The Tools of Today

The toys, oops, tools we have. How many of us imagined the world of today even a few years ago? Desktop computer? Probably not very many. Laptop computer? Maybe military or NASA. Pocket computer? Don't be ridiculous! An international network where Joe Blow can communicate almost instantly with his asian counterpart? A wireless telephone that can be used in almost any major city and surrounding area in the world? And it takes pictures? A camera that doesn't use film and can take hundreds of pictures A DAY at virtually no cost to develop? To a person that thought the things made possible by the vacuum tube were the pinnicle of electronic development, it's like being a kid in a candy store. And at the relatively low cost, it's almost like having a rich uncle foot the bill. And I love it!
    And yet like many things today we lose even as we gain. Information theft, privacy loss, spam, e-mail scam, virus, worm, copyright protection; all things with new or added meaning. And how many of us have copied programs, or taken advantage of Napster to download music or perhaps copied a picture from the web without stopping to think about whether it was stealing? Stealing being to take something of value without permission or payment. It seems like the more wonderful the toys and tools we have, the easier it becomes to use them wrongly. It really tests the depth of our integrity and sense of values. Maybe that's a good thing too.
A storm along the coast

A Stormy Scene

Used to be Fort Canby SP, now it's Cape Disappointment SP. Obscured in the mist behind the low ridge on the right is another high rock upon which is the Cape Disappointment light house. At first I didn't pay much attention to this photo. But as I worked at trying to fix the contrast and bring out the color, I came to realize I was having trouble because this is what I saw. And obvious now, what the camera recorded. A cold, fine but heavy wind-blown rain, creating the depressing gray condition this part of the world is known for in the late fall to late spring seasons.
Sunset on Pacific Ocean

Anniversary Sunset

Those who know me know how much I've complained about weather such as in the picture above. And indeed, living in western Washington provides plenty of opportunity. But since I retired and haven't been so restricted as to when I could go places, I find there are fewer rainy days than I realized. I do find it better to avoid closed in or poorly lighted places. The ocean beach can feel that way on a day with low clouds or fog. For that reason I have not always cared to visit. Trips to observe birds in recent years, however, have given me a chance to see more days like the one coming to an end in this picture. Unless I seem to roll over too easy though, I'll add that this was in August and it should look like this.
    My wife has always liked the ocean. This was taken the night before our anniversary in 2004. Romantic, huh?
Funny Raven

Curious or just Silly?

Bird photos are usually my main reason for going to a particular place. Paradise at Mt. Rainier NP has always been a good place to see birds as well as just being a beautiful place to visit. Besides all that, it is not far from where I live. So one February morning it dawned bright and clear and we headed for the park. We had some peanuts and seeds with us as we usually do, and as always the "camp robbers" were glad to see us. But what really made this visit special were the antics of two Ravens. They were a little shy so they would sneak up behind. Several times one or the other would pear over the snowbank to be sure where we and the food was before hopping over to grab it. I took a couple pictures of their antics and this is my favorite.
    When I'm photographing birds I am always looking to get the angle and lighting to best show the field marks that identify the bird. Bird guide photos if you will. But sometimes I catch a pose that shows some aspect of the personality of the species as this one does. Those end up being the most prized of all.
A pair of Ravens

Mated Ravens

Here are the two that entertained us. They are a pair, the male on the left being the larger. Other than size, the bird encyclopedia says there isn't much noticable difference in the sexes. These two sure look their parts, though, the scruffy male and the pretty female. Another interesting thing noted in the encyclopedia was that they mate for life. My kind o' bird.
    I muse quite a bit on the behavior of birds and animals. The practicality of so much that they do, and at the same time the variety in the way they do them. The personality shown by each species in mating, nesting, rearing its young, gathering its food, migrating, doing many of the same things but doing them differently. An intelligent, thoughtful creator with a kind sense of humor is responsible of course.
Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier from Hwy near Elbe

Mt. Rainier from the southwest on the February day mentioned above. As a photograph this really isn't anything special, but as a mountain this one has more faces than any other in the northwest. I have several photos (none outstanding) from different viewpoints and sometimes I have trouble figuring for sure what mountain it is. To illustrate this, the photo below is taken from the inn at Longmire less than 15 miles away as the crow (what else?) flies. The cool winter air and the fresh coat of snow make the view from this vantage point at this season very appealing. If only those foothills weren't in the way. Kind o' like not being able to see the forest for the trees.
    As I mentioned before, good vantage points of scenic objects without modern development are becoming harder to find. And the air quality is not so good sometimes. 'Taint like the "good ol' days"!
Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier from Longmire

This shot, taken in midsummer shows more of the 'bones' of the mountain. Quite close, the peak being only 8 miles from where I am standing, it's one of the few open views of the mountain from this direction. I've always liked the mountains and surrounding forests. I have come to realize, though that it's only after I get into the open where I can see some distance and feel the light that I'm truly comfortable there. Otherwise, I find many of the deeper valleys and densely forested areas a little depressing. While I have to admit to the beauty of the mountains as seen in this area around Mt Rainier, I prefer the more open pine forest of the eastern slopes of the cascades.
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