Flash Retrospective – Part IV


Very few people (as usual) are reading my flash pieces.

To be expected, I suppose . . . but this one, this one I recently submitted to Writers of the Future. It was a moment of weakness, you see.

I like this story; I mean, I like all my stories, but this one I liked enough to send it out into the world on its own. It will be shot down, of course, but I won’t mind. I know it will hold its head up and meet its fate with dignity and self confidence. I present it here without hesitation.

But first, the photo-hook. You see, I stepped out onto the deck last night. I looked up at the faint ribbon of the Milky Way overhead. I watched it for a few minutes, my neck beginning to strain. As my eyes adjusted I could see more and more stars. 

. . . and then I saw a dying meteor leave its mark, as if someone had tried to scratch the heavens. I then recalled THIS BLOG POST

I went in and fiddled with my camera, getting it set up while in the house, and then moving it out to the deck. I took 12 photos, each at different settings and focus. These were the best three, presented here without any adjustments.

Milky Way,

Milky Way,

Milky Way,

I played with the ISO and exposure time . . . I was pleased with these, especially after I went in and cranked them up a bit . . . these are the same photos after I modified the RAW image by increasing contrast, saturation, midtones, darkening the sky, etc.

Milky Way,

Milky Way,

Milky Way,

The camera may not show them in the originals RAW photos, but my eyes can detect those faint colors up there . . . or maybe it’s just my imagination. Either way, I am pleased with the photos, and will try the 10-20mm lens tomorrow night (this was the 17-50mm). The 10-20mm is a slower lens, so we’ll see if it will do as well.

You can click on the photos to have them open about twice as large in a new window. I could have posted the originals, but they are so grainy that it’s not worth looking at them at full resolution.

And now the story I submitted; some have probably read this already (two, maybe three people), so to them folk I offer my apologies for the repeat.

Water Wars

By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright March 2013 (1,257 words)

“I got you a pink dress to wear.” George held up what at one time might actually have been a pink dress. 

“Why can’t I go like this?” Karen, the youngest of the group, pointed to her attire; a flour sack with holes cut for her head and arms, and tied around the waist with a rope.

“Because we are tapping into evolutionary imperatives; a little girl in a pink dress is less likely to get shot.”  George’s tone and his deliberate use of big words left little room for arguing.

“Fine!” Karen grabbed the supposed dress, and went behind a bush to change.  She had been chosen because they had lost Julia.  Julia now had a steady boyfriend who did not approve of their activities.  Julia had been a great little actress; she would be missed.

Karen came out from behind the bush, pulling on the dress.  “I feel silly!” Her tone worried George.  He did not want to send her in if there was a chance she would piss off the guard and get herself shot.

“Are you going to let us down?  Because we need this to work!” His tone was a bit harsher than he intended, and Karen’s demeanor changed.  Her eyes swelled with tears, and she looked like the little girl she was. 

“I . . . I did not mean . . .” A sob broke through, interrupting her sentence.  She brought up her hands, covering her face, and her small shoulders shook with suppressed sobs.

“Karen, I’m sorry,” George reached out for her, feeling like a total jerk, and patted her shoulder, “I did not mean . . . “

“Sucker!”  Karen’s head snapped up, a huge smile lighting up her face.

George gaped for a moment before also breaking out in a huge grin. “You little stinker!”  He gently pulled her hair before continuing, “You’ll do fine.”

He turned to the others.  “OK, you know how serious this is; we need that water.  That means no one lets themselves be seen.”  He did not voice the obvious; to be seen meant getting shot, and moreover, meant Karen would also be put in danger.

They all nodded, each holding up a plastic gallon jug.  Karen grabbed a beaten-up tin bucket.  She too held it up, and without another word, she headed to the spring.  The others went the opposite way, taking the long way around.

~~o~~

Peter adjusted his rifle.  The approach to the spring had been modified to funnel people into a narrow passage; if need be, he could hold off a small army.  From his cover he would observe people stop and put payment into the designated benches; food, utensils, plastics, and anything that could be used for currency.  Currency; people finally found no use for it, but not in the way the Trekkies had envisioned.

The four families who co-owned the spring did pretty well, considering.  Considering the world had turned to crap, and most of the people had long ago succumbed to the Water Death.

No one knew how the contamination started or how it continued, but the entire water delivery infrastructure had been compromised, all over the world.  Rivers and lakes were OK, and rainwater was OK, but millions who did not live near rivers and lakes perished in the first week.  Even those who lived near fresh water fared poorly; they had long ago lost the ability to process the natural pathogens found in free-flowing water. 

Peter looked up from his book, a motion catching the corner of his eye.  A young girl, pre-teen, was making her way along the path.  She carried a small pail; he could not see any payment.

Putting the book down, he put his eye to the telescopic sights, and scanned the hillsides.  No one else was moving.  He focused back to the girl.  Her eyes were wide, and she was watching him, but she continued.  She must have seen the rifle, but it did not deter her from continuing to his position.

His finger hovered over the trigger guard.  A reflex action; he would not have shot the little girl, even if there had been no rule against doing so.

She arrived at his position and stopped, looking up at him.  Peter tried to maintain a stern visage. 

“I don’t see a payment,” he said with a rough voice, “you can just turn around, and go back to wherever you came from.”

The girl did not speak.  But her eyes welled up with tears and, dropping her pail, she just sat down where she was, one leg folded under her, and shaking her head slightly.

“I can’t . . . *sob* . . . he’ll beat me!” 

“Who will beat you?”  Peter’s voice was a tad softer, but not much.

“My brother!”  she looked up at Peter, her eyes big and rimmed with red from crying.  “He . . . he’s taking care of our mom; she is very sick . . . he said to bring back water, or else.”  Karen put her head down again, sobbing.

Peter looked around.  His replacement was due in about 20 minutes, and she was usually late. 

“OK, OK,” he said, “one pail, and make it quick!”

The girl’s face looked up at him.  With the palm of her hand, she wiped a tear from her cheek.  “Really?  Thank you!” 

Karen rose, and grabbing her pail, she ran through the gate the guard held open.

Within a few minutes she returned, carefully carrying the nearly full pail.  She stopped outside the gate, waited for the guard to close it, and when he turned to her, she thanked him once again.  Walking carefully, she headed back up the path.  Peter watched her until she turned the corner, then shook his head and smiled.

