Chimp With A Smartphone Part II…

 

No essay this week.  No words.  Pictures.  Pictures only.  As my daughter says, I’m just a chimp with a smartphone and the social media habits of an 8th grade girl.  Guilty I am.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with an essay on my hatred of the telephone.  Until then, enjoy some pictures from Fallbrook, Bonsall, Oceanside, and a few from my own back yard…  Jhciacb

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Obedience To Observation…

On the table to my right, rests a rectangular of book of paintings by the artist, Andrew Wyeth. The book is one of the few remaining links to my childhood. Looking at it this morning, I am reminded of the formative nature of things, even those things we may take for granted.

For most of my childhood, the Wyeth book was the centerpiece of the coffee table where I would rest my feet after school each day, and dull my sensibilities by watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island, McHale’s Navy, and Hogan’s Heroes.

During the commercials though, I enjoyed flipping through the pages of the Wyeth book, staring at his paintings, reading the stories about them – about him, and imagining those scenes in my head. I’d snap the book shut though, as soon as Gilligan came back on.

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What fascinated me most back then, and what would become so formative for me today is that, despite the diversity among Wyeth’s work, he painted on the same farm, week after week, year after year for most of his career – always finding more within a relatively small space.

The artist, author, and naturalist, James Prosek once said in an interview…

“If you’re not looking, you won’t see it…”

He was speaking about walking in nature while trout fishing. Hearing Prosek offer that sentence, I was taken back to Wyeth, painting on the same farm for most of his life – finding so much without going too far.

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The lesson learned from both artists, born two generations apart, is central to my life today. As I amble through my life each day, I not only take pleasure in stopping to observe small things, I am compelled to do so. Observation has become my obsession. Whether I am walking in the woods, or in the cereal aisle of the local market, I enjoy stopping appreciating the details.

Now in no way am I comparing myself to Wyeth or Prosek.  I’m just a chimp with a smartphone, and too much time on his hands. I am grateful though, for the fingerprints both Wyeth and Prosek have left on my soul.

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Walking in nature each day, in the same place, and taking pictures with the expectation that I’ll find the new, forces me to slow down, and to look more closely at small things. And that is a lesson which can be superimposed over every other aspect of my life… Jhciacb

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The Laundry…

Why do I take so many pictures each week, and post them on social media, you may ask…? The answer should be obvious, or even ingrained with the pictures and accompanying words, but allow me to explain…

It’s a practice I began a couple of years ago to (help) offset the negativity, and the forced agenda that goes with social media. By forced agenda, I mean the relentless cramming of hatred, bad ideas, fear, and ignorance down the throats of others, by way of memes, slanted news stories, gossip, outright lies, and inappropriate jokes and pictures.
If my own feed is any indication, this is a battle I’m losing, though I’m still committed to.

To my way of thinking, and I’ll admit I might be wrong, there can only be a few reasons to propagate such negativity on social media:

– To Promote one’s self as intellectually superior to others
– To hurt or shame others
– To change the minds of others
– To win favor with others of similar ilk
– To release the buildup of fears and frustrations growing within

Beyond these, I don’t see any reasons to share negativity on social media. Still, it dominates my feed. I will gladly entertain other reasons if you wish to present them to me, but come prepared…

A friend once said to me…

“What’s the point of having a strong opinion if you can’t cram it down someone’s throat…?”

Sadly, he wasn’t joking.

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Sharing a strong opinion without invitation, is like wiping a dirty diaper across the faces of many others, and all at once. If one’s hope is to clean the smears of crap left by that dirty diaper by wiping another dirty diaper against it, well, that might be a fool’s task.

I’m not suggesting there isn’t any meaning or fulfillment for the people who share and propagate social media negativity. I am suggesting though, that there is little social value in it.

So, I walk daily. I think. I take pictures, and share – all in hopes that helps offset the negativity of social media. Maybe a good thought and good photograph, is just a kind of daily laundry, to help clean up after bad ideas… Jhciacb

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The Rain Delay…

Even casual sports fans have seen the effects of a rain delay.  An outdoor sport is called to a halt by the officials, only to continue later, and reach the inevitable win/lose conclusion.  Fans wait anxiously.  Players wait anxiously.  And all involved, it seems, can’t help but feel the outcome will be tainted.

Without exception, 50% of the fans will be certain that the game resulted with the wrong conclusion, influenced by the stoppage, even if their team was well behind at the onset of the delay.  The other 50%, however, will be equally certain that their team would have still won, with or without the influence of the rain delay, but the asterisk will haunt them.  Of course, there’s no way the alternative result can ever be known beyond the great, WHAT IF…

What takes place after a rain delay, is what takes place, and until humans are better able to control the flow of rain during sportsball events, we should accept the results – just like we accept the results of political elections.  Wink…

I had my own rain delay of sorts yesterday, though it wasn’t as critical as game 7 of this World series, past.  My early morning walk yesterday, was put off for a few hours by a late-season storm.  I was anxious.  My dog was anxious.  We were certain the outcome would be tainted.  However, thanks to a mid-morning cancelation in my schedule, which came after the rain subsided, we were provided the opportunity to walk – after the rain delay.

