My Favorite Animal and Bird Photographs

Antelope scamper across the prairie in Eastern Montana

Antelope scamper across the prairie in Eastern Montana

Though I am mainly known for my travel blogs and photography, over the years through my travels and at parks with the grandchildren and even at home in my own backyard, I have had the opportunity to capture some fun images of animals and birds.  This post will present a few of my favorites and the stories behind them.  I hope that you will enjoy this little “animal tour.”

A blue heron in flight over the Kentucky River, near Shakertown

A blue heron in flight over the Kentucky River, near Shakertown

I have always loved watching animals and birds.  And it seems that as I have gotten older, this fascination has grown deeper.  Here are few stories and photos of some of the animals I have come across, broken down by animals, birds and insects.

LARGE ANIMALS FROM ALL OVER

Antelope Family - A doe and her two calves scamper across grassland in central Colorado

Antelope Family – A doe and her two calves scamper across grassland in central Colorado

The photo at the top of the page along with the one directly above depicts North America’s fasted land animal, the pronghorn antelope. Throughout the years I have seen thousands of these, mainly in Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.  I can recall seeing herds of them in southern Wyoming in the miud-1970s when I drive from Vernal, UT to Rock Springs, WY on business. I captured the photo of the four antelope at the top while driving from Miles City, Montana through the prairies to Shelby, Montana in March 2013.  There were actually about 8 or 9 along the side of the two lane highway.  I had to whip the camera out quickly to grab this lucky shot.  It is truly one of my favorites.  The other shot was taken in June 2013 on a road trip from Idaho Falls, ID to Dallas, TX.  I was north of Craig, Colorado on a two lane highway through the mountains.  This was captured with my telephoto lens as I took about 20 shots of them speeding across the grass.

Elk in Oregon

Elk in Oregon

I captured this shot of an elk relaxing in Western Oregon, west of aptly named Elton, Oregon.  This elk was roaming freely on an Elk Reserve with about 30 head.  I have seen similar reserves in Rexburg, Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming.  I have rarely seen an elk in the wild and usually it is cow.  The bulls are more difficult.

Longhorn Bull - Fort Worth, Texas

Toothy grin from Pecos Bill the Longhorn Bull – Fort Worth, Texas

Speaking of bulls, I got this shot of “Pecos Bill” the longhorn while visiting my sister in Fort Worth.  We went to the stockyards and this huge bull was being ridden down the street by a cowboy.  People can then pay this cowboy and have their photo taken while sitting on the bull.  No thank you….

Giraffes relax

Giraffes relax in the grass at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, Texas

On a separate trip for work to the DFW Metroplex, I had a weekend to spend with my sister and her family and we took a drive to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.  This is a great place to see wildlife up close, and that is what we got with one of the giraffes!  We even had him licking us through the window with his long black tongue!! (See full details in my blog post here)

An upclose shot of a giraffe at Fossil Rim

An up close shot of a giraffe at Fossil Rim

Fossil Rim offered the opportunity to see other animals such as zebra, oryx, Asian deer, cheetahs, rhinoceros and a variety of big birds (see below).

Horsing Around in the snow near Versailles, Kentucky

Horsing Around in the snow near Versailles, Kentucky

I live in Lexington, Kentucky, the Horse Capital of the World.  I have plenty of photos of horses grazing in the fields, but this is one of my favorites as a galloping horse eyed me during a photo shoot on a snowy winter morning in Woodford County.  About a dozen horses were racing around in the field and a got a number of other good shots.

Amish-owned horse in Charm, Ohio

Amish-owned horse in Charm, Ohio

I got the horse above while visiting the Amish Community of Charm in Ohio. This horse was attached to one of the Amish Buggies and was parked by a shop.

Crazy Donkey seen on a back road near Winchester, KY

Crazy Mule seen on a back road near Mt. Sterling, KY

One nice spring morning I took a back roads drive with my wife and we came across this mule who stared at us and looked almost crazy.  Couldn’t resist snapping a couple of shots.  Indeed, horses are not the only four-legged equine in Kentucky.

Bison in Yellowstone

Bison in Yellowstone

Of course, how can I leave out the amazing Bison.  Though typically also called buffalo, they are actually really bison.  I got this photo of wild bison grazing in Yellowstone National Park.  It was one of dozens of shots I got that day, including one of a HUGE bison that walked right by my car and had to be over six feet tall.  It was an amazing animal!!

SMALLER CRITTERS

Priairie Dog at Badlands National Park

Priairie Dog at Badlands National Park, South Dakota

There are also lots of smaller animals to be seen in travels and even in my own yard. One of my most endearing photos was taken at Cactus Flats, South Dakota, near the Badlands National Park. I saw this mother coddling her young.  I took about 20 shots and this one really was an “Awwww” moment for me as she hugged her babies.

Prairie Dog Mama cuddling her kids at Cactus Flats, SD

Prairie Dog Mama cuddling her kids at Cactus Flats, SD

Of course, one of the most commonly seen little critter is the squirrel.  I have seen a number of varieties on the road, including black squirrels, red squirrels and gray squirrels.  I see dozens around my house, which I think are actually Fox Squirrels.  In fact, I got some great shots of them playing in the trees on a winter morning a couple of days ago (as I write this…)

Fox Squirrels playing in a tree

Fox Squirrels playing in a tree

The Fox Squirrel is the largest species of tree squirrel in North America.  They love our neighborhood because of the abundance of nut-producing pin oak trees.

