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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Truth About Turtles

"Try to be like the turtle, at ease in your own shell."

-Bill Copeland

I went to Golden Gate Park, last Thursday, to photograph the new tulips at the Queen Wilhelmina Windmill park. Each spring, visitors to the park are treated to a stunning display of freshly blossomed California poppies, pansies and of course the tulips. I took some photos I was rather pleased with, I even managed a photo or two of some bees that were frolicking about. I will share some of those photos sometime next week, but for this entry, I will share about finding the turtles.

It's been several weeks since I have been on a photo jaunt. I had planned on taking a trip to Placerville last week, to seek out one of my favorite ghost legends, but with the weather having been so cold, there was no way I was up for the trip. Alan doesn't enjoy driving in snow when it is too fresh, we don't get enough of it here in the Bay Area to feel confident about driving in it safely. I suppose I will be getting up to Placerville either later this spring, or sometime during the summer months instead of going right now. That will be nice, as Lake Tahoe is stunning all times of the year! Perhaps I will go to Yosemite, to see the waterfalls from the snow runoff. I don't have many waterfall photos, so that will be a nice change. As you know, I love the water, I am part mermaid after all! :)

When Alan and I plan these trips to San Francisco, we always plan more then we can possibly fit into one day. That way, we can just relax and float about at our leisure, allowing ourselves to fully take it all in. If you visit San Francisco be warned, there isn't time in two lifetimes to see all there is to see in this city. It is truly filled with all kinds of marvelous sights, and sounds. I have lived in the Bay Area my whole life, and I am still amazed every time I go into the city. It is never boring. Last Thursday was a good example.

We had finished our photography over at the tulip park, and decided to drive over to the DeYoung museum, which is located in the park, near the Japanese Tea Garden. As we were driving along, I saw a lovely white crane emerge from a medium sized pond, located on the right side of JFK drive. We decided to pull over to take some photographs of the ducks and cranes, when Alan saw a small island of turtles, sitting near the ponds edge. What a treat! We had never seen the turtles when we had visited the small pond on other outings, so it was nice to have this little surprise.

The sun on Thursday was a bit harsh, and it was about 70 degrees outside. That is quite warm for San Francisco in March. I tried photographing the turtles on a normal setting for sunlight, but the photos were too harsh, so I switched to a sepia tone, which softened the lighting some. Unfortunately, there was no way to get to the other side of the pond, where I could photograph them with some natural filtering. More often then not, I prefer to use something natural to diffuse the lighting, I like to post this type of photo as realistic as possible. The water was murkey, and the sun was hot, so I made that adjustment. Black and white was another option, but I thought it would make the light seem too harsh as well. I didn't realize till I got home, that I had captured the reflections of the turtles in the water. I liked that. :)

Just the other night, Elizabeth Vargas of, ABC World News Tonight, reported a story on the passing of what is believed to be the world's oldest living tortoise, which resided at the Kolkatu Zoo, in Kolkatu India. His name was Addwaitya, which means, "The One And Only." As a history buff I marveled at the thought. Can you imagine, being human, and living 250 years? Especially the last 250 years? The inventions, the music, the scientific discoveries, the wars, the bores and rumors of bores, LOL. Addwaitya, lived a long full life, with no interest in the day to day trivial pursuits of we humans. He was blissfully unaware of pain, loneliness, isolation, fear. He had no idea he was once a pet of the famous British officer, and eventual governor of Bengal, who was also, one of the founders of British rule in India, Robert Clive.

There are so many points in history, I wish I could have seen first hand. So many eras. One would have to be very comfortable in one's own skin to be able to live 250 years, and not go mad. I have had my moments in this life, lol, but I have come to be happy inside myself. I can spend long days alone, researching some curiosity of mine, or editing photographs and planning my next trip to see what I can discover anew, like this little turtle island in Golden Gate Park. Being alone, and quite is nice. I don't know, maybe I am slowing down in my old age, but I am just comfortable with these long quiet days I have been spending. Not that there isn't room for self-improvement mind you...lol...but through meditation, yoga and Qi Gong, I am more at ease with myself, and it is nice not feeling like I am on a mad dash through life. It all goes by way too fast as it is.