Unlike in sport, the result of our rain delay offered two winners, me and my dog, with no losers and no thinking about the great, WHAT IF…

As he and I are both fans of, and participants in our morning walks, 100% of us agreed with the result, and there was no grumbling from Stroodle or myself about the effect the rain had on the outcome of our walk – the conclusion was stunning.  Here’s some proof of yesterday’s outdoor game. May you all engage in such sport, daily… Jhciacb

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Pictures Of Match Shtick Men…

We’re all photographers now. Anyone with a smartphone possesses the ability to take worthy photographs. If our photographs aren’t so worthy, there are digital tools available, right after the fact, to help manipulate them into better photographs. In seconds, we can turn any picture into something completely removed from the reality of the original image.

And best of all for this expanding base of so-called photographers, social media has provided us with the one thing we most desire; an audience.

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I have more than a few friends who are professional photographers – it’s how they pay their bills. I empathize with them in this era when so many people are taking so many photographs without much thought or experience. The smartphone has made it so that showing up the right time is all one needs to do to take a great photo. Oh, and some touchup skills.

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I feel guilty, and sometimes foolish, suggesting that any of my photographs are worthy of a glance by anyone but me. Despite this, I use my own photographs daily in my fitness blog and other social media platforms. When I do this, I feel as though I’m insulting those for whom photography is not just their craft, but their livelihood.

It’s where we’re at though.

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Exchanging photographs more frequently, and via different media, is a part of the evolution of how we communicate – pictures are once again becoming language. It’s just that in the modern era, we don’t have to carve them into stone.

Today we communicate with images at a rate much higher in proportion to written languages than at any time in modern history. It has been suggested by some that within a few hundred years, images will have largely replaced written languages as the primary means of communication for our species.

But wait, isn’t that where we started…? Jhciacb

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One Now, One Later, And One On Down The Road…

The Gift That Keeps On Giving…

When I was 13 years old, the book Pumping Iron was given to me by my mother.  The book’s impact was immediate, and steered me in a direction in which I had no control; a lifetime of bodybuilding.  Bodybuilding morphed into fitness, which ultimately led to a career.  The book that Charles Gaines and George Butler assembled in 1974 was the foundation for my passionate life of exercise.  In a more subtle way, and over a long period of time, Pumping Iron also gave me the foundations for a couple other passions.  More on those later.

Though I opened that book daily and was obsessed by its pictures, I would not actually read Pumping Iron for nearly 5 years after it was given to me.  Since I struggled with reading, I selected only brief passages, and only on occasion.  Who needed words, when George Butler’s black and white photos told a story I was so hungry to see…?

I would spend the next few years of my life putting all my eggs in one basket, and clutching that basket.  Lifting weights was the first discipline I would wholly commit to.  If nothing else, from Pumping Iron, which led to pumping iron, I learned that I had discipline.  In time it became clear that I was not so genetically gifted nor so determined, that competitive bodybuilding would be my dominion.

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My Future’s So Dark…

Elsewhere in my life, I was less disciplined.  By the time I was in my late teens I was a high school dropout with a bodybuilding habit, no skills, and no apparent future.  The US military would be my only hope.  To be considered for the military, I would have to take my GED.  Being dyslexic, I was fearful that my struggles with reading would inhibit this process.  To this point, I had never read a book of any kind from cover to cover.

So with a workout-like discipline, I chose to read an hour per day – no matter what, hoping my reading would improve.  I selected Pumping Iron to read first because I had an interest in its content.  If any book could help pry me from the pictures and place me into the words, this was going to be it.  A funny thing happened on the way to The End…

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Reading Pumping Iron was a chore.  I kept at it, because I believed my future depended on becoming a better reader.   Despite my struggles, there were occasional passages which kept me coming back for more – like a good golf shot on an otherwise fruitless outing.  Charles Gaines crafted phrases that suited my imagination.  Writing of the bodybuilder Pierre Van den Steen, Gaines wrote,

“The little Belgian whose chest looks carved from ice.”

Of Arnold Schwarzenegger performing incline bench presses, Gaines wrote,

“His biceps looked like two grapefruit sliding on greased tracks.”

Reading was a challenge, but images like those provided a sufficient reward.  I completed the book, and felt that my reading actually had improved along the way.  I would read more books prior to taking my GED, but none painted pictures the way that the words of Charles Gaines did.

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It was some lucky combination of intuitive guessing and my improved reading ability which got me through my GED.  I would go on to serve in the US Coast Guard.  It was during my time in the Coast Guard when I began to write creatively.  With Charles Gaines’ descriptive phrase still bubbling under my psyche, I felt like I had something to say, and was somewhat confident in my ability.  This would be a short lived discipline though, as my writing time was a lesser priority than my exercise time.  I would not write again creatively for another decade.

