Living a Happier Life!

In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the relentless pursuit of more.  We often believe that acquiring more stuff and spending endless hours in cyberspace will being us happiness and fulfillment.  However, the truth is that true contentment lies in simplicity in cherishing what we have and disconnecting from the virtual realm.

Society bombards us with the idea that material possessions equate to happiness. We are constantly enticed by the latest gadgets, fashion trends, and luxurious lifestyles showcased on social media. However, the truth is that our happiness is not dependent on what we own, but rather on the quality of our relationships, experiences, and personal growth. By shifting our focus from material accumulation to inner fulfillment, we can lead a happier and more meaningful life.


One of the keys to living a happier life is practicing gratitude. Rather than constantly yearning for what we lack, we should appreciate and be grateful for what we already have. Gratitude allows us to develop a positive mindset and find joy in the simple pleasures of life, whether it's a beautiful sunset, a heartfelt conversation, or a delicious meal. By appreciating the present moment, we can find happiness in the abundance that already surrounds us.


While possessions can provide temporary satisfaction, experiences have the power to enrich our lives in profound ways. Instead of collecting material goods, invest in experiences that create lasting memories. Travel to new places, engage in hobbies, learn new skills, and spend quality time with loved ones. These experiences not only bring us joy but also broaden our perspectives and deepen our connections with others.


While technology has undeniably enhanced our lives in numerous ways, it is crucial to find a balance and limit our time spent in the digital world. Excessive screen time not only hampers our ability to be present but also affects our mental and emotional well-being. Designate tech-free zones or specific periods in your day to disconnect from cyberspace, allowing yourself to be fully present in the here and now. Engage in activities that nourish your soul, such as reading, outdoor pursuits, meditation, or spending quality time with friends and loved ones.

Embrace a simpler, more intentional way of living, and you will unlock. a world of joy, gratitude, and genuine human connections that will enrich your life in unimaginable ways.  

If you watch Netflix, there's an interesting documentary on this subject called "Minimalism."

Oh, just one more comment.  Is God in your life? That's a whole new conversation. I hope he is for you as he is for me.  It is most gratifying to know that the "Holy Spirit" lives in me and guides me daily for a more peaceful life.

I Love Being a Wildlife Photographer

Being a wildlife photographer can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. It allows me to explore some of the most beautiful areas of the Southwest and capture stunning images of animals in their natural habitat.

One of the greatest joys of being a wildlife photographer is the opportunity to witness and capture moments that most people may never witness. Whether it's a Great Horned Owl, a Bald Eagle, or a Squirrel in the forest, being able to document wildlife through photography is a truly a special experience.

Wildlife photography allows you to connect with nature and the animals you are photographing in a way that few other activities can. You learn to appreciate the beauty and intricacies of the natural world, and develop a deep respect for the creatures that inhabit it.

Being a wildlife photographer also comes with its challenges. You must be prepared to spend hours in the field, do some hiking and be patient enough to wait for the perfect shot.

Overall, the joy of this passion lies in the opportunity to capture the beauty of nature and share it with others. It can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career or just a hobby.

Whether you love wildlife or not, just pick up your camera or your smart phone and capture the beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis.  Taking pictures manifests more happiness in your life and creates memories that last not only for a lifetime, but it’s one of the few things you can leave behind when you leave this earth!

Click Here if you would like visit my Photo Site.

Make Another Person Feel Good!

 For years everywhere I go and to the people I meet my standard line is “Are you doing good today?”  It’s amazing how many answers I get!  All kinds of people whether it’s at McDonald’s, Walmart, the grocery store, gas station, or any other place that you can think of, give all kinds of answers.

What prompted me to write about this was a trip to McDonald’s today to get a couple of egg McMuffins and two Mocha Frappe coffees for breakfast.  When I got to the pay window I said what I always say and the young lady's answer was, “Oh, I’m okay I guess.”  Sure we might be having a bad day, but don’t broadcast it!

Before I get to what I replied to her, let me say that McDonald’s Mocha Frappe coffees are out of this world.  Better than Starbucks at a lower price.   Got to admit it’s a high temptation not to have one every day!

So I looked at her and said, “You know what?  You have a nice job for a great company, get a weekly pay check, you’re not in a hospital, and it’s an awesome day!”  She smiled and said “Thank you for that.”  I hope maybe she felt just a little bit better.

I’ve often wished I could go into companies and give seminars to the front line employees.  You see, it’s the first person you meet when you walk into any establishment that determines the atmosphere.  Most front line employees don’t realize that they represent the entire company from the CEO on down!

Here’s an example.  You might visit a restaurant with really good food and mediocre to poor service or choose a restaurant with decent food and outstanding service.  Which one would you prefer? I’ll choose the best service. I love when I meet an enthusiastic waiter or waitress. It makes the whole experience so much more fun!

How about a sports bar.  You go in, sit down at the bar and the bartender is energetic, and say’s “Would you like what you had last time?”  Would you go back?  Sure you would, it’s like Cheers, where “Everybody knows your name!”

Today we live in a predominantly negative society.  People are in a hurry to get nowhere!  People are constantly on their cell phones.  We need to bring souls back from cyberspace and into reality!  Put down that phone!  Engage in healthy conversation and enjoy the people around you!

When you woke up this morning, whether you’re the Pope, a King, a Queen, rich or poor, God gave each one of us 24 hours.  How will you live each minute of today? Do you really want to be negative?

If each one of us would greet every person with a smile today we will have created a happier corner of our world!

A New Found Love for Photography

Personally I have been a landscape/portrait photographer for years, but recently have developed a passion for wildlife, especially birds.  Probably this interest became prominent because of getting older and the appreciation for the simpler things in life.   