A squirrel perches on my back yard deck

A squirrel perches on my back yard deck

The little guys love to visit our deck (as do many birds – see below).  I always try to keep my camera handy at the table as quite often these guys will appear, as did this one above.

Angry Squirrel at home in Kentucky

Angry Squirrel at home in Kentucky

I have posted this photo before, but need to include it here.  I took nearly 40 shots of this squirrel poking around in the snow in my front yard in early February 2014. They were consecutive shots, so I didn’t see this shot until I went through all the photos.  I had to crop it and blow it up a bit, but it was an awesome (and lucky) shot.  It almost appears that he is angry and getting ready to heave a snowball at me!

Red Squirrel in Nebraska City, NE

Red Squirrel in Nebraska City, NE

I got about 10 shots of this red squirrel in Nebraska City, Nebraska in late 2013.  He was obviously prepping for the winter, but I thought his mouth full of nuts was priceless.

Fox in Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Fox in Grand Tetons, Wyoming

I was on a business trip in Rexburg, Idaho in March 2013 and one weekend I took a trip to the Grand Tetons National Park.  Not all of it was open since there was so much snow.  But on one side road I caught this fox diving for mice in the snow.  He stopped for a moment to pose for me.  Another lucky shot taken with my zoom lens.

Meerkat at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

Meerkat at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

I was in Omaha for the 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Qualifying events and we were broadcasting some of the events.  As part of the broadcast pieces we featured some scenes from Omaha, including the Henry Doorly Zoo. It is famous for the big dome that houses their desert wildlife, including the meerkats.  The one above practically posed for me. I swear he was smiling for the camera!!

Dog in Black Mountain, KY

Dog in Black Mountain, KY

And, for the last of the animals is this happy little dog that my wife and I came across on a trek we made into southeastern Kentucky.  We made our way up to the top of Black Mountain, the highest point in the state and there were some other folks up there.  They had this dog in a basket in their motorcycle.  He seemed pleased as punch to have an opportunity to Enjoy the Ride!

BIG BIRDS, LITTLE BIRDS

Emu at Glen Rose, Texas

Emu at Glen Rose, Texas

I have a real fascination with birds and love watching them and love photographing them.  I probably have over 2000 bird photos I have taken and I’m only adding a few of them herein, including the Emu above, which was taken at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, Texas. I also got the angry ostrich below at the same location.

Angry Ostrich at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, TX

Angry Ostrich at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, TX

Seems like everywhere I go I can see ducks and geese, but only once did I get the opportunity to see a group of duck hatchlings in Georgetown, KY during a fall visit to Evans Orchard.  Talk about adorable!!

Duck Hatchlings at Evans Orchard in Georgetown

Duck Hatchlings at Evans Orchard in Georgetown

Then the ducks grow up to be quackers!! They have their own dynasty!!  I took the shot below at Jacobson Park on an icy winter day.  The ducks seemed to enjoy it.

Duck Dynasty at Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY

Duck Dynasty at Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY

One of the beautiful sites we see here in Kentucky are geese in flight as they migrate north and south. Many fly right over our house.  Here are a couple of geese shots that I am proud of.

A solitary Canadian goose glides in the sky above my house in Feb. 2009

A solitary Canadian goose glides in the sky above my house in Feb. 2009

Geese flying south taken in the skies of Lexington in February 2014

Geese flying south taken in the skies of Lexington in February 2014

While on the subject of big birds, one of my all time favorites is of the girl staring down a swan at Victoria Lake in Stratford, Ontario.  I was visiting the park and taking photos of the beautiful swans when I got lucky with this shot, taken in 2008.

Stare Down - taken at Victoria Lake in Stratford, Ontario

Stare Down – taken at Victoria Lake in Stratford, Ontario

On a visit to Idaho Falls, Idaho I happened upon an amazing sight…seagulls and geese fighting over bread.  With camera in hand I got some fabulous shots.  Here is the best of “The Fight”, taken in April 2013.

The Fight - Seagulls and a Goose fight over bread in Idaho Falls, Idaho

The Fight – Seagulls and a Goose fight over bread in Idaho Falls, Idaho

This party is for the birds - geese, ducks and seagulls socialize in Idaho Falls

This party is for the birds – geese, ducks and seagulls socialize in Idaho Falls

I frequent Jacobson Park in Lexington during the summer with my grandchildren.  I always have camera in hand.  I got a great shot of ducks taking flight one afternoon. Ironically, my grandchildren were the source of this as they were chasing the ducks around.  I love this shot because there are three others below all staring at me.  It was an awesome shot (if I say so myself)

Ducks in flight at Jacobson Park in Lexington, KY

Ducks in flight at Jacobson Park in Lexington, KY

Speaking of seagulls, I have photographed them in Oregon, on the east coast and a myriad of places in between.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

Seagull - Idaho Falls, Idaho

Seagull – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Seagull in flight over Oregon Dunes in Oregon

Seagull in flight over Oregon Dunes in Oregon

Seagull in flight over Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Seagull in flight over Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

