Monthly Archives: April 2015

Today is my California anniversary!

I livew in my own little world

Twenty-two years ago today is the day that I decided to live permanently in San Diego, California.

My journey started on April 15, 1993. I was standing in line at the Bank of A&M in College Station, Texas, to transfer money from savings to checking so I could pay my income tax due. That’s when it hit me: “There has to be more to the world than the Great Nation of Texas.” After mailing my tax return, I went home, packed the Mustang GT with enough clothes to last a week, $5,000 in cash, and 100 CDs, which included all of The Beatles, of course.

I drove from College Station over to Shreveport, up to Fargo, over to Seattle, up to Vancouver, down to Sacramento, down to Bakersfield, and down to San Diego, arriving here on April 27. I spent three days at Blacks Beach (↓picture↓), coming up only at night to sleep at the KOA Kampground in Chula Vista.

Blacks Beach in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On the evening of April 30, 1993, as I was eating at a restaurant in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego, the weatherman came on the television to announce that for the third consecutive month, San Diego did not have any rain whatsoever, not a trace. I said softly to myself, “I could live here.”

And here I am!

There’s a little more to the complete story should you care to read it: A suicide journey ends in failure.

Happy Anniversary!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Just relax in your favorite spot

Picture of the Moment

Moving starts in earnest on Friday although preparations have been ongoing for a couple of weeks now.

What that means is that I’ll continue to post daily but posts will be shorter. You’re probably not going to see a post in my San Diego Historical Landmark series since each of those posts takes several hours to research and write.

My Picture of the Moment series probably will have quite a few entries during the next 36 days.

Knowing that, I thought I’d share my most recent picture of Zoey the Cool Cat, taken at 10:15 p.m. last night:

Zoey the Cool Cat all relaxed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

With so many things being moved about, she has all sorts of new places to explore. Such excitement just wore her out yesterday.

Her home comprising a Samuel Adams beer box and a Trader Joe’s sack has been her favorite spot for the last five days.

So when you’ve had a long, tiring day, just relax in your favorite spot!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I felt honored

Picture of the Moment

The Pacific Photographic Society (PPS) to which I belong is a Meetup group.

That’s how I found out about it.

After each event—and we have billions and billions of events!—each event attendee is allowed to upload no more than ten photos to our Meetup photo album for that event.

Everyone browses the pictures and sometimes comments.

Along with the picture of Cleo (see this post), this picture got the most comments:

Bench

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The owner of the garden, herself an extremely good photographer with equipment far superior to mine, and a member of PPS, had this to say:

“This is an interesting interpretation of this subject. I like what you have done with the texture.”

I felt honored.

The original picture was all drab, some of it having to do with it being a dull, drab, overcast, gray, rainy day. However, I have discovered that within those dull, drab, My wise old grandmothergray colors are many other colors wanting to get out. Photoshop to the rescue!

As my wise old grandmother (picture ►) would say:

“What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (4-27-15)—Curiosity killed the cat

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I bought ten Apple Macintosh computers for my new word processing company in College Station, Texas. I had owned an Apple III and was happy with it. Unfortunately, all ten Macintoshes were lemons, and Apple refused to fix them. So I simply returned them, got all my money back, and moved on to the PC world. I never looked back, and to this day, nothing Apple has done has encouraged me to give them another try.

There is one area, however, that Apple seems to be doing something that I do appreciate, and that’s in the realm of music.

When George Harrison died in 2001, very few of his albums were available on CD, certainly not as digital downloads. Now all of them are, courtesy of iTunes.

Little River Band is another group that I have been waiting for their early work to be issued digitally, and finally it has been, again courtesy of iTunes.

As I look around today I noticed that there are a lot of groups remastering and re-releasing early work specifically for iTunes. Once the masses get it, of course, it shows up on YouTube, and from there one can make a playlist. Once it’s available on YouTube, it tends to become available elsewhere, such as Spotify, Grooveshark, Rhapsody, and Amazon. Thus, today, I added Little River Band’s first three albums—”Little River Band,” “After Hours,” and “Diamantina Cocktail”—to my music collection.

The second song on their eponymous first album is titled  “Curiosity (Killed The Cat).” You just know I have to share a song about cats, even if curiosity killed the poor feline.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Curiosity (Killed The Cat)” was Little River Band’s first single, released in November 1975 and peaking at #12 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart. The single made no impact in the United States. In fact, it would be another eleven months before Little River Band hit the American Top 40 with “It’s A Long Way There.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The single version of “It’s A Long Way There” came in at 4:17 whereas the album version was a whopping 8:39. Here’s the album version:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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But I don’t know for sure….