~~o~~

Back at their rendezvous point, the children each emptied their haul into a small cistern.  It would be sealed when not in use so as to not lose any water to evaporation.  Karen was the last one to empty her pail.

“Right!” George smiled at them all.  Grabbing the sack from the side of the cistern, he continued. “This should last us at least a few weeks!”

He opened the sack, and handed out small water pistols to each of the kids, who in turn dipped them in the cistern, filling them.  When they were all done, George sealed the cistern, and then, breaking up into four teams, they headed off toward the nearby ruins of a barn; their water war playground.

~~o~~

At the guard shack, Peter fired up the intercom. 

“Yes?”  The female voice at the other end sounded strong and capable, fitting the speaker to a “t”.

“They made another raid.” He said simply, not needing to explain further.

“How much did they get?” The woman’s voice did not change in inflection, but he knew she was smiling.

“I counted 12 kids, each with a gallon.  There may have been one or two more; I had to work hard at not looking.”

“OK, put it on my account.”

“Will do.” Peter replied.  “Oh, one more thing; they have a new decoy.  This one is really good; probably a good candidate for your theater group.”

“Really? Thanks Peter, I’ll look into it.  Enjoy your evening.”  And with that she hung up.

Peter switched off the intercom, and looked in the direction of the barn, hidden by the hill. He wished he could watch the kids play.  He wished everyone could watch the kids play.

  

The End

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Stuff, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Disperser Bookcases – Part III


First, a reminder of the books we’re looking at:

books

I should mention there not be many photos in this post. One, exactly, and it’s the above photo. That’s right, it’s mostly words. Boring at best, it can be deadly to them used to the visual arts. They best move along.

The last book covered in the previous post was The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers  (Voices that Matter) by Scott Kelby. We now jump on the other side of the Analog of Science Fiction and Fact.

Wait . . . the Analog of Science Fiction and Fact deserves a mention. I subscribed to it in 1983, shortly after reading my first ever Science Fiction book, I, Robot. The stories within I, Robot had been previously published in pulp magazines, one of them Astounding Science Fiction - the previous name for Analog of SF and F. 

My subscription remained uninterrupted until April of this year, when it expired and I opted not to renew. THIS POST explains a bit of why, but as few will read it, let me tell you. Part of the reason is that pile you see in the photo. It’s two deep and spans the time between October 2007 and June 2014 – nearly seven years of Analogs, all unread. 

I’m slowly making my way through them, but these days I have many interests and many things I want to read. Plus, when I subscribed (in 1983) I started going to used bookstores and getting all the old copies of Analogs I could find. I don’t have a complete collection, but some of the issues I have date back to the 40s. 

That’s a lot of reading, Bob. Why, yes; yes it is, Bob. Anyway, let’s continue.

Our next book is Stretching by Bob Anderson. No, it’s not my Bob; my Bob is fictional. This is the 1980 edition, and it looks like new . . . because all I do is occasionally leaf through it. Mind you, I’m 61, but I can still touch the ground a few inches past my toes, can still put on my sox standing on one leg, don’t have to sit or kneel to tie my shoes. What I can’t do is scratch the middle of my back, but I could not do that when I was a kid, so I’m not to worried about it. Besides, I have back-scratchers in nearly every room and in each of the cars. I’m good.

“Why keep it, then?” 

Good question . . . like most people I harbor the idea that someday I will do stuff . . . I will build loads of lean muscles that give me the strength to climb free-hand on a negative-angled rock face; I will be so limber as to visually check moles on my back without the need of mirrors; I will be a wiz at every program put out by Adobe, as well as mastering the full range of all the programs I own. I will learn how to cook even as I become a master programmer.  I will learn how to fly a plane, master three or four martial arts disciplines, even inventing my own. I will write a best-seller during my spare time while I single-handedly build our retirement home out of logs I cut down and moved about by myself. Oh, and I will read Shakespeare’s collected works.

I’m kidding about that last one. 

Seriously, I bought this as a used book primarily because it mentioned stretching for raquetball (yes, that’s how it’s spelled on the cover). The problem is that once I went to that section, it talked about stretching right before a match! Well, screw that! If I’m within sight of a court, I’m not going to stand outside the court stretching; not even for a minute.

But it looks good on my shelf . . . don’t open it, though; besides cracking the spine of the book, you’ll also be confronted with hand-drawn figures illustrating the exercises. I hope the 30th anniversary edition of the book (2010), has better illustrations.

But, let’s move on. 

Much like the stretching book, the next three books are in perfect condition. English Grammar for Dummies, English Grammar Workbook for Dummies, and Writing Fiction for Dummies.

So, let’s talk a bit about grammar. I came to the US in 1966 and went to Eighth Grade while I was still learning English. I did well, and went on to High School. However . . . still learning English. I was put in a remedial class with a bunch of  . . . well, they were less than brilliant. Some could even tie their own shoes.

I did well, and as I progressed in my language skill, I was moved to regular classes. The second year I had a grammar class run by one of the lay teachers . . . who happened to have been drafted and heading to Vietnam sometimes after the school year finished. My memory is fuzzy about his situation, but here’s what I remember clearly:

He would come into the classroom, had the students open up the book, assign a bunch of problems, and then call me up to the desk. I would pull up a chair while he brought out and set up a chess set, and we’d play chess for the duration of the class. I was a pretty good player.

My junior and senior years I had “advanced English” or something to that effect, which meant reading and writing, but no grammar that I remember. Same for college. I am sure I had some sort of grammar class, but since I spent my first two years playing pool, chess, table tennis, tennis, fishing, and skipping most of my classes, I don’t remember learning much. If I did as well in the grammar course as I did in all the other courses, I probably flunked it.

Actually, I probably got a “C” since by the time I straightened out and began studying again I took more advanced English courses, and hence nothing to do with such basics as grammar. Aced the courses, but all my grammar was . . . how shall I say it . . . intuitive. Still is.

By the way, that was the time when one of the teachers told me I should switch majors to English. I sometimes regret not listening to the guy, but on the other hand, had I followed a formal education in English, I might not be the brilliant writer you see today . . . I would be even brillianter. 