-OndineMonet
"Turtle Island"
Golden Gate Park
March 24th, 2006
12:42 PM

Friday, March 24, 2006

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #104: Color My World

"Red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in morning, sailors take warning"

-Unknown Proverb

Weekend Assignment #104: Tell us your favorite color. Give no less than three reasons why it is.

Extra Credit: A picture that is primarily of your favorite color.

-John Scalzi

Pink is my favorite color, but lately I have been seeing red everywhere. Red is a power color and denotes passion. I have been enjoying the, challenge of photographing the color red in it's many moods. Be it the red of a winter sunset, the red of a beautiful insect or the shade of red that can only be found on a beautiful tulip. Each of the four seasons, presents Red in such glorious display!

A Red Dragonfly In Summer

A Red Leaf In Autumn

A Yellow & Red Tulip In Spring

A Fire Dance In Winter

Extra Credit: Lovely Pink Flowers

-OndineMonet

"The Four Seasons"

Berkeley, California

2005

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"One Headline Why Believe It..."

"We can't decide if the world is growing worse, or if the reporters are just working harder."

-The Houghton Line, November 1965

English philosopher, C.E.M. Joad, once said, "The secret of successful journalism is to make your readers so angry, they will write half your paper for you." Do you think that the American media, as a whole, would rather report news that keeps us fired up, rather then report news that has a positive aspect to it, no matter what that positive spin might be about? Do you, as the viewer or reader, pay closer attention to the scandalous side of the news, as opposed to the consumer reports or the entertainment news? Do you make a distinction between national news publications and local new services? And how about the tabloids, is the National Enquirer a reliable source for news and information? The National Enquirer has a current circulation of about 2.7 million, which is actually a decline in circulation numbers in recent years. In fact, most national newspapers have reported a decline in circulation numbers in the last 10 years.

I am thinking about this, because of President's Bush's assertion that the American media is to blame for the publics recent disdain for the war in Iraq. Personally speaking, I am not buying into that claim. I think it is yet another, in a long series of excuses, for why the American public has become more and more impatient with both Mr. Bush...and the war. I found it kind of odd that he would turn on the media the way he has, considering both Bush and Donald Rumsfeld made sure the there was an unprecedented amount of journalists in Iraq at the beginning of the war three years ago. Journalists were embedded in downtown Baghdad to bring us an up close and personal view of the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Who can forget the photo-op on the aircraft carrier just a few weeks later, when he declared, "mission accomplished?" Now, however, he is less then enchanted with the media because, by his reckoning, the media is not showing the positive side of the story in Iraq. Let's pretend for a moment he is right. Tell me why, doesn't the White House do more then merely repeat the same rhetoric about how unfair the media is, and actually provide proof to the American public that there is a strong, positive growth in Iraq. Words alone won't do it at this point, I need to see this positive inclination for myself.

Do you think the decline in tabloid circulation has to do with our growing distaste for the sleazy? Is it because we just don't care anymore if Paris Hilton gives birth to an alien's baby, while skinny dipping with Jim Morrison? Is the decline due to the fact that we need not look any further then AOL news to fulfill our need for all things scandalous? I mean, I live for the feature, "Who Had AWorse Week?," how about you? Heck, last summer, I got to choose between Michael Jackson, wearing p.j's to court, that ditzy runaway bride, and Phil Spector and his bad hair day. If my memory serves me, I think I chose Phil Spector and his hair. Is that really news? Really? I can't think of one good reason as to why I should care about why Jennifer Wilbanks ran out on her fiance, but I can think of many, many reasons as to why I do care about the fact that tough questions are not being asked of George Bush and his administration by members of the mainstream American media....until recently that is. Why is he not being challenged by members of the media about his assertion that it is media to blame for his low approval ratings? I am most curious about that. Hmmm.