Opinion

Yesterday morning I had the privilege of traipsing around a couple’s private garden.

It was a lot of un, and I got a lot of great pictures.

In addition to a beautiful garden, they had a dog and two cats.

Here is one of the two cats:

IMG_1753 abyssinian cat stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That’s Cleo.

Cleo is an Abyssinian cat, 15½ years old and suffering from renal failure.

To me, Cleo doesn’t look happy. In fact, he looks in pain.

Zoey the Cool CatZoey the Cool Cat (picture ►) is a mere 7½ years old but it’s obvious to me that she has slowed down, and she’s continuing to slow down. She’s not a kitty anymore….

I know we all love our pets, but at what point do we decide that it is time for our pets to leave us, to cross over that rainbow bridge?

My mother-in-law’s boyfriend spent several thousand dollars on treatments for his cats when they got old.

I want to think that I would easily spend thousands of dollars to keep Zoey the Cool Cat with me as long as possible, but I don’t think I could.

Instead, I think I would say my goodbyes to her and, from the vet’s office, go right down to the animal shelter and get another loving feline friend.

There are so many which need loving homes, and at that point I would have a loving home to give.

But I don’t know for sure….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Stairs to the birdhouse

Picture of the Moment

From a photo shoot this morning in a private garden. Click on the picture for a huger version.

Stairs to the birdhouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (4-24-15)

Friday Flower Fiesta

Ten Photographic Art stamps created from pictures of flowers taken in March in San Diego County.

img_0221 day lily stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0222 flower stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0410 orchid stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0549 hibiscus stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0555 rose stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0565 daisy stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0886 yellow clivia stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0903 yellow cactus flower stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0916 zinnia stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_0914 moth yellow flower stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Horseback riding to the beach in San Diego

Out & About

San Diego County encompasses 4,526 square miles, of which 4,207 is land.

The population as of the 2010 census was 3,095,313.

The City of San Diego has 1,345,895 people in its 372 square miles and is the eighth most populous city in the United States.

The County ranks #84 on the list of largest counties by area.

There are 3,143 counties (and county equivalents) in the United States.

The lowest elevation in the County is sea level which probably occurs at the beaches (probably?).

The highest elevation is 6,536 feet.

Within the County one can find anything ranging from snow to sunny beaches,

Snow in Julian, California

Ocean Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

free-ranging cows to urban cows….

Rural cow

Non-standard cow

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And horses….

Horses in a field

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Including urban horses, of course….

Rooftop horse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Even horses in the snow….

Horses in the snow in San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you really want to have fun, though, go down to Imperial Beach and ride a horse to, and on, the beach! Here is a group of riders coming back from the beach:

Horse rides to the beach!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For more on riding a horse to the beach, visit San Diego Beach Rides.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Do Republicans participate in Earth Day?

Did you know?

Today is Earth Day!

Here is what Zoey the Cool Cat is planning on doing today:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When the first Earth Day occurred in 1970, I was but a sophomore in high school. My first period “class” was Student Government. I was the representative from the Chess Club.

During the couple of weeks leading up to Earth Day, a friend—we’ll call him Ken since that’s his name—came in every morning and tried to get Student Government involved in that first Earth Day. I don’t remember if he was successful. I recently reconnected with Ken on Facebook. He is a minister with the Church of England and lives and works in Germany.

Here is my Photographic Art contribution to Earth Day 2015:

Bicyclists

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to Wikipedia, Earth Day events are held “in more than 192 countries each year.”

Which begs the question, “How many more?” One? Ten? A hundred? A thousand?

One hundred and ninety-two is a pretty exact number, so I’m thinking that, at the time the Wikipedia article was last updated, it was exactly 192 countries. Why not just say that Earth Day is held in 192 countries? Alas….

Earth Day events are meant to show support for environmental protections. Sadly, there is no proof that any Republican in the United States supports, celebrates, recognizes, or otherwise participates in Earth Day………

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Chemicals. You can’t get away from them!

Opinion

I thought I would follow up on my Monsanto post of January 14, 2015. It was by far my most controversial post, and a few people decided to unfollow me because of it. One even said in a comment, “I’m saddened and stunned that you have bought into their [Montanto’s] propaganda, so I will take a break from following your blog for awhile.” If I were vindictive, I would have taken a break from following his blog!

If you missed my first Monsanto post, see it here: I’m going with Monsanto on this one, for the moment.