My English grammar is anchored on the following: something looks right, and I like it, so I write it. Imagine my amazement when I began finding out that while people thought I could write well, my grammar was – if not wrong – unorthodox.  Then again, grammar rules are mostly suggestions. Sometimes strong suggestions, but suggestion nonetheless.

Through the years I made a number of attempts to school myself . . . boring myself to tears. The two grammar books on my bookcase were on sale, probably sometime in the mid-2000 (they are 2001 editions), and I got them real cheap. Someday, in mint condition, they’ll be worth something. Eh, probably not.

Mind you, I do think I have improved. I’m still fuzzy on comma uses, and ‘proper’ sentence structure, but as long as no one throws a fit while reading my stuff, I think my time is better spent writing than learning grammar . . .  besides, my chess skills are a tad rusty; I’d actually have to learn grammar if I took a class.

I do listen to the Grammar Girl podcast and get her weekly updates. Someday I’ll probably buy her book; it will look nice next to the other two.  

Oh, I do use Grammarly. I have a paid subscription, and the grammar checker is integrated into my Word program. It’s a pretty good checker, and I often agree with it. I highly recommend it.

Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson is a very useful book . . . it brings balance to the other two. Visual balance, that is. This was another almost-free book. For them who don’t know the author, Randy Ingermanson can sell you the Snowflake Method For Designing a Novel in program form. You can read about it on your own, but the basic premise is you build a novel using an incremental method to build your story, characters, plot, etc. You begin with the framework and fill in the rest. 

I’m probably not describing it very well. I can tell you it does not work for me since I don’t outline (yes, I have the program). Sad that, since everything I read says successful authors become so by eventually learning to outline their novels. It’s what transitions them from mere writers to published authors.

In any event, I have the book on writing, and some day, probably the same day I learn grammar, I will learn how to write a novel in such a way that the process will be devoid of passion, discovery, excitement, surprise, and most of all, the fun of writing. 

I’m going to gloss over the next book, Siamo Tutti Umoristi by Umberto Domina. it is a collection of headlines, notices, ads, photos and writings that are “involuntarily humorous”. Honest, it’s not all that funny, but it sometimes offers up a sideways glimpse of the 60’s. Even for someone who reads Italian, the material is very nuanced. I believe it used to belong to my uncle, but I’m not sure.

The last book I will cover in this post is Mythology by Edith Hamilton. The original copyright is from 1942, but it has been reissued by a number of publishers. I don’t know what year my copy was printed.

Here’s the interesting thing . . . it’s available as a PDF. It’s a good introduction to the subject.

Thank you for reading this third installment, and I hope you join me for the remainder of the rivetting progression through my library. Lots of good stuff to come, if I do say so myself (I usually have to, as few others ever speak so of me).

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What the 'H'?

What the ‘H’?

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: http://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Creative, Reading, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Visiting Colorado


Some, probably not many, might have noticed my absence from the blogosphere and the Internet in general. My sister visited for a week, and there was much travel, eating, Firefly watching, and refrigerator shopping (my current fridge is beyond repair and dying).

I’m jumping back into blogging with a huge post about the travels of this past week. Honest, unless you have the training, you might want to break up the reading this post into multiple sessions. Of course, in this twitterized world there is little chance more than one or two readers will even look at anything here past the first paragraph or photo. Cosi’ e’ la vita.

The main objective this past week was not photography, but to explore locations unfamiliar to my visiting sister; ergo, most of the photos were taken with my Samsung Note II. The big boys gear was only used on a couple of occasions. I will make use of the appropriate photos regardless of how they were taken.

This post starts a week ago yesterday when we headed out for a circle tour which included Guffey (prior posts about Guffey are HERE and HERE). You can read about the town here:  Guffey.

Sunday 07Sep2014 Guffey circle Route

Our first stop was the Adeline Hornbek Homestead. It’s a nice place to stop and stretch one’s legs. The link makes for interesting reading, but I’m sure most just want to see the photos (all of these are from the phone camera and modified with onOne Effects).

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We’ve been there a few times, and only once was anyone on-site to give tours of the insides of the buildings. The actual park entrance is a mile or so down the road.

You can, however, walk around the buildings . . .

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I do like the texture of weathered logs.

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Not much has changed since the old days . . . today people still put their vehicles up on blocks.

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Meanwhile, their main ride gets all the attention (and colorful paint, apparently).

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The nearby root cellar is farther than most modern refrigerators, and the consequences of a teen leaving the door open were a bit more drastic, as in losing the winter stores.

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Soon enough it was time to say goodbye and get back to snacking and driving.

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Now, I don’t particularly like motorcycles ahead of me, especially when they make the effort to cut in front of me from a side road, and then proceed to ride 5-10 mph below the speed limit, and even slower as they go through any mild curve . . . there are a lot of curves on these roads.

It was even more aggravating having another motorcycle catch up and tail-gate me. The guy should have known I had a couple of inconsiderate idiots in front of me; inconsiderate idiots that sped up in places where I could have passed them, and slowed down in no-passing zones. If maledictions have any kind of efficacy, all three are now suffering from exploding hemorrhoids.

But, there is a place where the road straightened up . . . I went a bit – a considerable bit – over the speed limit to pass them (yes, like most rear orifices, they speeded up when I put on the turn signal to pass), but pass them I did, and my calm was somewhat restored, especially once I put the cruise on, and concentrated on my snacks and coffee.

Soon enough, we arrived in Guffey.

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I don’t remember this truck from our last visit, and I almost broke open my camera bag, but opted to keep with my phone camera lest I also grabbed the tripod, multiple lenses, and went into my photo-taking trance.

And yes, those are bathtubs on the side of the truck.

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This next vehicle was in slightly worse shape.

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The nearby swing set looked interesting . . . good luck to be had by using it, I reckon.

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More texture of old wood was to be had nearby.

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Not sure if that had been a containment facility . . . the bars would seem to indicate as much, but there could be other explanations.

Some people might have read the posts where I talk of building a birdhouse . . . these birdhouses have a tad more character than the one I built.

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I snapped a few more photos of the neat truck before venturing across the street to the macabre display of animal remnants.

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OK, I think the following are mostly horse heads . . . maybe they were props from the movie Godfather.

