Thursday, November 30, 2017

There Is Still Hope

A couple of days ago I posted the first of what turned out to be three posts with bird pictures.

In that post I said a few things about my intermittent but lifelong experience with photography.

Inevitably the comments centered on the hardware: what brand and type of cameras have I owned over my lifespan to date.

That hardware centricity is just me: for me a well crafted camera, and if is capable of changing lenses, any of its associated lenses are things of beauty; they are to be savored when not in use.

I feel the same way about guns.

My love of firearms has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.

A Browning ultra light 20 gauge with a ventilated rib is a thing to be kept in safe, dry, locked storage; occasionally it is to be brought out of storage and be enjoyed as a work of art; it never need be loaded or discharged to be completely functional – for me – in its ultimate purpose.

I feel that way about books as well.

Over the years the hardware centricity that I have for cameras and lenses has found ancillary utility: I have learned to express myself using cameras for their designed purpose.

And that has added a vital dimension to my life.

The evolution of the hardware of photography has accelerated into a full fledged revolution.

And I have become something of a camp follower of that rapidly rolling army.

Every time Sony has a major new announcement I give the new thing my complete attention and analysis: do I really need the dollar eating features and functions that have just been added to the Sony predecessor that I am currently using?

Or not?

So when I got an email from B&H telling me about a live stream panel discussion for the new Sony A7RIII, I enthusiastically clicked on the link and watched the event.

There were five young people – one a moderator - all professional photographers.

I doubt if any of them was older than thirty five.

It was a good session; I learned a lot; I probably am going to upgrade.

But the thing that hit me about five minutes into the event had nothing to do with B&H, Sony, the A7RIII or anything tangibly related to commerce or photography.

“These kids are the future of America, and I like America’s chances if these are the sort of people we are and will continue to be” I heard myself thinking.

In the drab, downer dominated, discouraging and disheartening era of donnie I saw the first sign of hope.

There are people who love life, the world, one another and are moving forward.

There are people who think thoughts, not alternate facts, who savor ideas and probe the edges of what they think they know.

There are people who spontaneously and articulately, and with a smile or a chuckle can follow a heuristic line of discussion to cogent, spontaneous and whimsically entertaining conclusions.

There are young Americans who don’t need to be made great again; they already are; they always have been; and no amount of socio political filth can change that.

So I have hope.

And part of that hope is that I hope there are lots more like the ones on the panel; and I hope they all vote.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Birds Part Last

I have a lot more pictures of birds, but repetition can get boring pretty quickly.

So this will be the last.

At least for now.

paris 2012 magpie 123012 00003

paris 2012 parc montsouris parrots 011713 00001

paris merle noir 112517 00000

paris starling

pauli et francesca from sceensaver 051717 00000

seattle flicker 00000

Back On Blogger Mobil?

I have had a Blogger app for quite a while. 

It mysteriously stopped working a while back. 

Today I found this one. 

It seems to work. 

I guess I’ll try to post and see what happens. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Birds Part Next

The difference between the indistinguishable dots in the not very visible bird feeder attached to the house from my grade school days  and full color, you can see the feathers versions that I take these days is a miracle.

But it’s an explainable miracle: megapixels, auto focus, deep zoom and Photo Shop’s home photography features.

So here are a few more:

lopez nuthatch 091917 00000

lopez red winged blackbird female

lopez junco 00000

lopez towhee screen capture 100715 00000

lopez white crowned sparrow

lopez eagle 062017 00000

Monday, November 27, 2017

Birds Part One

The first time I tried to take pictures of birds I was in grade school.

I had a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera.

My best friend Joe had a similar camera.

We both loved birds.

Joe knew a lot about birds in addition to loving them.

So we built a sort of blind in his backyard: some chairs covered with a sheet facing a bird feeder attached to the house.

We took our cameras into the blind, pointed them toward the feeder and waited.

And some birds came.

And we took their pictures.

