has been described as a mock Yiddish word, but is not a Yiddish word.  This description goes on to say that the word is used to describe the indescribable,  and is used when there is no more to say.  That said, Ishkabibble shows up on many word lists.  Among the more interesting  lists are:  the Pseudorandom list, the Whimsical Word Waggery list, Slackagogo's word list, and Logodaedalus' Lexical Locutionary list.
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Perhaps, the most defining characteristic of this word is that it is not recognized as a valid Scrabble game word!  That about seals it!  Ishkabibble  is not an accepted word, it has no definition, no place of origin, no meaning,  means nothing and  yet, remains in use.  Imagine, not good enough to be accepted by Scrabble.  Still, I find it a marvelous word and I am happy that it still lives.

My most recent occasion to use the word occurred  just a couple of years ago.  A fishing friend and I had the good fortune to fish two spectacular trout streams, taken to them by a Canadian friend who had access and was intimately familiar with both of them.   I gave my word that I would not give them up, never speak their names aloud.

Being a rather chatty character, I realized that it would take Draconian self discipline not to divulge the names of these rivers, by accident or otherwise in some future conversation.  I solved the problem by assigning them pseudo  names, names that would protect their actual identities.

The first I name the  Ishkabibble.  It was too perfect.   For the second stream, I chose Sparnfarkle as my substitute name.  It is a German word.   At least in central Wisconsin it is.  Sparnsfarkle is a large  party-sized BBQ on wheels, usually hired to cater a  lawn party or large family gathering.  The one I attended, where I learned the word,  came with a cooked-to-perfection  pig,  complete with apple in mouth.   The trailer had its own serving sideboard and the owner carved and served the pig.  Outrageously good pork, and quite an impressive operation was this Sparnfarkle.

 I have spoken about these to magnificent trout streams many times to fly fishers and others without ever having broken my promise to never reveal their names.   By giving each a substitute name, I have succeeded in protecting them by hiding them in plain sight.  And with their unique pseudo names, it is unlikely that I will ever  forget them or the great fishing I shared on them with good friends.

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE TOILET WARS

                                           

                                       
.

I have been busy doing household chores.  I have dusted our 20' beamed living room ceiling with my own  concocted apparatus.  It removes otherwise unreachable spider webs from  the rough-sawn, planked under side of the ceiling and the support beams.   It negates having to use scaffolding, saving time, money, and huge inconvenience.  I also use this rig to remove lint buildup  in our clothes dryer vent pipe.   Cleaning the vent from the roof reduces the chance of inline fires and keeps the dryer operating efficiently, saving time and money.

Clearly, there are a multitude of other once a year jobs I've done that I won't bore you with.  Who wants to hear about under-the bed dust bunnies, defrosting the freezer, etc.?  There is one other job I undertook that merits mentioning, however.  Actually, there are several of them.

I have come to the reason for this blog.  That is share with everyone who has fought in the  toilet wars.

 Our house has four toilets.  Two checked out fine, one needed a minor water level adjustment and, then, there was the fourth, the rarely used one.  When I checked it, it clearly was holding its water by sheer force of will alone.  The flapper had been tortured by age and chemicals to be almost unrecognizable   I new flapper needed to be installed.   No problemmo.


Change the old flapper for a new one, and all will be right with the world.  It is the end of the second day and all may be right with the world,  [assuming you are in 100%  agreement with our President and your team advanced to the Sweet 16],  but my toilet is still nonfunctional.  After hitting two different hardware stores,  plus Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe's without finding the proper replacement flapper, I changed course and spent an hour ranting to friends by email.

 The five stores  were visited over the course of three different road trips, the shortest being a six mile round-tripper.  I was guaranteed by two different hardware store plumbing gurus that the flapper each handed me was the proper one.   Wrong.  Twice, after me explaining the nature,  shape, style and nasty demeanor of my problem child, I was assured that I'd been handed the right flapper.  [I even showed the wrinkled old one to no avail].

The offending toilet is a Kohler.  I finally found a Korky made Kohler replacement flapper that did not fit my toilet, but it did provide four pictures of different toilets on the back of the packaging card with pictures of their water towers and the proper flapper part number.  One of those pictures matched  mine and provided the part number.  The problem was that none of the five stores carried that  part numbered flapper.  I finally gave up, called my wife in Denver and asked her to order two of the flappers made by Korky that were made to fit my particular  Kohler toilet.  I'll will have it in two or three days.  It should take all of 20 seconds to install it. Assuming it is the right one!

