Archive for April, 2009


The world is definitely too much with us. Wordsworth thought so, back then, and it is even more so nowadays with all these newfangled gadgets and gizmo’s.

They no longer dare to be simple. They believe that if they, and you, don’t have the ability spectacularly to multi-task, the heavens will fall: and therein lies the mushrooming confusion.

This was brought home to me, once more, with the advent of still cameras boasting they’re adept at taking movies! It started with high-end cameras and now appears to be a feature of a growing number of point and shoot gems.

Now you don’t have to be a Luddite to rue this example of progress. The simple fact is, your ordinary camera can today do more than you actually need, or want, and now that they can do movies, the price goes up and the manuals expand and there is much more to confuse the unwary.

I have a big-name brand that, as yet, displays no intention of turning me into a movie producer. But, sadly, it appears I need an engineering degree to ferret out the intricacies of the manual. The camera simply is too multifarious for me. And, in a year or so they most certainly will want to add movies to their unending capabilities.

Same thing with my computer. True, you might rightly criticize me for using it, from long-held habit, like a typewriter, and not plumbing its depths. But the music possibilities alone take me outside my need for the machine. And there is more to it, alas.

A friend recently asked me for advice before buying a new computer, insisting he wanted something simple, and listing he capabilities it should have. Chances are he will be disappointed: whatever he gets will have more than he needs and he learning curve will appear to stretch to infinity.

I love these versatile digital camera for their ability to make you look like a real photographer. And even as I contemplate an Olympus E-30 with all its filters and fanfare, I well remember their old OM-4, and the joys of yesteryear. Ah, well!


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That Obama Smile

The president, let’s face it, shouldn’t be caught smiling all over the place, for the simple reason that it so upsets the opposition.

First he was caught on that famous TV interview, showing teeth, to the point where the interlocutor had the temerity impertinently to ask the president if he were punch drunk!

The latest smile fest was in Trinidad when, again, he showed teeth, this time to the fire-breathing Chavez, compounding what the opposition sees as a  massive indiscretion by not merely accepting the hand, but by doubling up on the shake with both presidental hands!

The opposition would have preferred if Obama had backed off when confronted by Chavez and to denote the might and resolution of the United States, by refusing, also, the proffered book and certainly, if forced, by diplomatic niceties, to accept the offending hand, to do so in a tentative manner and, heaven forbid, not garnish the shaken hand with a full blown smile. At best he should, as the opposition would have it, greeted Chavez with something tentative and fleeting, like that famous Mona Lisa smile.

The fact that the president is human does not seem to go down well with the opposition. Actually, one usually measured opposition spokes person saw Obama’s reaction to Chavez as a major capitulation, likening it to Democrats “rolling over and playing dead.”

The smile as a sign of weakness: that’s the opposition take on it.

The whole incident reminds me of that scene in London with Obama and Gordon Brown about to enter No. 10 Downing Street.

Th American president simply reached out, instinctively, to shake hands with the policeman at the door. Brown, a step behind, was obviously caught off guard and rendered unsure of how to react to the Obama gesture, so he turned towards the policeman, who dutifully reached out in return.

But the stiff upper lip prevailed and Brown, discomfitted, continued inside without the handshake, the policeman’s hand extended, and empty.

It said so much about our guy and about how people think they should act. For me, I hope Obama continues to put a smile on the face of America, and contiues to reach out to the world.

(Incidentally, I wonder when the computer people will realize, and acknowledge, that Obama is a real word!

The name comes up, and is automaticlly underlined in red denoting imposter status, and they dutifuly supply you with what they condider apt corrections.

Agama. Abeam. Abiba. Berma. Barn. Boatman. Ocala. Omaha. Osaka.

Come on, guys!)

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Elk and rolls

Janice and I, alas, are no longer virgins: we have seen our first elk, close up, and no more than a mile from home.

Most folk around here tend to have an elk story or two and, though new here, we felt somewhat bereft, having no sightings of our own, try as we tried, ranging the countryside in search of our first sighting.

A few days ago we went, improbably enough, to a garage sale not far from here, in the woods nearby, where outsized million-dollar homes casually drape themselves across hilltops. And, as something of an excuse for not picking up anything, we engaged the proprietor in small talk, asking him, since it appeared entirely likely, whether wild animals ever wandered on to his premises.

Sure, he said, recalling how a bear was rolling about in the clover behind his place and three elk were hanging out down the hill from his spread, in his front yard.  Just the other day, he added.

For the next two days on the way home from the gym, we made the 12-minute detour past his place, hoping elk lightning would strike again. And today, third time lucky, they appeared, just as I imagined they would: crossing the road. What’s more, I could have run into them since I was scouting woods on the right side when, from the left, they jumped in front of us.

Two big fellows, slimmer than, but as big as, mules they were. They eased back to safety while we stopped the car and, from the shelter of the woods, they eyed us, casually ambling way, looking back at times, perhaps a little mifffed at not being able to cross to the other side and be on their way.

We spent a good 15 minutes eye-gaming them, reaching for binoculars as they eased further into the woods. We reached home, jubilated, feeling a bit more like natives, having tagged our first elk.

To top it off, some kindly neighbor — a real native — had gifted us with fresh wheaten rolls, thoughtfully left in a plastic bag on the front porch.

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Ties that bind

Good fences make good neighbors, and good neighbors we do have, albeit without benefit of good fences.

In fact what separates neighbors behind and to the left of us is nothing but simple railroad ties, just one tie hugging the ground and marking off our separate domains — so that even Louis, Mal’s dachshund, can skip over when the spirit moves him.

Leading to the tie that binds Mal and Corky to us we had, last summer, laid out a stepping stone walkway. Yesterday we woke to find that Mal had extended his flagstones, past his rose bushes, towards, and touching, that communal tie, linking up with our own walkway.

Good walkways, it would seem, also make good neighbors, very much as transplants, one garden to another; this fact signaled by our gently beckoning globe willow, fresh from winter, a happy offspring of Mal’s more robust specimen from which it came.

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