Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Bane of Civilization

Well, as far as within this country is concerned, I must confess as being he who is frowned upon by all men, and also quite a few women. For I’ve found myself as one of those few, the proud, the…..no, not Marines….but the stalwart individuals who don’t watch the Super Bowl.

You see, long ago, I found the perfect reason for having the Super Bowl, a reason that is not so perfect this time because it is a night game. Way back in the ‘70’s I determined that the perfect reason for Super Bowl Sunday was to provide a day within which to teach one’s children to drive an automobile.

You see, with so many folks glued to their TV sets, there were a LOT fewer out on the roads driving. But alas, my children were too young. By the time they were old enough to learn to drive, we lived back in rural country instead of a city. While they didn’t have the issues of heavy traffic to deal with while learning, there were practically NO cars on the road when they learned.

I must confess, though, that I’ve never been a sports fan. Oh, I occasionally take a slight bit of interest of an occasional team that won the World Series or the Super Bowl, but about three days later, I doubt that I could remember what team it was that won anyway. In fact, I don’t even remember what two teams it was that played last year.

Part of my reason for no interest is that I was never really good in any sport. While I played Little League baseball, school sports were some that I didn’t have the abilities needed to play well. Early in life, I had been anemic, and a lot of body strength was not to be found in me. At the time of graduation, I was 5’8” tall and weighed 135 pounds. That ain’t football material by weight and not basketball potential by height.

What I did develop was a love of reading as a youngster and the love of music. Mother always had a record changer in the house and from the time I woke up until nearly bedtime, there would be music playing. Our house was filled with books, and my first “series” of books were The Hardy Boys mystery books. While there was always a camera around, as a youngster, I didn’t have any interest in photography. That came later.

Back in the ‘60’s, when I graduated from high school, a lot of schools had “Senior Trips” where the Seniors of that year would take a trip somewhere. Our Senior class in 1964 planned our trip to Washington D.C. Each year, the class would work at the concession stands at the games to earn the money to take those trips.

Mother insisted that I take a camera, so what I had was a Kodak Instamatic 104. That particular model used “flash cubes” which contained four flash bulbs. As each photo was taken, the cube would rotate ¼ turn to be ready for the next photo. I had either heard or read that if one took an old used flash cube and took everything off of the base, meaning the cube cover and the four bulbs, one could put that on for low light settings and it would change the shutter speed to a lower setting.

Kodak Instamatic 104 Camera

While I didn’t know anything about shutter speeds or aperture at that time, I thought it would be convenient to have that capability. Especially since we knew that we would be seeing national monuments at night. After all, just the base of a flash cube was pretty flat and easy to carry in a pocket.

On our Senior trip, one of our advisors was our high school Principal. He carried a 35mm camera, complete with flash attachment and the very much needed light meter. I remember watching him take readings with his meter and then set his shutter speed and aperture. At the time, my only thought was that he took a lot of time preparing for the picture and very little time actually taking the picture.

At the end of the trip, several of us sat around in Study Hall one day, with our Principal, looking at the photos we had taken. He reached over and took a stack of my photos and began to look through them. As he looked, he asked me what camera I used, and I told him the Instamatic. After looking at them, he turned to me and said, “Your pictures are better than mine are, in spite of my expensive equipment.”

I like to think that the best thing about my photos was composure. When you grow up around a woman who taught herself to paint, you learn a little bit about composure, even if it is merely in the form of seeing examples. To this day, I can compose a photo that I take “on the fly” and not need a lot of time deciding how to “frame” a subject.

But, now I digress to one of my loves, away from the original topic of the Super Bowl. To try to transform over to a photo, I’ll bring the game back into the picture. In an earlier post, I spoke of how it was that I had tried for years to get a photo of a bear in the wild. While I know that the Super Bowl this year is between the Packers and the Steelers, I still prefer the bears. (And not the football team.)

Grizzly digging for a ground squirrel.  Alaska, 2005


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