You see stuff online — Facebook mostly — about “could you live in this lovely (log cabin) house (in the middle of really nowhere) without WiFi? And everyone says “Oh sure! I could live in that great little house — in the middle of a huge woods by a cold lake where the nearest shopping center is 50 miles on dirt roads — forever without so much as a VOIP phone.

Sure you could. NOT.

I know I couldn’t and wouldn’t even want to try. Because that’s not life or at least not my life.

There was a time when I could imagine a life without computers. I think that was before I owned a computer, before every house everywhere had one or many computers. Before every single thing in the house got “connected” and computerized in some way. Before your toilet got so smart you have to argue with it about the whole “flushing” thing. Before we had things in the house that you could talk to and would more or less would run your house for you, even if you weren’t there personally.

To be clear, I don’t have any of those super smart appliances because while I dearly love WiFi, if the power is out I need to know the toilet will flush anyway and the refrigerator will keep the food cold as long as I don’t open the door. I want to be smarter than my toilet or refrigerator. Call me crazy, but I like to keep at least one leg up on life.

Yeats in Sligo

Yeats in Sligo

But life without any computers? Without a way to blog? Oh, I suppose I could use a typewriter …  but what would I do with it after that? There IS no blog without WiFi. And my wrists would not thank me.

Can I survive without Photoshop and Topaz filters? Without a Kindle? Or a GPS?

That sounds more like death than life.  A computer is not just email. It’s all kinds of communications and these days, it really IS communications. Pretty much all communications is electronic in one way or another. Photography and writing. Paying bills, shopping, and entertainment. Games. Keeping in touch with the world and the people in it, without whom life would be incredibly lonesome.

So if I must have a life without computers, I am probably dead. Unless there are afterlife computers. You know, from Those “special” computers so the undead can keep in touch?


The proliferation of cell phones and high-end, point and shoot cameras has made everyone think they take great pictures. For some people, it’s true or close enough for folk music. Others, not so much. Facebook is the place where I am constantly reminded of how many people take truly awful pictures.

This is aimed at the photographically challenged. You know who you are.

First, let’s discuss equipment. No matter what you are using — cell phone or camera — it needs to be in working order. Clean lens, not scratched. If it’s an old cell you have dropped and doused, I feel safe saying it won’t take great pictures. Ditto that old point and shoot camera that’s been kicking around your basement for years. Probably not going to give you the quality you seek.

If, on the other hand, you have a relatively new cell phone or by some miracle you have a real camera in working order? Or someone in your family has a camera you can borrow for a few hours?

If none of this works for you, consider giving up photography.

Okay. Moving on. You need light to take a picture. Flash is unflattering. Cheap cameras need more light than expensive ones. You don’t need to know why, just take my word for it. This means you should take your pictures outside in natural light. During the day.

But not bright sunlight or in drenching rain. You knew that, right? Rain is bad for cameras and cell phones. It’s the whole electronics versus water thing.

Marilyn by Garry

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Bright sunlight creates unattractive sharp shadows and burns out highlights. It means you won’t be able to see anything in the bright or in shaded parts of the picture. Nor will there be much to see in the middle. Also, it makes people look all squinty.

Bright shade or a cloudy day will do the job nicely.

Don’t pose yourself or anyone staring straight into a lens. And not so close that you can see their pores. Shot that way, everyone looks like a criminal. Just put a number under their face and you’re in an episode of Law & Order.

Bette Stevens

Have your subject turn slightly right or left. That includes you if you’re taking a selfie. Look at the screen and see if it’s an attractive picture. If not, keep moving the subject around until you like what you see.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Take lots of pictures from different angles. Let your subject move around. You can move too. If you take two dozen shots and get one you like, you’re doing well. The more pictures you take, the more likely you are to get a few good ones.

Garry and Bette

When you look in the viewfinder or screen, don’t look only at your subject. Look at the background. No trash cans. No piles of rubble. You want a neutral, pleasant backdrop. Leaves, trees, grass. A wall is good. Bricks or stone are great backgrounds. Mostly, you want the background to not distract from the subject.

Avoid flash for portraits. It is unflattering, like full sun, and for the same reasons.

If all the pictures are unflattering, unfocused, off-color, do the right thing. Delete them. No one will thank you for making them look bad. You don’t need to be a photographer to know the most important rule for people pictures:

Everyone wants to look good. Everyone. At every age. 

Remember: NO trash cans in the background. Please!



From Paula:

Traces of the Past is a recurrent photo challenge that happens every month, and this is the fourth year it has been running. Next month you’ll be able to participate in Traces of the Past in Black and White for one of the two Black & White Sundays. You are free to choose whatever traces of the past you can find. It does not have to be a distant one, or rich in history; it can be something personal, or it can even have a human form. Just make sure to post for it before next Thursday and to link to this blog. Wishing you all a special and happy Thursday!

The Winter Carousel at the Heritage museum was more than 100 years old. They had brought it to the museum from some other part of the country, then had carefully reassembled it. I’ve had the pictures for quite a while. Until a few days ago, I didn’t realize how many there were in the folder and how few of them I’ve processed. Since I haven’t been getting out much, this seemed a good a time to work on them.

So welcome to the Winter Carousel at the Heritage museum on Cape Cod. The carousel (also called a “merry-go-round” and both expressions mean the same thing) has its own working steam-driven calliope.

jupiter najnajnoviji

How Can You Change Somebody’s Opinion?

I think I already knew this, but I wish it weren’t true.


Facts don’t convince people. Especially if they already have an opinion of their own. I mean, you have probably come across people who conspicuously overlook the facts and put their opinions over yours, which is frustrating. So is there any way to successfully convince somebody and change their opinion?

Video – via AsapSCIENCE
Further Readings and References: Cornell Law School, The New Yorker, The Washington Post

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