Today’s post was inspired by a conversation with a grade-school friend about the complete and total Blue Bell Ice Cream recall due to listeria contamination. The CEO and President of Blue Bell, Paul Kruse, is an old Texas A&M colleague and Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity Brother. I haven’t spoken to him in 21 years, but 40 years ago, in college, I knew him well.

My grade-school friend, Carol, said on Facebook, “I’m glad they [Blue Bell] are doing the responsible thing by pulling all of their products and trying to figure out the cause for the listeria. I also wish they would pull all of the chemicals out of their recipes so I could buy their ice cream again!”

I responded that there are chemicals in everything. “Not in what I eat!” she exclaimed. That’s where she’s wrong. Grossly wrong. That wrongness comes from either not taking chemistry in high school or college, falling asleep during class, simply not caring or understanding, or listening to Fox (Entertainment) News talking points.

The universe is nothing but a mixture of chemicals. That’s why certain foods are acidic and cause acid reflux, and some foods are basic. As an example, go look at the Wikipedia entry for cucumber, right side. It will show you a list of all the chemicals that make up a cucumber.

As another example, take the common sugar Sucrose. Here’s its chemical makeup:

Sucrose

One great big chemical.

Some will tell me that Sucrose is just a bunch of elements—Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon. That’s true. But many of the elements in and of themselves are bad for people. Arsenic, for example. Chromium. Lead. Mercury. Plutonium. So that argument is moot.

Let’s look at chocolate. Who doesn’t like chocolate? The main ingredient in chocolate is a chemical, theobromine. Looks like this:

Theobromine

Theobromine poisoning can result from the chronic or acute consumption of large quantities of chocolate, especially in the elderly. Theobromine can cause sleeplessness, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, an increased production of urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and withdrawal headaches.

Zoey the Cool CatEverything around you is comprised of chemicals. Your desk chair, your desk, windows, curtains, clothes, computer monitor, lightbulbs, even little Zoey the Cool Cat (picture ►).

The fact that the universe is one big mass of chemicals is why I believe there will never be a cure for cancer. Perhaps individual cancers (lung cancer, for example) but not all cancers. There are too many variables involved and we can’t isolate all those variables, especially since each individual body is different, too. That’s why I have O+ blood but someone else has AB-. That’s why people have allergies.

The different mix of chemicals is why we have different foods. It’s only a matter of time before the chemists at Monsanto succeed in creating a cucumber from scratch, using just a bunch of chemicals in a laboratory somewhere.

Monsanto’s problem is not that it wants to feed the world using genetically modified organisms (GMO). Their problem is that they want to rule the world by being the only company that has the food that the world’s population needs to survive. Even that might eventually come to an end—see the packaged and pill foods that the astronauts and fighting military personnel eat.

Meal, Ready To Eat

Meal, Ready To Eat (MRE)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

While we all might like those fresh vegetables, until humanity learns to masturbate, put a condom on it, or take a pill before or after, we’re heading to oblivion due to lack of food and water, or we’re going to have to accept that in order to feed the world’s population, we are going to be eating GMO’s and MRE’s. We are not going to have the room to grow those organic vegetables. I mean, which is more important? A rich person eating an organic salad, or millions of starving children?

Reminds me of the 1973 Charlton Heston movie, “Soylent Green,” where the woman was eating, spoonful by spoonful, a jar of strawberry jam. Strawberry jam was a luxury for them, a very expensive luxury.

I believe that’s where humanity is heading, and simply being against Monsanto isn’t going to stop it. We need to curb population growth or find new ways to feed, clothe, house, and heal that population.

The current crop of Republicans in the United States, however, don’t want anything to do with curbing population growth, or feeding, clothing, housing, and healing the population. All they care about is that the little embryo makes its way out of the vagina. After that, it’s own its own—no food stamps, no health care, no housing—until it’s of military age. Then they will take it for four years of fighting, fighting which will come sooner rather than later if we don’t try to solve this mess now. But simply being against Monsanto because one is a farmer or enjoys chemicals under the “organic” label is not going to solve the problem.

My wise old grandmotherAs my wise old grandmother (picture ►) used to say, “If you’re going to complain, offer a solution.” Well, my complaint is about humanity’s overpopulating the Earth, and my solution is masturbation, condoms, pills, and GMO’s…..

One final thing that my wise old grandmother said, and which I believe is very relevant to enjoying all that life has to offer:

Too much of anything is bad for you

So enjoy life.

Eat, drink, and be merry.

Just don’t do anything excessively.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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