PRESENTLY NOW

The present. The now. What’s happening?


I’m writing. It’s what I do in the morning. If we don’t have an appointment and aren’t on vacation (vacation? what’s a vacation?), I check for comments. Then I do a quick e-mail review and delete all the advertisements, at least half the news feeds, and anything else I know I’m not going to deal with today.

Out the front window

Snowy frog on the deck

Next, I check the daily prompt to see if I’m interested. The “present” was interesting. “Now” is always sort of interesting … if I’m awake. I have coffee. I ate my toasted muffin and have more coffee to consume. I’ve barely gotten started on the coffee yet. We linger on the coffee.

Only a little snow

I decided, since it snowed last night, I needed pictures. The weather has warmed up dramatically since yesterday and the overnight snow is melting quickly. I grabbed the little Leica and took pictures.

HDR and graphic processing

At the end of shooting, my battery was empty. After I changed the battery, I delayed this post for an extra hour while I tried to find the charger for these specific batteries. I have so many chargers. I have all the chargers for the cameras I own — multiples for many — as well as chargers for cameras I used to own. Eventually, I found the right charger and finally, I started processing the photographs. Of all the annoying parts of technology, the fact that no two cameras use the same battery or battery charger is the most annoying for me. I go through this “search the house for that charger” every time we go away from home. Even when it is essentially the same camera from the same manufacturer, there is no guaranteeing that both of them will use the same battery. Why not?

Seriously, why can’t they settle down and use batteries that will fit into a single charger? Or three chargers? One charger per camera? Really?

More HDR on the Christmas cactus

Recently, in addition to designing graphic formulas (Topaz has adopted a few of them and it’s funny to bump into my own process while rambling through the filters), I’ve been playing with HDR. I’ve been avoiding it because it seemed like more work than I wanted to put into most photographs. But newer cameras have made the process  easier, so I used it for all the Christmas Cactus pictures. I’m not sure I see much of a difference, but maybe I need new glasses.

My Christmas cactus is still blooming. Maybe blooming even more. Neglect really works. I haven’t potted it in years. I can’t even remember when. How it manages to bloom with such vigor is remarkable. Cacti, though, are like that. The worse the soil, the happier they seem to be. They don’t need much and if you give them a lot of TLC, they fade.

Born to bloom in heat and dryness, warmth and comfort takes away their spunk, as it were. Is that true for some of us, too?

These are all pictures of my now. Present moments as February begins to head to its finale. The sky is brilliant blue without a cloud. If you went to bed before the snow began and got up late, you’d be surprised there is snow.

Later this week, the temperatures are supposed to soar into shirtsleeve range, so we will get a little pre-spring weather. I don’t know about the rest of you north of the equator types, but I need a hint of spring. I need to see some color in the world.

The gray and muddy brown of winter is getting to me.

A PAIN IN THE NECK

When Pain Decides, by Rich Paschall


There are many powerful motivators in life.  Money is at the top of some lists.  It certainly seems to be the main motivation for many leaders of corporations and governments.  Doing good, rather than doing evil or even just doing nothing, inspires people to do good works that will benefit their community and their world, however large that may be.  Fear can also be a motivator to get you to do things or to avoid people, places, things .  What motivates you to act in a certain way?

Pain is clearly a strong motivator.  People will generally avoid things that cause pain.  At least, they will when they know better.  My earliest memory involves broken glass.  I was barely more than a toddler when glass broke on the floor and my father and grandfather were yelling at me to stay put.  This of course frightened me and I ran across the floor to one of them.  I was barefoot at the time.  The next thing I knew one of them was carrying me down to the doctor’s office, conveniently on the same street.  The other hurried along side.  I guess the good doctor picked a little glass out of me and sent me home.  I knew never to run through broken glass again, at least not barefoot.

Sometimes we learn about pain the hard way.  The oven is hot. The radiator is hot.  The campfire is hot.  Heavy objects will hurt if they fall on us.  Knives will cut.  Scissors will cut.  Razor blades are for an adult to carefully handle.  Falling off your bike is bad. Falling down stairs is bad.  Falling on the ice is bad.  Being hit by a car…  Well, some things are very bad.

All of these tragedies and possible tragedies motivate us to lead a safer life.  No matter how well our parents try to “child-proof” the house, there are still painful lessons to be learned.  From them, we discover how to stay safe and avoid pain.

Sometimes pain may keep you off your bike, off the ski slope or off the golf course.  The aches and pains of age may stop you from doing things you used to love.  You may see the roller coaster at Great America, but decide your back will not take such a jolt.  A sore knee may keep you from hiking or a headache may keep you out of the sun.  You may be motivated to keep away from many activities.