I have been taking pictures that go back to film days.  Going digital in the nineties was quite a change.  It started very simple and has advanced significantly since inception.  Canon, Nikon, and Sony were the pioneers with DSLRs.  Now we have mirrorless cameras and Sony led the way with that technology.

Post processing applications lately have become simpler and more exciting.  Adobe's Photoshop was the go to program for a long time, but has a very steep learning curve.  Adobe's Lightroom also has been popular, but in the last couple of years there have been new editing software programs that are much simpler and easier to use.  An example is the ON1 Raw Photo Editor. It is inexpensive and a great program!  If you love taking photos and want to make them look even better, then you should download the full version free trial! 
ON1 – Photo Editing  (Click on photos 
for a larger view, then click off to continue reading.)

Here's a recent photo that exemplifies being ready for the moment.  I saw a female falcon sitting atop of a tree behind our house.  Pretty soon a male flew in and landed on a branch above her.  I noticed he was continually pumping his tail and knew something would happen soon, and it did.  I got lucky with this shot!

Here’s another similar situation a couple of days later. Same scenario but a different result.  On this shot I held the camera extended in my arms for many minutes before he moved.  Yes, bird photography requires patience, but oh what fun!  "Love is in the Air."

Recently I discovered that Owls were hanging out not too far from our house.  They sat high in trees next to a small lake and I was able to get some shots.  I've learned there are many species of owls, so I'm looking forward to finding more. As a newcomer to bird photography on my bucket list is catching one in flight, as they have a very long wing span.

We're lucky to have lots of hummers in our back yard.  They are so interesting to study as they are the ultimate flying machine!  They are very territorial as one will guard the feeder and chase away others. It's a constant combat zone.

Recently this huge hawk landed on our fence after he spotted a rabbit in our backyard.  I know he has to eat, but my wife was pleased that he didn't get his meal as she loves the bunnies.  We're lucky to have Woodpeckers, Blackbirds, Hummers, Hawks, Falcons, Doves, Quail, Starlings, Sparrows, and Finches to keep us company, and I'll keep clicking my camera.
Other than birds, we have seen bobcats, and lots of coyotes!  They roam the golf course behind us most of the year.  They are no threat to humans but people have to be careful with their small dogs as they have been known to jump tall fences to catch one.  I do that too with enough coffee!

This is just the beginning of a new photo adventure for me shooting wildlife.  I truly believe that people who take pictures are happier souls because they appreciate and enjoy the beauty that surrounds them on a daily basis!

If you have a few extra minutes I'd love for you to watch a video by DeWitt Jones.  He spent most of his life photographing for National Geographic.  Retired and living in Hawaii, he now gives talks around the world on "Celebrating What's Right with the World."  If you like being inspired, you'll love watching this!  

Read the last one first! - Epilog

If you read my last blog entry, you might have realized how precious life is and how it can change in a heart beat! Most of the time adverse events are a blessing in disguise, as you can prosper and learn from them.  Many things have happened since what I called "The Adventure of all Adventures."

First and probably foremost is that I have been given a second life, and I don't take that lightly.  I appreciate things everyday now that in the past maybe were taken for granted. For example my wife, my family, my friends, and having an attitude of gratitude for all the things that we enjoy.

Recently I graduated from a six week cardiac therapy course that consisted of eighteen ninety minute sessions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  They were held at our local Banner hospital, only minutes from our home. The class was made up of five people with different heart ailments. On check in we would put on a heart monitor, have our temperature checked and blood pressure taken.

We would exercise on a treadmill and an elliptical trainer for twenty minutes each and thirty minutes each on Wednesday.  Then it was on to exercising with weights, then stretching.  This usually followed with a movie on different facets of health and a discussion lead by the nurse and questions and comments from fellow classmates.

The exercises were important because it would help build a habit that would continue for a lifetime.  The health lectures, with take home handouts, I considered to be of utmost importance because we learned the importance of proper diet and exercise among many other health issues.  I made the comment several times in class that I wished I would have been aware of proper diet when we were much younger, but the usual response was "would we have paid attention?" Probably not. When we're thirty we think we're bulletproof, then when we get older we learn the downfalls of things we should have been practicing all those years. 

We learned the importance of reading food labels.  If you're on a diet you look for "calories," if you're diabetic you become aware of "sugar," if you recuperating from heart problems you look for "sodium." In our lectures we discussed many things pertaining to "A happy and healthy life."  One of the big lessons was everyone should cut down on sugar and salt!  

Lastly, I want to thank the Banner hospital staffers who greeted us each time with a smile and enthusiasm. Those three persons were Marina, JoAnne, and Chelsea. Nurses have that unique quality of compassion, caring, and kindness and I thank them for that! On my last day I presented them with a photo that they allowed me to take.  Thank you for being you.   (Click on Photo)


The Adventure of all Adventures!

It was mid September of 2020 and we had experienced the hottest summer in Phoenix, Arizona's history! Add to that the COVID crisis and people are creating ways to escape the heat and just get away from it all.

About this time friends of ours took a weekend drive and explored the city of Show Low, Arizona where they ended up purchasing a cabin.  Soon after we drove there to visit them, fell in love with the resort and also purchased a cabin.  We moved in quickly, escaped the heat of the valley and started a new life for summer living.

But things would soon change.  Days after moving into our summer retreat I went to the ER at the local hospital with shortness of breath and chest pain.  Nurses and Doctors evaluated the situation and I was admitted for what turned out to be a week's stay.  After many blood tests, EKGs, and Cat Scans, on Wednesday I was sent to surgery and had five stents inserted on the left side of my heart. This surprised the staff nurses as it's unusual to have that many at one time.

Things got worse and I was transferred to ICU where on Thursday evening I almost left the building to be with the Lord. As luck would have it a Doctor was only feet from my door and his team brought me back. I thank Summit Hospital for having the policy of letting a loved one be with the patient as my wife was at my side the entire time.

It's Friday morning now and at 7 am I had another downer. Doctors discussed the situation and it was determined that I would be air lifted by helicopter to St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix.  Boarding the chopper just outside the hospital emergency entrance, I felt a feeling of calm and peace. Flying was not a stranger to me as I retired after a career in aviation. I flew gliders, hot air balloons, single and multi-engine airplanes, turbo-props and jets.

My wife and our friends stood near by and waved as we lifted off.  I was propped up on the gurney next to the pilot with two nurses sitting behind me. This was a totally different flight.  I used to fly as high as 41,000 feet, but this time it would be low and slow.  Flight time was one hour and I thoroughly enjoyed each minute of viewing the mountains, valleys, rivers, and canyons. The weather was severe clear and beautiful.

We landed on the sixth story roof of St. Joseph's Hospital and was immediately wheeled into surgery where a skilled team of one Cardiologist and four nurses inserted another three stents, this time on the right side of the heart.

This week was the "Adventure of all Adventures!"  I experienced life and near death. I experienced incredible Doctors and Nurses who dedicate their lives to helping others.  No words can be spared for this dedication at both hospitals. St. Joseph was only one overnight, Summit in Show Low was four nights.

Summit Healthcare Hospital is associated with the Mayo Clinic.  I can't say enough good things about my care there.  Staff was incredible, so much so that I wrote a letter to the CEO and mentioned many names that deserved special credit!

In February Summit signed a contract with a Doctors Corporation in Phoenix to supply doctors and surgeons on a weekly basis.  They would commute back and forth by air shuttle or car. Here's where I really had luck on my side.  The Cardiologist who performed my five stents on Wednesday in Show Low, was the same Doctor that performed the last three in Phoenix on Friday!

I write this experience on my blog, not only to relive that incredible week, but to strongly encourage you to listen to your body.  If something doesn't feel right take action, get immediate help.  Men are especially stubborn and I knew a few friends including my father who ignored signs of ill health and died at an early age.

This is my Cardiologist four days after the last surgery on a post op visit, telling me that "I can go climb Mt. Everest!" 

Years ago this would have entailed open heart surgery with a long recovery and is just another example of today's awesome technology.

Because of him and all those wonderful other people who served me, I have been given a second life on planet earth with my wife, my family, and friends, and am eternally grateful to them and God.  
(Click on photos for larger view.)

Living with Covid-19

My wife and I live in Sun City West, Arizona.  The community was originally started in 1978 by a man named Del Web.  Today it's voted one of the most desirable retirement communities in America!  SCW features hundreds of clubs, nine activity centers, nine golf courses, grocery stores, restaurants, a hospital, and even its own radio station. (Click on photos for a larger view.)

The recreation centers feature tennis courts, pickleball courts, racquetball, a 30 lane bowling alley, a 30 billiard table lounge, bocce ball, mini golf, walking tracks, lawn bowling, swimming pools, outdoor concerts, and much more. These are just some of the bocce ball courts.

Now with the advent of the coronavirus we are, for all practical purposes, a "ghost town."  We're all still here, but essentially confined to our homes.  If you do drive to the grocery store most people are masked and keeping their distance.

Thank goodness the golf courses  are still open!  Those of us who play golf can play our favorite course, enjoy the outdoors with all its beauty and breathe in all the fresh air.  There has been talk about closing the courses, but that hasn't happened yet.

Anytime of the day you'll see hundreds of people playing sports but now things are at a stand still.  Parking lots are empty, and swimming pools are lacking swimmers. It's strange not to see people at the rec centers!

One of the most popular golf courses is Grandview.  The pro shop has everything and the restaurant is a very popular place to gather, especially if you sit outside. Wednesday and Fridays feature "all you can eat fish and chips, Thursdays $2.79 cheeseburgers! Now the pro shop and restaurant are closed. The outside chairs and tables are all in storage except for a few.

I'm sure this is all mostly true no matter where you live. Most eating places just have drive thru or carry out.  This is our local McDonalds, and boy are they staying busy!  Thankfully we have plenty of food and other essentials, and hope you do too.

These sidewalks are empty now, but soon we'll all be back to some kind of normalcy.  The coronavirus is contagious, but so is panic, paranoia, and hysteria, so let's just relax and put our faith and trust in God.  It's all about "Faith over Fear."

I took these photos and wrote this Blog on Monday, April 6th and on Tuesday the 7th the powers to be announced that the golf courses will close until further notice on Tuesday, April 14th.

I'm curious.  If this is such a crisis why would they wait another week?  In my opinion if they close the golf courses then why not close the sidewalks?  I don't see how anyone could catch any type of disease out in the open when all the golfers are riding in their privately owned golf carts or walking.  I called the Briarwood Country Club, where we live, and they are staying open.  That means we'll sit on our patio every day and watch all the golfers go by,  but we can't play the Sun City West public courses.

Epilog:  On April 22nd it was announced that 5 of the 7 public courses will open on May 4th, but only under strict rules.  In my opinion they went way too far with this as the State of  Arizona is open for golf.  Reference: Golf World.

The New Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

A couple of blogs ago I wrote about not believing all the hype that you have to update your phone every year.  Being a tech guy I admit that I was one of those persons who did just that until I realized that major advances don't happen every year.

With that in mind I waited for three new versions of my Samsung phone before deciding to upgrade.  The first week of March Samsung released the new S20 series.  I did a lot of study and research of early reviews and decided on the S20 Ultra, which I pre-ordered.

