America Today and Tomorrow

American FlagBack in 1776 our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence and General George Washington’s army fought the British for that independence.

America since that time has been a strong nation and has been a respected leader of the world.  Things have changed drastically however in the past decade!  No longer are we respected.  No longer do we have civil rights.  No longer do we hold the Bible as our guide.  No longer is our Country “One Nation under God.”

Today our great nation is divided.  Things are so messed up that our citizens are confused as to what is truthful and lawful.  Today almost anything we say may be politically incorrect.  We have forgotten the definition of right and wrong.

Students in school today are being taught totally different than the days of yesteryear.  Students are being told that they can’t were a t-shirt with an American flag.  Citizens are being told to take down their American flags. America is being told what to eat, and we are now even confused about sexual identity.  A third bathroom, really?  The list of absurdities goes on and on!  Do we really want to be a nation on food stamps?

Terribly bad things have gradually crept up on us and now our country needs help!  Where have we gone wrong?  What do you think has happened?

Recently the silent majority of America elected Donald J. Trump as our next President.  It was the greatest political upset in our history!  It was a major upset because most citizens didn’t like the path that we were on.

Now we as a Nation, must settle down and chill out.  Have we forgotten about love and respect?  Wouldn’t we be better off if we just turned off the news and Facebook for a while?  The media feeds on negativism! The media loves riots and protests because it creates something for them to talk about.  If the TV cameras would go home during all this unrest, so would the people participating in the ugliness!  The perpetrators are just looking for their 15 minutes of fame!  This bitterness just creates more chaos!

It’s really pretty uncomplicated.  One person led our Country for the past eight years.  Now another person will lead our Country for at least the next four years.  Let’s see how this plays out and then make a decision and decide which was best for all of us.

We shouldn’t be a Nation of hatred, but we have let loathing take over!  We have created monsters who want to kill police officers and make headlines.  You and I must speak up.  We must persuade our sphere of influence to have hope for change, and it’s not the “Hope and Change” that we were promised in previous elections!

There is a Congressman from South Carolina, who I very much admire because he speaks the truth and is fighting for the restoration of a tamed Nation.  His name is Trey Gowdy and I plead with you to watch a condensed version of a speech that he gave recently to a Christian College.  This is not a political speech, it’s a conversation about common sense and is directed to our future leaders.  Watch it and see if it doesn't make sense to you.

Let’s not be satisfied by the status quo, we are better than this!  We are good people who want to do good and live happy lives.  We want to set an example of good, not evil.  We want freedom and a promising future for our children and grandchildren.  Whether you go to church or not, you must believe in something greater than yourself.  That something greater is God, the creator of the universe.  Ask God right now for help in restoring America to the “Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave!”

The Joys of Living

We live everyday and we should live today to the fullest because it will never come around again!  Living, naturally has it’s ups and downs, its heartaches, sorrows, disappointments, but mostly living day to day has all kinds of positive and exciting experiences.  It’s all what we make it.  Attitude is everything.  Negative attitude, negative results, positive attitude, positive results!

Dream big, use your imagination to build and create a beautiful life.  Albert Einstein once was quoted as saying, “Imagination is everything.  It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

Some of the quotes I have enjoyed over the years are:  “Build an image of the world you want to live in.”  “Energy flows where attention goes.”  “Inner happiness is the fuel of success.”  And Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or cannot; either way your are right!”

Another saying that I have loved over the years is quoted from Pastor Robert Schuller.  “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch!”  Isn’t that great?  I’ve said that hundreds of times when faced with a rather difficult project!

Think how our lives would change if each day we woke up and thought “Something good is going to happen to me today!”  Life can be what you want it to be!

Recently I was standing in the sports department of a local store.  Next to me was a young man and his father.  The teenager was asking Dad to buy him a tennis racket and explained that his desire was to be on the high school tennis team.  I was utterly shocked at Dad’s answer!  He said “No, I’m not buying you a racket, you could never be good enough to make any team!”  Wow, what a confidence booster!  Can you imagine how you would feel?  That’s a tough recovery and a scar was left on that young man.