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Not sure about that last one . . . awfully big eyes on that one.

Macabre as it was, it reminded me of . . .

chess-gangsters

This next vehicle was also new (so to speak), and for rent, to boot!

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The horse heads were displayed on the back of this truck . . .

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The rest of the place looked like I remembered it . . .

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I walked over to my favorite display . . .

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. . . and noticed the yard was open, and I could get close to it.

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I was sad to see the horse had lost the glasses it sported on my previous visit. Too bad.

An early lowrider . . .

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Of course, I had to check out my favorite Guffey cars (sadly, without a zoom lens, and there is a “No Trespassing” sign on the fence) . . .

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. . . and snap one last picture before heading out . . .

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We got back in the car and headed out . . . but, we rounded a corner, and sitting there, in front of a bar, was this beauty . . .

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It’s an uncomfortable and unsafe car, but it do look striking.

On the way back home we stopped at Third Street Apples, and were disappointed by the apples. The entire crop was composed of smallish apples; smaller than a tennis ball.

Other orchards we passed had similar apples. Apparently, the result of the double whammy of an early Fall freeze last year combined with a late Spring freeze this year. Oh well.

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We got home, and much food was consumed . . . a small amount even by people not me.

Monday morning I dropped off the Tahoe to the dealer (thank you Chevrolet for making a product that reliably transfers funds from my account to the dealer’s account), and we headed up to Pikes Peak in the Toyota Highlander. A better vehicle choice because it’s a five speed, thus easier for controlling the speed of the descent from 14,110 feet. Also, it’s more reliable.

Monday 08Sep2014 Pikes Peak zoomed in

Here my sister is posing at the top of Pikes Peak . . . the weather was less than ideal with wind and flurries making the visit a tad uncomfortable.

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On the way up we passed a some vintage cars making their way to the top (unlike the bikers, they were considerate, moving over to let us pass). One overheated 3/4 of the way up there, but they all eventually made it, and then posed for the tourists.

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What’s that? You want to see them closer? Sure thing! Here you go . . .

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We planned a drive to Grand Junction, but Tuesday’s weather was iffy, so we opted to wait until Wednesday for the overnight trip.

So, what to do on Tuesday? Well, it sounds like the perfect day to shop for refrigerators and then visit Garden of the Gods. I’ve done one post about the place (HERE), but it really deserves better coverage than I’ve offered it. I’ll remedy that someday. Meanwhile . . .

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All the following photos will look a bit off . . . the phone does not handle the red color and bright skies all too well.

Because it was a weekday, because the weather was iffy, and because it’s after Labor Day, the parking lots had a few spots to park.  That gave us the chance to walk around . . .

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There are more photos in the SmugMug Gallery HERE, but I’m adding enough here to ensure this post is not too short.

Notice the sign . . .

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Lots of kids running around, and parents who were not too strict about letting them wander off the paved paths . . . I guess they didn’t like their kids too much, or were themselves illiterate.

Here’s some of the maps one can also find online.

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Here’s one of the online maps . . .

Garden-of-the-Gods-Hiking-

We might have hiked a bit more had the clouds not looked so menacing.

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For them who might not think of it, you can take vertical panoramas as well as horizontal ones.

About here a few drops started to fall . . .

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We went back to the car and continued the driving tour around the park.

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The above is probably the most photographed area in the park . . . after the balanced rock.

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She is sheltered from the rain which was falling . . . luckily, it was a mere drizzle that pounded me driven by the 92.7 mph wind.

While there I took a panorama . . .

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. . . and then we headed to the highest point in the park, snapping this next photo on the way.

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Here’s my sister – in flip-flops – climbing some red rocks.

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From there we went back home to prepare for our two-days trip . . .

10-11SEP2014 - Grand Junction Circle Route

I made the mistake of not looking at the route before leaving . . . I would have done it slightly different, but this was fine. Nice weather, nice scenery, nice company, and lots of food.

Here’s a few shots from the drive to Grand Junction (more in the SmugMug Gallery HERE).

Rest Area before the Tunnels

Rest Area before the Tunnels

Rest Area before the Tunnels

Rest Area before the Tunnels

This is the Eisenhower Tunnel . . .

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And this is after the tunnel (I’m only showing a few of the shots I took one-handed as I was driving the car – and none of the videos; a video of driving the tunnel going the other way is HERE, near the end of the post) . . .

Apparently, snapping photos while passing a semi in an turn is something wives frown-upon. To be fair, they have a right to frown as I am less than diligent in keeping the car centered in our lane.

Apparently, snapping photos while passing a semi in an turn is something wives frown upon. To be fair, they have a right to frown as I am less than diligent in keeping the car centered in our lane.

 

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Another tunnel . . .

Colorado River paced us for a while . . .

Colorado River paced us for a while . . .

. . . and yet another tunnel . . .

. . . and yet another tunnel . . .

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. . . finally approaching Grand Junction . . .

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We exited at the Palisade exit, on the hunt for a couple of wineries before hitting the Colorado National Monument.

10-11SEP2014 - Grand Junction Zoom

There are a number vineyards in Palisade, but we picked two at random.

First up, Canyon Winds Cellars. The first shot I took were some hanging grapes . . . and I messed it up. It is out of focus . . . but that makes it perfect for some artsy treatment.

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OK, here’s some other shots from the winery.

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Those are 180deg panoramic shots, hence the curved wall effect.

I’m not showing shots from inside the tasting room as it got too rowdy . . . but I can show you the views from the inside.

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OK, so it wasn’t rowdy . . . the wines were good (we bought a few, and I tasted them at home), and the lady behind the bar was very knowledgeable. Still, not drinking, I went outside for a few more shots.

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The next place was Carlson Vineyard Winery. There Melisa and Louise tried a Cherry Wine with chocolate on the rim of the glass. Apparently, it was to die for.

Here’s what the insides looks like:

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Those last two shots were a surprise as I was browsing the displays, and these guys were between one of the displays and the cash register. They looked comfy.

From there we proceeded to the Colorado National Monument. We’d been there before, but it’s always a treat driving through it. Most of the photos are from my Nikon, and some are from the phone.

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The first order of business was climbing up to the visitor center and have ourselves a picnic.

