Friday, August 30, 2013

SKYWATCH Friday -- Sunset Serenity

Peace, and serenity near Wiggins Pass in Naples, Florida. Perhaps the best sunset photo I have made in the past couple of years.

Look up. You never know what you'll see -- day or night.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have A Dream . . .

I have a dream that one day, ONE DAY, black republicans will not be turned into non-persons by The Establishment.

Witness -- How Tim Scott, America's only sitting african-American United States Senator, was not invited to participate in the 50th anniversary commemoration of Rev. Martin Luther King's "March on Washington."

For shame.

You GO Missouri!

Politicos from both sides of the political aisle in Missouri's state house are preparing to override their governor's veto of a bill that would, more or less, nullify all federal firearms legislation in that state.

"Don't tell me, SHOW me," was always the mantra of my fav journalism prof way back in college. Today, call it Missouri . . . THE Show Me State.

A dear friend of mine, who passed several years ago, used to have a statewide radio show where he regularly took to task "weenie" politicians who were too politically correct, and VERY squishy on firearms regulation.

No weenie factor here!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Those Duck Guys

At the office last week, a conversation ensued about reality TV, which I rarely catch.  I spent six months in Florida earlier this year, and said for all to hear that THAT was the best reality and an evening walk on the beach beat anything on the tube.

Well . . . perhaps with the exception of one show. Duck Dynasty.

I started rattling off all the reasons I love the show that has exploded in viewership -- even among those who would make fun of these self-described "millionaire rednecks."

"They are themselves," "they love guns," "they are grounded and down-to-Earth," and "they love guns," were among my arguments for watching. This week, a writer commented with the 5 Top Reasons Why Duck Dynasty Is A Great All-American Show. With only a couple small deviations, I concur with the majority of his logic and reasoning. With some different words, he hit on my three main ideas, and added a couple more. Even their core faith does not bother me, because it is theirs. Its how they live. And those Christianity and faith is mentioned pretty much in every episode, millions tune in each week. It has even beat Fox's American Idol, ABC's Modern Family, and CBS's new fall hit Under the Dome.

The geniu$ who talked the exec$ at Art$ & Entertainment network into airing an un$cripted $how ba$ed on the Duckmen of Lousiana (famou$ on the Outdoor Channel and Youtube videos) $hould be $itting pretty right about now, IMHO.

Miss Kay has grown on me. Willie's frustration makes me laugh, but the man figured out early how to exploit new means to market the Duck Commander brand. Phil's early sticktoitiveness and unwillingness to quit pushing his calls on people who thought he was crazy (I think Dave Thomas of Wendy's fame experienced the same) is instructive and motivates me.

A close friend and I were discussing DD some months back. I mentioned I had started watching it. I said there is one bro I really relate to. She interrupted, immediately stating who I am drawn to. And was correct. Jase, the prankster, gives ongoing, dry and often sarcastic commentary in a tone of logic and reason to which I can totally relate.

Gotta have a dark sense of humor, and a bit of Captain Obvious inside to get it . . .

And when a Duck Dynasty episode airs, either new or in rerun, I am Happy Happy Happy!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nothing Creepy Here

Facial scanning is making gains in surveillance system under development by the U.S. government.

The "Biometric Optical Surveillance System (BOSS) is a crowd-scanning system being tested by the Department of Homeland Security.

BOSS, huh?  Kinda says a lot!

Friday, August 23, 2013

SKYWATCH FRIDAY: Wisps Over Naples, Florida

A close-up of wispy cumulus clouds, glowing at sunset over SW Florida.

Check out all the great "sky" shots by heading over to SkyWatch Friday. Remember to look up . . . you never know what you'll find.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Claude DeBussy

He penned one of the world's most beautiful scores, Clair de Lune.

Today is the 151st anniversary of the birth of the French composer, Claude Debussy. Appropriate that his birthday is this week, as we have seen one of the most beautiful full moons. Specifically, the Blue Moon that rose in the east the night of August 20.

Clair de lune's meaning?  Moonlight.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My First Camera Was A Kodak

My first camera was a Kodak.

I'm pretty sure my second, third and fourth cameras were by the same maker. For a brief while in my youth I dabbled with various Poloroid cameras, the instant print maker that spit out a photo that developed before your eyes.