Regardless of scars, we can overcome defeats and disappointments.  You’ve heard hundreds of stories of people who overcame negative situations to become happy and successful!  I think of someone like Lee Trevino who grew up in Mexico in poverty conditions, never had a pair of shoes on his feet until he was twelve, and became one of the most liked and well known names in the world of golf!  He loved people, talked to everyone in tournaments, always had a smile on his face and joked all the time.  Did he have a great attitude?  You bet he did!

Don’t forget how powerful a smile is!  When you smile at someone, it’s almost impossible that you won’t get a smile in return.  I’ve made it a habit when I drive through McDonald’s or face a clerk in any store, to smile and tell them that they are awesome!  You’ve made their day, and of course you feel better too!

Remember, you are what you think about, and you become what you think about!  You’re the Captain of your ship, you determine your happiness, you determine your future!

I think one of the secrets of life is the art of being grateful.  Most people are always wanting more, a bigger house, a newer car, a better job, a different spouse, more money and on and on. Instead of thinking that way, think about all the things that you do have.  Be grateful!  When you’re grateful, you’ll live a richer and fuller life!

Don’t worry about things you can’t change.  It’s a fact that over 90% of things people worry about never happen!  Control things that stress you.  Stress causes sickness.  Keep that brain filled with positive thoughts and your body will be healthy!

Most people believe that there is something greater than themselves. I admit that church used to be boring!  Pomp and circumstance and listening to a preacher that constantly told you that you were a sinner.  That’s really not what we want to hear.  We want to hear that we are good and we are loved.  We want to leave a church service feeling uplifted and inspired! 

There are some incredible churches today throughout America.  You might like to find one, and you just might say, “Gosh look what I’ve been missing out on!”  If you live in a small town with a boring church, watch or listen to a good service on TV or radio.  If you live in the Phoenix area one of the best churches in the USA is CCV.  (Christ’s Church of the Valley)  It’s a non-denominational bible based church with many campuses in the area.  Visit one this weekend, Saturday or Sunday.  You can even watch online. It just may change you life.  Here’s their website.  https://ccvonline.com/

“Live life with passion, in a constant state of joy, and with an attitude of gratitude!”

The Joys of Camping

Camping2We have been camping for years and started with a tent.  Because most of our friends had 5th wheels and toy haulers the tent didn’t last long.  Our first toy hauler was 22 feet long with all the comforts of home.  That one we camped in a couple of years then stepped up to our present 36 footer with even more great features.

Camper

Here we are recently nestled in Arizona’s high country about 35 miles Northeast of Payson.  Usually there are several campers and most of us have RZR’s, side by side all terrain vehicles.   We spend a lot of time up there during the summer where the temps are about 30 degrees cooler than in the valley. 
(Click on photos for larger view)Riding

Riding the trails is always an adventure and offers views from the tall pine trees to the cliffs of the Mogollon rim.  Along with the beauty of the landscape we have seen all kinds of animal life such as squirrels, snakes, coyotes, deer, elk, wild turkeys, lizards, gila monsters, and even bears!

Black Bear

We spotted this guy up on a hill as we rode along a trail.  We followed him for quite awhile constantly taking photos.  He looked at us several times but seemed more interested in his quest for food rather than attacking us.  Of course we always carry a sling shot Smile.  It’s always fun seeing elk and most of the time it’s a single but occasionally a whole herd which could be 20 to 30 of them.

Trail

Riding along the forest trails we see lots of unusual things like fallen trees.  They are everywhere and some of their root structures are a thing of art!  Other sights have included giant mushrooms, and unusual rock formations.

Tree Stump

Mushroom

Rock

Bones-RZRCo-PilotSometimes my regular co-pilot stays back at camp while this guy rides with me.  He doesn’t talk as much and one time I even tried to teach him how to drive.  Didn’t get far with that though as I guess he was just satisfied being the passenger.

Diane & BonesMeanwhile, back at the campsite my soulmate and bones Lunch
relax, have a drink while I whip up a little snack.  It’s only
about 1 o'clock so we’ll eat up and hit the road again before returning for cocktail hour at 5.  (OK, I lied, she whipped up the lunch.  I couldn’t have possibly done that!)

Camping has really added spice and fun to our lives.  We have taken our second home and visited all the National Parks in the Western United States.  We have ridden trails in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, created thousands of memories and taken thousands of photos!

A New Experience….

For years we have been using Netflix, first using the external Roku device that plugs into your TV.  This allowed you to watch thousands of movies for just $7.95 a month.  With the new “smart TVs” an external device is no longer needed as many different apps are built in to the TV.

Within the last year I have ordered different items on Amazon.com and often they would prompt me to become a “Prime” member.  The cost is $99.00 per year and includes free 2 day shipping on items purchased.  I always declined because I didn’t order that much merchandise to make it pay for itself.

AmazonRecently however, I was surprised to find out that for that yearly fee much more is included.  First you can watch unlimited movies on your computer, TV, or other smart devices.  Second you can enjoy free streaming music on your computer or your cell phone, and thirdly you can install the free Amazon Photo app to instantly back up all your photos!

Netflix recently raised their price to $9.99 per month to watch movies, and that’s all you get, just movies.  If you take Amazon’s $99 per year and divide that by 12 months it figures to just $8.25 per month and you get movies, music, and unlimited photo back up.  Needless to say I cancelled my Netflix account and signed up to be an Amazon Prime member.

I used to pay 99 cents or $1.29 per song using Apple’s iTunes.  Now I can download a whole album for free with my Amazon Prime account.

Today everyone in the world with a smartphone are taking billions of photos!  But the one big problem is that we are living in an age of lost photos.  People are carrying around hundreds and hundreds of pictures on their phone, and if the phone crashes, guess what?  Your prize photos are gone forever!  With the free Amazon photo app the minute you take a picture it’s backed up immediately.  That’s great peace of mind!

So, if you like watching movies, love listening to music, want all your photos backed up, and get free 2 day shipping on products ordered, sign up to be an Amazon Prime Member!  Oh, and did I mention that if you have the Kindle app on your device that you have access to over 800,000 free eBooks!  Check it out.

Vacation–May 2016

It’s always fun to get away for an adventure and to create a memory.  We loaded up the car the first week in May and headed Northwest.  The first night we spent in Vegas.  We’ve been there so many times that this time we stayed off the strip, away from the hustle and bustle of wall to wall people and the gambling scene.  It was very relaxing just to stay in the room and do nothing.  (You may click on all photos for a large view.)

#40It’s fun taking secondary roads to really enjoy a trip as opposed to the major highways.  We just took our time, stopping in small towns and taking photos.  The second night we stayed in Ely, Nevada.  After checking into our motel we drove around and explored.  We spent time at the old railway station and enjoyed watching an old locomotive leave the station on a crew training mission.

Twin FallsThe third night we bunked up in Twin Falls, Idaho.  The city was very clean and modern and we enjoyed the short ride out of town to view the falls for which the town was named.

Departing SkylineA couple of days later we parked the car and boarded the Crown Princess in Vancouver, BC for a seven day cruise of the Alaskan inside passage.  This was the skyline as we departed on our voyage.  If you’ve ever been on a cruise, then you know that you can partake of fabulous food 24/7.  It’s an easy way to gain weight!  There are activities all day long while at sea, and entertaining acts in the theater in the evening.

Crown Princess in Glacier BayAfter a day at sea we spent all day in Glacier Bay.  The weather was very cooperating with sunny skies and very pleasant temperatures.  It was a great time on the main deck while people partied and took photographs.  The sight of the snow capped mountains and the glaciers was breathtaking!  The ship was 19 stories high and we our room was on the 12th floor which offered wonderful views as we cruised.

Cruise Ship in Glacier BayThis photo shows the majesty of the mountains in the bay as a sister ship passes in the distance.  The mountains make that ship look awfully small!  Our next three ports of call were Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway. The downside was that it rained at all three stops, but we didn’t care.  Got off the boat, opened our umbrella, had fun shopping and having lunch.  On our stop in Juneau there were five cruise ships docked.  With an average of 3,000 passengers each, meant that 15,000 people invaded the city at one time!  Of course many stayed on board because of the weather.