Colorado National Monument,

When we got there, we struggled to find an open spot . . .

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 . . . but at least the views were great.

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

You can tell the Nikon photos . . . they seem bland by comparison.

That’s due in part to the processing I applied (different for the phone’s JPGs and the Nikon’s RAW image), in part due to the lighting, and in part because the phone does some processing before I ever get to the photos. Someday I will have a phone that shoots some version of RAW (I hope).

All that combined with WordPress’s propensity to dull down images, and that’s the result. Again, for the large Nikon Panoramas you’re better off looking at them in SmugMug. Just saying, is all.

We did stop at the visitor center, and shot some from there. This next is a panorama from the phone . . .

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Here’s a single photo of the same scene taken with the Nikon and with my typical processing.

Colorado National Monument,

You will notice an improvement in the Nikon photo from the previous ones, even if still dimmer than the phone’s photo . . . some thin clouds left, and the lighting is improved.

I’ve often been reminded to include something to give perspective as to the size . . . do you see the “V” opening in the rocks? Here, let me zoom in . . .

Colorado National Monument,

See the railing and the two people? You can see them better in SmugMug, but visible here as well – click on the photo for a larger view. There! . . . something for scale. By the way, that’s where we are heading next.

Here’s another phone panorama . . .

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Here the Nikon shot of that tree . . .

Colorado National Monument,

I’ll have one more comparison between the two, but most of the remaining Monument shots will be from the Nikon.

Here’s the path to the railing from the earlier shot . . .

Colorado National Monument,

Apparently, the previous day there had been an unusual rain, and some of the ground was still ‘shifty’, but not to the point that it was muddy.

The walk did offer some nice photo opportunities.

Colorado National Monument,

Really, panoramas should be viewed full size . . .

Anyway, here’s a string of shots from the walk.

I do like dead tree trunks, especially of these Junipers . . . they look so tortured.

I do like dead tree trunks, especially of these Junipers . . . they look so tortured.

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

The path is on a relatively narrow wedge of rock that comes to a point, and offers great views while doing so.

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Here’s another panorama from the Nikon . . .

Colorado National Monument,

. . . compared to an over-processed photo from the phone.

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. . . Nikon . . .

Colorado National Monument,

. . . over-processed phone photo . . .

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To be sure, it’s not all the phone . . . some of the difference is due to me trying to bring out shadows and recover blown-out highlights, but still.

However, all is not lost; many photographers purposefully overprocess their regular photos . . . some people like one type, and others like the other. See? Everyone is happy.

Here’s a few more from the walk.

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

Next up, the Coke Ovens, so named because of their shape . . .

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Here’s the last panorama comparison . . .

Colorado National Monument,

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Here’s falling rock . . .

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

And here’s the canyon within the canyon . . .

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

The last stop in the park was Cold Shiver Point a very picturesque place; a place where you can step to the edge of beautiful cliffs . . .  and sometimes step off.

Colorado National Monument,

See the ledge on the right on the photo above?

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

Of course, if you’re not paying attention, you need not go to the edge . . .

Colorado National Monument,

The day ended with us driving to Montrose, our stopover for the night.

The next day we continued on US Route 50 to Gunnison, and over Monarch Pass.

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Down to Salida we drove, and turned North on US 285 on our way to Independence Pass.

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Independence Pass,

We’d been up there a few times, even once when it was not windy (HERE).

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We went on a short walk to the overlook . . . 

Independence Pass,

She’s looking at a man just off-frame who was doing some sort of leg exercises.

Independence Pass,

Having lived here nearly 10 years can make one complacent about the place . . . it’s good once in a while to see it through other people’s eyes.

Here’s a few more from the pass.

Independence Pass,

Independence Pass,

Independence Pass,

Independence Pass,

With that, we headed back home. That evening we continued the Firefly marathon even as the weather outside was changing . . . 

The next morning, Friday, September 12, held a surprise for us . . . temperatures in the low 20’s (Fahrenheit) and . . . 

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That’s right; the first snow of the 2014-2015 season. I’m sure this spider was surprised . . . 

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Kind of looks christmassy, don’t it? 

Of course, we were inside, and enjoying a late breakfast/tea.

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Yes, I know how lucky we are.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tuning Fork

Tuning Fork

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: http://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Cabin, Colorado, Colorado, Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument, Garden of the Gods, Garden of the Gods, Independence Pass, Independence Pass, Photography, Photography Stuff, Pikes Peak, Scenery, Structures, Travel Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Flash Retrospective – Part III . . . and break time


This week we are once again entertaining guests, and this is a warning that both my blog reading and blog writing might suffer for it.

Meanwhile, a heroic battle is being waged between me and my body wanting to go to sleep.

You see, I want to schedule this post, and my eyes are saying “Oh no, you don’t!” as they try to close on their own. I tell you, I cannot guarantee the spelling composition and content of this post. It could be I’m thinking I’m oozing brilliance with every word, but for all I know all this is crap.

Before I get to the fiction, something that I would like to donate to the World. I think it needs it.

untitled-20140111134117

OK, quickly now, on with the post before I lose it . . . 

One of the most read of my flash fiction efforts coincides with my efforts to write something funny; go figure.

Movement Propels Destiny” was the ‘flash’ portion of Photo and the Flash – No. 1. I like this tale because it sounds plausible. Plus, you know . . . bathroom humor.

My next choice comes from Photo and the Flash – No. 5, a tale about love, bullying, high school, and what might possibly be supernatural beings. The story is titled “A good Day After all.

Photo and the Flash – No. 6 offers up one of my favorite short stories: Different. I was told once that I write realistic characters, be they female or male. I can’t speak to that, but I can relate to these characters.

If you are only going to read one, . . . wait; why would you read just one? Oh man, I’m losing it; I need to hit the sack; goodnight all.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Stuff, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Disperser Bookcases – Part II


First, a reminder of the books we’re looking at:

books

The last book we looked at was “Strong on Defense” by Sanford Strong, and ex-policeman and SWAT captain.

Next, quite the difference . . . “Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop“. The title is a little misleading, as there are many steps within each of the steps he illustrates, step-by-step, in this book. Something he does that I’ve seen few people do is give you access to the photos he uses in the lessons. It’s a great book for illustrating fundamentals (and beyond) of post-processing a photograph. This particular version references Photoshop CS3, and he has a later one for CS5 (at nearly twice the price) using the same photos.