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Workouts And Words…

My pre-dawn workouts, originally inspired by Pumping Iron, were once the most important part of my day.  Those workouts now take place later in the day or in the evening, and though they are still important, writing is what does it for me now.  Eventually writing took priority over lifting.  For nearly 15 years now, I have been writing for one hour every morning, almost without exception, with workout-like discipline.

I like it when the words of others paint pictures in my head.  I also enjoy using words to paint pictures of my own.  Words, in that sense, are the most malleable medium we can use as form of creative expression.  As I sip coffee in bed, with my mammal at my hip, and my 17” window to the world on my lap, I attempt to craft sentences like Charles Gaines did in Pumping Iron, knowing all the while that I am to Charles Gaines’ writing as I also am to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s physique – much less than, but I still have fun.

Walks And Wonder…

Oh, and there’s been one other influence Pumping Iron has had on me, which I have only now come to realize and appreciate…

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Each morning, after I’m done with my writing session I walk through town with my dog.  As Stroodle takes in the smells of the day, I have come to appreciate how well this town sets up in black & white.  George Butler shot all the pictures for Pumping Iron with a Leicaflex SL2, and those photographs were nothing less than artistic.

I’m just a chimp with smartphone, and do nothing which I would consider artistic, but I have fun with it, as I have fun with writing and lifting, and that my friends explains all the picture above which have almost nothing to do with this story.  Be well…  rc

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Spring ’16: Cameras, Smartphones & Gi-tars men…

Spring Has Sprung…

I have been hiking, running, and slow walking Monserate Mountain and the Los Jilgueros preserve in Fallbrook for 16 years.  In all that time I don’t remember the sum of the skies, the greens, and the earth coming together so often, in such color, and so willing to be received.  This has been the best spring season I can remember.

I left my fancy camera behind last summer when I left Temecula, and never looked back.  I never used it that much anyway.  Too complicated — to many buttons, too much to think about, not fast enough in process.  Not for my process anyway.

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Going forward I am a committed smartphone photographer.  I will let the available light and where I stand dictate any would-be results, based on the fact that I live in a beautiful place.  As in the gym and at the dining table, I do better when I impose strict limitations on myself.

A good comparison for this…

 Eric Johnson is one of the most talented guitar players alive.  With regard to his skills, his tone, and his process, he expands on and enhances these with technology.  Guitars.  Effects.  Peddles.  Amps.  Processors.  Mixers.  And about  all of this, he is very protective and secretive.  At the end of the day though, Eric Johnson might be the Wagner of the electric guitar.

Seasick Steve, on the other hand, plays a guitars often made of hubcaps, washboards, broomsticks, and scrapyard components.  Most often, they just have a string or two.  Given the choice, I would honestly rather see Steve play live than Johnson.  That’s just my shtick.

As the saying goes, KISS.  Keep It Simple Schleprock.

Down The Road…

Spring is winding down.  Hopefully May gray and June gloom will help keep all the greens a little greener for a little longer this season.  By August there will be more browns than greens, and as beautiful as this community is, I’ll need to find other subjects to photograph.  Probably the area homeless, and in black & white.

I have prioritized walking in nature this Spring in a way I previously have not.  For at least one hour per day, often longer, I am stopping, observing, listening, smelling, and yes, photographing.  Relationships, above all things, are what we are here for.  My relationship with nature has never meant more to me.  That new found fulfillment is due in large part to me stopping, pointing, and capturing.  Looking for beauty helps one see beauty.

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Here’s a quick recipe for happiness.  Live in a beautiful place. Take make time to enjoy that place.  Share that beautiful place with grace.  Be well…  rc

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Sniffing With My Eyes…

It finally happened.  After 10 year of blogging, after writing 350 essays, each approximately 1,000 words, I sat down to write this morning, and I had nothing to say.   Nada.  Zip.  Blanca.  I know, I know, praise be to Allah, right…?

Could be the well has run dry.  Could be the pump is broken.  More likely though, the guy with his hand on the pump handle also has it on too many other things of late; work, mom, friendships, exercise, meditation, and the stewarding and walking of his mammal.

I do a lot of that these days; the dog walking that is.  Stroodle walks in a style that he and I call, Comando.  That is, Stroodle walks off leash.  He just sniffs his way in the best possible direction as I keep him out of fights, and offer him small bites of animal protein when we are done.

A veterinarian once told me that we (humans) see beauty with our eye, and a dog sees aesthetic beauty with his nose.  This ideal brings me much peace, as Stroolde and I spend time together daily, appreciating beauty wherever we may go.

Rather than force an essay this week — one which just isn’t there, I’m going share some of my favorite iPhone pictures from the last couple of years, many of which were taken on sniffing hunts with Stroodle.

From Nederland to Moss Landing, central Utah, Carlsbad, Pt. Lobos, and right here in Fallbrook, I hope you enjoy.  I hope to have a new essay up in a week or two.  Be well… Jhciacb

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Ronnie Land & Slim Chance.  Enjoy!