Friday, January 30, 2015

Who's Money Is It?


That’s right. Every single U.S. dollar belongs to the citizens of this country. We print money so businesses can use it. Billionaires feel special because they believe they own billions of our dollars. Money is a strange invention. It is only worth something as long as we collectively believe it is valuable.  


If you use iTunes, don’t fall for this phishing email;
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That was sent to one of my Yahoo email accounts that is not in anyway associated with an Apple account. That “Click here to verify” is the clincher. If I had clicked on that I would have invited a world of malware to infect my computer.

If you receive an email like the one above, do not click, forward or reply. Delete it.

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I picked up one of Google’s Chromecast dongles at Best Buy Thursday night. I was curious to see how it compares to Apple TV.

It was easy to set up and I discovered that the USB port on my TV is a power source for devices like Chromecast. The dongle uses my Wifi network to bring programs to the TV set like Apple TV, but with some differences.

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Another beautiful Redding Sunset

One big difference is Chromecast isn’t a stand alone source of programs like the ATV. You must use your smartphone or computer to select and control programs. Apple TV shows Menus on your TV that you can select from using the included remote.

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The raven

Both units will mirror what you have on your computer, tablet, or phone. That comes in handy because you can wirelessly watch and listen to stuff from your computer on the big screen of your TV.

But not everything. Chromecast will stream from Chrome, Android, and selected sites like Netflix, but ATV can stream anything on your computer. Still one has to consider the price one pays for the best Apple TV experience: It is absolutely awesome if your household is fully Apple equipped.

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Friday flowery treat

Picture quality is different with ATV than Chromecast. The ATV picture is rich with color and density. Chromecast is more industrial feeling; Dialogue is clipped and sometimes too tightly compressed to hear the musical tones of words, and the picture is urban gritty like college student films and 60's photographs. (Not that that’s a bad thing)

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Thursday early evening moon

The main reason I wanted to try Chromecast is because my ATV is sensitive to electrical fluctuations like the microwave, the relays that turn the A/C on and off, the electrical appliances in nearby apartments and other electromagnetic disturbances. It will stop, lose audio or freeze when certain electrical devices click on and off.

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Bird and Mount Lassen

The Chromecast device stuttered a bit for the first few minutes, but seemed to settle down when I watched parts of a few movies, The Daily Show, and YouTube on Thursday night. However, I demonstrated it to Margaret Friday and the motion stuttering and audio clipping became so annoying I had to turn it off.

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Brave blue flower

I may try a newer Apple TV, just to see if one that is not 6 years old will be less affected by fluctuations in the electrical field. My neighbor Jo Anna got a new ATV and she doesn’t seem to be having any trouble enjoying a smooth stream of video imagery.

So that is my first impression of Google’s Chromecast device. It is easy to set up, it will provide more programming than cable or dish and all for the onetime cost of $35, (as long as you have Wifi and a computer or smartphone). An Apple TV device costs $85. You will need Wifi, but you don’t have to have a computer or smartphone.

I will keep experimenting with Chromecast and let you know if I have overlooked some feature that will make it smoother and richer looking on my TV. It is amzing to even be able to fiddle with all this technology. I feel very fortunate.

Today’s Video;

Looking Closely

Monday, January 26, 2015

Caring About Others

Bringing Happiness

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Tiny spider on the driverside window

Altruism; Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. (More)

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Vultures and gulls

Helping others with no expectation of reward. To be altruistic requires outgrowing selfishness. This is supposed to happen naturally as one ‘grows up’.

I think one needs to be aware of their own selfishness if there is any hope of developing beyond petty, childish behavior. Usually that first awareness comes during our formative years when an authority figure admonishes you, or another child for not sharing something.

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Treehouse resident poses for the camera

I was 6 or 7 years old before I was able to see from outside of myself. Thanks to my neighbor friend’s father telling me I was behaving selfishly when he took Glen and me to Dorney Park for Glen’s birthday. It was the first time that I realised that my act of arrogant ignorance hurt my friend’s feelings.

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White crane at the Clover Creek refuge

Glen lived next door to us. He and I would play together and have fun doing kid stuff. I was unaware that he had CP. I found out years later that he didn’t talk or interact easily with anyone else. I expect that they were treating him differently than other little boys and he didn’t like it.

I didn’t question or examine our interactions at the time, because to me he was a kid my age living right next door and was available to play whenever I wanted to. It was simple, he was my friend next door.

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Web over the Lake Redding spillway

Meanwhile, back at Dorney Park;

Glen, his dad and I are on little boat that had a wheel to steer it for whoever was at the helm. The boats were guided from beneath by a track that left some wiggle room so if you were careful, you could guide the boat without banging into the track. Being the ever so smartypants that I was at that age, I felt that I was best qualified to keep us on a true course.

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On the rocks in the Sacramento river

Glen wanted to steer, but I had experienced his steering and I felt we would have a much better boat trip without all the banging back and forth on the guide rail. Mr. Shafer told me we were there for Glen’s birthday. I was his guest and should stop being selfish and let Glen steer the boat if he wants to.

I can still feel the impact of that moment of awareness. Everything might not be all about me, and to top it off I could see by looking at Glen that I had hurt his feelings. I feel the same sadness and shame writing about it 63 years later.

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A flock of acrobats

You would think that I would have stayed on my best behavior for the rest of Glen’s birthday treat, but there was more to be learned.

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As the crow flies

After the amusement park, we went to the movie theater to see Fantasia. It was the most exciting, mesmerizing experience I had ever experienced. Big high fidelity sound, a giant screen with colors swirling, exploding...well, I was in heaven.

However, those very same things that were thrilling to me were an assault on Glen’s sensory systems. He was suffering and really had to get out of there. I didn’t want to leave. His dad was tired and didn’t hesitate in telling me to stop being so selfish and remember he took us there for Glen’s birthday, not mine.

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Another attempt to duplicate the classic shot

That incident didn’t stop me from acting selfish from that day forward, but I did start questioning whether my actions were of a selfish nature, and if so, would that cause unhappiness.

I still think it is prudent to take control or assume leadership if I haven’t seen evidence that anyone else is qualified to steer the ship, (unless it is their birthday).

Today’s Video

It Was The Light

Saturday, January 24, 2015

When In Rome

Do As The Romans Do

How is it that people have forgotten, or don’t even know that sage advice?

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Lenticular clouds, trees and crow

If I were to travel to a different country, I would take the time to learn as much as I could about the language, food, customs, religions and history before I went there.

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Manzanita flowers and bee

Even here in my own town, if I were to visit a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, ashram, or cathedral I would want to know as much about the customs, appropriate clothing, behavior, and the history of that belief system before I went there.

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Lenticular delights

After reading discussions and reports about whether images of Mohammed are a matter of free speech and first amendment rights, I realized that the people in these United States centric discussions and writers of the reports seem to have forgotten, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”- Ambrose

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A Treehouse potted plant with remaining flower

Here’s the way I see it;

France is not a Theocracy, and no religion should have the right to force it’s beliefs and customs on the French people or media there.

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Turkey vulture

The United States is not a Theocracy, either. Our constitution guarantees us the right to freedom from religious persecution and the right to free speech. It doesn’t give crazy religious extremists the right to blow up women’s health clinics or murder doctors who perform abortions.

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Mount Shasta

Arabic countries are primarily Islamic theocracies, and in those countries, the media and the law follow the rules of that belief system.

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The American right wing media is upset that our president has gone to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah because the Saudi kingdom is Islamic. The pundits and personalities of American TV, radio, print, and internet seem to think that we need to force our beliefs and customs on the Saudi nation before accepting their sovereignty.

This coming from the media that shows no outrage as our corporately controlled government officials systematically vote away women’s rights. A media that fuels the fires of fear and intolerance to justify classifying American seniors, poor people and minorities as subhumans.

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Mount Lassen

This same American media that is owned by rich white men, (some from other countries), has the unmitigated gall to criticize our president for visiting our strongest ally in the middle east?  That’s preposterous stupidity in action. “Stupid is as stupid does”

Today’s Video;


Thursday, January 22, 2015

In What Context?

It Makes A Big Difference

Studies have measured the differences of what we sense as information is translated and interpreted through our mind’s filters. (Some of Thomas Nagel’s views)

Sometimes it’s as simple as reading a title without taking the time to put on reading glasses. I glanced at the list of email from last night and my eye caught a subject line that read, “Empires of Pickles”.

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Pickle Empresses seemed interesting, but I didn’t recall that being the subject of any thread I was on the night before. I put on a pair of glasses and looked again.

It read, “Examples of Pictures”.

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Context, please? That one escapes me for I don’t recall thinking about pickles or empires. Perhaps my unconscious mind, (the ID), was wandering in a world where pickles rule.

It could also be as simple as trying to understand what I was seeing without any context to frame the thought process. If I think of context as being part of intellect, then it would explain why a lot of people fearful and/or angry by what they don’t understand.

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The angry old guy complains; “People are always yelling at me”. 

It turns out that he is hard of hearing and doesn’t hear the people frustratingly hollering; “Turn on your hearing aids!”

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Yellow, too

If I hadn’t learned that the word bandana originated in India, I would still think it was the cowboys of the old west who came up with that name. “Sorry sheriff, we couldn’t tell who robbed the stagecoach, they were all wearing bandanas.”

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If I hadn’t understood basic science, or wasn’t a budding cartoonist when they showed the 16mm movie with sound, “Our Mister Sun”, to the 8th grade junior high school class in 1958, I might not understand the mechanics of how the burning of colossal amounts of fossil fuel is the primary driver of human caused global warming and climate change.

Today’s Video;

I think this clip from Jon Stewart gives us a good look at the brightest and best of the Tea Party as they attempt to give their rebuttal to the president’s speech, or something.

Left Speechless

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Bright Thing In The Sky

Can Been Seen Once Again

Welcome Back, Sunshine

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Another Apple pie

“Has anyone seen fluffy?”

An 8 foot pet alligator had been living in a Van Nuys backyard for 40 years and no one seemed to notice. Police found the gator in its box with a couple of dead cats. They asked that people in the neighborhood file a report if they lost any animals over the last 40 years.

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Lassen Park from Clover Creek Reserve

The president gave a good State Of The Union speech this Tuesday evening. I watched it on the White where they had some well designed graphics on the right hand side of the screen to enhance the subject matter as he spoke.

Image Credit:

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Playing with Waterlogue App

If someone steals your Cell Phone, you should just call the NSA and ask them where it is and who stole it.

If we are to believe they are following every phone, laptop and bluetooth headset worldwide then they should be able to help us retrieve our stolen electronics.

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Mount Shasta from Clover Creek Preserve (2008)

The picture of Mount Shasta that I took with my Olympus D540Z point and shoot seven years ago from Clover Creek preserve at Shasta View Drive and Venus Way has always been a favorite.

I was going out that way Tuesday to see if I could get the peeling paint repainted on the right rear passenger door of the Buick. I packed a good tripod and planned to reshoot that shot using the Lumix FZ 35.

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Mount Shasta on Tuesday

I noticed there were a lot of new paths in the preserve for plodding, jogging and pedaling.

I tried pictures from vantage points on 2 of the paths that seemed like the right angle, but printing out the original picture to use as a guide would have been superbly helpful. I guess in addition to being my new life coach, I must learn to become a better organizer as well.

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It is a picturesque location

I enjoyed getting out on a sunny afternoon, taking pictures of this beautiful place where I live.

The Maaco trip was worthwhile, too. My warranty is still in effect on the paint job and if all goes well, I will get the strip on the door of the Buick painted next month.

At Maaco, I met a fellow photographer, writer, and traveler on the path of enlightenment; G. Randall Ford. He has a book available at Amazon. I hope to have some photography of his to share with you in a future post.

Today’s Video;

A Sunny Disposition