Flash cubes, instamatics, the thin 110 cameras -- I had them all. I was the one in the family always shooting photos. So many in fact, that if you look through the many hundreds of family photos in albums and online, I am not in many of them, save for those few shot when I was a baby, toddler and teen. Even in my teen days, most family photos from my formative days do not include me.

My mother grew up with the late comedian Paul Lynde. He was to our house many times in my youth when he would come through town performing. One summer, we hosted a lawn party in his honor, mostly staged as a high school reunion for people who had not seen him in decades. There are plenty of pictures of the funnyman with many guests -- some of them my friends from the neighborhood whom I had been permitted to invite. There are no photos of me and Mr. Lynde. I was busy snapping photos of he posing with everyone else.

My brush with fame, and no proof but a memory. Such is life.

Though my days as a working journalist many years ago had me shooting professionally for some years, I never owned higher end or larger format cameras. My only deviation from the brand was the Minolta SLR that I still have, and loved. Always preferred black and white photography over color. Loaded my own film for years, and lived in a darkroom. Nothing like it.

Today, a bankruptcy judge released what is left of Eastman Kodak Corp. from court oversight.

The company, long the American, if not world, standard for photographic equipment for pros and the masses, alike, now is a mere shadow of its former self. Kodak no longer manufactures cameras, nor film, though the latter is not surprising since we live in a digital world. It no longer manufactures paper.

Eastman Kodak Co., which during WW2 even manufactured firearms and grenades as part of the American war effort, was one of the world's most widely known brands. Recognizable on every continent. As of this week, the company is essentially a commercial photography printing firm.

I got away from photography for several years. No real reason, just never thought about picking up a camera. Over time, numerous friends were dabbling with digital and told me the wonders of this new technology. A longtime film bigot, I just couldn't see it. Then, my parents bought me an inexpensive point-and-shoot digital camera from Home Shopping Network. It sat in a box following Christmas for six or seven months before I finally broke open the packaging.

But once I did, it was like opening a floodgate. My passion for capturing unique images, seizing moments in time, returned with an absolute vengeance.

I have not stopped since.

Today, ironically, I use a Kodak digital camera -- one of the last manufactured with that company's name. My third digital camera, it was purchased in a hurry on deep discount at a local Target store. I was replacing my previous pal, which, sadly, accidentally took a dip in an inch of water on a rainy day. It still functioned, but there was just enough moisture penetration to permanently cloud the lens on the inside.

The next time I head out, digital camera in hand, I will remember George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, and the many people who have used his original device, and its many descendant camera models through various technological evolutions.

So sad. But great companies come and go.

My dad's Poloroid Land Camera was used to make many photos in the late 1950s and through the 1960s. Important photos, like those of this author as a baby, and in a 1960s wading pool. Seriously, however, Kodak cameras have been used over parts of three centuries, tracing their history back to the 1800s.

Its probably fitting that Kodak be one of those great companies remembered for its strength of yesteryear. Today, most people take photos with their smartphones.

Alexander Graham Bell and George Eastman, if still around, would both probably shake their heads at the merger of their two monumental inventions.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blue Moon, August 2013

At lo levad . . . .

The Great Double-Stuffed Deception

It's not enough that the U.S. government seems to be lying to the American people at every turn, but now one of those wascally, evil corporations (well, that's what the libs call 'em) may be deceiving cookie lovers everywhere!

A university class has determined that Double-Stuffed Oreos aren't . . .

Catch that? They DON'T have twice the amount of creamy goodness between the chocolate cookie part. Trying to stay fit, I haven't had one of those things in nearly three years, AND I MISS THEM!  Or at least, I miss the taste, sort of, but I've gotten used to not having any.

But ohhhh the humanity!!!  They were never double-stuffed? Or is it inflation (that our government says is not occurring) and Oreo makers are holding back. Of course, companies as over-regulated and over-taxed as they are these days are still trying to make their profit margin, because of their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders.

Oreos, or the results of gorging on them, isn't good for my boyish figure. But they aren't double-stuffed? Shaking my head tonight. Giving up something . . . you'd hope there is a sacrifice there. But to know its no longer 100 percent? ARGH!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

REWIND: When You Can't Protect Their Hearts

My daughter has been on my mind of late. Frankly, she is always on my mind as she has become an enigma herself the past 18 months. My mind wanders to the choices we make, the hands we are dealt in life, and how we "deal."

This is salvaged from the original Gray Matter blog. I wrote this in 2010 when EnigmaDaughter was a junior in high school....


He stood her up last night. The boy who told her he wanted to take her to the Homecoming dance.

The boy whom she has pined after. The boy who sent all the wrong signals, red flags if you will. But she took him at his word. The boy who didn't call her for a week, then said he would be there, "unless something else came up." The boy who last night said he was waiting on his parents to get back to his house, even though I offered to pick him up. Who told her that once they got home he would need 10 minutes to eat (they were bringing him a Subway sandwich) and he would need another 10-15 minutes to "get ready."

All I could wonder was why he wasn't dressed and ready to head out the door once the parents hit the house.

I took her to her school, where they were to meet. She wanted to go in and wait. He hadn't called, he hadn't texted. I told her she deserved better, that he didn't deserve her. She asked me once what I thought. I warned her I feared she would be torturing herself if she waited. You see she only confided in me a few weeks ago that Labor Day weekend he said he was coming to the house on Saturday around 9 to see her for a few hours. He would be back from his first few weeks at college. He never showed. Worse, she had stood in the driveway for 2+ hours waiting on him.

Foreshadowing for last night?

She isn't crying anymore. She says she got it all out of her system in the girls' bathroom during the dance. That he made his feelings clear. Now she is quite stoic.

What is going on in her mind?????  I have been accused of being overprotective. I was in the earlier years, but have since done everything I can to let her find her way, to try new things, and make mistakes.... to learn.

But I can do nothing to protect her heart. And that is like a stake shoved through mine this morning.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Steve Jobs

I cannot wait to see the new JOBS film. SJ was an obsessed, arrogant sonofabitch who changed computing, music & the movie industry forever.

A misunderstood, incredibly focused genius.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Apparently, newly declassified documents  in the possession of George Washington University show the U.S. government finally admitting super-secret Area 51 exists!

While Roswell, NM and areas in Nevada near the now acknowledged Area 51 are quite touristy, we all know there are no longer any aliens or flying saucers stored there, contrary to public belief. Right? They're hidden at Fort Knox in Kentucky!

SSSHHHhhhhh!!!!  Keep it to yourself . . .

BTW, due to sequestration and other budget cuts, overseers are considering a name change to Area 25 1/2. And of course, now that it is "out there" there is no budget for tours. George Bush's fault, of course.

SKYWATCH FRIDAY: Lazy Surf Evening

A lazy, incredibly peaceful sunset evening strolling the surf at Fort Myers Beach, Florida, USA. Be sure to check out all the fantastic sky photos at SkyWatch Friday.


"Brain-eating amoeba found in MSNBC water supply. Died of starvation."

via Texas Congressman Steve Stockman

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Architectural Metaphor for ObamaCare

That story circulated around the world a few days ago? About the 47-story residential tower in Spain that reportedly was accidentally built without elevators?

Its a hoax.

Still, the fake story is a rather apt metaphor for the ObamaCare reality. A building where elevators were an afterthought is spot on in parallel with the so-called "Affordable Care Act," which is rife with cost problems, oversights, exemptions for favored political groups, ad infinitum.

In fact, forget the hoax for a moment. The building design . . . hmmm . . . quite phallus-like. Incredibly symbolic of the new American "healthcare" funding scheme, actually. {"Turn your head, take a deep breath and hold it. You might feel some discomfort..."}

REWIND: Tomorrow Is Yesterday

Salvaged from the original "Gray Matter" blog; Something I wrote in 2009....

The uneven, sloppily constructed brick wall is now covered in weather-proof sealant, a battleship gray colored plane rising from the Earth up to the peak of the rear of the old structure.

The elements over many, many decades have played havoc with this wall. Patched by succeeding generations to ensure it does not crumble. But no more. With the latest move, "the people" hope it should last for a long time.

The wall, a metaphorical window to my family's distant past......

Constructed as high and as well as they could by local men, until they realized they were doing work that was beyond their skills. They were farmers. Men of the land who struggled against Nature to put food on the table, put aside a few cents or dollars each year. God-fearing men, men who lived off the land and could build just about anything, but men who knew they were not brickmasons.

The rear wall of the old country church was constructed with bricks made on site, formed from clay dug from the walls of a nearby hollow. The hollow later used as a church park, and known as "Cozy Dell." The new building, these men believed, would be a strong, sturdy replacement for the wooden structure that had burned some months earlier.

In their time, a place of worship was essential for the success of their community. And rebuilding the church on the site of the old building was thought to be important, for it would ensure that daily and weekly worship would remain adjacent to the burying ground of their kin. Many of whom are my ancestors.