I was returning to Kentucky with my wife after a visit with my daughter’s family in Montana.  As we traveled in southern Montana, near the small town of Dell, I had hoped to take a back road to see some of the bison on Ted Turner’s expansive ranch off of I-15.  While casually driving down a dirt road overlooking the ranch I heard an eerie bird sound, almost a screeching sound, that I had never heard.  I grabbed my camera as I saw two birds in flight.  I took about 30 shots. The one below shocked me after I was able to sit down and review the photos.  What I saw were red-crested sand cranes in flight.  It was beautiful…

Sand Cranes in flight over the prairies of southern Montana, taken April 2013

Sand Cranes in flight over the prairies of southern Montana, taken April 2013

On another trip west in 2013, I was traveling across South Dakota on the Oyate Trail (US Hwys 50 and 18).  As I drove by Lake Andes, just a few mile north of the Nebraska border I saw a flock of white birds sitting in the lake.  I made my way into the town of Lake Andes and found that there was a park by the lake and the birds were all flocked on the park side of the shore.  I got as close as I could and was beyond joy to see a flock of pelicans.  Once again, I took a couple dozen shots of these beautiful birds.  Here is my favorite.

Pelicans on Lake Andes in South Dakota

Pelicans on Lake Andes in South Dakota

Water birds are not the only big birds I have come across in my travels.  On a trip in Montana I was just coming into Lewsiville when I spotted a bald eagle in a rare spot on the ground in a field, obviously looking for mice.  I had to stop and turn around and hoped that it would stay in place, which it did.

Bald eagle rests in a field near Lewisville, Montana

Bald eagle rests in a field near Lewisville, Montana

One Sunday I accompanied my wife on a church calling into the small town of McKee in central Kentucky.  On the way home we took a couple of back roads (my joy!) and came across these three turkey vultures guarding their prey. They stood firm!

Turkey vultures and dinner near McKee, KY taken in spring 2013

Turkey vultures and dinner near McKee, KY taken in spring 2013

But the all-time favorite big bird of mine is the lovely and graceful Blue Heron.  I have even nicknamed them “Herry” every time I see one.  At the top of this post I caught one gliding above the Kentucky River near Shakertown. I also see them often at Jacobson Lake in Lexington.  Here is one of my favorites. ( I will likely do a complete post just on these birds in the near future).

Blue Heron at Jaconson Lake

Blue Heron at Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY

Blue Heron in Flight at Jacobson Lake in Lexington

Blue Heron in Flight at Jacobson Lake in Lexington

Of the large birds, I must include one more.  A few years ago we took a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo with my grand children.  While there I had the opportunity to get some close shot of a peacock.  Voila….

Peacock at Cincinnati Zoo

Peacock at Cincinnati Zoo

Then there are the smaller birds that hang around the neighborhood. Here are a few of them

A fluffy cardinal perched on snow covered tree in my backyard

A fluffy cardinal perched on snow covered tree in my backyard

A Blue Jay on a tree in my back yard

A Blue Jay on a tree in my back yard

A robin perched on my back deck

A robin perched on my back deck

Two doves in love on my back deck

Two doves in love on my back deck

A colorful bird I saw on a fence in central Missouri

A colorful bird I saw on a fence in central Missouri

A black and white bird on a fencepost near Yellowstone National Park

A black and white bird on a fencepost near Yellowstone National Park

Facebook is 10 and I have lots of Friends

FacebookFacebook turned 10 years old this week. In celebration, they provided a look back video for all Facebook users that wanted one. Here’s a link to mind if you’re interested in seeing it.

The bigger story to me, is how Facebook has been a catalyst for the creation of new relationships. Anyone that uses Facebook knows that when you hook up with someone on Facebook you have “friended” them on Facebook. Currently I have 1468 friends on Facebook. I don’t say that to brag or to boast or for any other reason but to say that I have all of these “relationships”. It causes me to reflect on what the meaning of “friend” is now that we have Social Media.

FacebookLikeWhen I was in high school in the 1970s I moved three different times and went to three different high schools. I didn’t have an opportunity to make what I would call “long term” friendships. But, in each of my three high schools (Charles M Russell in Great Falls,  MT; Bozeeman Senior in Bozeman, MT; and Murray High in Murray, Utah), I was able to garner some good friendships. I was always an anti-clique friend to many, taking pride in the fact that I was able to cross numerous thresholds to become friends with members of the band, athletes and members of other groups and clubs in school. Nevertheless, each of my friends typically had something in common with me whether it was being a band member, or a cross-country team member, or a member of the journalism club, we always had something in common.

FriendsCurrently I really have very few relationships with individuals from my first two high schools in Great Falls and Bozeman, but I have a lot of good relationships with many from my Murray high school days. I’m not sure what the difference was since I spent the same amount of time at each school, but perhaps it was that I graduated from Murray High and that I joined the LDS (Mormon) church in Murray that many of my friends, most of whom were Mormons, probably deepened the relationships that I had. To this day some of them are still very close friends.

David and friends

David hanging with Brett and Scott in 1976

Back then our main means of communication was meeting and doing things together and talking on the phone. Very few of us wrote letters, and indeed, I was not a very good letter writer either. When I went to Japan to serve as a missionary for the LDS church, I did write a lot of letters and receive a lot of letters but most of them were from family members and not my friends. When I returned home in 1978, I once again hooked up with friends and we would go to movies, rock concerts and out to eat and other things that young twentysomethings did back then.

Writing Letters home in 1977

Writing Letters home in 1977

With the birth of America Online and appearance of email, the opportunity to hook up with friends via electronic communication became appealing to many of us. It was easier to start catching up with people and doing it via email. And, of course, in those days, we’re talking the 1990s, email was hip.

GotMailBut then about 10 years ago this new Internet thing called Facebook was born. It was the birth of social networking as we know it today. Initially it was college students and high school kids that caught on and started using Facebook. Adults like me, then in my 40s, just didn’t get it yet. But, responsible parents started checking in on their children’s Internet activities which included Facebook. We then wondered about ourselves participating in Facebook. At the same time, there were other groups trying to do the same thing. MySpace was born, and MySpace ended up being for musicians and it still is out there but nothing like Facebook. Others tried as well, but Facebook always seem to be the one to get the thumbs up from everyone.

MySpaceSo, on June 12, 2007 I joined Facebook (as you can see from my video).  I didn’t really begin posting much until around December of that year when my son Seth got married and I began using it as a photo news site.  Since that time I have posted 1000s of photos on Facebook, including 100s of “selfies” that I have taken from my road trips.  Many photos are with my friends.

Sumoflam with friend Antsy McClain

Sumoflam with friend Antsy McClain – 2013

More importantly though, Facebook has seemingly brought about a new definition of “friend.” A search on Google defines friend as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” My definition of friend is close “a person with a common interest and one with a mutual affectionate relationship.” By affectionate I am not referring to the Touchy Feely kind of affection, but rather a relationship where you see someone or do something with them quite often. But, ironically, for many, some Facebook “friends” may be actually be people we have never met in person. Can you really become a friend with someone you have never met? That is the real gist of this post.

NoStrangersWell, much like my days in high school where I had friends across different spectrums of groups and organizations, I believe that I have been able to do the same thing through social networking whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+ or other forms of social networking. Indeed, I have what I would call different layers of friends on Facebook and these other social networks.

FriendPyramidTo be sure, I have a plethora of “friends” from all walks of life….Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Gays, Atheists, Right Wing Tea Party activists and left-leaning politocos, athletes, musicians, artists, photographers, vegans, food junkies, videographers, sports writers, authors, publishers, movie producers, truck drivers, computer nerds.

GoodFriendsNot counting my family “friends” on Facebook, perhaps my first and biggest layer of friends are those individuals with whom I have day to day and/or week to week interpersonal relationships, whether they be through business, church, or other activities that I participate in at this point. These are people that I physically know, that I have seen, that I have shaken hands with or given a hug to.  They may be work associates or friends from booster clubs and other organizations. These are my “close friends.”  I can recall letting work associates that, in many respects, we were like family.  They may have scoffed, but, in reality, we have forged relationships that go deeper than the job.

A "selfie" with my former work colleague and continued friend Colin

A “selfie” with my former work colleague and continued Facebook friend Colin

Visiting with my friend Keith in Idaho.  We served an LDS mission together in Japan and are now Facebook friends nearly 40 years later

Visiting with my friend Keith in Idaho. We served an LDS mission together in Japan and are now Facebook friends nearly 40 years later

Visiting with my friend Froilan from Cebu, Philippines.  We worked together in from 2005-2007 and visited with each other in Lexington in 2013. We are still Facebook friends

Visiting with my friend Froilan from Cebu, Philippines. We worked together in from 2005-2007 and visited with each other in Lexington in 2013. We are still Facebook friends

The next layer is what I would call my “long lost friends.” Hereafter,  I may use first names of many of these individuals, and these will be their real first names. Let’s take Sue for instance. I first met Sue in person in 1973 in Bozeman, MT. She was with her family visiting from New Jersey for a large Airstream Rally. I hung around with Sue and her sister and her family for the few days that they were in town because I was doing a article about the Airstream rally for my high school paper. After they left, we did not have any communication per se. But in 1975, I joined the LDS (Mormon) church and a year later left for my mission to Japan. After I returned from my mission in 1978, I moved to Provo, UT and, on my first weekend in church in Provo, lo and behold, I ran into Sue. It was obviously a shock to her as well because, at the time I met her in Bozeman, I knew nothing about the Mormon church. But she and her family had told me a lot about it because they were very devout members. Needless to say, she had a profound impact on my life and she didn’t even know it. After many years of searching, I finally found her and contacted her via Facebook, in a private message. And we have since become Facebook “friends.” Like me, she has since been married, had children and even had grandchildren. Today we rarely, if at all, communicate, even through Facebook. But Facebook offered us both something that other friendship opportunities may not offer. We get to be a “fly on the wall” of our friends and keep up with them, even when they don’t know it. That is, the opportunity to “lurk” on someone else’s life via their Facebook page.

FlyOnWallLurkingNo the word lurk is an unusual word. In computerese it basically means “to read or observe an ongoing discussion without participating in it.” In the past it seems to have referred to something a little bit on the shady side, something that was a bit secretive. But for a site like Facebook many friends do their lurking via the now well known “News Feed.”

NewsfeedI have a lot of “friends” and not a lot of time to read all of their posts.  So, occasionally I “drop in” on them and see what is going on.  If I like a post or a photo I will add a thumbs up so that they know I had dropped in.  I see many of those as well from “lurkers’ to my Facebook page.

ThumbsUpBack to my friends….  Indeed, I have rekindled friendships from the past such as with Pat and Sam from Bozeman, Maggie and Penny from Salt Lake, John and JP from Cebu, Gerhard (from Germany but now lives in Singapore) and Mark (from Lexington but now in Singapore), friends from Japan, Puerto Rico, China, Ireland, Australia and more.  It is fun to keep up with all of them.

Social Media Friends

Social Media Friends

I then have that thick layer…general acquaintances…friends of my children, people I have met along the way like Samantha and Lindsey from Camp 31 BBQ in Paris, Ontario or Lori from the March Madness Marching Band in Lexington (after I shared dozens of photos from parades in Lexington) high school coaches I met through an employer, people that want to share a part of their lives.

AcquaintancesThen comes the most interesting layer of all…the “Social Media” friends.  These are people I have met online or have become acquainted with through other common friends or interests.  Some of them I eventually met, like my friend Mari, a struggling author in Lexington; Dan, a Lexington photographer; or Ione from California (another Trailer Park Troubadours fan whom I met on a Troubs’ cruise).  Others I have become good friends with and communicate with at least weekly, such as Ed in California (who came to me through Antsy McClain and has since discovered our myriad joint interests), Michael from Georgetown, TX (another Troubs fan) or Tui from Dallas who writes a travel blog about quirky places and is currently publishing a book or even Doug (from Somewhereville, USA) who runs the Roadside America website.  And there are dozens more that have “friended” me for one reason or another.

The World is Smaller

The World is Smaller

So, on the week of Facebook’s 10th birthday, we can thank Mark Zuckerburg and his friends for their ingenious way of making the world smaller and having (in general) a profoundly positive impact on the world.  I know that Facebook (and my other Social Media sites) have really provided me with a richer outlook on life and the world I live in.

And to thank you for being a friend I am going to use one of my favorite musicians from 40 years ago – Andrew Gold

facebookThumbs

Welcome to Fargo East

Seems like this winter has been one of the colder ones in Lexington that I ca recall. We have had a number of below zero temps and some snow and a couple of ice storms. I have started calling Lexington “Fargo East” due to the cold.

(See a nice gallery of my Winter Photos from all over)

20140205-180241.jpgI don’t mind the cold and snow at all. I’m fact, I have missed it during previous winters. It does have a serene beauty.

20140205-180454.jpgLast night we had a mild ice storm which caused downed trees, power outages, and lots of accidents. Treacherous as these can be, the resulting beauty of crystallized branches and icicle draped signs and buildings is a marvelous site to behold.

20140205-184854.jpg20140205-185000.jpg20140205-185127.jpgOf course, wildlife must adjust as well. I think this squirrel got a bit riled up trying to forage for food under the snow….

20140205-185407.jpgAnd we human animals are pretty well stuck too…grill is covered with snow and ice and frozen shut.

20140205-185509.jpgBut, all is good. The beauty of even the simplest icicles to the unique arrangement along a straight line makes up for it all. I do love this artful work of nature!

20140205-185722.jpg20140205-185746.jpg20140205-185815.jpg

Squirrelly Snowball

Image

Squirrelly Snowball

“Squirrelly Snowball” – took this as part of a number of squirrel shots in my front yard on Feb 4. Looked like he had a threatening face and was getting ready to throw a snowball at me for taking his picture.

Everything I’ve Learned in My Life… (I’ve Learned From Gilligan’s Island)

Had to repost this from my friend in Fargo!!

Light thru a Prism by Michael Ray

A simple television sitcom… A sitcom that generations grow up watching and laughing at the antics of those castaways.

But can you recognize your life on that uncharted island?

You set off on a course but sometimes ‘things happen’. It takes courage to weather the storms and you may suddenly find yourself way off course.

You may find yourself among people with more authority than you. But reality, they’re in the same boat as you are, little buddy.

You may live among people who are richer than you and come from a different lifestyle. But in an instant, they become as lost as you.

There are people who are smarter than you are. They could be just one brilliant idea away from solving all your problems. Yet reality is, the intellectuals sail the same waters as you.

Celebrities walk the same ground as you. Yet being famous means nothing when…

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My State of the Union Address – Things are Not Good

I did not watch the State of the Union address last night. No need to. I see the State of the Union every day and it is not good.

Rich CEOs pushing talent out

Rich CEOs pushing talent out

I have witnessed the greed of corporate CEOs who eliminate talented and skilled individuals from companies in order to better the bottom line so that they, the CEOs, can get a larger, more lucrative bonus.

Corrupt Politicians

Corrupt Politicians

I have seen the corruption of politicians (both on the right and on the left) who use their political office for gain and prestige rather than to serve the constituency that voted them in.  They offer unachieveable promises to get into office and then make excuses and play the blame game when they can’t come through…even though they really did not intend to in the first place.

Middle Class Being Dumped

Middle Class Being Dumped

I have witnessed firsthand how the middle class is being pushed lower and lower. I have seen how companies are eliminating their talented and skilled American employees in order to hire much cheaper overseas staff to do the business at a much lesser cost, all in the effort to make sure that the upper crust of the company keeps their lucrative bonuses. I am seeing these same, now unemployed or under-employed middle-class individuals search for employment in their own country, only to be turned down over and over again because they are “overqualified,” “too old,” or “overweight.” I further see these talented and skilled Americans not finding work for more than six months and then companies again not hiring them because “they have not been employed over a lengthy period of time.”

Keep Calm

Keep Calm and Keep Flipping Burgers

I have seen the skilled labor force of the middle-class become disillusioned. I have seen them struggling to pay their bills. I have seen them them lose dignity, and, in their desire to keep some sense of dignity, they end up taking low-paying non-benefit jobs such as burger flipping, pizza delivery, slave labor in a call center, or cashier jobs and a big box store.

Bill Gates on Dignity

Bill Gates on Dignity

In the 1960s and 1970s perhaps flipping burgers and working cashier jobs provided opportunity.  Not today…  Most of these jobs do not provide any benefits, most provide no insurance, and typically most do not even provide full-time employment so they can avoid all of the costs and make the bottom line better and keep their bonuses. Sorry Bill…in today’s world, a burger flipper doesn’t typically reach the poverty level…

Walmart Wages

Walmart Wages

I see these people having to go to their 401(k) retirement plans and remove the money early so that they can take care of their house payments and their other obligations because they no longer make enough now on these low minimum wage paying jobs. I then see our government giving heavy tax burdens to these people who have withdrawn 401(k) funds early in order to take care of their obligations rather than to go on welfare. I am seeing the middle class being punished.

WelfareAt the same time, I am seeing this same government using those heavy taxes taken from the middle class underemployed who are trying to be responsible and dignified citizens, and using that money to take care of the continuously increasing number of people who stay home all day to watch Oprah or Jerry Springer or soap operas, while getting social welfare, food stamps, and other forms of government welfare while they provide nothing to society.  Of course, come voting time, we know who they will vote for…the guy that gives them money for nothing…

Welfare moneyI am seeing our government force the middle class to lose hope such that the middle class ends up filing bankruptcy and not having a way out any longer.  They are just being forced into accepting social welfare or trying to go out on their own.  Indeed, the government tells us that Unemployment numbers are going down. What they fail to point out is that the job sectors filling the jobs are the low wage non-benefit types.  Middle class jobs are just not there, and, when they are, the companies don’t want to hire the very skilled “has beens.” So hope continues to be lost. People are fighting for jobs….

Fight for JobsSo you have a whole crew of very experienced, very educated, and very talented individuals who are having to become entrepreneurs as well as they can.  They create the opportunities and invest their fast dwindling savings into businesses, only to be heavily taxed again by doing so.  And the welfare recipients still sit at home and get paid monthly to watch Dr. Phil and Judge Judy.

Self-employment TaxI have also seen how the middle-class Americans have lost healthcare and are now being forced into getting government sanctioned healthcare.

IncreaseCrimeLike many Americans, I am seeing an increasing crime rate across the country. More and more people are using guns to kill others commit robberies and violent crimes against spouses and others.

AmericanDreamOur country is in a shambles. It seems as though everyone is out for themselves and not caring about their neighbors any longer. The rich continue to barrier themselves away from the rest of the classes so that they can continue to enjoy the indulgences at everyone else’s expense. I even see many of the “wealthy” entrepreneurs working to tell people to go into business on their own and enjoy the luxuries of life and the benefits of more time to do what they want. However, quietly, these same network marketers purchase real estate and rent at high rental rates to the growing middle-class who can’t afford to live in a home any longer.  Indeed, even these entrepreneurs continue to get wealthier at the expense of the middle class.

I continue to work on my own now in the hope that we will survive these scary times. I do count my blessings.

Falling ApartBut, at the same time, I have witnessed the state of the union and it isn’t good.

The Internet and Me on the 30th Birthday of the Mac

Apple Logo 1984

Apple Logo 1984

Today is the 30th birthday of the Mac computer.  When it first came out in 1984, I was a senior in college in  Flagstaff, AZ. Little did any of us truly understand where we would be 30 years later with computers, the internet and mobile devices.

Indeed, 1984 was NOT like George Orwell’s 1984.

As I write this today in 2014, the computers and the Internet have become major factors in my life and the life of millions of others in the world (but I am still using a PC at home….can’t afford a Mac….). But I can recall when it wasn’t always that way. Indeed, I can recall when there was no such thing as the Internet. There was no such thing as networked computers either.  Even before I knew much about it, there was already some discussion.  Here is a news video from 1981 (from wimp.com) about what would later become known as the World Wide Web….

My first real interaction with computers didn’t occur until1986 when I was working on my Masters Thesis at Arizona State University. I was connected to a large mainframe (which had less memory than my iPhone today) and wasusing a black screen with colored text and using a program called WordStar which was only attached through the network.  I had to save everything to the network.

WordStar Screen

WordStar Screen

In the midst of my work on it, the first portable computers started arriving at the school. I can remember when a Compaq portable computer arrived at our computer lab. iI was kind of bulky, but it was portable nonetheless. Back in those days, we had to use DOS commands to move around and do things. With the new Compaq computers, we were able to save our content on a floppy disk. It was one of those real floppy disks…they were big, about 7 inches, and floppy.