I think this one is good enough to give you the gist of what he does, especially since individuals are not necessarily going to agree with the values he chooses for the individual settings. As a methodology, this is something well worth reading and practicing.

The next book . . . “The Photoshop Channels Book” by Scott Kelby. Yep, the man is nothing if not prolific. The Amazon link gives you the option to “look inside”, but here’s what I can tell you. There is a lot of stuff you can do with channels (the individual colors making up the image; Red, Green, and Blue), ranging from masking, to adjustment layers, to conversion to Black & White, to improving color, to sharpening, to adding special effects.

The book shows you all that with examples, and once again you can download most of the samples HERE. You can substitute your own photos for those not included due to permission issues.

Taking a break from Kelby, we go to another recognizable name in the world of Photography. The book is “Digital Photography Secrets” by Rick Sammon, and it includes a DVD with 90 minutes of video tutorials.

This book begins with guidelines ranging from composition, to cropping, to adjusting exposure, to playing with light. It then goes into the mechanics, advantages, and limits of digital cameras before delving into people, landscape, animal, macros, equipment, useful and informative sites, and digital darkroom ideas.

Photoshop’s Layers” by Matt Kloskowski (a buddy/employee of Kelby) is another semi-advanced post-processing technique, and a powerful one at that. Most of the neat stuff you do with Photoshop is done with layers. And yes, this too comes with a site where you can download the photos used in the lessons.

Want to adjust an image? Layers.
Want to blend images? Layers.
Want to create a mask? Layers.
Want to add type and shapes, enhance a photo, add a unique style, or retouch a photo? Layers.

In other words, if you use Photoshop, perhaps it would be a good idea to learn about Layers. Just saying.

We return to Scott Kelby with his series of “The Digital Photography Book“. There are five books, and I own numbers 1, 2, and 4. Now, I like Scott Kelby. He writes with a sense of humor, is clear, and usually presents stuff that is really useful to the run-of-the-mill photographer.

The premise behind the books is that he goes out for shooting sessions with professional photographers, he learns their tricks, and he tells them to you in his books.

The thing is that as much as I like the guy, he is a greedy little (or not so little) son-of-a-gun. Book One was really good. Lots of great hints, and stuff I still occasionally read as refresher when I’m about to do particular shoots.

Book Two has advice on lighting, equipment, some techniques for portrait and landscape photography, and just things in general one might want to think about. I would rank it less than Book One and well above a door stop as far as usefulness goes.

Book Three was not rated very highly, and I did not buy it because when I read the description it seemed like a rehash of books One and Two.

I bought Book Four . . . and could have done without it. Sure, more info on lighting, but I have other books on lighting, plus there is a lot of information on the web, all for free. Advice on equipment I can’t afford or don’t need, and techniques for the type of photography I don’t do (I suppose others might find it useful, but to me it seemed a rehash of Book Two).

Book Five I’m not even looking at.

Now, the site says all these have been revised to make them more useful. Right.

I would definitely advise buying Book One, and give Book Two a “maybe”. The rest I can’t advise, but people should look at them for themselves . . . perhaps they are interested in how one can use ziplock bags to protect lenses from the rain, or how one can fit more photos in a memory card by shooting at a lower resolution, or even that when composing an outdoor photo one should avoid features that might draw the eye, like poles and signs.

Thank you, Scott . . . I think I could have worked that out on my own.

I say that, but then again many people I encounter seem to lack even the wisdom FSM gave door knobs, so perhaps they will find the later books useful.

The little booklet is . . .

Office Bookcase031

As guides go, it’s equivalent to the instructions on a frozen dinner package; pop into the microwave and push the button. It does have some generic advice on framing and composing photos, but overall, meh!

It does, however, have a nice description of my first digital camera, my still working Nikon D100.

Office Bookcase030

So, by now people are bored to tears, glancing at their watch, and wondering how they might escape what seems to be a major drain to whatever life they have left.

Let me remind you that I was asked for this. I will try to make it entertaining, and do so by using my considerable and weird sense of humor. But not right now . . . right now I continue with the books.

People who read my stuff, and especially people who read my photography-related stuff, will remember me referencing Thom Hogan. His site has a lot of information on techniques, equipment, seminars, and industry news. I preferred his old format for the review pages, but the new arrangement is easily navigable, and his recommendations with regards to cameras and lenses carry some weight.

He also writes amazingly in-depth guides for a number of camera bodies. The first thing I did when I bought my D7000 was to order his  D7000 Guide. Having bought his D200 guide I was expecting the same thoroughness in covering the camera. He delivered, and then some. The book is a brick, and it comes with a CD that contains the e-book version and custom settings he uses. It also comes with a spiral-bound quick reference booklet (on the next shelf).

If you have a camera for which he has written a guide, do yourself a favor and buy his guide.

OK, I know this is getting boring, but . . . here, let me share a joke. Well, a cartoon . . . well, maybe a few cartoons, like three.

bad_dream

Annoyance global_warming

OK, back to the books. 

What we have next is the Nikon School of Photography Handbook. I have that exact edition, and it is full of charts, graphs, and all sorts of stuff I meant to force myself to learn before actually using a camera.

I’m an engineer, so what better way to ease into photography by understanding the technical aspects and ramifications of various settings? Well, in my case it was to just start using the dang camera. In truth, that is the True Engineer’s Way. If you can’t figure it out without a step-by-step guide, well then, you ain’t worth spit as an engineer. 

And now we are at the last three books for this post. Honest, I know I’m repeating myself, but it gets better in subsequent posts.

Anyway, onward and upwards . . . er . . . sideways.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby. I actually linked the version for the latest release of Lightroom, version 5.Honest, I bought this on an impulse and because it was cheap . . . still wasted my money because I didn’t use it.

However, if you are beginning to use Lightroom, are anal about learning, and are not an engineer, then this might be a useful book to own . . . for about a month. If you are using Lightroom, you will figure out most of what’s in this book before you get through the first few chapters. There is no teacher like necessity and time.