When we each had a roll of film taken we took the rolls to Anderson’s Drug to be sent to the film processing company.

And we waited impatiently for the prints to come back – they were, of course black and white; color was an exotic and expensive technology beyond our means; it may have been beyond our cameras’ capabilities; I don’t remember.

Anyway, the prints came back; we opened the envelopes; as we scanned the results our hearts sank.

Every print was pretty much the same thing: the house was clearly focused; the bird feeder could be seen; and the little dots that were hard to see but could be ascertained were – apparently – birds.

That showed me at an early age that there must be something beyond a basic camera that was necessary to take pictures of birds.

Since those Kodak Hawkeye days I have had several bursts of being interested in photography.

I had a 35mm Kodak Motormatic; it took really good landscapes and scenes.

A few years after that I had a Pentax Spotmatic. It had a 1.4 55 mm lens; I also bought a zoom lens of some type and specification. 

I don’t remember the specifics.

That was my Vietnam period.

A couple of decades after that I got a Cannon with several lenses.

I never could take decent pictures with that camera or any of its lenses.

By the time I started going to France I had come to the conclusion that I had taken every picture that I would ever want to take.

After a couple sojourns wandering the streets of Paris sans camera, I replaced that obviously ridiculous viewpoint with the mantra “walking the streets of Paris without a camera is a really bad idea”.

Inevitably the camera (there actually have been a rapidly changing, increasingly expensive succession of Sonys, not a single camera) that took Paris pictures became a fungible device: pictures started coming from everywhere.

And a lot of them were of birds.

dans le jardin de luxembourg

ebay 013015 00000

hummingbird for print

lopez chestnut sided chickadee 00000

lopez heron 010917 00001

Friday, November 24, 2017

Both Beautiful

Recently, after coming back from a trip to Italy that included Rome, I have posted a couple of times about Rome as a city that has to exist in a world where there is Paris.

I won’t resay any of that here; you can look for it if you want to.

But in both cases, my thoughts seemed to get down to how I feel about the rivers.

A picture of La Seine came up on the screen saver today that seemed to want to keep those musings alive and ongoing.

Here it is:

ls seine apres couche de soleile

One might declare La Seine the winner.

But my memory is still long enough that I remember this picture I took last month on the Tiber:


I think they are both magic.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving As A Stephen King Event

The joke of the season is that Thanksgiving is a nightmare: interspersed among frantic culinary thrashing, multiple culinary disasters and terminal end-of-festival drunkenness comes what is called "political arguments".

I can authoritatively attest to the validity of the first three: the family I grew up in laid down the master template for those things.

In fact, here is a little snippet from a novel that I am thinking about writing:

“She threw the turkey on the floor and then the cast iron frying pan. The turkey slid over to the cat food dishes; the cast iron, after an amazing low range gong note, spun in place and slowly split into two pieces: a third and two – thirds. It was beautifully asymmetrical.”

“So what did she do for dessert?”

“Funny you should ask; she threw the cocoa divinity cake into the sink. After we put the pieces back together and pasted it up and back together in several pieces with frosting it was the best cake she ever made.”

“The cat went after the turkey, of course; but the pan hit the floor so soon after the turkey that he made a big tail and left with a shriek. He never was quite the same after that, which was good; we never liked that cat much anyway.”

“Most of the dressing stayed in the bird.”

“That was the first year using nutmeg in the dressing; we always thought it was the nutmeg, not the slight infusion of Puss ‘n Boots that made the dressing so special; but we were never really sure.”

So I can talk with authority about part of the horror that is thanksgiving.

I still have nightmares.

My father, with a dull knife trying to carve the turkey is a recurring nightmare theme.

It always ends even more badly than one might expect.

After I made this post my younger sister, who was still at Thanksgivings long after I had escaped into adult life, read it and reacted: 

“I read your blog.  It’s funny.  Sometime in grade school I wrote an essay about the Thanksgiving my father went to carve the turkey and it slipped off the table and out the dining room window.  That never actually happened exactly like that, as I believe your story did, but certainly similar things occurred.  I remember my teacher commenting that I had such a wild imagination….”