Compaq portable computer

Compaq portable computer ca 1985

A 7" Floppy Disk that we used to save data on the Compaqs and other machines

A 7″ Floppy Disk that we used to save data on the Compaqs and other machines

This certainly revolutionized how school papers were written, for we no longer needed to use a typewriter (such as the IBM Selectric shown below) with auto correct on it, I could use a computer and never have to print anything out until I was ready. Boy was that cool back then! (As a side note, I never dreamed at that time that I would eventually work at Lexmark in the 1990s, which was born out of the IBM Selectric group!!)

IBM Selectric II

IBM Selectric II

By 1987 I was on my way to Japan to work for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Programme).  When I got there, they were still not using computers, but they did have a couple of “WaPro – short for WordProcessors” with convoluted keyboards. for all the Japanese characters. By the time I left in 1991, the “Internet” was available, but it was more like a bulletin board and I had to go to the local Nikkei Shinbun (Japanese version of Wall Street Journal) office in order to search anything. Looking back I can certainly see that it was a precursor to the Internet.

A Toshiba NWS-800 1987 "WaPro" as I saw them

A Toshiba NWS-800 1987 “WaPro” as I saw them

My first real experience with the Internet came when I got a membership to America Online (now known as AOL). (See AOL today) Yes, those people that were around in the 1990s probably remember seeing America Online floppy disks and CDs everywhere in every store and everywhere you went. (I wonder if anyone has kept one as a souvenir??) Seems like at that time everybody became an AOL member and they were able to send email back-and-forth to each other. We were starting to see online apps available and the Internet started to come of age.

AOL Logo circa 1990s

AOL Logo circa 1990s

AOL Floppy - 50 hours for free

AOL Floppy – 50 hours for free

AOL CD 100 Hours free

AOL CD 100 Hours free

Of course, we didn’t have high speed connections back then either.  We paid a high premium to the telephone company to get a 56K modem to hook to the telephone line.  When we were online, we couldn’t receive calls. Initially they were boxes we plugged in, but eventually you could get one added into a slot in the computer and then plugged the telephone line into it.

56K Modem Box

56K Modem Box

56K modem card for plugging into computer

56K modem card for plugging into computer

I can remember how cool it was looking up information on a browser through AOL. I even use the Internet for the first time in the 1990s to plan a trip when we had Barbara from France staying with us. Not everyplace was on the Internet at that time, but I was able to get maps and able to find some information about some places.

AOL Screen 1993

AOL Screen 1993

Windows developed Internet Explorer and a company named Netscape soon provided an alternative to the AOL browser. And search engines were born as well. Back then, before Google, there was AltaVista, which made searching for things on the youthful internet so much easier. I remember using it when I worked for Green Gates Farm as their office manager. Keeneland had just gotten their website up and running at that time. And we were able to look at the schedules and some of the other things. But Internet browsing was still a bit sketchy and things would go down.

AltaVista Search Engine ca. 1999

AltaVista Search Engine ca. 1999

By the late 1990s I was working as a contractor at Toyota and I experienced my first job working as a computer tech. I was originally hired to manage the printer configurations for Toyota’s Japanese printers, due in part to my work at Green Gates where I had to learn to configure our Lexmark printer to work with an HP Printer Driver (once again, at that time I had no idea that I would eventually end up at Lexmark!!). I soon started learning networking and at the same time the Internet started getting more and more capable. Internet Explorer had became the main browser as Windows grew. By this time AltaVista had been purchased by Yahoo!. Google wasn’t even really much of an entity at that time, though it had been created in 1998.

Despite all of this growth, it seems to me that the main use of the Internet at that time was still being able to email back-and-forth. AOL was still a big thing and everybody loved to hear that “you’ve got mail” whenever they would check their mail.

Since then, the Internet has blossomed.  It is everywhere.  We have mobile devices that access the internet.  I eventually worked at Lexmark, which was borne out of IBM.  I was basically working on the forefront of InkJet printer technology, which boomed in the 1990s but has since faded away.  Lexmark no longer manufactures inkjets and there are only a few companies that do.

Lexmark Inkjet - I actually oversaw the Software testing for this printer

Lexmark Inkjet – I actually oversaw the Software testing for this printer

Today Yahoo! still thrives, but is no longer the “big guy” out there.  That is now Google…indeed, the world seems to have become a GooglePlex….

YahooGoogleAnd of course, what of the 30 year old Mac? Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world and from the invention of iPods (for music) to mobile phones and now “mobile devices” such as an iPhone and an iPad, Apple too has come on its own.  I have a Dell laptop with Windows, but also have my own iPad and iPhone and can’t live without them….

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

Apple iPhone 5s with Internet Screens showing

Apple iPhone 5s with Internet Screens showing

We have come a long way in 30 years!!

David in 1984 at NAU Graduation

David in 1984 at NAU Graduation

David at Lexmark office after losing a bet on a high school football game

David at Lexmark office after losing a bet on a high school football game

David 2014 - Grandfather of nine and photo taken with mobile device and posted to the internet without a modem!

David 2014 – Grandfather of nine and photo taken with mobile device and posted to the internet without a modem!

Today, I work as a WordPress specialist and an internet Broadcast specialist.  I write three blogs.  I worked for a DotCom company (iHigh.com) for four years. I worked for a Printer Company.  I have done Network support. I have worked in a call center providing technical support for Mac users and iPhone users. Indeed, I eat, drink and sleep with the internet and derive 100% of my income from internet related work.  Its amazing what a History degree and Political Science Master’s degree will get you.  I never imagined I would be where I am today….but I am still a geek!!

Apple Logo 2014

Apple Logo 2014

My Rock and Roll Fantasy Trip

Rock n Roll FantasyJourneyLast night I had a vision of a Rock and Roll Fantasy Trip.  I would Head East on a Journey across America. I consulted with my friends the Doobie Brothers and the Pointer Sisters as to what I should use to take the trip. After they told me the Cars were not the best choice, I was determined not to go on Blind Faith and ride some Government Mule. Instead, I hopped into my REO Speedwagon and made my way to Kansas. It was like a magic carpet ride when I rolled down the highway with my Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Unfortunately I was pulled over by the Police who thought I was driving like I was on a Highway to Hell.  They thought I had some Outlaws with me.

On the Highway to Hell

On the Highway to Hell

KansasREO_4878Along the way I saw all sorts of Animals and Buggles, which the Pure Prairie League advised me to watch for. Indeed, I saw Eagles, a Camel, a few Yardbirds, some Beatles, Scorpions, a Whitesnake, Byrds, and even saw some Zombies, but the best thing was being able to see the Monkees.  I was really shocked when a Def Leppard ran by chasing a Steppenwolf!!!

The_animalschicago-logoI headed through Black Oak Arkansas and then, after passing through St. Louis, where I saw the Archies, who let me drive their Rose Royce, I headed north in the fast lane to Chicago with a quick roll by Bay City in Michigan. I had to avoid Kentucky because I was afraid of the Kentucky Headhunters.

Driving the Rose Royce

Driving the Rose Royce like a Bay City Roller

Black Oak Arkansas - High on the HogRose_Royce_IIBayCity Roller

On the way I stopped by Alice’s Restaurant to have a bite to eat. I ordered a Sugarloaf of Bread with some Pearl Jam that was made with Cranberries and Raspberries. I was then given my Aha moment when they served me some Vanilla Fudge on a dish of Moby Grape and Electric Prunes. After a cup of Vanilla Ice my Strawberry Alarm Clock let me know it was time to be movin’ on.

SugarloafBreadI continued to Boston in a Fabulous Thunderbird so I could see Paul Revere and the Raiders. Instead, I saw the Damn Yankees using Styx to shoot down a Led Zeppelin and a Jefferson Starship. Being a Sunday, it truly seemed like a Black Sabbath.

Fabulous ThunderbirdsBostonI didn’t want to Rush, but I decided it might be better to take a trip to Europe or Asia. But first, Guess Who I saw in Boston? Yes, it was the Electric Light Orchestra and I got to see them at the Culture Club. And then, someone told me, but I don’t remember Who, that when I am in Asia I should see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  That was a definite Yes!! He then said OK Go!

OKGO_LOGO_tallAsiaI joined my friends the Traveling Wilburys and we caught a ride on the Wings of a Jefferson Airplane, which was built by Mike and the Mechanics at the Aerosmith factory. We made our way across the Deep Purple skies to Asia. The flight had an amazing meal with some Meatloaf, Korn, Black-Eyed Peas and a side of Hot Tuna covered with Red Hot Chili Peppers.  The dessert was yummy too.  We had some Cake covered in Cream, Peaches & Herb and then had a small Humble Pie. When we finally landed we saw people Smashing Pumpkins on the Rare Earth.  Then I saw an Insane Clown Posse being chased by some Fine Young Cannibals. But it was the 10,000 Maniacs that made me realize I had to get out and begin running down a dream in Europe.

MeatLoafKorneurope-logoUnfortunately I had a Foreigner and some Bad Company on this leg of the trip and apparently they were going to join a Blue Oyster Cult and attend the Creedence Clearwater Revival which was headed up by the Pink Floyd himself!!

Pink%20Floyd-Badges-bQueen-LogoAll I wanted to do in Europe was visit the Queen, but someone misunderstood and they sent me to see the Queens of the Stone Age as well as Queensryche….but King Crimson introduced me to the Kings of Leon and their son Prince.  The Royal Guardsman were snooping around the whole day and made me feel like a bunch of Rolling Stones with Simple Minds. I am sure U2 would feel this way!!  I was out of it like a Tired Pony and decided to look for some Motels, but all I saw were Faces involved in a Quiet Riot and I really did feel the noise. I had to get out of that place but was warned that there were Village People there and They Might Be Giants.  Fortunately, all I saw was a Gentle Giant.

Gentle GiantI had to get back to the USA and so I found the B-52s for the trip, but they didn’t give me a ticket to ride. After my Rage Against the Machine to protect against the Imagine Dragons, we headed for the Beautiful South where I could meet the Beach Boys, though one of them had a Badfinger that left them in Dire Straits.

Beautiful Southvelvet-underground-logo-designWhen I finally got back to where I once belonged,  I got a chance to ride on the Velvet Underground to meet the big shots of the Tijuana Brass.  As a Flock of Seagulls flew by, I turned on the Tubes to see the Talking Heads.  They talked of my trip and said it took a lot of Spirit and noted that I really had a Heart. And thus, my Dashboard Confession is that this truly ended up being a Green Day for it became my Rock and Roll Fantasy….and I won’t get fooled again.

Image converted using ifftoanySpirit