… on… traveling to/in the US….

So clearly the holidays are upon us.    If you will be traveling by plane either to the United States or flying within the United States you will definitely be meeting up with the local TSA (that’s the Transportation Security Administration – not my Initials Terry S. Amstutz).  Your local TSA agent will make you feel uncomfortable, offended, confused and bewildered (much like I do – as some of my friends all attest)….  Well here’s two videos to tell you what to expect  and what you can and can’t do.   Enjoy.   HAPPY HOLIDAY TRAVEL everybody! Welcome to the absurd world of travel by plane.

TSA – The Pokey Pokey


TSA – 12 Banned Items Of Christmas (fyi – You can’t fly, but you can drive across the border with any of these items.)

 

… on… photo editorialism….

***I found the subject for this photo near my home and felt it legitimately illustrated how I feel about what is happening here in the US.

In Trumpmerica – the left is not tolerated.   The legitimate press is not tolerated.   There is only one way – the right – Trumps way.

Story Of Our Lives #109

It’s funny how someone’s desire to “Make America Great Again” has actually made it worse.  Muzzle the press.  Authoritarian rule.  Punish the opposition.  Meanness.  Lack of noble character traits.  Ignorance.  Re-writing history.

Q: What happened to my country of birth?
A: SHE’S GONE AWAY (Nine Inch Nails – as performed in TWIN PEAKS: The Ltd Series)

 

… on… life in a fog….

Take Me To The River

What’s so good about the fog?

For so many people fog has many negative connotations.  It suggests a depressive mood, and is often associated with colder weather, absence of sunlight, obscured vision, loneliness and a lack of mental clarity (just to name a few).

But is that a fair assessment?  For myself, there are many more positive aspects of fog – and as a photographer even the above mentioned “negative” associations serve the image in a positive manner.

She Left Me Standing There

I enjoy the quietness of a foggy morning.  There is something restful and peaceful about looking out into a dense fog.   I like the softness of light and damp crispness of the morning air.  I enjoy seeing objects moving through fog – coming into focus then,  dematerializing as if disappearing by magic forces.   For me a foggy morning provides more clarity (not less) as it allows me to focus more intently on a single subject.   It removes so much of the visual noise that is persistent on a full sunlit day.   And finally, there is no depression or loneliness in a foggy day just pure mystery – a Draumalandið [dreamland].  And I enjoy the mystery.

Fog is something that is unplanned and hard to predict – for some people this constitutes as an unwelcome disruption that forces us to re-focus.  I think it this is actually beneficial and stimulating both mentally and physically and is certainly healthier than other life disruptions that occur on a regular basis.

What many people forget is how temporary fog is.  It seems to only exist for a short time. It usually comes overnight or early in the morning and usually disappears by early afternoon.  For me, this impermanence of fog makes it more precious and therefore increases its value.

Leaning Toward Autumn

Photographing fog is really tricky.   Because it entails finding the right balance between focus/clarity and the obscure object of desire.   It can be richly rewarding when done well.

While I would not want to spend ALL my time in the fog I am glad when it is present and I hope you can enjoy it also.

Indi go-go fog

Mono-fog-o-chrome

… on… interest in humanity….

THE STORY OF OUR LIVES is a series of photographs of signs that when taken outside the context of their function (and sometimes location) have a dual purpose of telling our story of existence.   In other words after we are gone and our culture no longer exists,  how would others (or aliens) interpret our lives based on what the signs reveal – supposing aliens decoded and understand our language?

This latest image is a personal favorite:  It is simply titled THE STORY OF OUR LIVES #95

Story Of Our Lives #95

This image as taken at a demolition site.  I found this sign on what remained of a wall at the site.   It’s a fascinating and wonderful little chapter in the story of our lives.

While smoking has been deemed as bad for our health and in some cases has been made illegal as a result – it is in a location that has been destroyed, demolished.  The demolition had nothing to do with smoking.  This is a perfect metaphor for our lives.  Life is fragile and there is more than one thing that can disrupt, tear apart or destroy it.  So often we focus on the wrong things.   We go to great expense to make things like smoking, abortion, drugs, “assisted suicide” etc illegal.  And while those things may destroy our lives as we know it – we actively pursue other methods of destruction – war, income inequality, denial of medical care etc.   Is it better to deny a person’s choice of self-destruction  in order to insure the destruction of many?  That is what is happening in our culture and our world.  It is seen in our immigration policies, how we deal with refugees, it is seen in our responses to foreign powers that we have deemed as enemies.  It is seen in the laws we pass for our own people.

  • Is it better to deny an abortion for a life that does not yet exist only to – after it is born – send that life to war to die?
  • Is it better to keep that minimum wage so low in order to help corporations enrich themselves while people cannot afford health care?
  • Is it better to deny the right for a person who has chosen to end their life only to ensure ongoing suffering and the slow destruction for that person and their families?
  • Is it better to deny people safe harbor because you are afraid – only to have them die at the hands of their own governments?

What makes life so precious is that it is fragile.  There are any number of things that can snuff it out in an instant without our help – disease, old age, the environment (poisonous plants, wild animals, accidents, etc)

Two things make life something worthwhile:

  1. It is limited – we are all mortal – we will all die at some point.
  2. Choice – we all are born with the ability to choose when and how we will die.

Now this may seem like something of an oversimplification but it is none-the-less true.

… on… civil disobedience….

Civil Disobedience Is Sometimes Necessary To Get To A Better Place

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IS SOMETIMES NEEDED TO GET TO A BETTER PLACE

We are living in a time where civil disobedience may be needed.

Some favorite quotes from a classic scholarly treatise from someone who might be considered a domestic terrorist in our current time ~ Henry David Thoreau: July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862 – Quotes from CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AND OTHER ESSAYS.

“If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth–certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

“Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?”

“If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man.”

“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”

“A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the State with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated by it as enemies.”

“I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.”

“Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man?”

“I believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”

*****Do you have a favorite passage from this particular collection of essays that is not in  the list above?  If so feel free to post it in your comment.

Now, a classic hiphop tune for your enjoyment – civil disobedience in the 20th Century and beyond.

 

 

… on… patterns….

Diamonds On The Inside

Patterns rule our lives
Patterns can be good or bad
Patterns in behavior
Patterns in spending
Patterns in emotion
It is easier to spot patterns in others than ourselves
Even if we think we’ve broken one pattern we have merely replaced it with another.
Patterns mean nothing.
What’s in your heart?
Do you have diamonds on the inside?

… on… empathy….

Floaters
When is empathy good or bad?

So maybe Oasis had it right…

Don’t empathize with suffering – have compassion instead. Compassion = when you suffer you can choose to have it teach you compassion for others. A lesson I am still learning. Too often I’ve empathized with others suffering which has lead to my own suffering which makes me less useful. If I let suffering drive me to compassion I become MORE useful to my world.

… on… madness….

The Madness Of King George – a great film regarding the subject of George III King of England who suffered the indignity of insanity. He ruled England at the time of the American Revolution and was largely blamed for losing the colonies. This film is even more chilling when viewed again in the context of a Donald Trump Presidency. Lately there has been a rising chorus of those who question Trump’s sanity, mental stability in executing his office as President. Could we witness a replay of this scene in some fashion here in America in the 21st century? I can imagine this dialogue all to well between Trump and Doctors, “I am the President”…..”No Sir! You are the patient”.

… on… taking sides….

Blood On Both Sides

Blood On Both Sides

Some people claim “You MUST choose a side….”   But everything I believe dictates that I stay on the thin unpopulated line between two sides – the middle way.  I’ve lived too long and know from experience that when you create two sides and pit them against each other there is blood on both sides.   It is unnecessary “blood” shed.   Here are some songs from the 60’s & 70’s that have long been forgotten.  But they teach us some important truths.