I don't happen to think the American media is the source of Mr. Bush's troubles, but I don't think it necessarily does itself any favors when it insists on reporting "news" that is in actuality, the personal business of a private citizen, like you or I. Instead of continuing to report on the fact that 3 billion dollars is still missing from the war budget, or the fact that there are still empty trailers sitting in Louisiana, that never reached victims of Hurricane Katrina, instead we are subjected to the never ending speculation that maybe the runaway bride has not learned her lesson. That story is not news...it's gossip. That story doesn't affect you personally...it's none of your business. The runaway brides antics, did cost the taxpayers of the county she resided in money...that makes it their business, therefore it should have been kept local, and not made into the media distraction it eventually became.

As I said, I don't blame the media for following the success celebrated by such tabloids as the National Enquirer. After all...we Americans spend time reading it, watching it,and following it like it was the news. Isn't it a shame when something really sleazy and disgusting takes place, such as the abuse at Abu Ghraib and we can't tell the difference between the tabloid side of the news...and the real scandals bringing down the integrity of America? So, do we really have room to blame the media, if we continually ask for more? If the Bush administration had full control of the images and soundbites coming out of Iraq, would they show us a more balanced view of the war? Would we still see the horrific images of the aftermath of a suicide bombing? Or would we continually see the same images over and over of Iraqis voting for the first time? How filtered would the news be? Do you think Mr. Bush is right? Is the majority of the news being covered by the mainstream American media only the most negative aspects of the war? Has the media coverage changed since we were at war in Vietnam? Do we only want to hear the worse about everything and everyone, so we won't hurt as bad? Personally, I am a little tired of the media being blamed for the information that is available to us, when we don't stand up and demand we be treated with respect and be brought legitimate news.

Note: Jessica has written a fabulous entry that addresses a number of the questions I have asked in this entry. Please drop by her blog and give her entry a read. It is so well done. "The Fourth Estate"

-OndineMonet
"Cliches"
Berkeley, California
Summer, 2005




Wednesday, March 22, 2006

3.7

"There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control."

-Leo F. Buscaglia

Ok, so I was sitting at my desk today, looking over some notes I had made regarding President Bush's news conference, when I started to feel a little dizzy. That's nothing new since the onset of Fibromyalgia, so I did what I usually do when I feel a little off balance, I sat back in my chair, put on my lavender mask, and tried to visit my Zen place. Not an easy thing to do at times, especially considering how infuriating George Bush can be. There were a lot of thoughts running through my mind, mostly about how frustrating it is to have him as our president. How hard it is to be an American today, how much we are hated around the world, how our elected officials don't listen to us, when we say, "things have to change." Sometimes, I wonder if I am losing my values, because I don't really care about Iraq anymore...I care about America. Frankly, I didn't feel this unsafe on 9/11. I think George Bush has not just made us unpopular in the world...he has made us hated. And with hatred, comes danger. Sigh. So, I guess I was a bit stressed.

With my head resting against the back of my comfy chair, and with everything quiet in the house, except for the peaceful sound of Elvis snoring, I heard a loud sound which my mind had just enough time to register as an explosion. It seemed to be far away, because the sound was muffled. Before I could register the thought completely, and open my eyes, the earth beneath me shook...and it shook hard. Elvis, sat up with a start, then ran to me where he sat under my desk, frightened, but calm. The earthquake lasted only a second or two, and nothing fell or broke. Why? I don't know. I was surprised, given how sharp the quake was, that nothing broke or came off the wall. I got the distinct feeling, I had been very lucky...this time.

We have been experiencing quite a bit of seismic activity here in the East Bay since the first of the year. This particular series of quakes have been centered 4 miles s/e of Moraga, California. That is basically Berkeley. The magnitude of the quake today, according to the USGS, registered 3.7 on the Reichter scale. As quakes go, that is not huge, it's barely considered moderate, but when it is directly beneath you...it is what it is. In this case, it is a continued reminder that we are all on our own. Recently, I wrote about the fact that Homeland Security Chief, Michael Chertoff, toured California's levee system with Governor Schwarzenegger. As I said at the time I wrote that entry, I was skeptical that California would be granted the funding we need to shore up our out of date levee system. I was right.

