Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Ready. Set. Go.

January 2, 2012

“Hopscotch” © R.L. Herron

I made a resolution (sort of) to write in my blog every day in the new year. Here it is the second day of 2012 and I’ve already failed.

I didn’t miss by much, but this is my first official blog post of the new year so my batting average has already dropped to .500. There’s absolutely no way now to bring it to 1.000.

Looking at a brand new year stretched out in front of you this way certainly makes it seem daunting.

Does that mean I’m abandoning the effort? Of course not. I can still shoot for a respectable finish. Like most other large projects, it often takes breaking it into pieces to make it seem less intimidating.

Even the most organized-seeming among us have moments when they try to see too far ahead. Moments the most well-educated guess of what’s-to-come misses the target entirely. What do you do when that happens?

If you’re good at what you do, you pick things up, toss the stone again and shoot for the next square down the line. Simple as that.

The goal may not move, but the path to it often does. In the world of business, or just the game of life, you need to learn that and play the game accordingly.

I’m getting ready to e-publish some of my creative work. I have been for months.

Yet, I’ve hesitated for weeks as I waged a war in my head over publishing it in that way instead of following some of the more “normal” publishing avenues.

Then it occurred to me. What’s normal any more?

I remember, not that long ago, when many people (myself included) declared digital photography would never replace film … but it did.

Even more recently, another ill-informed prognostication – electronic readers will never replace books – was on the tongue of many well-meaning mystics. I myself couldn’t see giving up any of my beloved hardcover tomes for an e-Book.

But I did.

Oh sure, I was reluctant at first. I was going to be away from home for six weeks and knew I could not carry enough reading material to keep me occupied, so I bought my first Kindle. To get me through this inconvenience, I told myself.

Then I discovered this new way of reading was every bit as satisfying, much more efficient and a damned sight more convenient. The signs are all there.

Libraries are hurting for funding (I do find that distressing). A major bookstore chain has folded. The largest bookseller on the planet is Amazon, and a significant percentage of the content they sell is digital. Who am I to say it ain’t ever gonna happen.

Particularly since it already has.

I need to quit procrastinating and get my stories and books online before the next wave of change, whatever it may be, rolls over us all and I have to start thinking about it all over again.


Good People

September 27, 2011

“Lowell Dean Allison, 1968” © R.L. Herron

I’ve done quite a bit of traveling in the past month. I did a little more last weekend for an unfortunate event, the funeral of one of my favorite people: Lowell Dean Allison.

He was only ten years older than I am, an age I consider far too young to have passed away (the older I get, the younger such an age seems to be).

Regardless of his age, by virtue of marrying my father’s baby sister, he will always be in my memory as “Uncle Dean.”

He lived 600 miles away and I wish I could say we saw each other frequently, but every ten or fifteen years hardly counts as frequent. Still, at least in recent years, we did converse via email a lot more often.

During his funeral I discovered, quite by accident, that he enjoyed reading this blog. He thought I had a way with words and he read each new post aloud to my Aunt, who has severely restricted eyesight. I find that to be one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received.

Most people knew Dean as polite and subdued. They also understood that, after a life as a salesman, he was also a talker, with a sly sense of humor.

I think you get a sense of his impishness in the picture above. It’s one that I took of him in 1968.

Dean was as close to the model of a real gentleman as anyone I have ever known. Oh, he could be stubborn, all right, that is very true.

But he was steadfast in his beliefs without being offensive. He might state his position and defend it with resolve, but he would listen politely to yours, without rancor.

He would have been a great politician in another era; back when elected officials still had enough civility to respect viewpoints that disagreed.

I know, because I was not always on the same page, politically, with him. He was far more conservative than I will ever be. But our disagreements were as low-key as disagreements ever get, because I respected him as a person.

I like to think he felt the same way about me.

His family meant everything to him. You could see it in his eyes when he spoke about them. He loved his wife, and the two of them have an enviable legacy. His daughters, my cousins, are delightful, loving people. His son-in-law seems cut out of a similar mold.

His grandchildren are pious, respectful and intelligent; the kind of kids any parent or grandparent would be delighted to acknowledge. They are all quite a testament to the man he was.

He was generous and helpful to his friends and neighbors, and they turned out en masse for his funeral. I overheard one of the many mourners say, “Dean was good people.” It seems he was a marvelous role model not only to his family, but to his community, as well.

His only failing, as far as I can tell, was to leave us all far too soon.

Rest in peace, Uncle Dean.


Clouds of Diversion

September 19, 2011

“The Storm” © R.L. Herron

Recently, while visiting my grandchildren in Florida, I came across an interesting article in the local paper. Actually, interesting isn’t the right word. Disgusting is more like it.

The Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, pushed through an initiative in that state’s legislature to require drug testing for welfare applicants. It took effect in July.

It mandates that all new welfare applicants must go to a state-approved list of screening companies when they apply for assistance and pay money they can ill afford, up front, for a drug test. If the test comes back negative, they receive the assistance they applied for and the state reimburses them the testing cost.

I know a lot of you are saying, so what?

Well, given the condition of the economy, the mandate is churning out 2,000 urine tests for new applicants each month. The State of Florida maintains this won’t increase their budget, because they’re “absorbing those reimbursement costs in the block grant.”

In other words, they’re using Federal tax money, allocated to them to provide real assistance to the poor, to pay a testing company.

“The program was designed,” said Florida State Representative Jimmie Smith (also a Republican) who sponsored the bill in the Florida State House, “to keep public money from being wasted on people using it to buy drugs.”

This is for a program that pays a maximum of $180 per month per family of four.

By the way, have you tried recently to feed, cloth and house a family, of any size, for $180 a month? I’m sure the meager assistance helps, but it doesn’t go far.

The interesting thing? They have discovered the “scourge” of poor people using drugs is far from a scourge.

In fact, the numbers show that people on government assistance don’t use drugs any more than anyone else. They may even be using them less. Almost 98% of all tests are negative.

So, the net effect of those transfer payments is a very large chunk of Federal money (nearly three-quarters of a million dollars, so far) which is supposed to provide much-needed assistance to the poor, has now been diverted to the coffers of private for-profit companies.

This is where “disgusting” comes in.

When asked about this, Rep. Smith replied, “My goal is to make sure our tax dollars go where they’re supposed to go.”

I see. Let me make certain I have this straight:

  • The Republican-led government of Florida believes poor people, simply because they are poor, are very likely to use drugs;
  • Therefore, the Florida government takes Federal funds intended to help the poorest of the poor and gives those funds instead to for-profit businesses;
  • Florida legislators have taken almost $750,000 – so far – that could, and rightfully should, provide assistance for a whole year to almost 350 families living far below the poverty level;
  • They spend it instead to catch the two percent of welfare assistance applicants who might be using drugs;
  • By their own statistics, they are thereby saving the taxpayers of Florida a whopping total of $14,000 annually.

Spend $750,000 to save $14,000? This is helping?

Gosh, Representative Smith and Governor Scott must be so proud. The sound bites on TV make them seem so concerned about the misuse and fraud perpetrated by the poor.

Unfortunately, their rhetoric is a diversion from the real issue, their own gross mismanagement. It sounds like the typical mantra of prejudice and bigotry we hear all too often lately from our public officials on the conservative side of the aisle.

Their words are meant to disguise their own ill-conceived, crude and sterotyped perceptions, as well as mask their inept handling of our tax dollars.

I can almost hear them: Take it from the poor, baby, they can’t fight back. Don’t worry about the “cattle” in the general populace, they’ll believe anything if you tell it to them long enough.

I’m almost sorry I read the paper.

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