Photog Humor

Hell, does the lower number mean a smaller or a bigger aperture? I can never remember how that works!


Come on folks, I said step back from the damn camera!


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Our Democracy and Women’s Lives in Peril

My name is desertdemocrat, and I am a political junkie. I read books about politics and political history, I follow political blogs, I keep up with political news in the NY Times, The Washington Post, and often have MSNBC on in the background when I work from home.  But even I’m finding the course of this election hard to follow and am sickened and, after last night’s debate, now even more despondent  Trump has turned our political system into a combination of the Jerry Springer show and the reality tv genre. Everything he says and does is unprecedented to the point that we need a new word for unprecedented.

I’m not going to list all the ways in which Trump is unqualified to be POTUS; that information is readily available to anyone who is open to facts and knows how to use the Google. That some 40% of Americans either don’t care that’s he’s so ill-suited for the job or refuse to believe what the rest of us can see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears greatly concerns me; in fact, it makes me fearful about the future of this country. That so many of them are non-college educated white men doesn’t surprise me one bit; it speaks volumes about the GOP’s success at removing critical thinking from the K-12 public education system.

I’m also horrified that the woman who will be the first female POTUS had to endure not only verbal abuse but also stalking as she shared the stage with a lifelong sexual predator, a man who believes he can sexually assault women without consequence and sees detailing his assaults as “locker room talk.” I know this is the first time she’s had to listen to the long litany of 1990’s attacks Trump repeated as he asserted Bill’s conduct had been “far worse” than his or the first time she’s been the subject of gossip, speculation, and GOP attacks. Yet, despite Trump’s efforts to drag Clinton and the American people into the muck, Clinton didn’t respond to his attacks. Instead she turned to a discussion of all of the other targets of Trump’s abuse and bigotry–his birtherism, his ridicule of a disabled reporter, his attacks on the Khan family and the Mexican-American judge, and his long history of demeaning and abusing women. She turned his attacks into even more evidence that someone like Trump who is so misogynist, hateful, bigoted, and pathologically abusive is unfit for the presidency.

We’ll have to see whether or not the debate was the low point of this election. But I think  the Huffington Post’s Catherine Pearson is exactly right when she notes in “This Election Isn’t About Politics. It’s About How America Sees Women,” that this election has become “a rallying cry for every woman who has ever felt her body threatened by a man who would try and claim it through words, touch, or legislation.” It has, she notes, “laid bare that, for better or worse, this presidential election has become a referendum on what America really thinks about women and how they should be treated.” And if my Twitter and Facebook feeds are any indication, women are even more determined to ensure Trump never gets any closer to the White House than his planned new hotel.

As Pearson writes:

Trump is a predatory misogynist. He insists he respects women while he simultaneously delights in cataloguing their physical attributes and supposed shortcomings. He has said it’s OK to call his daughter a piece of ass. He believes, wrongly, that only mothers should be granted paid family leave, and has assembled a coalition bent on taking away women’s access to safe, legal abortion services.

In this election we must show that we are not a country that will continue to condone sexism, male privilege, and rape culture. That we are, in fact, a country who will elect a President who has long been a champion for women’s rights; who believes in closing the gender pay gap; who will serve as a model for women and girls; who will lead this country forward rather than eradicating the progress we have made.

I heard a number of political pundits last night who suggested Trump’s debate performance “stopped the bleeding.” I disagree. His words and his actions last night likely reopened the wounds of women who have been raped, abused, assaulted, belittled, objectified, and stalked by predatory men. After the tape of Trump and Billy Bush was released, over a million women tweeted about their experiences with the hashtag #ithappenedtome. On November 8, 2016, these women and millions more will show that this is indeed a most consequential elections for women and our rights.

This is not to say that Trump’s attitudes about treatment of women are any worse or of any greater consequence than his treatment of and attitudes African Americans, Latinos, documented and undocumented immigrants, Muslims, veterans, LGBTs, the Khans, and so on. We all must work to ensure a man like Trump never becomes POTUS and to send the message that we reject racism, misogyny, and hate; that we want a country that embraces cooperation and celebrates differences.

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Shooting Macro

This morning I a took a macro photography class at the Desert Botanical Gardens. I like the idea of going in very close, but some of the set ups we were shown today were way more elaborate than I can imagine going. Also, getting close means getting  down on your knees and even down on the ground. I might have enjoyed that kind of thing decades ago, but the ole knees aren’t up to that now. So, it’s not a kind of photography I’ll likely pursue beyond taking shots my existing tripod will all me to stage, but I did take a few shots during the class that I like. Also, while I am not ready to quit my day job, the photography instructor said I “have an excellent eye.”

Someday I’ll learn to use editing software to clean up my pictures, but for now these are untouched.


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Got Memes?

There were so many wonderful tweets and memes about last night’s debate. How did we manage before the internets??

Here are a few of my favorites:


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Photography Class

It was a gorgeous morning as I made my way through the Desert Botanical Gardens for the first of several photography classes I’ve signed up this and next month. This first one is a 2 day class, and today focused on exposure. I learned some new stuff and had some stuff I knew clarified. For the last hour we were sent out into the garden to work with what we learned about exposure. I primarily focused on working with depth of field.