I just had to include it here; I’m not making this stuff up!

So I submit all that in support of the first three Thanksgiving nightmare activities.

But number four?

Political arguments?


We have merely devolved into a culture which shouts at one another armed with our various forms of ignorance, misinformation and prejudice.

That's not politics; it's anthropology.

And The Heron Just Walked Away


The Burroughs Corporation owns the patent on this ancient technology.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I Was Really Worried

I always knew a lot of things.

Over life most of them had become obviously wrong, not true, or en Francais, faux.

The major remaining tenet of not being right had managed to nonetheless continue into my middle life.

That tenet was that I really didn’t like France, the French, and denied that there might be a French culture at all, or a way of living that might be French (as opposed to good old red blooded ‘Merican “culture” – deep fried turkeys and such).

In the waning days of the Twentieth Century a close friend of my wife’s and mine had put together a ten day trip to Paris for her students at a Spokane Community College where she was a professor.

The trip was open to anybody that wanted to hitch a ride.

I sensed that Mysti would want to go and my anti-French muscles all contracted.

But for no reason that I have ever been able to re-create I decided that both of us should go,

I think Mysti was appalled.

She was not interested in being in France with an ignorant buffoon.

But, as it turned out, she was.

There with an ignorant buffoon.

So she was making the best of it as we walked down the Champs Elysées: she was telling me about the City of Lights and the blood that flowed across the Place de la Concorde and all of that.

I was finding all of that to be pretty interesting – in a comic book sort of way.

And then, as we broached Metro Stop George V, I had some sort of irrevocable experience.

And I have never come back.

In that moment Paris became home to me.

I have no idea why.

In the intervening years I have lived there, cumulatively, for about a year and a half.

I have places that are so magical, so important, and so psychologically fragile that I almost never want to think about them.

I just want to be among them.

So, as a recent trip to Rome loomed I was almost like a lover who was fearful that his loyalty to Lady Paris might be compromised.

After all, Rome is where most of everything we now do, or think, or even contemplate, came from.

Paris just distilled and re-packaged it.

As it turned out, as I walked down the Tiber, under the sweet gum trees, with the shriek of the parrots in my ears, I had a different experience than I ever would or could have expected; oddly it was parallel, but totally different, to George V.

It gave me a different viewpoint.

We had walked toward Vatican City.

Then we had gone the other way and walked toward the Island, the oldest part of the city..

Either way,in the river, the birds and hulks of abandoned boats, and the occasional rapids, and the aquatic plants and everything of similar nature that would be part of a small rural municipality screamed a fact: “Rome is not Paris: Paris is unique; but so it Rome; Rome is the cow town that spawned Western Civilization”.

And she doesn’t want to change.

And she isn’t my home; Paris is my home; but I love her – Rome - dearly.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Angel Did It Part Ten

Dateline Gethsemane 0033 AD

“ I just don’t want to be god.”

“I am not, in any way, god.”

“I am, I guess, a thinker.

“And apparently thinkers are not welcome here.”

“The bald red guy just made a pitch”

“He said if I went with him I would be King – of something – I wasn’t sure of what.”

“He said the Jews are against me.”

“I am a Jew.”


“I know that they want to kill me.

“My people, I mean.”

“The Jews, I mean…”

“I know that…”

“The Romans don’t give a shit.”

“But I also know that …”

“The Jews want me gone.”

“And so Pilate washed his hands.”

“And then – I do have some connection with things that I do not understand - there is the future.”

“Those son of a bitches from Rome – I see a bunch of them in the future gathering at Nicaea – and saying that I was/am/will be/and forever must be -  be god.”

“Or the son of god.”

“In some weird triumvirate that gets around polytheism.”

“Which indicts me to being Divinity.”

“I am not.”


“I am and always will be, a man who hoped for the best from his fellows, and who tried to teach a few of them.”

“But it all went off the tracks somewhere about AD 325.”

“How sad.”

God, I hate this.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Angel Did It: Part One

Dateline: Nazareth 0000 BC/AD

“So what are we going to do?”

“Joe, if you ask me that one more time I am going to have to castrate you.”

Silence settles on the couple; the man, much older than the woman, seems to be gathering his thoughts.

“ I wish you had – before – but thanks for the feedback.”

Silence ensues yet again; a gecko crawls up the wall of the mud hut.

“But, can’t you just make the kid go away? I mean, I hear from the crones that there are ways …”

“Fuck off Joe.”

“You need to clean up your mouth, Mary.”

“I’ll get right on it!”

“Well, you need to think…”

“Think – you could have thought – but you just plowed the field, as they say.”

“The field resisted not.”


“But what I was trying to say, what I was trying to get you to comprehend is that I am old; future generations will say that you being 15 and me being 72 will justify some future behavior, by some future asshole.”

“Are you nuts?”

“Most assuredly; articulate also; prophetic,even.”

Sunday, November 12, 2017

60 Minutes This Evening

Tonight they had a long analysis of how four Americans got killed by a B1 that dropped a 500 pound bomb.

On the four Americans.

The bottom line of the analysis – as I understood it – I was cooking steelhead, so I might have missed something, was that the captain in charge of the whole goat rodeo lost track of, or didn’t adequately keep track of, the guys who were out in harm’s way.

The 60 Minutes version of events pretty well shredded that view of what happened.

But I was not able to suppress my own reaction to the story (and part of my reaction is based on my total rejection of the current use of the word “strategy”).

“Strategy” is a big thing – like winning WWII.

“Tactics” are things like dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima to end the war.

An “F” designated airplane is a tactical airplane.

A “B” designated airplane is a strategic airplane.

I am not going to even attempt to explain the differences between the capabilities of the two types of aircraft.

But they are legion.

And, when misapplied, as we see from the 60 Minutes story, they are fatal.

So why, in an undeniably “tactical” situation did the US military deploy a “strategic” weapon, as they did in the case of the story analyzed this evening by 60 Minutes?

And why is everybody surprised that the “strategic” weapon killed four Americans involved in the most elementary sort of “tactical” situation?

Actually, nobody is.

Any one of the four or five people who might read this post are going to say “my, my” and go back to whatever it was that they were doing before they wasted their time reading it.

And the people who know that I am right, and who are too important to find blog posts like this to read, are just going to continue in the cover up: somebody really fucked up when they deployed our (we all, Americans, after all, do own these assets) “B” thing, rather than an “F” thing and that was tragically, fatally, the wrong tool to save some lives.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Stench Of trump Offset

donnie is travelling around mouthing off in Asia.

Those of us back home just have to clench our teeth and take it.

Fucking morons can’t be stopped, so it seems.

So I looked for something else to take from the day, today.

It turns out the very people that donnie wants to eliminate from the earth, because they don’t play golf, showed up in force.

Here are some images of a few of them.

lopez female house finch 110817 00000

lopez hairy woodpecker 110817 00000

lopez house finch 110817 00003

lopez squirrel 110817 00000

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Three Rivers

I have been so lucky.

In my life I have walked La Seine.

So many times that I am unable to count them.

And that has been, in the third third of my life, the most important thing.

Of that third third.

Of my life.


But more recently I found the Arno.

Words won’t suffice.

So there aren’t any.


About the Arno.


Then, just a month ago, it became the Tiber.

La Seine is my favorite.

And the Arno is a demanding mistress.

I said that there aren’t any.


For her.

But there are:

She is so beautiful.

And so beguiling.

But then there is the Tiber.

She is totally unwilling to abandon abandon my reverie.

How Lucky I am.


Friday, November 3, 2017

I Long To Return To Vapidity

If this long national nightmare ever ends, I hope to lapse into some degree of vapidity again.

As a citizen of the United States it has long been a vested right to be vapid.

Vapid is defined as “offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging”.

And in the old days of American politics, that was nice.

Really nice.

But now, every morning – or during the night if one is of the sort who can’t sleep without checking one’s iPhone – one is accosted by CNN posts about what outrages donnie has done over night.

Gets ones juices going.


And that’s not vapid.

It’s not vapid, for example to have to deal with the fact that the asshole in chief has, overnight, condemned a wayward military man to death.


Extra judicially.

And utterly capriciously.

Just to mention one overnight.


Unleashing total nuclear war gets my vapidity quotient plummeting to zero – also.

But, maybe it’s good.

To be on the edge of nuclear destruction.

Or on the edge of declaring America’s future – sole and complete – to be coal mining.

I want to be vapid when I hear about coal mining, because what could be more 19th Century than coal mining; and 19th Century stuff is pretty vapid; but, down deep I just get all het up: what kind of idiot would propose, and what kind of idiot would endorse and try to implement a return to coal?

It just stimulates one’s “what the fuck?” glands.

So vapidity suffers.

Then there is the new tax plan.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Birds In The Wind And The Rain

Today is cold, windy and, intermittently, rainy.

But the birds don’t care.

They need to eat just as when it is sunny and warm and calm.

So they each take their turn in the tree and wait for the next vacancy at the fly through feeder.

I got some of their pictures.

lopez sparrow 110217 00000

lopez junco 110217 00003

lopez junco 110217 00004

lopez sparrow 110217 00001

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

So Says Wolfgang Streeck

A friend referred me to this article in The New Left Review from the May/June 2014 edition.

In the article, Mr. Streeck has a lot to say about the state of capitalism.

I was reading along, keeping up as best I could – the man has a large vocabulary, uses correct and complex grammar and structures and deals in thoughts of more complexity than donnie’s latest tweet – and savoring and agreeing with everything that he was saying that I could understand.

Then I came upon this paragraph.


I have used the word “endgame” occasionally in my posts; I use it when I feel I have described how “the system” is being managed to put most of us back to serfdom.

I read this paragraph and saw the mother of all descriptions of “endgame”.

I am offering it here.

I have taken the liberty of using my formatting method, but not a word is changed.


“A central topic of current anti-democratic rhetoric is the fiscal crisis of the contemporary state, as reflected in the astonishing increase in public debt since the 1970s (Figure 4, below).

Growing public indebtedness is put down to electoral majorities living beyond their means by exploiting their societies’ ‘common pool’, and to opportunistic politicians buying the support of myopic voters with money they do not have.

[9] This is the Public Choice view of fiscal crisis, as powerfully put forward by James Buchanan and his school; see for example Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, Ann Arbor 1962.

However, that the fiscal crisis was unlikely to have been caused by an excess of redistributive democracy can be seen from the fact that the buildup of government debt coincided with a decline in electoral participation, especially at the lower end of the income scale, and marched in lockstep with shrinking unionization, the disappearance of strikes, welfare-state cutbacks and exploding income inequality.

What the deterioration of public finances was related to was declining overall levels of taxation (Figure 5) and the increasingly regressive character of tax systems, as a result of ‘reforms’ of top income and corporate tax rates (Figure 6).

Moreover, by replacing tax revenue with debt, governments contributed further to inequality, in that they offered secure investment opportunities to those whose money they would or could no longer confiscate and had to borrow instead.

Unlike taxpayers, buyers of government bonds continue to own what they pay to the state, and in fact collect interest on it, typically paid out of ever less progressive taxation; they can also pass it on to their children.

Moreover, rising public debt can be and is being utilized politically to argue for cutbacks in state spending and for privatization of public services, further constraining redistributive democratic intervention in the capitalist economy.”