4.15.2014,12:10 PM
Range War??? Bah!!!
The latest greatest mass hysteria strikes again. As Mark Twain commented so long ago, "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."

 Letter to the Editor: Bundy forfeited right to graze cattle; counter opinion, range war | St George News
"While this is an emotional issue for many who know and like Mr. Bundy, at the end of the day, he brought this on himself. If he is a victim of anything, he is a victim of his own arrogance. He willfully broke the law and chose not to work within the confines and limits of it. He has gotten away with it for 20 years."


Is it no surprise that nothing is accomplished in this country? Because we are so busy bickering and pointing fingers, slinging poop and beating our chests while standing on our territory boundary lines? We distort facts to support our preconceived beliefs and agendas, create and use petty arguments supported with strawman rhetoric, and further wedge division between us. It the old Us against Them.

"Cooperation"? What's that mean?

This all will be our own undoing.

I posit that we are evolutionarily regressing to a state of arrested juvenile development as a species.


Further references on the above story:

Is Harry Reid Involved? Seven Answers to Seven Questions You’re Probably Asking Right Now About the Nevada Rancher Situation

"But while the story has managed to capture the attention of thousands of Americans, it has also managed to confuse thousands more. Indeed, from questions regarding property rights to whether a Democratic senator was involved in the cattle roundup, many have been left wondering what it’s all about and searching for the facts."

Sorting Fact From Fiction on Chinese Solar In Nevada

"And it also means that every bit of disinformation, whether spread by mistake or on purpose, can end up hurting innocent people. And that should matter to you no matter what side you find yourself on." - Chris Clarke, author of linked article above

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posted by Macrobe
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4.11.2014,9:49 PM
Oh Freedom!
"When the cities are gone...and all the ruckus has died away, when sunflowers push up through the concrete and asphalt of forgotten interstate freeways, when the Kremlin and the Pentagon are turned into nursing homes for generals, presidents and other such shitheads, when the glass-aluminum skyscraper tombs of Phoenix, Arizona barely show above the sand dunes, why then, why then, why then by God maybe freemen and wildwomen on horses, free women and wild men can roam the sagebrush canyonlands in freedom--goddamit! Herding the feral cattle into box canyons, and gorge on bloody meat and bleeding fucking internal organs, and dance all night to the music of fiddles! Banjos! Steel guitars! by the light of the reborn moon!--by God--Yes!"
-Ed Abbey

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4.09.2014,11:26 AM
A-Z Challenge. Daily blog posts.....
.....are a real challenge for me. I had originally planned to post them on this blog. Because this blog still utilizes the Classic template (Blogger) and does not conform to the criteria of the official Challenge, I easily revised the template of my original blogsite, Whose Reality Is This?. And am now posting daily (except Sundays).

Today is the letter 'H'. And today's post is 'H is for Heart.' You can follow future posts in this Challenge series by subscribing to the blog site linked above.

"Embarking on a path may be full of uncertainties. But if we have heart, and we know that our direction is true; if we accept that we may have to change course along the way, and if we learn from all the obstacles along our path, then that path has heart. And as we journey forward, we become stronger and whole; and more happy." - excerpt from today's challenge post. 

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3.11.2014,9:17 AM
Running with the Wolves
"A healthy woman is much like a wolf - strong life force, life-giving, territorily aware, intuitive and loyal. Yet separation from her wildish nature causes a woman to become meager, anxious, and fearful.

With the wild nature as ally and teacher, we see not through two eyes only, but through the many eyes of intuition. With intuition we are like the starry night, we gaze at the world through a thousand eyes. The wild nature carries the medicine for all things.

She carries stories, dreams, words and songs. She carries everything a woman needs to be and know. She is the essence of the female soul...

Where can you find her? She walks in the deserts, cities, woods, oceans, and in the mountain of solitude. She lives in women everywhere; in castles with queens, in the boardrooms, in the penthouse, and on the night bus to Brownsville.

Whether you are possessed of a simple heart or the ambitious, whether you are trying to make it to the top or just make it through tomorrow, the wild nature belongs to you.

She lives in a faraway place that breaks through to our world. She lives in the past and is summoned by us. She is in the present. She is in the future and walks backward in time to find us now.

Without us, Wild Woman dies. Without Wild Woman, we die. Para Vida, for true life, both must live." - Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves.

And we cannot be tamed or domesticated. It would destroy us. (excerpt from a letter to my ex-husband and daughter, 1997)


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2.18.2014,8:31 AM
Tributes to those who inspired us
Today is a day of memories in literature. Always loved Lord George Byran's poetry. A toast to Byran and Walt Whitman, who inspired my love for poetry.