KetchikanHere we are docked in Ketchikan. I took this picture from our 12th floorG&D on the Pier room balcony which illustrates how high we were from the water.  The rain had stopped for a time while we took this photo with a $5 selfie stick we picked up at one of the gift shops.

The cruise was very pleasurable and afforded a wonderful memory.  One of the highlights was meeting a couple from Ontario, Canada.  We spent a lot of time with them and thoroughly enjoyed their company!

After the cruise we back tracked through Vancouver to the US border.  The line of vehicles was very long and itSeaTek at Sundown took over an hour just to be waved on by a border guard.  We spent that night in Seattle right next to the airport.  This was sundown from our window. Being a retired Jet pilot, I got a real kick out of having breakfast the next morning with an Alaskan Airline Captain.  We talked for over an hour about aviation and photography.

From Seattle we headed South and then West to highway 101 which we took all the way to San Francisco along the coast.  The surprise of our lives came when we drove down the coast of Oregon as it was truly unbelievably beautiful!  Although we drove through a lot of rain it didn’t dampen our spirits as we stopped for many photos.

Light House Impression DancersWe drove out of our way to see this lighthouse at Cape Beach South of Light HouseBlanco.  That day it was closed to tourists so I took this shot at the gate which was about 400 yards away.  Turning to the left and looking down the coast was this scene.



Oregon Coast - EditedAnother off highway experience was a short trip to a high lookout.  The rain stopped here but you can see the storm ahead of us as we continued Southbound.

The beauty of the coast and the fact that we took our sweet time made for a real adventure!  So many unique and picturesque towns along the way and we stopped at them all.

Port Orford, Oregon-1024This is Port Orford, where we had lunch and enjoyed this view from the
restaurant’s picture window.  Next door was a visitor’s center where we sat and talked to an older gentleman about the beauty of Oregon's coast.  If you like clam chowder it doesn’t get much better than what we had many times for lunch!

The BeachAt one of our coastal stops we drove right down to the ocean, got out of the car, enjoyed a leisurely stroll, and took pictures.

On top of the hill behind us was a very popular restaurant where we had lunch with this ocean view.  Great salad and seafood.  I just can’t say enough about the Oregon coast!  We will want to do this again sometime. The Mary D. Hume

Further down the shoreline we stopped at Gold Beach.  Another day,
another great lunch.  In the bay close to where we ate was the Mary D. Hume.  She was built in 1881 and served the sea for 97 years!  She sits there today with many stories and memories buried aboard.

Redwood ForestNext we did something we’ve wanted to do for years and that was  driving through the Redwood Forest.  The drive was slow on a very narrow dirt road and sometimes hairy when meeting a car coming the other way, but well worth it!  The trees are some of the tallest in the world and you can see the girth of this big boy!

One of our last stops was in San Francisco where we had dinner with friends we had met on a Mexico cruise we took last year.  That was very enjoyable and the next day we headed home.

If you wanted a really cool vacation, fly to Portland, rent a car, drive down the Oregon coast to San Francisco, then fly home.  This is roughly a 16 hour road trip in which you could take your time to enjoy!

Footnote:  I love the way technology advances everyday, especially with phone cameras.  I lugged my heavy and expensive Nikon DSLR on this vacation, but all these photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Note
5. The new Galaxy Note 7 will arrive on August 2nd, and I can hardly wait for the new camera enhancements!

Photo Tips

Note 5-BlogPhotography has experienced a huge change since the transition from film to digital!  In film days every shot would cost you 25 cents.  Now with digital cameras we can shoot away and it costs us nothing.  The lesson here is never take just one shot of your subject.  Take several so you can choose the best one.

Professional photographers are still using DSLRs.  They are expensive but offer many benefits over point and shoot cameras.  The technology is advancing so fast in the photo world that point and shoot cameras will soon be a thing of the past.  Most of the time the best camera is in your pocket or purse, and it’s your smartphone!  With the release of each new phone, the cameras get better and better. 

I am currently using the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which in my opinion has the best phone camera on the market today.  It even has a pro setting where you can set many options you would find on a DSLR, like exposure compensation, while balance, shutter speed, ISO, etc.