That ends the flapper caper.  I won't tell you about the spraying stop-cock that had held its water for 15 or 20 years, right up until I turned it off,  at which point it hemorrhaged water until I shut the water main line to the entire house off.  That I installed on the first try, after changing into dry clothes and mopping the bathroom floor.

Since I seem to be into toilets, it occurs to me that other males might enjoy my run-ins with toilets past.  [My rant email written yesterday elicited strong responses from several friends, so I think there is an angst that I tapped into by sharing with others.  I think most males have a story of their participation in the toilet wars, but haven't found a way to share it with others.

My first bad potty experience occurred when I was an undergraduate living in an old, old rented home.  I perched on the throne one morning and ended up on the floor.  Apparently, my toilet had leaked long enough to entirely rot out the hardwood floor upon which it had once been bolted.  It took  threats to my land lord to notify the health department [which got no action] and, finally, the promise of not another rent check until the toilet was up and running to  get some action.  In the two weeks it took to get a working toilet, I became  well acquainted with my next door neighbor.

Exactly eighteen years ago, and I remember this because as I was paying over $20,000 per year to have my now 36 year old daughter attend a small Liberal Arts College.  I had a professional plumber out to set a wobbly toilet in a bathroom with a Saltillo tile floor.  I had to call him back out. He had not removed the wobble and had to start over to get it right.

I mentioned my daughter's tuition.  Upon Bozo's departure I wrote a rant email to a friend saying my daughter should quit school and become a plumber immediately.  It was unlikely that she would ever equal what a plumber made annually, even with a college degree.  She wasn't big on dress wearing anyway.

When the environmental movement started,  I chose to replace my toilets with low-flow models.  I somehow managed to get three mounted over their wax rings.    The fourth one didn't go so well.  It was the one in the Saltillo tile bath.  After crushing three wax rings I stood up and stated aloud,  "I know how to mount this SOB" and proceeded to smash it on the bathroom floor.  My wife, who had been watching my efforts  and I both walked out of the bathroom without another word being uttered...ever, about that toilet job.  It was two or three days later that I called the pro out to mount a new toilet I had waiting for him.  And he screwed it up on his first try.

The last story was relayed to by a friend who replied to the rant email I sent out yesterday.  He stated that he had problem with his toilets not flushing completely.  To solve his problem, he had pressure tanks installed and had no further problems with inadequate flushing.  BUT... the manufacturer of the pressure  tanks notified him and others who had installed them in their toilets that several had blown up!   So,  Jim has in the back of his mind the possibility that one day one of his toilets may explode, soaking his house, water damaging who knows how much in the way of flooring and furnishings.  Now,  that just isn't right.  It is hilarious because the very idea is insane and it ain't gonna happen to me, but, really, it just isn't right.

For all the technological gadgets available today, with push button control of our house lights, ovens,  sound systems, garage doors, no matter the distance from home, that we can be held hostage by a potentially exploding toilet is beyond the pale.  Really.

The very idea that the Throne, that sanctum sanctum is no longer a safe place to sit quietly, to read, to hide, to avoid facing the day,  to dawdle is just unacceptable construct.  It's not right!




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

RENEWING THE CHALLENGE




                                            RENEWING THE CHALLENGE

 I picked up an eight week old English Setter puppy two weeks ago. Getting Wilson at the perfect age and avoiding the cost and stress of shipping him in was almost serendipitous.   It took only a week to find this puppy.   Wilson shares much the same DNA as my ten year old,  Peso.   An old shoulder injury, with its resulting arthritis,  has slowed Peso considerably.  Wilson was brought onboard to maintain continuity.

 Raising and training a young dog is a real challenge for me. The problem lies in me choosing to be its trainer.  I am easily distracted and have a short attention span.  They had no name for this  when I was a kid.    Today it is defined as ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder.  Thats me, in spades, and  it hasn't dissipated with age.

 I have trained only a few dogs over the years.  Each has been very challenging for me.    Each puppy has tested my lack of patience, focus, and short attention span.   To compensate,  I try to zero in on the essential commands required to to train up a puppy into a birddog.   The commands Whoa and Here are musts.  These two commands can literally save a dogs life.  I rely on  the click method for Hunt Dead, and teach running pattern afield.  No problem.   I have avoided  force-breaking to retrieve entirely.    I don't feel comfortable taking on that responsibility.

Generally speaking, well bred bird dogs train up easily.  Some people, on the other hand, don't.  Im one of the don'ts.  The trick to training is to give a young dog as much  experience on live, wild  birds as possible, and stay out of its way.  The breeding and lots of experience will sort things out between a young dog and birds.  The rest is just basic discipline training.

 The art of training a bird dog is instilling sufficient direction and control without interfering with the birding instinct that came in the puppy. It is a balancing act.  Less is more.  It is certainly preferable to leave a little slack in a dog than to make too many training mistakes.  Mistakes create a confused dog, and a confused dog may require a professional trainer to spend months unraveling mistakes made by an inexperienced owner/trainer.   I have read and heard from several trainers:  Given a choice, I would much prefer to train the owner rather than his dog.  Many professionally trained dogs become quickly untrained when returned to inexperienced owner/handlers.

 It is hard for me to stay disciplined and consistent long enough to get a dog trained as well as a professional could do the job.  I willingly  accept that difference.  My puppies and I have learned from each other,  about each other, and by the end of the training process,  and have become a team.   Neither of us is perfect, but we are nearly perfect for each other.

 My dogs  have been happy dogs and I have been happy to follow them.  For me, it is far more enjoyable and satisfying watching my dogs do what they love and were bred to do, run with style, locate and point birds.  The opportunity to photograph this dog/bird interaction, trying to get the rare wall-hanger, is why I still go afield.   Being out afield with your best buddy, walking, involved in the magic that occurs between dog and bird,  is what makes putting ourselves through the training process so very worthwhile.

 Wilson and I are starting a grand new adventure in both our lives.  We both look forward to it.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A MODEST PROPOSAL

                         


I just put down the Oct. 28th newspaper issue of  USA Today.  One article grabbed my attention: A Dramatic Loss of Wildlife on The Planet.  The article states that wildlife populations around the world have declined by more than 50% since the l970's, and man is largely responsible. [World Wildlife Federation and the Zoological Society of Londons published this in The Living Planet recently.]

For decades scientists have been warning that human actions are pushing life on our  planet toward a sixth mass extinction.  The article went on to say that it is probable that by 2020, fully 67%  of of the 1970 wild life populations will have disappeared.  Not a pleasant thought to contemplate.

I propose a greater effort be made to interest and educate young people to become hunters.  While sounding like a counter intuitive idea,  it isn't.  Hunters quickly learn about wildlife habitat and the importance of its preservation.  Their awareness is heightened by being out on the land.   Hunters  see how the environment is faring and communicate their findings to affect steps to preserve and enhance habit to maintain wildlife populations.

Ducks Unlimited  is a largely hunter donation funded organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of duck populations and duck habitat.  It has raised and invested more than half a billion dollars to that end.  It is just one of many organizations dedicated to wildlife preservation.  On an even larger scale,  Kenya has made ecotourism a prime pillar of its economy, and in doing so, has made the protection of habit and wildlife a national focal point.

Television and ecotourism have increased public awareness of wildlife and created awareness and interest.  But hunters and their organizations have the charge toward the spreading effort to insure game animal and bird populations.   Without hunters, Fish and Game departments would lack a significant  amount of the funding required to manage, protect, and study wildlife.  These agencies derive much of their  funds from the fees paid by hunters.  Hunters are essential to the ongoing efforts to wildlife habitat and prevent more species extinctions.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

THE NEW NORMAL



                       
 When I  first saw drinking water being sold,  I laughed myself horse.  Who would be so foolish?  I couldn't fathom anyone paying for drinking water.  Then, recently, came Vitamin Water.  Just recently, I saw an ad for Diet Water!  Diet Water, you have to be kidding me! But, no, it  is real and, clearly, the marketers of it expect it to sell.  Sadly, it probably will.  What have we become?

 New and often strange products keep appearing.   They defy logic,  yet become popular, then ubiquitous.  Marketers are upon us, folks.   People freely and gladly pay more for bottled water, than they do for gasoline.  Have we lost our minds?  Or, have I just gotten old?   I admit to being out of step, but not out of my mind, not yet, anyway.