Touching that wall today is like stepping back in time. For me, touching an object constructed or fabricated in the distant past is like touching the past. I was in Washington DC earlier this year and touched the Washington Monument. Knowing that people from history like Abraham Lincoln and others touched that same object back in their day. It takes me back to that time and helps me see through the eyes of people who lived in a distant century. In this case, to see the countryside as they saw it. To see the little red brick church as they saw it.

The church today still closely resembles the brick structure built in 1866. The main church is unchanged, but a small addition -- a community room -- was added in the 1960s. During the past two years, church elders approved for construction a new entrance where the old church and the community room and kitchen attach. Meeting modern standards, and laws, the mostly elderly congregation need no longer navigate stairs to gain entrance into the building where they, their parents, their parents' parents, and their parents' parents' parents have worshipped since the church was founded in 1809.   .....200 years ago.

The family ties remain strong. A cousin is president of the church cemetery association. His sister, though she does not worship there, is secretary/treasurer of the association. She took on the post this summer to give a break to the woman who has held the position the past 31 years. An aunt and uncle -- the aunt EnigmaMom's twin sister -- are church trustees. As is yet another cousin, a couple years older than me, the son of EnigmaMom's younger brother.
A visit to the church cemetery evoked memories long forgotten. The image of the day my mother's mother was laid to rest. And seeing my aunt turn to EnigmaMom, and with shock in her voice and on her face, voice these words all those years ago: "I guess that makes us the elders of the family now." My mother's stunned silence as she pondered these words speaking volumes on that day. I remembered making the trek from my Great Lakes home to the distant country church on an icy, treacherously nasty late November day to carry the body of my aunt to her grave from the church following the funeral service.

I remember being a little kid and going to Easter services in the country church each year, and the family Easter egg hunt that took place in the sanctuary and the community room later that afternoon.Some might think it odd a family would have their gathering at the church after Easter service, or have enough pull with the pastor to be permitted such. But my family has been tied to this regional gathering place for all those 200 years. One of 10 founding families of the church founded on the banks of a small creek, "my people" have been intricately tied to this place for two centuries now. Having grown up in an urban setting far from the farm fields of my mother's birth, I am not a religious person, though I still ask questions and wonder. I am not as closely tied to this church, but I still feel the connection.

On this trip, new memories were made. The jarring sight of my uncle, my mother's "little brother," slowed by numerous strokes that have afflicted him in just a few months, walking with a terribly stilted gait into the church cemetery. Ironically, perhaps the last time he will go into that place on his own two feet. Most likely, the next time he enters there I will be one of those carrying his casket. His quest -- to show us where he is to be buried. I already knew, for his first wife is buried there. My aunt, tragically taken more than 20 years ago after a long battle with brain cancer.

And on his arm, his second wife, a beautiful person - inside and out - who is divorced from her first husband. My uncle and this woman love each other dearly, but my uncle wants to be buried in the church cemetery. I couldn't help but wonder what his wife was thinking. Will they be buried together? I do not know. It is none of my business.

I drove past the country farmhouse, more than 100 years old, where EnigmaMom was born. Vacant just a few weeks, mom's sister and her husband have gone to live with a son, another cousin of mine, and his wife. The house remains in the family -- still yet another cousin who lives adjacent to the old farmhouse house has purchased it and will use it as a rental for the time being.

I recalled stories I had heard of times past, when my grandmother and grandfather were so involved in the church's goings on that tradition held the first night a new minister came to oversee the church he always had dinner with my grandparents. Today we eat chicken because it is healthy, and because it is affordable. Back then, EnigmaMom had told me, chickens were for laying eggs. The only time you ate one was if one wandered into the little one lane road that ran by in front and was hit by the occasional car that came by.

.....or if the minister and his wife were coming for Sunday supper.

And there were the more positive memories. EnigmaMom wanted to visit the church recently for a music festival. In the photos I made, I found it a fascinating contrast. Young and old, teens and the elderly, sitting under a brilliant blue sky punctuated by white puffy clouds, in the shadow of the tiny brick country church, its plain spire reaching toward those clouds, while the sounds, alternately, of christian rock music and mountain gospel a capella tunes -- electronically amplified -- bounced across the farm fields and woods.
Inside, evidence of modernization necessary to invite the curious, and to meet ADA requirements. But most interesting to me -- and one of those images that harkens back to an earlier day -- beautiful oak woodwork framing the new doors connecting the old brick sanctuary to the modern entrance, which connects to the community room. And oak baseboards. And oak handrails up and down short staircases.
Church trustees also have installed an elevator to help older congregants make there way between old and new portions of the church. The oak accents found everywhere fashioned from lumber retrieved, saved and stored 50 years ago when the sanctury ceiling was opened up and renovated. The wood planks were stored in a nearby barn. Saved for some unknown use one day in the future. In essence, in the late 1950s, members of this congregation were already recycling. They just didn't know there would be a modern term for it. Of that such actions would become a movement. To them, it was.. well ..... practical.
In yet another connection to family, another cousin who is not a member of the church donated the use of his shop and woodworking tools to turn out all these accent pieces now found throughout the building. Hundreds of board feet of oak that most surely came from trees felled on the site when this little brick edifice was erected in 1866, now accent the modern entry into the old structure.
So I sat in the shade of a huge maple tree, looking around, taking it all in. I couldn't help but wonder if those men in 1866 laying those bricks as best they could, the descendents of earlier men and women who raised a little wooden country church, nestled in a little dell on the banks of a meandering creek, would wonder themselves of the future. What might become of their efforts?

Might they ever imagine a day when music of a kind so foreign to them would bounce across these fields and hills, echoing against the very bricks they were laying? Fitting them together as best they could just a few months following the end of the War Between the States? That the little brick church would still be standing 40 years after humans first walked on the moon, which along with starlight was the only light shed upon a nighttime farm field two centuries ago?

EnigmaMom was married in this church to EnigmaDad. Mom's mom and dad were baptized in this church. Her grandmother's aunt, Minnie Myrtle, with whom she shared the same initials, was baptized in the church. Well, actually, back then they were baptized in the creek behind the church, but that was another time.
My grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents are all buried in the little church cemetery. My Revolutionary War ancestor, Neamiah, is buried here, too. As well as a handful of people bearing the last name James, with whom both I and a certain famous bank robber and train robber from the late 1880s are both related.

I was reminded recently by a friend of how lucky I am to know family history, and more importantly, that I have so many family members left. Not everyone is so fortunate. Fascinated by geneology for years, I have pieced together many scraps of information about both sides of my family, EnigmaMom's and EnigmaDad's. Like I said earlier, I am not a religious person but I possess many family bibles, most inscribed in the forward pages with line after line of who married whom, who begat whom, and who died when.
But the folks who live near and worship in this building know the history of their community and families even better than I. The church has remained a centerpiece of the surrounding countryside for 200 years. The little brick structure for 149 years. While kids have so many more diversions today -- from soccer to X-Box, the congregation, though small, is energetic. I am related closely, or distantly, to most of these people. And they are not shirking from the challenge of keeping their church family as vibrant as possible.
From what I saw on my recent trip there, they are determined that this building and its mission, set forth in 1866, will be around for another 100 or more years. And while I am not a part of it actively ..... I still feel the connection of the past 200 years
Time & Change -- Much has changed since I penned these words. The uncle who was an elder of the church has passed. EnigmaMom's little brother has had numerous strokes and sits in a wheelchair, unable to speak. His health declining, I still feel when I look in his eyes that he is "in there." Time & change . . .

Monday, August 12, 2013


My best friend's oldest girl had a baby today! A 'lil premature (5 lbs +), but mother and daughter are healthy.

I remember like yesterday the day this woman let me hold her first grandchild, Baby G. Blue eyes beaming, she asked, "do you know lucky you are?" Multiple meanings. I have never forgotten...

Things change, but this relationship with my best friend somehow . . .  SOMEHOW must survive the very particular difficulties of our very unique, very extraordinary bond.

Congrats GG! You too, Gert.

Back On The Air

A couple years back, this blog was deleted by Blogger, due to me forgetting to fllip a switch and archive the publication.

Sadly, some of my best writing -- some of it very personal -- is lost forever. But through the help of some friends, I have a handful of those original posts. I plan to re-post what few of those initial writings I have recovered, and add as I have time, and feel an interest in commenting upon the day, or week, or month.

You never know where my brain will go. I'm a heavy thinker. Big of brain, I have joked. My tendancy has been to overanalyze, but I'm getting that under control. That's part of the fun -- or craziness of it all.  My dark, rather twisted sense of humor has too long been shackled. Like the profile says, gray matter overflowing ....