At this point I should state the obvious to anyone who has any proficiency in using the Internet; there are a crapload of tutorials, both video and written, about using Lightroom and Photoshop. The thing is, while I like online help, I still prefer having a manual (or help book) in my hands when I do something new and difficult involving Lightroom or Photoshop.

I have a big screen (30 inches), and I can’t always fit these programs side by side on the screen along with the instruction article or video. A book is my preferred delivery vehicle for this kind of help. 

And these next two books are worth having . . . the first, Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers by Corey Baker, gathers a lot of the tips and tricks one finds in the Photoshop magazine (and online at the KelbyOne site) and presents them in a clear and concise way, with examples. The link to Amazon (above) has the option to look inside, for them so inclined. Lots of good stuff, I tell you.

And the last book is The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers  (Voices that Matter) by Scott Kelby. 

I do most of my work in Lightroom, onOne, Topaz, and Dxo. But all those are for processing large numbers of photos. When I want to actually edit a photo, I go to Photoshop . . . and because I have the Cloud version, I bought this book to help me navigate the literally thousands of things you can do with the program. Admittedly, the plugins will let me do 90% of what I want, but occasionally one has to get their fingernails digitally dirty, and dig into a photograph. 

Mind you, I don’t do it often, but here; a very early effort (from 2002) . . . 

DSC_0101-meadows-mountains-101 Pops-2

This post has some of my more recent efforts (modest as they might be).

Not saying those are good, but when I want to do something, I crack open one of them books and figure it out.

I was asked why I have all them Photoshop books . . . because sometimes books can serve as catalysts to other things. Just reading that I can do something may one day propel me to actually doing it. 

. . . or they can sit in my bookcase as reminders of what I could be doing if I were motivated.

OK, no more photoshop books . . . 

Thank you for reading the second installment, and I hope you join me for the remainder of the trip through my library. Lots of good stuff to come, if I do say so myself (I usually have to, as few others ever speak so).

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Free Range Noose

Free Range Noose

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: http://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Creative, Reading, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Flash Retrospective – Part II


Anticipating a huge positive response to my first piece, I’m already commissioning the second installment, offering me a huge advance (a bowl of sliced peaches with ice cream).

But first, here’s the photo-hook.

Salsify Seed Ball - Santa Fe  Trail, Palmer Lake - Colorado

Salsify Seed Ball – Santa Fe Trail, Palmer Lake – Colorado

The same walk that netted me the Yucca plant photo also got me the above photo. This is the only Salsify seed ball I saw all year despite having a number of plants in my yard.

Anyway, continuing with my Flash Retrospective. I often wrote flash pieces during my one hour long lunch break at work, and most often in response to Conrad’s writing prompts. Conrad has not posted anything since January, and I hope that means he is busy getting his book out.

Because I wrote them during lunch, the prompt pieces were usually short efforts written in one pass as comments on Conrad’s blog. Sometimes I would copy them, perhaps rework them a bit, and post them on my own blog when I got home.

This next post contained two such efforts.

Flash Fiction No. 8 and 9 – More Writing Prompts:
Stopping off for breakfast
(256 words) 
What would you pay for a good night’s sleep?
(837 words)

The next offering is one aimed at a fear I have . . . also, with this prompt I started titling the pieces, making them seem more like results of proper writing efforts. 

Flash Fiction No. 10 – The Writing Prompt:
The Hunter
(364 words)

Finally, a short piece of fiction not based on a prompt; just something that crossed my mind and drawing on a number of thropes.

Monday Flash Fiction – Part II, Mankind’s Future:
Mankind’s Future 
(670 words)

Now, most of these were written at a time when few people interacted with this blog. Conrad liked most of the prompt offerings, but notice the huge change in “likes” between the first two posts in 2012 and the last one, in 2013. 

. . . I read that as meaning my writing improved five-fold in the space of one year. Sadly, the majority of those bloggers only lasted a few posts before leaving for greener pastures.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Stuff, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Disperser Bookcases – Part I


Office_Composite

The above is a photo from a number of years ago. My office at home looks pretty much the same now as it did then with the exception the desk lamp is now an LED affair.

I linked the photo in my comment in THIS POST by Virginia Duran. The post dealt with work-spaces, but I was asked about my books.

The top two shelves are my books, while the remainder are Melisa’s cookbooks. Some of the books have changed since then, and a few more now rest their weary spines on the faux wooden shelves. I thought I would do a few posts on what exactly finds space in the shelves of my various bookcases (yes, I have more bookcases than the one shown here).

This I will do this over a number of posts because I have a lot of books. And that’s just the ones that are not boxed up (I’m not opening boxes).

Here we go . . .

books

Let’s start with the left side of the top shelf, shall we?

books

There are a few things that are hinted at, but not shown in this photo. On the far left you see a couple of sheets of paper . . . when I bought the Serenity Ship Papers there was an offer to get free discharge/amnesty papers from The Alliance. Those sheets are them for both Melisa and me. Here’s mine.

Office Bookcase033

Now, the interesting thing with that is that I wanted to come up with a suitable photo; one indicating someone who has seen the horrors of war, who was trying to get back on their feet, and who was none too happy with The Alliance even as they were granting him amnesty. I shot a couple of versions of me wearing a hat and one of my photographer vests. Then I modified it by making it look I was in front of a broken-down shack (which does not show up in their crop). I did not shave for a few days and tried looking as I might look if I were meeting a politician face-to-face.

Skepticality-1After going through all that trouble, I wanted more use out of the photo and I looked to turn it into a Gravatar. My first attempt is shown on the left. Prior to that, my gravatar was a stylized representation of a figure playing racquetball. I thought that was rather limiting as I was much more than that.

I darkened some features and, to give me the appropriate look for someone that many consider unbalanced, dangerous, and just plain nuts, I gave me light blue eyes.

Skepticality--2But, there was still a spark of humanity coming through (mind you, it was a small spark), a hint at a soul . . . “That’s it,” I thought, “that’s what’s wrong! . . . it looks like I have a soul!” Well, crap . . . everyone knows the eyes are the window to the soul, so . . . Perfect!

For many years this was the gravatar, the avatar many people knew meant ejdalise was on the web, prowling and itching for a spirited discussion.

Of course, once Disperser came into being, all links to humanity had to be severed, and hence my current header and gravatar. But, on with the books.