I will give full credit to Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple, for the explosion of the popularity of taking pictures, probably with the release of the iPhone 4.  Now the world is taking videos and photos with their phones, but here’s an important point that I’ll bring to the table.  Because of that fact, we are living in an age of “lost photos.”  Why?  Simply because people are carrying around hundreds of pictures on their phone and not taking the time to back them up!  If and when the phone crashes, guess what?  No pictures!  Don’t let this happen to you.  Find out how to back up your photos and even your contacts so you won’t be sorry.

Snapseed2Now on a lighter note, let me tell you about the most exciting thing I have found about taking photos on your phone!  I talk about it in all my photo seminars and I tell everyone I meet about it.  What is it?  It’s a photo editor for your phone and it’s called “Snapseed!”  It’s incredible and it’s free.  You may download it from the Apple store or the Play store if you have an Android.  Rarely do you take a photo that is perfect.  Every photo takes a little editing to make it look its best.  Snapseed comes with 8 tools and 12 filters.  With a few clicks you take that average looking picture and change it to a real “looker!”  Sure it will take a couple of extra moments, but it will be worth it if you want to show off great photos!  Download it, play with it, learn it, and have fun!

Tech Tips

Here are the instructions for paragraph one of the previous entry.

1. Run CCleaner each time you use your computer.
· Double Click the Red C on the desktop.
· Click "Run Cleaner" in the right lower corner.
· When finished, Click the Red X, top right.

2. Run Malwarebytes every two weeks.
· Double Click Malwarebytes on the desktop.
· When asked "Do you want to ......." Click Yes.
· Click Update on the right.
· After update click the blue "Scan Now"
  When finished scanning if it found nothing then
  close the program. If it found objects make sure
  all are checked, then Remove.

3. Run Disk Defrag once a month.
· Double Click Disk Defrag on the desktop.
· Make sure C: Drive is highlighted.
· Click "Optimize" Button, Lower right corner.
  Follow directions when finished

Tech Tips

Here are some miscellaneous tech tips to help you along the path of today’s technology!
On your computer or laptop run CCleaner daily. Run Malwarebytes twice a month. Defragement your C: drive monthly. You can also download CCleaner & use it on your phone!

If you install Windows 10 or purchase a new computer with 10 installed, download and install the “Classic Shell” start button that will look and act like Windows 7.  This will take the frustration out of using the Windows 10 start button.

Don’t pay for Microsoft’s Office.  Download and install “Open Office.”  It’s FREE, and it’s an entire office suite!

If your Wi-Fi stops working, unplug your modem and router.  Wait 30 seconds.  Plug them back in, wait 1 minute, and that will most likely fix your problem!

If you value your documents, photos, and music, on your computer, back them up on an external hard drive. 

Most people have hundreds of photos on their phone and if the phone crashes your pictures are gone!  Keep your phone backed up by turning on the Cloud.  Don’t be sorry, be safe!

If you love taking photos with your smartphone, download the “Snapseed” app and use it to edit your pictures.  It’s fun and it’s free!  And, speaking of taking photos, don’t forget about using your panorama mode for a different photo effect!

Another great phone app is “My Radar.”  See live weather radar no matter where you are in the world!  Might save you from driving through a severe thunderstorm on your vacation!

The most awesome program on my computer, my iPad, and my phone is “Flipboard!”  It’s a free program where you can read about all your favorite subjects.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Joy

JoyThe world today involves a lot of negativity, hostility, and violence, but we don’t have to be involved in this thinking!  As an individual we can build our lives with positive thoughts and actions!

Joy can and should be an integral part of our lives.  Joy manifests itself in many ways both external and internal.  Joy is experienced by having a fruitful relationship with your spouse, your children, grandchildren, and your circle of friends.  Joy is heightened with positive and wonderful experiences.

Internally Joy is a feeling, felt deep in your mind, heart, and soul. Joy is felt with a personal relationship with God!  When experiencing Joy, the mind transmits endorphins to your body, giving you a feeling of euphoria!

Joy is experienced when we maintain a positive attitude!  Joy is experienced when we give and share with others.  Joy is experienced when we create, and always being aware of taking the “Next Step.”

What will you create today, and what is your “Next Step!”