The decision for the "top of the line" model was because I'm a photographer and the specs are mind blowing!  After using the phone for two weeks I'm just utterly amazed! If you want to take a photo in very high resolution it features 108 megapixels. Unheard of in a smartphone until now.  If you purchased a DSLR capable of that the cost would be 40 to 50 thousand dollars!  Of course you wouldn't shoot in this mode unless you wanted to print a poster size photo.

Super Wide Angle
The phone features a super wide angle lens, a normal 27mm lens, and a zoom lens that is incredible!  Let me show you some examples. We live on a golf course and the houses across the fairway are over 200 yards from our patio. I sat in a chair and took these shots hand held.

The first is a super-wide angle. We are going to get closer and closer to the house just to the right of the palm tree. #2 is a normal 27 mm shot. #3 is 4x zoom. #4 is 10x zoom.  It's scary to show you how much further it can zoom! (Click on photos for larger view)

This phone has to be the best one you could own today, if you want to take awesome photos!  The iPhone 11 pro is very respectable and takes great photos, but just doesn't have the specs that the Ultra has.

Here are some differences between the two. I'll quote the iPhone first and the Galaxy Ultra second.

Price: $1,199 vs $1,399. Display 6.5 vs 6.9 inches.  Rear Cameras: Three lenses, 12 mp primary, 12 mp telephoto & 12 mp ultra wide vs Four lenses, 108 mp primary, 48 mp telephoto, 12 mp ultra wide & 12 mp live focus.  Front camera 12 mp vs 40 mp. Video 4K 60 fps vs up to 8K 24 fps. RAM 4 GB vs 12 GB. Storage 64 GB vs 128 GB.  Micro SD card none vs Yes, up to 1TB!

This house photo was taken even farther than the others. That is incredible! Yes, the price is ridiculous, but it looks like prices on most phones are going up, up, and up!

Another photo that is very impressive.  The Galaxy has a "Night Mode."  I took this shot after dark in our back yard using this mode. Of course you could do this with a DSLR, but it would take time to set up the shot with all the different settings. This photo was one click; pure magic. You know it's dark because all the solar lights are on.  The night mode is really something special!

Before I sign off, let's go back to the white house and zoom in just a little bit further.  You've probably seen Samsung's TV ads that say you can zoom to 100x, but would you believe this one is only 30x?  What's the end result? I'm a very happy photo guy with this amazing new Galaxy S20 Ultra phone!  Oh, and I didn't mention it also has 5G and an F1.8 aperture! 


God shed His Grace on Thee, and Crown Thy Good with Brotherhood, from Sea to Shining Sea!"

I'm writing this entry because of the unbelievable events that have transpired in our government the last few years!  I say "unbelievable" because that's what's on the minds of people with common sense and a love for the greatest Country on planet earth.

A lot of Americans may not even be aware that a very slow migration toward socialism has been escalating since the 1930s.  Sometimes we are not cognizant of things that move very slowly and seem so innocent.

Today socialism has raised it's ugly head and leading this cause is Bernie Sanders, a self proclaimed socialist running for President.  Socialism leads to communism.  His platform may sound encouraging to people who don't want to provide for themselves;  people who want everything for nothing.  My friends, it can't work that way and this has been proven in other Countries.  There is no free lunch, someone has to pay and that's why he has promised to raise taxes!

The left just can't get over the fact that Hillary lost the last election.  Their hatred for President Trump has led to nothing but chaos during his entire time in office. The talk of impeachment started the day he was elected!  Despite this total disruption and the millions of dollars spent trying to get him out of office, the economy has boomed, unemployment is at an all time low, the list goes on and on and Americans are better off than any time in history.

Our Country is known as "The United States of America."  Do you think we are "United" today?  Far from it. Nobody can say anything today without it being "Racist!"  We are bickering and fighting about everything!  Just think about what we could have accomplished in the last three years if we would have been "United." 

Speaking of "United,"  I can't comprehend people that we elect to Congress not representing the citizens that elected them.  My home state of Arizona elected Senator John McCain and after his death, elected Senator Jeff Flake.  Both of these Senators did not represent the Republican party who put them in office!  They went totally against the grain of conservative ethics for which they promised in their campaigns.

The latest example of this is Senator Mitt Romney.  In 2008 my wife and I drove back to our hometown of Davenport, Iowa, to visit family, friends, and to attend a class reunion.  We had no sooner driven back to Phoenix when my cousin called and said, on the spur on the moment, that they decided to open up their farm and host a Romney Rally.  We immediately purchased airline tickets, flew back, rented a car, and attended this Romney for President Rally.  It was incredible how hard the Frye family worked on this project.  Keaton and his wife Lauren spearheaded the movement and it was very successful!  National TV and local media were in attendance. 

My wife and I are both Precinct Committeemen for legislative District 22 in Arizona, and were very proud of this event. So, the person we worked hard to elect as the Republican nominee for President in 2008, and who at the present time is a United States Senator voted to impeach President Trump.  Mitt Romney is the only Senator ever to vote to convict a President of his own party!  You are entitled to your own opinion, but in my opinion Mitt did not convey the trust of the citizens of Utah or the rest of American Republicans that elected him!  Romney said he had to follow his conscience and talked about God. Senator Lindsey Graham told him "Your religion is clouding your thinking."  You be the judge.

I don't have words for Nancy Pelosi and her gang. How dare you display such a childish temper tantrum during the State of the Union Address. You embarrassed America and you were a disgrace to the coveted office of Speaker of the House. Your own daughter, a democratic strategist, called your tantrum "An Italian Grandma Move!"

No matter which side you're on, Americans today are totally disgusted with politicians.  Start doing  your job for the good of our Nation, or  resign.  If you don't resign we will vote you out!

In 1961 I volunteered for three years in the United State's Army.   I was proud to serve and defend.  I love my Country, and support the man who America elected as President. Despite all the chaos, times are good!

Remember the 1992 Los Angeles riots when Rodney King emotionally stated "Can't we all just get along?"

Come November America will turn down one of two paths.  To the left we face Socialism.  If you don't know what Socialism is, it's a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realism of Communism.  A turn down the right path America will continue as we have since our forefathers wrote the Constitution.  We are a Country based on free enterprise and all our other freedoms that just maybe at times we take for granted.

Let's keep moving forward in a positive manner, a manner that benefits all Americans!  

Who will you be in 2020?

It's here, it's now, and that's exciting!  The year 2020 even sounds cool, and it could be much better than last year because we want to be a better person. But how will we accomplish this?

Lot's of people make New Year's Resolutions but most fizzle out soon after big promises.  Why?  Mostly because we don't give the resolutions time enough to really take effect.  We lose perspective because we don't see immediate results!

I want to be a better person this year and you probably do too.  I think one way of improving is to ask yourself, right now, "what do other people say about me?"  Good question and it will require a little thought. They might be saying "Oh he's a pretty nice guy.....but...."  So now we have to ask ourselves what are those buts?

In my case they might be saying "He's a little impatient at times, or he can be judgmental."  It's hard to ask a friend about your faults because that becomes a little ticklish as they don't want to hurt your feelings.  We know our faults and shortcomings so we can answer this ourselves.

So, who will I be in 2020?  Personally I want to be able to laugh at myself and don't take little things too seriously.  I want to find the good and positive attributes in people and put any negatives aside. I want to be a better father, husband, and friend.  I want to be a better  photographer.  I will practice these things, not all at once, but in small steps daily.

Putting this into faithful practice I will be a better person at the end of 2020.

"We are what we think about, and we become what we think about."

"Live with Passion, in a Constant State of Joy, and with an Attitude of Gratitude!"

We want to be better, but we want America to be much better in 2020 also.  Pray for our Country.

Epilog:  I got the inspiration for this post from a series entitled "Atomic Habits" at our church.

Do You Need the Latest Cell Phone?

Let’s talk about cell phones.  Today’s generation take them for granted, they've never been without one.  If you’re older you’ll probably agree it’s the greatest invention of our time.  Get your mail, text your friends, get on the Internet, ask Siri or Google anything and you have an answer instantly!  The whole thing is utterly awesome.  And don’t forget the camera.  Some of the latest phones take amazing photos and thank goodness the teens have their selfies!

After starting with several iPhones, I switched to Samsung and have had 4 of them, all Notes.  I believe the Samsung is a much better phone than the Apple.  That’s my opinion and it’s kind of like “Ford or Chevy.”

Now let’s talk some common sense.  Do we need the latest version every year?  I’m the first to admit that for years I’ve been one of those people, cause I love technology.  There were major advancements during those growing years, but it seems that has leveled off.  The days of camping all night around the block at Best Buy to purchase the latest and greatest iPhone are dwindling down.  People are keeping their phones longer.  Apple has been the all time marketing king!  You were nobody unless you had the latest release.

My current phone is a Samsung Note 8.  My first interest in a phone is the camera as I’m a photographer.  I passed the Note 9 and waited for this years Note 10+ as many improvements in the camera are being touted.  Since I’m currently laid up from a total knee replacement I’ve had plenty of time to research and watch reviews from experts on this latest from Samsung.  They are raving about the vivid screen, better battery life, and the versatility of many camera lenses. 

Now is when you have to use some common sense.  The price tag for the phone I’ve waited for is $1,100!  So, I started asking myself some questions.  Are these improvements worth this high dollar?  One of the selling features this year is the ability of using the stylus to activate the camera.  Big deal!  They changed the command button to the other side, some getting used to.  They did away with the headphone jack,  which eliminates the use of my push button selfie stick.

Research has shown that people are keeping their phones longer and getting off the “must have upgrade train.”  I’ve changed. Count me in!

Here’s a thought.  If you’re thinking it would be nice to have a new phone but at the same time thinking the one you have is doing a good job, why not just buy a new case?  Treat yourself to one for $20-$40.  It will have a whole new look and you just saved yourself lot’s of money, and the headache of setting up a new phone! 

So you purchase a new case, your phone has a brand new look, now here’s a few Hints to maximize your phone's efficiency! 

Texas Roadhouse

It’s been a long time since we visited a Texas Roadhouse.  We recently moved to a new area and one of those is close to our home.  Since our move we have visited there a few times with friends and I can”t say enough about the food and the outstanding service.

I have never written about a restaurant before but we’ve been so impressed that I just have to mention it.

On our last visit we ordered from the “Early Bird” menu.  It takes place from 3 to 5 pm.  For $9.99 you have a choice of some delectable dishes plus two sides.  I ordered a sirloin steak, with a baked potato, a salad and a glass of wine.

The waitresses that we’ve had have been more than friendly and that’s what makes a great atmosphere.  Before dinner eat up on a bucket full of peanuts and throw the shells on the floor!  Fun place and every half hour or so the servers do a line dance.

What would be a negative for most people is that my steak was not tender and even hard to cut.  I wasn’t going to say anything because I was already full.  One of my friends mentioned it to our waitress and soon I was delivered a new steak, roll with butter, baked potato with the trimmings, all boxed up to take home.  That really surprised me and what  I call exceptional service!

Texas Roadhouse Corporation is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. The chain operates about 563 (June 2018) locations in 49 U.S. states (no location in Hawaii) and in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the Philippines, Mexico, and Taiwan.

Now that’s a lot of restaurants, so there’s bound to be one near you.  Next time you feel like eating out, give Texas Roadhouse a try.  I think you’ll love the experience!

Side dish:  I am not in any way associated or being compensated by this corporation for this post.

Keep Your Spirits High & Your Attitude Positive!

For years everywhere I go and to the people I meet my standard line is “Are you doing good today?”  It’s amazing how many answers I get!  All kinds of people whether it’s at McDonald’s, Walmart, the grocery store, gas station, or any other place that you can think of, give all kinds of answers.

What prompted me to write about this was a trip to McDonald’s today to get a couple of egg McMuffins and two Mocha Frappe coffees for breakfast.  When I got to the pay window I said what I always say and the young ladies' answer was, “Oh, I’m okay I guess.”  Sure we might be having a bad day, but don’t broadcast it!

Before I get to what I replied to her, let me say that McDonald’s Mocha Frappe coffees are out of this world.  Better than Starbucks at a lower price.   Got to admit it’s a high temptation not to have one every day!

So I looked at her and said, “You know what?  You have a nice job for a great company, get a weekly pay check, you’re not in a hospital, and it’s an awesome day!”  She smiled and said “Thank you for that.”  I hope maybe she felt just a little bit better.

I’ve often wished I could go into companies and give seminars to the front line employees.  You see, it’s the first person you meet when you walk into any establishment that determines the atmosphere.  Most front line employees don’t realize that they represent the entire company from the CEO on down!

Here’s an example.  You might visit a restaurant with really good food and mediocre to poor service or choose a restaurant with decent food and outstanding service.  Which one would you prefer? I’ll choose the best service. I love when I meet an enthusiastic waiter or waitress. It makes the whole experience so much more fun!

How about a sports bar.  You go in, sit down at the bar and the bartender is energetic, and say’s “Would you like what you had last time?”  Would you go back?  Sure you would, it’s like Cheers, where “Everybody knows your name!”

Today we live in a predominantly negative society.  People are in a hurry to get nowhere!  People are constantly on their cell phones.  We need to bring souls back from cyberspace and into reality!  Put down that phone!  Engage in healthy conversation and enjoy the people around you!

When you woke up this morning, whether you’re the Pope, a King, a Queen, rich or poor, God gave each one of us 24 hours.  How will you live each minute of today? Do you really want to be negative?

If each one of us would greet every person with a smile today we will have created a happier corner of our world!

Hints & Tips for Everyday Life

We are living in an age of “High Tech!”  Computers, laptops, smart phones, smart watches, smart
homes, smart cars, and the list goes on.  With all this wonderful technology sometimes it can be a
little frustrating as problems present themselves.

I’ll pass along some hints and tips to help you keep your life running with a little less stress!

Computers have been around for years but we still have problems keeping them from hiccupping!

  • Download & install the free version of CCleaner.
    Run this program everyday to delete unused and no longer needed files.  Just click “Run Cleaner”
    in  the lower right corner.  It will find these files and delete them automatically, then close the program.  It is suggested to uncheck “Cookies” before you run the program.

  • Download & install the free version of Malwarebytes. This program searches for Malware and Spyware that can infect your machine.  This stuff is “picked up” by visiting certain web sites. After installing and opening the app, click on Settings, then My Account, and click on “Deactivate Premium Trial” then click OK.  Now click on the scan button. Hibernate any files that it finds.  Do this every two weeks, or more often, if you have the free version.  The paid version gives you 24/7 protection and warns you immediately if you visited a harmful web site.

  • Defragment the C: drive once a month.  Desktops can be set to run automatically once a month, but your computer must be on at that time.  Laptops must be defragmented manually.  This operation is a must! A lot of people are not even aware of it and it is the biggest reason why computers run very slow.

  • If nothing happens when you open your browser to get on the Internet, unplug your modem and router, wait 30 seconds, then plug them back in.  Wait 1 minute, then try again.  If you’re still having problems call your tech person, or your ISP provider.

  • Back up you email contacts, pictures, and documents to an external device, such as a pocket drive or external hard drive.  If you don’t do this and your computer crashes all will be lost!

  • If you see a message on your screen that says you have a virus and to call an 800 number, DON’T DO IT, because this is a scam.  Simply X out and reboot your computer.

  • If someone calls on the phone and says he’s from Microsoft and that you have a dangerous virus, HANG UP, THIS IS ALSO A SCAM!  If you continue the conversation he will talk you into letting him in your computer.  He’ll tell you that he’s looking for the solution, but what’s really happening is your personal information is being stolen!  Then you’ll be asked for your credit card so he can fix your supposed dangerous virus.  Now you’ve been had! 

  • Don’t let anyone take remote control of your computer over the telephone!

  • If you don’t recognize a person’s name in an email, don’t open it, just delete it!

  • Be careful what you post on social media and beware of ads on Facebook some ads are scams.

  • The Internet sees and records everywhere you go and everything you click on, so use discretion, and stay away from nasty stuff!

  • If you are purchasing a product on the Internet be sure the web address begins with https.  The “s” means it is a secure site.

Smartphones have been around for a few years now, are getting more sophisticated by the day, and
most of us can’t live without them!

  • Think twice about purchasing insurance for your phone.  If you drop it and break the glass most insurance have a $200 deductible. There are many places that will replace the glass and other damage for only $99.  (See “A Hot Cell Phone Tip” in my Blog post below.)

  • Use a protective case on your phone.

  • Most people have hundreds, perhaps thousands of photos on their phone and if your phone crashes, there goes all your photos and personal data.  Use a back up method!  If you don’t know how, ask your carrier for help.

  • All phone apps are not created equal.  Use caution in downloading apps as some can be scams.

  • Use caution about giving out your cell phone number!  Social media will try to entice you in giving them your number for reason of increased security.  Not a good idea!  Keep in mind that Microsoft, Google, and Facebook want to know everything  about you!

  • DON’T TEXT & DRIVE!  Is texting while driving worth a trip to the morgue? Thousands are losing their lives or being seriously injured because of their cell phone addiction. That text or a visit to Facebook can wait until you are parked!  Listen up…If you’re driving at 70mph and look at your phone for only 5 seconds, it is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded! 

General Tips:  In addition to the things we’ve discussed, a person must be constantly diligent
regarding personal safety every day.

  • Personal safety means protecting yourself from “Identity Theft.”  It’s better to use a credit card rather than a debit card.  Fraudulent use of a credit card can be easily be rectified by your bank, as fraudulent use of a debit card can wipe your account dry and take much longer to get settled.

  • Don’t advertise on social media that you are on vacation unless you have a good home security system, as thieves monitor these conversations.  It’s better to talk about your vacation when you get back home.

  • Be at home and watch closely for packages to be delivered as thieves will follow delivery trucks.  This is especially true during holidays.

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Women are more vulnerable than men.  When leaving a store or the mall be aware when walking to your car.  If you see a man sitting in a truck or car next to where you’re parked use caution or return to the store.  Use caution when returning home after dark.

  • Tailgating while driving seems to be prevalent in our society.  For most people it is very aggravating to look in the rearview mirror and see someone right on your bumper.  Refrain from hitting the brake or using some kind of gesture because of “road rage.”  Let the moron go around!

I hope these “Tips and Hints” will make your life a little more comfortable.  Enjoy this day!

More About America

What is the future of our Country?   Hatred, violence, road rage, the  list of negatives is endless, and a government that’s completely out of control!  Protestors are protesting everything.  Join the crowd, carry a sign and yell profanity. Let’s throw rocks, destroy property, because we want everything for free! That seems to be the norm.  Every day since Donald Trump has been in office, the media has had a frenzy over Russian collusion.  Stop it already!

The Government has been shut down because of the horrific number of people entering America illegally.  This isn't the first time for a shutdown as this has happened before under other administrations. When is Congress going to stop fighting like cats and dogs and get something accomplished?  We elected them to be responsible, ethical, disciplined, and to represent the American people, but that's not happening.  Today's Congress should be ashamed for acting like a bunch of pre-schoolers!  Certain people in Congress are bringing America down and individual citizens feel that don’t have a voice.

Now here’s the latest fiasco.  New York has passed a law that a full term pregnancy can be aborted!  If you were born at 5:05 am they can kill you at 5:04 am.  This is pure craziness, and it’s murder!  New York does not allow the death penalty but it’s okay to kill babies.  Remember a man named Adolf Hitler?

College professors today are brainwashing our young people with the ideology of socialism.  They are graduating and then turning against their parents and the rest of us who have been engrained all our lives with conservatism and free enterprise.

May I quote something that I read on social media.  “All across America a quiet rage is building against the assault upon American values.  More so than ever in the history of America, the concerns and patience of its people are being tested, tried, and attacked by a group of elitists that are hell-bent on the destruction of this Country.  REFUSE TO REMAIN SILENT!”

Your Cell Phone

Can you refrain from texting while driving?  Or how about in church, during a meal at home or in a restaurant?  It's a fact that more people today are killed, or severely injured, by driving while intexticated than while intoxicated!  Currently 47 States have "No texting while driving" laws but that doesn't seem to stop most people.  No text is worth a funeral!   Are you one of those souls that your cell phone is chained to your hand 24/7?  If so, it is highly suggested by psychologists that you spend more time in the real world than in the cyber world.  When you spend more time on your phone than conversing with friends, you're telling them that whoever you're texting is more important than who you're with. Technology is wonderful, but we must not become a society of zombies!

This was not an Adventure!

Kind of funny how you can go months, or maybe years, without a memorable mishap.  I just had my adventure  as you can read below, and my wife just had hers!

She has been sewing all her life and enjoys doing alterations for her friends.  She’s outstanding at her trade and she receives joy from her different sewing machines.

Sewing MachineSo, she’s altering a dress when a snag occurred and is trying to rectify the situation when she accidentally engages the foot pedal.  Her hand is in the wrong place and the needle goes into her fingernail and all the way through her finger! 

I’m in my studio editing a photo that I had just taken, when I hear this blood curdling scream.  I rush to her sewing room where she had just pulled out the needle, but in her panic some of it broke off in her finger.  We go to the kitchen where we both try to extract it with tweezers, but to no avail. 

It’s off to the nearest urgent care facility about 10 minutes away where we spend the next two hours.  X-rays were taken, but the end result is the Doctor says she should be seen by a hand surgeon as he thinks the needle is stuck in the bone.

Next stop Banner Boswell Hospital Emergency room where they are expecting us.  We carried in information from the Urgent Care Doctor and the X-rays.   It’s amazing how crowded emergency rooms are today, but even with her pain and anticipation of what was next, we both realized how lucky we are compared to others with lots worse conditions.

SurgeryFirst a person who takes your vitals, then back to the waiting room.  When you’re called in you follow another person down a very long hallway to your room.  We were lucky #33.  Another person comes in to ask a bunch of questions, then a nurse to take more vitals.  Finally we see a Doctor who assesses the situation,  and he leaves.  Time goes by when he returns and administers Novocain shots.  Minutes vanish and he returns again to extract the needle.  It didn’t take long for a sigh of relief and a big smile to appear on her face.

We leave the hospital, pick up a prescription for an antibiotic, and get home at 10 pm.  Seemed like a long time and it was since the incident happened at three o’clock, and now it was time for a glass of wine!