Oh, the folder has all my color matching tests and sheets for the monitor, printer, and scanner. I do have a photo of the content, but it’s not very interesting.

The first book we encounter is “Photographing the Landscape: The Art of Seeing” by John Fielder. Melisa bought me this book at a garage sale, and it is a very nice book with lots of great photographic examples, technical topics, advice on perspective, lighting, focus selection, being at the right place at the right time, and a host of other things.

The version I linked to is a revised version and includes tips on digital photography. Mine is a 1996 version, and still references film. Nonetheless, new or used, a nice reference to learn from, and it doubles as a decent coffee table book.

The next book is “Colorado Roadside Photography Guide” by Robert Castellino and and Len Krueger.

I think I actually bought this new, but I don’t remember. The book is great because it not only has the locations, photo examples, hints for the best times and routes, but it also has a foldout map of colorado (printed on heavy glossy paper) listing the 118 locations grouped by quadrants.   Colorado is a very scenic place. The Amazon listing has the option to “look inside” the book, for them who be so inclined.

Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography” by Ferrell McCollough is next on the list.  I bought this book not to make the overly-developed surreal photos everyone was seeing when HDR first came on the scene, but because I saw it as a useful tool to solve some photographic challenges. THIS PDF explains a bit about High Dynamic Range photography.

This book is an excellent resource speaking of both the possibilities and limitations of the tool, techniques, and most important, the programs available to facilitate the process, including examples output from each of the major players in 2008 (the publication date); They are still the major players even as the capabilities have evolved with increase in computing power. A good primer for getting into HDR photography, but remember: nothing beats practice.

You say you want to know about lighting? You say you want clear and simple examples, tutorials, advice, and everything you need to improve your understanding of lighting in digital photography and its practical applications? Well, the next book is a good resource. “The Complete Guide to Light & Lighting in Digital Photography” by Michael Freeman has helped me, and continues to help, in my understanding of the application and use of light. There are newer offerings that are as highly or higher rated, but I found the writing in this book clear and easy to follow despite the sometimes difficult subject and terminology.

By nature I don’t learn certain things unless I have a need for them (I’m speaking of practical knowledge – knowledge in general is always welcome in my brain), so I tend to read parts of this book both as a refresher and when I am faced with a particular photographic situation.

Next we have the Personal Financial Strategy folder . . . a very in-depth analysis, as it relates to finances, of where we are in life, and the chances of us achieving our retirement goals. You can pay to have someone do that for you, or you can check if your financial institution offers it as part of you trusting them with your money (the case with this report) . . . but I can tell you what it says . . . IF you live within your means, IF your goals are commensurate with your savings, IF the world doesn’t go to shit, and if you don’t live abnormally long, well then, you’re in great shape! . . . maybe.

You see, it’s all based on assumptions, and tweaking one or two numbers one way or the other will either have you on the street begging for a meal at 75 years of age, or shitting in gold-plated toilets even if you live to be 120. Bottom line, be reasonable, cautious, don’t overextend, don’t be stupid, and hope the world doesn’t go to crap in a handbasket.

Next you see a magazine of sorts . . .

Office Bookcase032

A number of years ago I attended a workshop in Denver run by Scott Kelby. Kelby is . . . well, read about it HERE. If it has to do with Adobe products and photography, this is your guy.

I’ve been a NAPP member (now Kelby One) for many, many years even though I am not a professional in any sense of the word. Professional or not, membership gives you access to training, a magazine packed with hints and tips, news on new products, explanation of new features, hands on examples, and everything you need to accomplish impressive stuff using Photoshop and Lightroom.

That particular seminar was a bit of a disappointment. Kelby covered way too many personal anecdotes that, while entertaining, were not helpful; I would have preferred a few more practical tips. Even the workbook (shown) was a disappointment as it was printed in black-and-white. Mind you, the cost of the seminar was reasonable ($80 or so, with the membership discount), but there was nothing I had not already read in his excellent books.

The one thing I did learn about was gaffer tape . . . seriously, get some. Very useful stuff.

If you can afford it, the yearly Kelby One membership level that includes the video classes is well worth it. Lots of good material to learn as much or little as you want about any or all of Adobe’s offerings. If you plan in joining, wait for their sales; you get a good discount and maybe even some freebies.

The last book I will cover on this post is “Strong on Defense” by Sanford Strong. I bought this used book after reading what I thought was an excellent article by Sam Harris “The Truth About Violence“.

I know I think differently than many people who read this blog, especially when it comes to violence and personal protection. Many question not only my propensity for owning and carrying guns, but my whole mentality regarding keeping me and mine safe. I can’t convince those who think the world is safe that the world does not care about what they think. 

It’s something that must be experienced, but unfortunately that is one case where the exam comes before the lesson.

I don’t live a paranoid life; I live in a state of almost constant good mood (annoyingly so, according to some), have a positive outlook about life, and think we live in the most amazing of times.

Because of it I also think about, but don’t fixate, on things that could change all that. However small the possibility, violence is a danger that is never completely absent, and it can have devastating consequences.

For the same reason that I try to learn about living healthy, eating well, exercising, having insurance, having regular medical checkups, wear my seatbelt, etc . . . for the same reason I do all those things, I consider the risk of violence intruding into my life as a real possibility.

There are many things I do to mitigate and lessen the chances of it, and one of them is to be armed.

But this book is not about that. This book is about the mindset one has to have to avoid becoming not only a victim, but a dead victim. Even as I write this, I know the majority will have already averted their eyes . . . it’s something that is difficult to contemplate.

Still, if you click on anything on this post, click on the article above, and then read these other two articles by Sam Harris: “The Riddle of the gun” and “FAQ on Violence“.

If you can’t find that particular book, I also own these other two, and they cover similar information: “The Gift of Fear” and “Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected“.

That’s it; I won’t mention the topic again, as the rest of the books on any of my shelves do not deal with violence (unless it’s fictional violence).

Thank you for reading this first installment, and I hope you join me for the remainder of the trip through my library. Lots of good stuff to come, if I do say so myself (I usually have to, as few others ever speak so).

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Expanding Consciousness

Expanding Consciousness

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: http://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Creative, Reading, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments