Monthly Archives: September 2016

Music on Mondays (9-19-16)—All your ways are known to me

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

About five decades ago I wanted to be a history teacher. Then I found out how much money teachers made in Texas and decided to be something else. I still love history, though, so when I saw the following bumper sticker” in front of me at a traffic signal, I had to figure out a way to get a picture of it since it was rush hour traffic. I ended up following him for several miles, turning where he turned, speeding up, slowing down, doing everything necessary to stay behind him. I wonder if he thought he was being followed, like in the movies….

History, it's not just about dead guys

Since this is Monday, I thought it might be interested to explore history in music, and when I thought about that, the first person who came to mind was Al Stewart.

According to Wikipedia, Alastair Ian “Al” Stewart was born September  5, 1945, in Glasgow, Scotland. His unique style combines folk rock songs tales of characters and events from throughout history. He played at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970, knew Yoko Ono before she met John Lennon, and shared a London flat with a young Paul Simon. He’s interconnected with a lot of my favorite musicians., and I do have a complete collection of his music. I first discovered Stewart in 1976 as a junior at Texas A&M University when he released his super-album “Year of the Cat.” Here’s the title track:

“Year of the Cat” from “Year of the Cat” (1976)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

He hasn’t had quite the commercial success that he had with “Year of the Cat,” possibly because too many people don’t study history and, thus, don’t have a clue what he’s singing about.

Look at the titles to many of his albums and you can see Stewart’s interest in history:

Past, Present and Future
Modern Times
Time Passages
Last Days of the Century
Between the Wars
Sparks of Ancient Light

“Year of the Cat” used to be my favorite Stewart album until I was able to get a complete collection of his music. Now it’s #2 behind “Past, Present and Future.”

Here are a few of my other favorite Al Stewart songs:

“Roads to Moscow” from “Past, Present and Future” (1973)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Nostradamus” from “Past, Present and Future” (1973)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“(A Child’s View of) The Eisenhower Years” from “Sparks of Ancient Light” (2009)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Lost time (No, you can’t get it back)

Did you know?

Get off your smartphones
and pay attention
to the traffic signal.
Be prepared for it to turn green
and stomp on the gas!
I don’t want to be honking my horn at you!

I was in La Jolla recently when I saw this sign:

Jean Lowe, Lost Time

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The flyer is dated January 3, 1850, so I didn’t know what to think. Nonetheless, what it said, I found funny, and somewhat true:


Either in the City of LOS ANGELES,
or thereabouts, a sum of Time, Con-
sisting principally of denominations
of Hours and Minutes – the whole
amounting to several Days. Whoever
may have found the same, and will
leave it, or give such information as
shall lead to its recovery, either to
the undersigned, Samuel Keller, Esq.,
or to the Messers. POST & WENT-
WORTH, Alameda Street; shall be
Liberally Rewarded.

January 3, 1850.     ARVIN M. DUNKLE


When I got home and looked at it more closely, I figured Jean Lowe was an author, her book, “Lost Time,” took place in January 1850, and the main character was Arvin Dunkle.

I went to Wikipedia first. No Jean Lowe. A Google search found her though.

She is an artist, quite an interesting one, too. I found a flyer from two years ago about an art exhibition at the McKenzie Fine Art gallery in New York City featuring her work, titled “Lost Time.” According to the flyer,

….Lowe has created humorous and subversive installations that question intellectual and cultural institutions and societal assumptions. …. Lowe slyly critiques the way society assigns value, and to what, through the creation of a faux auction house showroom. …. From fictional auction houses and websites such as “Roquefort’s,” “Heritage Holdovers,” and “,“ Lowe’s paintings illustrate items from sales which feature everything from fine watches, love letters, and important old master paintings, to manuscripts and ephemera.

Some of the lots featured in these sales are on display …. These include painted sculptures of an obsolete yellow pages phone book and a volume titled, “If God Loves Me, Why Do I Need a Vibrator?” Additionally, several of the items of faux ephemera are on view:  a 19th-century broadside offering a reward for lost minutes and hours.

In this exhibition, Lowe playfully transforms the banal into the magical and makes the rarified ridiculous by transforming commonplace items into desirable commodities, all in a satirical setting of high commerce.  Through her painted and sculptured recreations the artist humorously questions what is real, what is true, what has value, and why.

Did you catch the last sentence in the second paragraph? A-ha! Obviously her exhibit “Lost Time” made it to La Jolla sometime recently and that “broadside” was mass-produced to bring attention to it.

I love the arts.


While I was searching for information on Madame Jean Lowe, I discovered that there really is such a thing as lost time.

According to Wikipedia,

Lost time is a traffic engineering term for the time during which no vehicles are able to pass through an intersection despite the traffic signal displaying a green (go) signal. The total lost time is the sum of start-up lost time and clearance lost time. Start-up lost time happens when a traffic signal changes from red (stop) to green (go). Some amount of time elapses between the signal changing from red to green and the first queued vehicle moving through the intersection. There is then an additional amount of time for the next vehicle to begin moving and pass through the intersection, and so on. The total time taken for all waiting drivers to react and accelerate is the start-up lost time. Clearance lost time is the time lost to stopping a line of vehicles at the end of a green phase. Lost time is always measured in seconds.

Clearance lost time often is not observable since some vehicles which were waiting at the start of a green phase still be waiting when the green phase ends

Perhaps a repeat is justified:

People! Get off your smartphones and pay attention to the traffic signal. Be prepared for it to turn green and stomp on the gas so all of us will lose less time! I don’t want to be honking my horn at you!

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Friday Flower Fiesta (9-16-2016)

Friday Flower Fiesta

I have had a need to create eBooks but I wanted one of those flipping eBooks that I see occasionally.

I have tried several of them but they either are absent-ware (parts of the program are absent unless you pay for it), are too difficult to work with, or are just plain bad.

Finally, I found Flip PDF, which makes flipping eBooks out of PDF files. Since Word and InDesign, the two programs that I use most for page layout, easily create PDF files, I gave it a try.

I’m extremely happy with it.

Check out this short flipping eBook of (mostly) flowers:

Flowers of the World

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

After I graduated from Texas A&M University and moved to Houston, I spent a lot of time touring the Gulf Coast going to concerts. Although I did get to see the Rolling Stones, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney & Wings, George Harrison, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and many others, most of the concerts were small, local gigs by up and coming groups. Back in those days, every Friday and Saturday night was spent with friends at the local bars and venues playing pool and listening to music.

Then I moved to San Diego in 1993 and never got involved in the local music scene again….

Until these past two years. Many of you know that I gave Julian Rey Saenz his first job in the business world when he turned 16. Julian plays the guitar, and I sometimes went to karoke nights to hear him sing and play.

This past April, Julian invited me to a concert where he, Big Bad Buffalo, and Indio Romero were playing. Julian knew that I love music (except for Rap and Hip-Hop) but warned me that Big Bad Buffalo and Indio Romero were loud. He was right, and the ringing in my ears for the next month reminded me of why I quit the local music scene when I left Texas………lol

I liked all three performers, but one of Julian’s friends, Jordan, was the guitarist for Big Bad Buffalo. I didn’t know at that time what genre they considered themselves but they had great rhthym, a driving bass, and a guitar that wouldn’t quit. They had my attention.

Julian and Jordan graduated from high school this past June. Julian has taken off to Palo Alto CA where he has enrolled as a freshman at Stanford University (I told y’all two years ago that he was smart, but did you listen………..?). Although Jordan also graduated high school with honors, he desperately wants to be a musician. Since I used to play the piano and violin, as well as sing, and played professionally with the Corpus Christi, Houston, and Brazos County symphonies, I definitely understand that “wants to be a musician” thing.

Well, Big Bad Buffalo has just released their second album, this one eponymous.

Big Bad Buffalo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are 15 songs on the album, and although I have been listening to it for the past two days, I’m not quite sure which is my favorite, although “Transitland” and “She’s Just the Icing on the Cake” are up there. All of the songs except “Somewhere To Be” are fast, driving songs with drums, base, guitars that won’t quit, and words that I actually can understand without looking up the lyrics. Poor diction and enunciation, especially in loud rock ‘n’ roll music, has always been a pet peeve of mine.

The musicians of Big Bad Buffalo are:

  • Alex Staninger – Drums, Piano, Vocals
  • Silvio Damone – Bass, Piano, Vocals
  • Jordan Krimston – Guitar, Vocals

Tags from their web site indicate that the music is punk, alternative rock, beep boop, math rock, and “what’s in a genre?” I think they have a sense of humor, too!

I wanted to embed the album here but the embed code I got from their host, both for html and for, is not working; hey, they are musicians, not computer experts……..

So, following is a link to the album. Hope y’all enjoy it enough to buy it, download it, buy individual songs, check out all their music, perhaps donate to help them keep on keepin’ on.

Big Bad Buffalo

Once I figure out, or have someone show me, how to embed the album here, I’ll edit this post to do that.

I will be going to see them in concert this coming Friday, 9:00 p.m. at Lestat’s Coffee House; it’s an all ages concert so I’m pretty sure this 61-year-old with virgin ears will be allowed in.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Flower pictures that don’t look quite so picturery

How I Did It

I got so involved cataloging pictures from the last year and photoshopping some of them that the weekend suddenly has disappeared. Where did it go?

Ah, well, since it’s gone, following are a few flowers that I photoshopped using Topaz Glow, an awesome program if you want to create some really interesting pictures that don’t look like pictures anymore. All of these flowers were growing in one yard. They saw me out their living room window taking pictures and came out to talk to me.

Zinnia, Zinnia, Sunflower daisy, Passionflower.



Sunflower daisy


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Maybe I’ll just wonder and have another margarita.

Did you know?

An article at really caught my attention on August 29. It was titled “The Most and Least Successful States.” Wow. That’s open to interpretation. Who gets to decide which state is the most successful, the least successful? What criteria? What’s the timeline? Oh, my head was exploding with anticipation of having a few moments to sit down and read the article. Last night I had that opportunity.

Not much in the article surprised me as to the most and least successful states. What did surprise me was the extraordinary amount of data gobankingrates used to come to their conclusions:

  • the average income of the top 1 percent
  • the average income of the bottom 99 percent
  • the states’ poverty rates
  • the percentage of the states’ population in the upper, middle, and lower classes
  • the number of millionaire households
  • the ratio of millionaires to total households
  • and the number of billionaires

The Most Successful States, according to their analysis, are:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Maryland
  3. New Jersey
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New Hampshire
  6. District of Columbia (technically not a State, but whatever)
  7. California
  8. Alaska
  9. North Dakota
  10. Virginia

In the last three presidential elections—2012, 2008, 2004—the top seven of those states voted for the Democratic candidate. Of the last three in that Top 10, Alaska and North Dakota voted Republican three times, and Virginia voted Democrat twice and Republican once. The article didn’t tell me any of that; my research did.

The Least Successful States:

  1. Mississippi
  2. New Mexico
  3. West Virginia
  4. Arkansas
  5. Kentucky
  6. Alabama
  7. South Carolina
  8. Louisiana
  9. Tennessee
  10. Arizona

In the last three presidential elections—2012, 2008, 2004—all except New Mexico voted Republican all three elections! New Mexico voted Democrat twice and Republican once.

The most successful states are predominantly Democratic states and the least successful states are predominantly Republican. Interesting.

Here is a map I created based on the 2012 presidential election; blue states voted for Obama and red states voted for Romney. The number in each state is its place on the most successful state list; low numbers are successful states and high numbers are unsuccessful states.

Most successful states

Look at the South. How depressing, IMHO. Using the Mason-Dixon line as the dividing point, the southern states rank 22, 31, 35, 40 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, and 51.

Interestingly, along with the least successful states being Republican states, they also are the most religious states. Here’s the Top 10 most religious states, all red Republican states:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Utah
  3. Alabama
  4. South Carolina
  5. Louisiana
  6. Arkansas
  7. Tennessee
  8. North Carolina
  9. Georgia
  10. Oklahoma

So what gives? Are the religious Republicans not praying for success, for financial well-being? Is that not a goal of theirs? Wouldn’t their greater success and their tithing mean greater success for their churches and religions? I’m just so confused.

As I was pouring over maps and data, I found that the southern states were pretty much blue Democratic states from 1952 to 1976. But there was a change taking place, and it took only one generation for that change to fully occur, starting in 1960 when Alabama and Mississippi voted for a third party candidate.

In 1964, the whole nation except for Arizona and five southern states voted Democratic. Was it a sympathy vote after Kennedy was assassinated?

In 1968, George Wallace, he of Alabama segregation fame (or dishonor, if you will), won the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. It should be noted that Wallace considered himself a Conservative Democrat.

In 1972, the whole nation except for Massachusetts voted Republican, and 1976 was the last time that the South voted Democratic. In 1980 the South turned reliably Republican. Only a few states have broken from the Republican fold since 1980, most notably Florida in the 2012 and 2008 elections.

So the generation that came immediately after World War II effectively changed the outlook of the two parties. Look at the following meme of the 1956 Republican Party platform, exactly the opposite of the GOP’s goals the past 20 years or so.

1956 GOP platform

Of course, politics is not a top down event; there is no trickle down politics. Politics start locally.

What I would love to do is see who was in charge of the cities, counties, and states since World War II. That would probably be much more telling than the presidential election. Unfortunately, I have to work and pay my creditors, and doing wonderful research on who has been in charge of America locally since World War II probably is not going to pay my bills.

Hmmmm. Maybe YOU would sponsor me? Or perhaps I could create a GoFundMe account. Or maybe I’ll just wonder and have another margarita.

If you’re interested in the ranking and how the states voted from 2012 all the way back to 1952, I created that list, too:

Most successful states by presidential vote, 1952-2012

Got margarita?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat