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Photography, The Universal Language

08/23/2016
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This post was originally posted a year ago, 8/25/15.

I decided to re-post with some minor “tweaks.”

DSC_0032It appears that since my retirement, I have picked up the ability to speak a language.

A language that I’m quickly finding is universally spoken and displayed.

A language that seems to unite and bind the world.

A language which needs only a camera, or cell phone, and the want to display the world as seen through one’s own eyes.

Granted it is one that I do not have a great fluency but one that I am practicing and perfecting.

One that has brought me in contact with others around the world who speak and display their own unique dialogue of the language that is photography.

Without knowing how to speak their native tongue I am able, with the help of the world-wide web, Instagram and Facebook, communicate my thoughts, dreams and the world about me by posting a simple photo.

From Milan, Paris or Cape Town, from Bangkok, Sydney or London, with a simple click on a heart or a like, people are in touch and “voice” their opinion of your craft, art or vision.

On Instagram I have watched with great anticipation the number of my followers, as well as those I follow, go from a dozen to nearly 400 and growing.

From all over the planet, their life and my life shared through the lens of a camera.

The language of a photo.

Truly, a photo is “worth a thousand words.”

A Liberal’s Political Holy Grail: 1956 GOP Platform

08/22/2016

eisenhowerWriting to his brother in 1954, Republican President Dwight D Eisenhower wrote some very prophetic words:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are…a few…Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid,”

60 years later and the Grand Old Party has changed from a “number that is negligible” to a number that is far more substantial and I’m sure that President Eisenhower would still consider them “stupid.”

Two years later, the Republicans would write a document which became their 1956 election platform. That platform projected a lot of Eisenhower’s philosophy in a more social liberal nature of politics without abandoning their core conservative economic approach.

In 1956 I was ten years old and as I have often written on Dare to Dream, I grew up in a “follow the General anywhere” Republican family.

My Dad was a World War II vet and North Dakota farm boy who liked Truman and Eisenhower, so politics were a frequent topic of conversation in our household.

Political topics would range from the DFL, Democrat Farm Labor, to military expansion, so the ground work was built for my later life as an adult voter.

I must admit that I had never read or heard of the 1956 Republican Platform until recently.

In doing some research on Rhode Scholars, I came across the list of people who were members of this honored group of men and women.

Among them was one name who I have admired for a long time.

One who I have found to be  a kindred spirit politically, Rachel Maddow.

In checking out her biography, I came across a quote that interested me in further research:

“I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.”

That statement sent me off on a web wide search to find what I could consider to be the political “holy grail.”

So after a few key strokes and a couple of enters, there it was, The Eisenhower Republican Platform.

I read with fascination and wondered out loud, “where are these principles and ideals today?”

There are seven planks of the 1956 platform which should make a liberal’s heart race and passion soar:

1. Provide federal assistance to low-income communities;

2. Protect Social Security;

3. Provide asylum for refugees;

4. Extend minimum wage;

5. Improve unemployment benefit system so it covers more people;

6. Strengthen labor laws so workers can more easily join a union;

7. Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.

It’s obvious that this 1956 document is a road map for the problems that plague us in 2016 and if politicians would take it to heart, take it to the people, it would register with great clarity and popularity.

“The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. But in all that people can individually do as well for themselves, Government ought not to interfere.”

“In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human. In all those things which deal with people’s money, or their economy, or their form of government, be conservative.”

“The individual is of supreme importance. The spirit of our people is the strength of our nation. America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper. Government must have a heart as well as a head. Courage in principle, cooperation in practice make freedom positive.”

After several discussions, and emails, to a good friend, Steve Oravecz, former Political Reporter for the Warren Tribune, we were of the same mind, the principles and values proposed in 1956 have been lost to the “Alt-right’s” obstruction and contempt for all things “progressive.”

So General, 60 years later and tho the numbers  in the GOP oppose progress are many, you are still correct in your assessment, “stupid.”

Trump, Sarcasm And The Truth

08/20/2016
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shape-writing_fabien_udr_01Some say that sarcasm is the “lowest form of humor,” while others think it’s the “highest form of wit.”

I use to fall in the latter but Donald Trump has made me reconsider my thinking on that statement.

Over the last several months, Trump has made several outlandish comments, attacks and vile statements, only after much media coverage, plus hoopla, restate his opinion with “…it was sarcasm.”

Stating that President Obama and Hillary Clinton “…were the founders of Isis” and Isis “MVP,” he came under a barrage of criticism, then and only then did he state that it was “…sarcasm.”

On another occasion, Trump invited Russia to “hack” Clinton’s computer system to find 30,000 deleted emails. Stating that the American Press would be interested and grateful.

That comment of hacking turned into what many thought was an invite for a foreign power to be actively involved with our “Political System” and most importantly, undermine our “National Security.”

After days of Trump surrogates  trying to clean up the mess, which is a daily occurrence when Trump speaks, Trump heads for what he thinks is the higher ground and states, “…it was sarcasm.”

Now the crying baby incident.

In itself, this should have been just an off the cuff remark, but when added to all the other outlandish pronouncements and statements, is very telling into Trump’s nature and temperament.

Again after several days of media and “talking heads” claiming he was anti baby, Trump comes out with  “I was joking.”

My opinion is that Trump lacks humor or wit.

I remember pictures of his stoic stare and demeanor at the Annual Press Corps Dinner, “Nerd Ball”, when President Obama poked his thin skin with real wit, barb after barb.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in 1390, The Cook’s Tale which is part of the Canterbury Tales:

But yet I pray thee be not wroth for game; [don’t be angry with my jesting]
A man may say full sooth [the truth] in game and play.

It simply means, “Never a truer word is spoken but in jest.”

Trump means what he says in his original statements and his “I was being sarcastic” is but “…game and play.”

Senior Gone To The Birds

08/18/2016
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Bird CollageAlmost 30 years ago, we moved “out” to what was then considered the “country” part of the county.

Now it’s considered a “bedroom community” and an area stuck between two large Northeast Ohio cities.

One of the first things I did, upon moving in, was put up a bird feeding station in the back garden on the Eastern side of the house.

This single feeder was very visible from our sun-room where we could enjoy it while sitting at the desk working on budgets, household tasks, writing or just relaxing.

That single feeder brought me so much joy.

My Mother had encouraged my avid interest in photography and also knew of this growing love of birds.

She was responsible for giving me my first book on birds, which ironically arrived several day after her passing.

It was the start of my love affair with the birds, photography and our local wildlife.

Be it Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, that little make shift feeding station was my pride and joy.

Now fast forward to today. 1st Feeding Station #3

We now have 12 feeders with four feeding stations, North, East, South and West. Bird baths, several suet feeders and a Hummingbird feeder complete the extent of our endeavors.

Over the years we added brush piles, to go along with our wooded area, a small wading pond and last year we had the property declared a Wildlife Habitat.

At last count, we’ve listed 37 types of birds that have visited our feeders and or property. That includes those that stop, twice a year, during their migrating.

Along with the aviary, we have our resident Eastern Cottontail rabbits, one who has even become so use to us she will hop right up to us, chipmunks, raccoons and four types of squirrels, Silvers, Blacks, Reds and Pine.

Next year we are adding a Butterfly garden to complete the habitat.

I have been fortunate that my love of photography is now intertwined with my love of birds, or maybe I should say, all things nature.

The last several years has seen the addition of new cameras, lens plus photo apps, my own web site, all to enhance what started out as simple enjoyment of a single feeder from the sun-room window.

Now with retirement, a little hobby has turned into a full-time adventure.Montage_Collage_Fotor

The Dems Have Become The GOP Party Of My Youth

07/30/2016
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13732039_10207788842452282_2938456776928175591_oI have often stated on Dare To Dream that I grew up in a pretty moderate Republican household.

Dad was a cross between an Eisenhower, “follow the general anywhere” Republican, and a Harry Truman mid-west “show me” farm boy Democrat.

Mother was what you call a “Blue haired” Republican, mixed later in life with a Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan flair.

I started out my political life as an 18-year-old Barry Goldwater Republican and then in 1967, as I matured, I migrated to, what I’m sure my parents thought was the “dark side”, a Robert Kennedy Democrat.

In 1972 I formally became a Democrat and voted for George McGovern. My changing parties caused a bit of a stir among my parents and their friends, plus the small mid-west Ohio town where I was living, for everyone knew everything about everybody.

Over the years I have found myself voting for an occasional Republican along my political journey, like supporting John Anderson and Bob Dole for President and George Voinovich for Ohio Governor, then for Senator.

In 2004 I found myself actively engaged in local politics and was even bold enough to put my name in the hat as an elected Alternate Delegate to the Democrat Convention in support of John Kerry.

To my surprise, and delight, I was given the opportunity and honor, with the help of many old-time local Democrats, to win and attend the DNC in Boston.

After the 2008 Republican Convention, I wrote a Dare To Dream post that the GOP Party was “no longer the political party of my youth or the GOP Party of my Father and Mother.”

Now, after spending two very late night weeks watching both 2016 conventions, I feel as tho both the Republican Party and the Democrat Party have switched places. Sort of a political “Freaky Friday.”

The Republican convention can only be described by me as a hall filled with Oliver Cromwell Puritan types, dressed in black and stoned face, yelling a sort of burn the witch hate speech with “lock her up.”

Gone was any resemblance to the Republican Party I knew as a youth. No more the “blue haired” country club party of dignity or the party which waved the flag proudly and saluted the future as one with “American Exceptionalism.”

Then all of a sudden, that “American Exceptionalism” was alive a week later in Philadelphia, disguised and calling itself a Democrat.

The Republican nominee, after the second night of the Philadelphia gathering, even tweeted:

Not one American flag on the massive stage at the Democratic National Convention until people started complaining-then a small one. Pathetic

Trump must have been surprised, tho no tweets to take claim he forced them to do it, when on Thursday night, a sea of flags, small and large appeared waving among and over the delegates.

Speaker after speaker bringing the point home that “America was already great” but we could be greater yet.

Military men and women, of all ranks, proudly standing on the stage with the chant of U S A echoing through the rafters, declaring that “American Exceptionalism” was alive and well.

Alive and well, and it was at home in the Democrat Party of 2016.

Dust Off The Cobwebs On The Basement Bunker

07/22/2016
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t70_mo_01“Pretty Scary,” “Very Frightening” and “Alarming” are many of the words that were used on social media last night to describe Donald J Trump’s acceptance speech given to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

He was compared to Mussolini by many on tweeter and even to the often avoided Hitler reference.

I sat transfix watching this over an hour-long rant, and like many others, wishing it to end and wanted them to drop the balloons.

My ears heard doom and gloom as my eyes searched the TV screen panning the convention floor, looking for what I assumed was a glimpse of  Joe Btsplk, of Little Abner fame, with his jinx and cloud of rain over the convention and all of us.

I have often wonder what people meant when they stated they wanted to “Take America Back.” Last night that daunting question was answered.

Trump and his followers want to take America back to the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

Guess it’s time to dust off the cobwebs on the door of the basement bunker and restock the shelves.

 

2016, A Long Way From Childhood Dreams

07/09/2016
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peace_symbol_petri_lumme_01When I was about 14, my family lived in a rural suburb of Youngstown which hadn’t started to experience the boom that would soon overtake that community.

There were many fields, some farms, and enough woods to give a curious and lonely teenager a place to explore and dream.

My Dad was a pastor of a small church which sat on a dead-end road that headed back to a Little League baseball field and then some woods that stretched far, far behind that field.

Acting as a “gate house,” to the world of my retreat, the parsonage occupied the lot at the entrance of that so-called street as a major highway rolled in front.

I had a dear friend during those formative years and her name was Lady. A mutt by breed and a loyal companion by nature.

Lady and I would often wander off and “get lost” in those magical woods that seemed to call my name as soon as the Summer sun rose in the morning sky.

In the middle of the woods was a small meadow and a babbling stream of cold, clear water, where I first saw a water spider skimming across the top of what appeared to be a sheet of  glass.

That wondrous water way was the first place I ever saw minnows darting back and forth among the ripples and the first place I ever saw tree frogs and toads.

Eagerly Lady would join me as I would take every chance I could to escape what I called, “the front world,”  and head back on that dusty little lane to a world only she and I could appreciate together.

In the meadow, that I named for her, I’d lay among the clover and wildflowers looking up at the clouds drifting by. They never seemed to interest Lady, but there she laid by my side, her head upon my chest with loyal devotion.

I would later in life write “every boy should have a dog to remember as a man and every man should have a dog to bring out the little boy.”

For me these were simple times, carefree times and a time without fear and anger. Times of dreams and imagination for a lad trying to find his way in what would become a complex world..

As I  recently watched the TV reporting on the Charleston; Orlando; Louisiana; Minnesota and now the Dallas shootings, read the instant online accounts plus the instant Facebook and Twitter postings, I begin to wonder if this “instant” age of information, bad or good and mainly bad, hasn’t taken us to a world where youth no longer hear the call of those “dreams,” those “magical woods,” or even, do those woods exist anymore?

Has man’s inhumanity to man paved over those dusty lanes to dreams?

I wonder if simpler times are now only illusions of age, a notion desired and enhanced by the fear of growing old?

Brutality has always been around us, yet it now appears to be even more so because it’s an instant age and romping through a meadow on a Summers day, being amazed by water spiders and tree frogs are not and instant moment.

That long intro now brings me to my point and where I must pause and remember three very remarkable, yet not very famous people, who did a big part in local “civil rights” in Northeast Ohio and influenced me, molded my thoughts during those turbulent 60’s.

My Dad and Mother will never go down in history as “civil rights” leaders, or well-known marchers, but they were there, standing side by side with those who sought justice and equality.

In every pulpit my father preached, in every parish my parents worked, they practiced what they preached throughout both Mahoning and Trumbull Counties.

In 1963, Dad and a local pastor of a black Baptist Church, joined together as “Brothers” and worked together in unity and fellowship.

Dad invited Dr Dulaney to preach from his pulpit along with an invitation to the Baptist Church Choir to perform.

They accepted and what a history making Sunday that was to behold.

Dr Dulaney in return invited Dad, along with our choir, to preach and sing at his Church, which was another history making event.

Neither of these events made the news wire service or will go down in the history books, but both men and events were just as important in establishing mutual respect and in teaching me the real ideals and truths that shaped the 60’s.

Later, when Doctor Dulaney was killed by a passing car while walking along the side of the road, Mom was asked to sing at his funeral, for the bond that was forged in unity of life was still strong, even in death. I can still hear my Mother’s voice singing “How Great Thou Art.”

Doctor Dulaney, Dad and Mom, I thank you for all you showed, taught me and instilled in me about mutual respect and love.

Thank you for taking a stand when others hid.

Thank you for showing me the truth in the fact that “all it takes for evil to conquer is for good people to do nothing.”

Thank you for being “good people” who did something.

All are gone now and I pray that the labor of their convictions have not gone in vain during this turbulent period of American history.

I can never return to those carefree days with Lady in the woods, or hide in the meadow day dreaming, but my parents did give me direction, a moral compass and the path to follow in this complex world.

I hope that as I reach the end of my journey, that I will be remembered as one who believed strongly in “All God’s children are created equal.”

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