Here are some of my pics



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Thanks Obama

I just watched a video of President Obama’s remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 46th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on September 18, 2016. It’s his last as President of the United States, and well worth watching the 25-26 minutes video that wordpress won’t let me embed because I’m not paying for this blog space. So go here to see it.

In case you’re like me and would prefer reading the transcript you can find it here.

Here are some of my favorite parts, parts that show both our President’s humor and his passion:

There’s an extra spring in my step tonight. I don’t know about you guys, but I am so relieved that the whole birther thing is over. I mean, ISIL, North Korea, poverty, climate change — none of those things weighed on my mind–like the validity of my birth certificate. And to think that with just 124 days to go, under the wire, we got that resolved. I mean, that’s a boost for me in the home stretch.  In other breaking news, the world is round, not flat. Lord.

* **

You may have heard Hillary’s opponent in this election say that there’s never been a worse time to be a black person. I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery and Jim Crow and — but we’ve got a museum for him to visit. So he can tune in.  We will educate him.

He says we got nothing left to lose, so we might as well support somebody who has fought against civil rights, and fought against equality, and who has shown no regard for working people for most of his life.  Well, we do have challenges, but we’re not stupid.  (Applause.)  We know the progress we’ve made, despite the forces of opposition, despite the forces of discrimination, despite the politics of backlash.  And we intend to keep fighting against those forces.

. . . So if I hear anybody saying their vote does not matter, that it doesn’t matter who we elect — read up on your history. It matters. We’ve got to get people to vote.

. . . Get people registered to vote. If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake. All the progress we’ve made is at stake in this election. My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot.  (Applause.)  Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot.  Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration — that’s on the ballot right now!

* **

A few days ago, Michelle and my mother-in-law and the girls and I, we snuck over and got an early look at the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. We looked at the shackles that had been used to bring folks over.  We saw the shacks that slaves had been trying to make a way out of no way. And then, with each successive level, we saw the unimaginable courage and the struggles, and the sacrifices, and the humor, and the innovation, and the hope that led to such extraordinary progress, even in our own lifetimes.

And it made us proud. Not because we had arrived, but because what a road we had to travel. What a miracle that despite such hardship, we’ve been able to do so much.  And I know everybody in this room understands that how progress is not inevitable.  Its sustainment depends on us. It’s not just a matter of having a black President or First Lady. It’s a matter of engaging all of our citizens in the work of our democracy.

It was that slave who said, you know what, despite the risk of a lash, I’m going to learn how to read. It’s Harriet Tubman saying, despite the risk to my life, I’m going to free my people. It’s Fannie Lou Hamer saying, despite the ostracism, the blowback, I’m going to sit down here in this convention hall and I’m going to tell people what it’s like to live the life I’ve lived. I’m going to testify to why change needs to come.  It’s a young John Lewis saying, I’m going to march despite those horses I see in front of me.

All those ordinary people, all those folks whose names aren’t in the history book, they never got a video providing a tribute to them — that’s why we’re here.  That’s how progress is sustained.  And then it’s a matter of electing people to office who understand that story, who feel it in their hearts, in their guts, and understand that government can’t solve all our problems but it can be a force for good.

To experience this incredible new monument, this museum is to be reminded we’re just a small part of a long chain, generation after generation, striving against the odds.  What an inspiration they are.  And what an inspiration all of you are — especially the young people who are here.

That’s why I am still fired up. That’s why I’m still ready to go. And if you are, too, if you’re ready to continue this journey that we started, then join me. Register folks to vote. Get them to the polls. Keep marching. Keep fighting. Keep organizing.  If we rise to this moment, if we understand this isn’t the endpoint, this is the beginning, we’re just getting going, we’re just getting moving — then I have never been more optimistic that our best days are still ahead.

I don’t know about you, but I am sure going to miss this President.

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They Are Deplorable

Hillary Clinton was right. Donald Trump supporters are deplorable. As Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jamelle Bouie, and Judd Legum have shown two-thirds of Trump supporters believe President Obama isn’t an American (following the lead of the Birther in Chief, Donald Trump). Sixty percent have “unfavorable views” of Islam, while more than 40 percent believe blacks are “more violent” and “more criminal” than whites. And if all that isn’t deplorable enough,  twenty percent of Trump supporters think Lincoln was wrong to sign the Emancipation Proclamation!

heiltrumpIt’s becoming difficult to see the difference between the party of Trump and the White Nationalist party, and if the few remaining decent folk in the GOP establishment and the mainstream media don’t call out this ugly truth, they will be responsible not only for the rise of Trump but also the triumph of Trumpism.

If Clinton got anything wrong, it was scale.  Rather than baskets, she should have said “freight containers.”

If Americans are no longer disgusted by racists, sexists, homophobics, xenophobics, and Islamaphobics and don’t see them as  deserving strong condemnation, Trump has already won.

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