No matter how carefully you live your life, however, other factors may intrude that cause pain and painful decisions.   A whole encyclopedia of maladies may force you into the doctor’s office in search of relief from pain.  Have you ever heard yourself ask the doctor to give you something for the pain?

There are plenty of “some things” to be had.  I know. I have many of them on hand.

If you consider the health of your family and friends over the years, you may see a lot of pain and suffering.  Sometimes people’s lives become an exercise in treating pain.  Some doctors are wary of treating the pain, which is a symptom, rather than the problem.  Getting something for the pain and going home is not often a good route to take.

In  the middle of last year, neck pain and arm and shoulder numbness caused me to go to the doctor.  My manager in the freight forwarding world was concerned I was having a stroke.  I assured him I was just having a lot of pain.  A stroke will cause numbness on one side and usually a severe headache as well.  Know the warning signs of stroke.  It is a different kind of pain.

Without going through all of the steps and studies along the way, I can say I ended up at a pain doctor who realized there was more than a pain in the neck.  He treated that pain but also caused for a lower back problem to be found.  Rather than deal with the neck problem, I had an operation on the lower back which alleviated pain and numbness, but not the original problem.

Why did I avoid the original problem?  Because the back surgery sounded like it could be solved with a minimally invasive procedure while the neck surgery sounded scary and painful.  It was pain that caused me to opt for one surgery over what was actually a bigger problem.

While I was looking into options for the neck, I finally picked a neurosurgeon and scheduled surgery.  Why would I let someone cut into my neck because of a couple herniated discs?  What motivates me to have the procedure I had been avoiding?

When I was much younger I had a procedure that caused for a spinal injection.  When I awoke, I found a weird feeling in the spine and numbness from the waist down.  It went away in a short time, but the back was sore and I swore then, I would never let anyone touch my spine again.  What happened to change that?  Pain.

The surgery I avoided became inevitable.  Pain made the decision for me.  It is time to go forward with an attempt to replace a couple herniated discs and put C5 back in place.  I absolutely do not want to do it.  A larger motivating factor came into play.

This will take me away from my computer for a day or two or three.  Hopefully I will be able to answers any comments in a timely fashion.  If not, I guess you will know what motivating factor kept me away from my appointed rounds.

2018 OLYMPIC FEVER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve been enjoying the Winter Olympics this year more than usual. Unlike past Olympics, I read nothing about the American athletes beforehand. I have no favorites in any sport. I have no skin in the game. For me, it’s less of a competition this year and more of an athletic exhibition. I can just relax and watch these amazing athletes do their thing.

Watching has become something of a Zen experience for me. I get totally absorbed in each event I watch – even sports that are relatively new to me. I’m now obsessed with the snowboard events. Even the jumpy, twirly ones I never cared for in the past.

There’s one event called the Snowboard Cross, which is awesome. It’s called NASCAR on snow. Six snowboarders jump off a nine and a half-foot high ledge onto a crazy course of jumps, bumps and scary turns. The skiers spend half their time in the air. Skiers fall regularly and crash into each other. The skier in last place can end up being the only one to finish the race! High drama! Anything can happen! I’m hooked!

For each event, I listen carefully to the commentators and instantly learn the key technical elements to look for in each performance. I particularly love watching the skiers. The rhythm of the skis swishing and swooshing their way down the steep mountains is mesmerizing. I follow each skier and get into their rhythm as they go through the course.

The skating events are more exciting to me. It’s like watching a super graceful but high speed dance performance. I’ve always loved all forms of dancing on the ice, since I was a child. So I have a long history with this sport.

This year I fell in love with the German Pairs team in their first, short program. They had the routine that was the most fun and interesting as well as technically off the charts. But it didn’t seem like they’d be able to catch the Chinese team in first place and win the Gold. In the clinch, they put in an amazing, near perfect long program and got the highest Olympic score ever! They won the Gold by hundredths of a point. I was off my seat, cheering!

But mostly, I find myself peacefully staring at the TV for hours each night. With my ADD, that is really an unusual occurrence. I get totally absorbed and totally relaxed. It’s extra special to be sharing this experience with an equally enthusiastic husband.

Having the Olympics in my life every day is a refreshing change from our usual routine of TV shows and online shows. I’m really enjoying this immersive experience. I watch the clock and wait patiently for the evening Olympics show to start. It’s nice to have something different to look forward to every day. I give the 2018 Winter Olympics top scores!

DREAMING OF SPRING

This is the worst part of winter for me because by now, I’ve had more than enough winter. Even thinking about snow makes my back hurt and my sinuses back up. Spring tends to be very brief and rather late in this latitude. Beautiful for all of five minutes.

Pink apple blossoms

Magnolia

A flowery road by the farm

New leaves

I thought I’d give you some springtime visuals. Something for all we northerners to dream about.