 I choose not to buy into a lot of what is going on.  It takes energy to resist the rising tide of nonsense, but it is worth it.  Who would have thought that within a few short years  we would come to depend so completely on our cell phones, to feel naked without them.   Ever leave home having forgotten yours?  Unsettling isn't it?

 Marketers own us.  They have for years, but for some reason, it seems even more so now than ever  before.  Maybe, it's because I'm getting older.  Maybe it's that and not the fact that data mining has improved to the point that marketers can pinpoint individuals and tell them their wants before they realize them for themselves.  Mr. Orwell,  where are you?

There seems to be an endless supply of new products, a cascade of them coming, one after the other.   They are touted as good for us,  will make life easier, more convenient, make us feel and/or look better,  reduce our work load, save time,  create more time, to name just a few of their virtues.  The list appears endless.

I find this push to consume as an onslaught to my sensibilities.   I imagine the pressure has always been there, but for some reason, I feel it more now than when I was younger.  Is this defensiveness a growing  trait of becoming a member of the older generation?  I suspect so, at least in part.  It seems to take more and more energy to resist than it used to.  I am more comfortable in a slower moving environment and don't need the latest of anything to be happy.

Alvin Toffler's  Best Seller, "Future Shock" 1970,  stated that change not only happens, it creates more change at an ever accelerating rate. I've never forgotten this and bring it to mind frequently as I try to deal with [understand]  and find perspective with our ever more rapidly changing world.

To picture Toffler's theory of change, visualize  a basketball court covered wall to wall with mousetraps, each one with a ping pong ball sitting on it.  Now, from the bleachers one ball is thrown out onto the court.  It falls, sets off a trap, releasing its ball.  Two balls are now going to set off at least two more traps, then four, then 8 until the number of released balls are too numerous to grasp.  Change[s]  operate in the same way:  changes begetting more changes, even unforeseen changes, and at a geometric rate.

Now, add to that notion of change,  the concept of Unintended Consequences, and the complexity of the situation goes to magnitude that is hard to comprehend and impossible to control.

The simplest example of unintended consequences might be the Internet.  It was thought to be nothing more than a means for academics to communicate among themselves.  Nothing more than that was envisioned originally.  Look at it today.  It has changed everything, absolutely everything, and nobody saw that coming.  The changes that have come and keep coming faster and faster, have taxed our very ability to adjust to them.  There are the day to day changes that affect our physical world and, then there are the changes that effect our mental equilibrium.

The following incident could not have occurred before cell phones.   I was totally lost.  Darkness was descending.  I was well back in the Giluaro Mts., 40 miles from town, worried that I might have to spend the night sleeping in my truck.  Suddenly my cell phone went off shattering the silence.   It was my six year old daughter, Morgan.  Without any preamble,  he blurted, "Dad, where are my shoes?"   My brain froze.  I went into gridlock. The incongruity  between my situation and hers, at that moment,  held me unable to respond for a time.  We couldn't have been in two more different places and situations, but, still we were joined, just a a few keystrokes apart.  I suddenly realized how small this planet had recently become.  But I digress.

After fifty-five,  or thereabout,  we begin changing as we slide into our senior years.   Most changes are gradual, but some  are not.  Some require medical medical intervention,  many will require medical monitoring.

 What is certain is that change is upon us, and we must adapt to it as it comes.  We must adapt to a body and mind that are increasingly less strong and efficient than they once were.   Our balance is not as good, our  energy levels aren't quite as high,  our eyesight is slowly declining, we are beginning to age.  We have begun our inexorable trip down the back side of life.  It is time to become realistic about our health.

 We have reached the point where we must allocate our skills and resources more judiciously.   What we used to do automatically,  now can be more easily and safely accomplished by thinking before acting.   be more and more  necessary as we head into our sunset years to To ensure our safety, we must change our habits and our approach.  We need to be more thoughtful, allow more time to accomplish things, be mindful of our limitations, and to listen to our bodies, who will tell us if we are asking more than we should.

We need to accept growing older and how it is affects us mentally and physically.  We will do it at different rates,  but what is important is that we recognize the process of  aging has begun.  The better we adapt the safer our senior years will be.