Today celebrates the birthdays of Toni Morrison and Wallace Stegner. It is to Stegner that I owe much more. 

"Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed ... We need wilderness preserved — as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds — because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed ... We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope."

If anything, wilderness reminds us of what it is to be human.

Read more about these writers on the website of The Writer's Almanac. You can also listen to the podcast featuring Garrison Keeler. 



So We'll Go No More A-Roving
George Byron

So we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart still be as loving,
And the moon still be as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul outwears the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon. 

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2.05.2014,9:57 PM
Lessons Learned But Unheeded
...are just as bad as lessons not learned.

When we touch a hot stove and burn our fingers. When we come back later and think that another stove won't be as hot. And touch it only to burn the fingers again. Yup. That's the lesson that went unheeded.

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1.30.2014,11:46 AM
Expression through photography
I was assigned a photographer to 'blurb' about in a FaceBook game on 'Keeping Art Alive.' It is a game that works like a chain letter (for those that remember such grade-school things), or as a meme (now that I'm a scientist and understand these things ;). Or, to use a more common metaphor: a snowball rolling down hill.

This introductory content is posted with each participant's entry:
This is a game to keep art alive. Click "like" and I will assign you an artist. Doesn't matter if you don't like them. Google them, choose an image you like most, reflect on it, and post it to your wall along with this message.
A friend was assigned Diane Arbus (b.1928- d.1971), whom I was introduced to by my father and my ex-husband, both being free-lance photographers. Arbus was a controversial photographer because of her subjects, and because she was a woman that dared to cross the cultural boundaries in many ways. Her subjects were usually the 'invisible' people; those that lived and existed under our conventional societal radars: "deviant and marginal people or of people whose normality seems ugly or surreal".

The famous photography journal, Aperture, commented a year after Arbus committed suicide that "Arbus believed that a camera could be "a little bit cold, a little bit harsh" but its scrutiny revealed the truth; the difference between what people wanted others to see and what they really did see – the flaws." My ex had the original journal issue and I remember reading that article in the 1980's. And then revisiting again years later with a friend who had an inherent kinship with people on the fringe of society, often telling me that these people are the true measure of our humanity.

My FB friend's reaction and commentary to Arbus' photographs demonstrates how artists and their work can affect us. And this is one trait of photography that most people don't or won't acknowledge: That it is more than just capturing a pretty picture.
I learned something about myself looking at this artists work. I will admit I had to force myself to look and as I did, it became easier and more interesting and finally filled with appreciation for human life. Something like learning to be comfortable in your own skin. However, it was the children I was truly drawn to.
Art is a representation of so much more than a superficial view of one point in time and space. Unlike painting and sculpture, which are more malleable in the artist's hands, photography is capturing realism, whether it is unmanipulated or contrived, and presenting a spatial-temporal perspective. A photograph can be a narrative telling a story; reaching into our minds with a gazillion signals touching all the areas of our brain. Fear, loathing, anger, sympathy, joy, love, beauty, sorrow, peacefulness; the entire gamut of human emotion. It can represent a thousand words in one photograph, covering a myriad of emotions but with a common denominator.

This is what art is, and what photography can be. A medium to elicit response in the viewer.

My assigned artist was one I was unfamiliar with, and a challenge to my preconceptions about portraiture. I was never interested in portraits partly due to my inherent lack of interest in people (I pursued a career in field biology for a reason ;). However, I realized over the past three decades that it was an interest in understanding people that teased me out of my introverted and relatively hermit-like life. Still, portraits never interested me until I discovered Arbus' work. But I never equated her photography with portraits. To me, portraits didn't tell stories. Until recently.

My turning point was last year when I saw a portrait of a Native American elder. His entire face filled the frame; the web of lines etched in his face took me on a journey of his life, the life of his people, and the lives of all indigenous peoples. It propelled me into not only this man's personal life and experiences, but into the history of colonialism and imperialism around the globe. It caused me to ponder the meaning of being human. It touched me, and I still look at that photograph with such an empathy that I almost feel as if this is my own grandfather, literally and figuratively.

That turning point was expanded again shortly after my father's death this past summer. I found many family portraits, both candid and professional, explicit and implicit. My favorite one is of my grandfather (father's father), where his face is barely exposed in light. The photographer knew how to use the interaction of light and subject to elicit a response in the viewer, more so, that of one related by blood. The use of shadows and light have a subliminal effect on the viewer. Especially on this man's grand-daughter that knew him for only a few years of her life, and all she has are early transparent memories.


My assigned photographer is Michael Greco. A modern photographer whose primary subject matter has been celebrities, I was uninterested at first. We are hammered with media that revolves around celebrities, especially those in the entertainment industry, as if these people are our American version of a 'monarchy'. I quickly glanced at his gallery of famous people and nudes in poses, which seemed more contrived than I cared for. 'Where are the stories?', I thought.

I then read more about Greco and his approach to his subjects. This short piece on Greco's art caused me to go back and review some of his work.
“I immediately started to request more opportunities to take portraits,” he says. “I’ve been attached to the portrait ever since I was a little kid, but when I started to shoot serious actors, there was a whole new added depth of expression that our collaboration would provoke that was exciting. Actors certainly raise the bar of every shot.”
Greco's portrait of the late comedian Chris Farley exemplifies his philosophy about portraiture. The photograph chosen to accompany the article linked to above communicates the man behind the comedy. This statement by the photographer explains how he develops an empathy with is subjects:
“There are so many publicists today driving the image machine of their clients,” explains Michael. “That’s why I will sit in hair and make-up and chat with talent in order to get to know them—in and out, what they’re about and what they are personally into.”

However, not all of Greco's interests and subjects revolve around celebrities and human subjects. His gallery on the marketing website, 'Vision Light', reveals an interest and eye for animals and still life. His animal photographs could be considered 'portraits', too. I must admit my favorite one is that of a Friesian stallion. Greco captures the power, magnificence and beauty of this horse in a small snapshot of time and space. The viewer can almost feel and witness in his/her mind's eye this power and grace in motion.


Greco's adept use of shadows and light was quickly apparent to me. Sharing this fascination and attraction with light-play, I admire his ability to create mood and attract the viewer's eye and attention to detail or general focus. Illuminating the gentle curves of the human body elicits a range of emotion from artistic aesthetics to sensuous glamor to subliminal erotica. But his use of light extends far beyond this.

His portraits of people in their environment without the staging, and his manipulation of background, is what captures me. Mostly because these portraits tell me a story I am more interested in. An example I particularly like are the two participants in a pow-wow. I love the sepia tone treatment that suggests an overlapping of history and modernism. The blurred background hints at how we view this activity, challenging our tendency to see the Native American in our dominant historical perspective and how they see themselves as both modern and historical peoples, merging the two cultures into one; one that is blurred to non-Native people.

I do not know if my perceived views of this photograph was Greco's intention. But that is the beauty of artistic expression. Ten viewers of this photograph may result in ten different interpretations.

Greco is a self-professed fan of using light to express his perspectives of what he sees in his subject matter; be it people, reflections, animals. I reacted with surprise and empathy to one of his comments on how he came to view his photography as art.
I have been a photographer for over forty  years. My main subject matter  has  been people in the entertainment industry, but it always amazes me how even the most simple things in life can make a beautiful piece of art. It has only been the last several years that I have looked at my work as art. I guess sometimes we become so rapt up in the concept for the campaign that the only question is, does it suit the client? Often, I have had an art director tell me that this shot would look good over the fireplace, and always I would look at them puzzled. I don't look puzzled anymore. 
 It reminded me of how I reacted to some readers' comments regarding my writing. After years of mostly technical writing (manuscripts, manuals, R&D documentation), I began writing for the general public and then sharing my own personal writing online. I was puzzled at comments that shared how my writing personally affected them, often eliciting empathy and a myriad of feelings. I never equated my writing with artistic expression. Nor with intent of eliciting empathy; what they read is how and what I am and feel.

Although photography has its share of purists (of which I was once a 'subscriber'), it is more than just capturing a pretty picture. Like a painter mixing colors and taking liberty to blur the lines, photography is also an art form in which to express one's views. Learning to use a variety of tools can enhance a photographer's understanding of the fundamental factors that influence any photograph. This concept was impressed upon me recently by a good friend and amateur photographer who taught me the essentials of using artificial light. His final statement almost exactly paralleled Greco's advice to novice photographers (see quote below). This enlightenment prompted me to share with other novice photographers and I invited my friend to teach a workshop in using artificial light for our local photography club.
There are two ways to make a photograph, one is to capture the moment and the other is to create the moment with artificial lighting. Many times I will tell a young enthusiast, go learn how to use those strobes and tungsten lights, and then the natural light will be more vibrant then ever. The best way to learn how to drive a car is with a stick shift , and then the automatic will be a breeze.
 Although I was once a purist, in both photography and writing, breaking out of that mold has given me a freedom in expanding my artistic expression. And I often play the Trickster in both mediums to challenge viewers and readers to also break out of their own boundaries. To see a story in a photograph or to feel or think beyond the words on their screen.  And sometimes to just express myself even though no one else really understands. :)


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