Life is good, but you never know when the unexpected may happen!

Everyone Loves an Adventure…Maybe!

CamperWe love to camp, and since it’s so hot in Phoenix during the summer we camp a couple hours North in Arizona’s high country.  The temperatures there are always 25-30 degrees cooler than in the Valley.

On a recent trip we camped with several other couples and after four days everyone had to return to Phoenix for work including my wife.  I decided to stay up there in the wilderness by myself, baby sitting our campers until everyone returned a few days later.

RZR on the TrailOne afternoon I went for a ride on our all terrain vehicle (RZR ATV) and rode many off road trails.  This probably isn’t the smartest thing to do by yourself, but it was daylight, I had plenty of gas, water, and other supplies in case of any trouble.

At one point I decided the drive to Long Lake which was about 22 miles from our campsite.  I got about half way there, but made the decision to return, get the truck and make the trip, timing it so to get some sundown photos of the lake.

For some unknown reason, maybe intuition, I made sure I was well supplied.  Threw in a blanket, a case of water, a sandwich, an energy bar, flashlight, my 38 pistol, and of course my camera equipment.

So about 5pm, off I went heading Northbound on Forest Road 211 (Long Lake Road).  I felt more secure in the truck and it was an easy ride for the first 12 miles.  Pretty soon the road became narrower and rocky and about 4 miles South of Long Lake the road became one lane and very muddy.  Before entering the mud I could see tracks where at least one other vehicle had travelled recently and figured if they made it so could I.

That was a mistake because once in the mud I was committed.  No turning back.  I had brand new tires but they were city tires and certainly not made for a muddy trail.  It was very slow going slip sliding all over the place, and at one point I thought I was going to end up in a pond next to the road.  The truck quickly became a master painting of mud!  This couple of miles was a little exhausting, but finally hit solid ground and made it to the Lake.  It was now about 6 pm as I swung around in the driver’s seat to dismount the truck and take a couple of photos.  My foot hit the muddy rail and off I went to the ground wounding my right arm in the process.

CordThe skin is torn off and it’s bleeding at a good rate.  In the  truck we had some McDonald’s napkins.  I pulled the skin flaps back over the wound and covered with the napkins.  To keep them from falling off I wrapped a cell phone charging cord around and tied a knot with my left hand and my teeth.

I’m not the least bit interested in taking photos now, just want to get back to camp.  I drive away from the lake, but I don’t want to drive back the way I came fearing getting stuck in the mud.  I picked up my phone and asked google for an alternate route.  She took me down the same road but only for a few blocks then told me to turn left on forest road 69.  The site ahead was a relief, a dry decent looking reddish colored road.  After a short time she told me to make a hard right turn on forest service road 69B.  Now my trust is solely in the hands of a strange, but soothing voice, and I complied.

It wasn’t long before realizing this was the second mistake of the trip as it’s now nothing but a skinny ATV trail in the middle of nowhere!  The GPS is telling me that Route 87 is some 8 miles ahead, but it’s now 6:30pm and I’m now thinking of approaching darkness.  The trail is rough, the truck is bouncing on rocks and small boulders.  At one point I have to cross a creek with a foot of flowing water.  With 4 wheel drive engaged I cross safely and am now climbing a steep rocky hill.  Once on top I’m in a clearing with a canyon on my left and a meadow on the right.

WaterI  stop, take some deep breaths, drink some water, take a bite of the energy bar, but waste no time in continuing on what seems like a path to nowhere.  Creeping through hills and valleys and at another plateau I stop and don’t see the trail anymore.  Is this it?  I reconcile myself to the idea that I might have to spend the night.  The comforting thought was that I’m secure in the truck with plenty of supplies.

I slowly plunge ahead, finding the trail again.  It’s slow going in the rough terrain, and the clock is creeping toward the hour of darkness.  Soon the GPS is telling me that I only have two more miles to go before I drive onto a paved highway.  It’s hard for me to believe that it’s only two miles because where I am is like driving somewhere in Africa.

It’s starting to get dark as I finally reach route 87.  I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster, my mind is foggy, my arm is painful, and I’ve never been so happy to see a highway in my life!  Now for the laugh of the year.  This soothing female voice soon tells me that in one mile I’ve arrived at my destination.  This point she called home is a pull off on the highway.  I sat there for a moment relieved, amused and soon realize that I’m heading for Winslow, Arizona.  I make a U turn, head South and arrive back at camp after 8 pm.  There is no moon, it’s pitch black and this was a 65 mile big circle adventure from hell!

WoundBack in the camper I try to administer first aid.  The napkins are stuck to the wound and as I pull them off some skin flaps end up in the napkin.  Suck it up buddy, you’re home safe and sound!  Have a drink and relax!  Not having any pads in our first aid kit, I used gauze and tape for the night.  The next day I drove two hours round trip to Wal-Mart in Payson and bought pads.  Of course removing the gauze ripped open the wound again!

A couple days later everyone shows up and one of my friends, a retired fire fighter/EMT, tends to my arm with many applications of Betadine and new dressings.  This was truly a week to remember, considering a couple nights before my ride a heavy thunderstorm ruined our Arizona Cardinal tent.  And that night while texting my wife back in Phoenix, she is sitting in the dark trying to find flashlights and candles because of a three hour power failure.  

Sometimes in life fate plays an important part.  It was ironic that only the day before I sat in our camper and read a National Geographic book on survival.  That book has been in our camper for a couple of years, what made me read it then? It covered dozens of scenarios, and the main thing that I leaned, in any situation, is to stay calm!   That thought resonated the strongest when I thought the trail ended, and I might have have to spend the night in total darkness, somewhere out there……

                                                              (You may click on photos for larger view.)