After taking an ariel tour with Schwarzenegger, Chertoff stopped short of promising us anything in the way of funding. Sigh. Not a big surprise, although a disappointing one. This is an election year here in California, so if Governor Schwarzenegger wants to continue being governor, he may want to consider distancing himself from the Bush administration. If he isn't reelected, it won't be just because of that fiasco of a special election he insisted on last fall. Some things in politics are growing old, such as having warning after warning of dire circumstances by experts, and having those warning fall on deaf ears by elected official. The sad part for Mr. Schwarzenegger is that at least he sees the need to fix the levees, he asked for funding, so will it be his fault that we don't get the funding, out of Washington,that is needed?

As I have said before, and I don't really think I can stress enough...we all must prepare. Karen raised a very good point in the comments section of the last entry I did on the subject of preparedness. She doesn't live in "earthquake country," or "flood country," or "hurricane country," she lives in a part of the country that is spared most conditions which must exist for a natural disaster. As her friend, I am of course relieved, but even if you do happen to think you have it all covered, the unexpected can occur. Do you have an overnight kit with a change of clothes should, god forbid, your house catches fire? Do you have a good supply of flashlights and batteries? How about fresh water or food for your pets? Does everyone who reads my blog, have a roadside emergency kit in their car? How about a spare telephone book for your area? Do you have a prearranged place to meet your loved ones, should the worst happen?Do you change the batteries in your smoke detectors every six months? Let's try something simple, raise your hand if you know how to change your own tire! In this age of terrorism, where nothing should be taken for granted, is there such a thing as being over prepared? Really?

Ok, rant over. On a lighter note, wasn't it great to see Helen Thomas, back in the front row at a White House press conference? Asking the tough questions, that should have been asked months ago?

"I'd like to ask you, Mr. President...your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war?"

-
Helen Thomas 3/21/06 "Bush: Troops To Stay In Iraq For Years."

Note: Steven wrote a very good entry, in which he shares his thoughts about Bush's news conference yesterday. If you haven't been by his blog, please stop by and give it a read! You'll be glad you did. "Monarch"

-OndineMonet

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Turn Up The Noise, Turn Up The Bok

"I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There's a knob called, "brightness," but that doesn't work."

-Unknown

A couple weeks ago Patrick, wrote an entry titled, "What's You TV Gripe." At the time I read it I didn't really have any particular gripe about TV. I have been a constant viewer of all things TV since I was a child. Granted, over the years my taste in programming has definitely changed more then once. Just last week I was speaking with my therapist, Sarah, about this very subject. When I was a little girl, I LOVED watching 6o Minutes. Yes, while other children were glued to their seats watching, The Wonderful World Of Disney," I was watching, in-depth reports by Morley Safer about corporate greed or marveling at the "Point/Counterpoint" debates of James J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander. Heck, all noise would have to stop at the end of the show when Andy Rooney would share his musing of the week. I was a weird kid. Actually, it all came from the desire to understand the world. See, it was difficult in my house when I was a little girl, so I watched things other children didn't, to seek answers to the deep questions I had. I didn't spend all my time on the evening news, and news magazine programs, in fact, some of my favorite moments on TV didn't come from regularly programmed network shows...nope...I loved commercials.

For the most part, I found commercials to be funny. Sometimes, even most the serious ones, seemed to have an amusing tone to them. Like the Kleenex commercials, which at times, could make my cry. How's that for irony? LOL. And I ask you, who could forget the hysterical, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is," of Alka-Seltzer? LOL. Or the Oscar Meyer boy sitting on the dock, discussing his love of bologna, in lyric verse. Who says television isn't educational? I learned how to spell B-O-L-O-G-N-A from that commercial. LOL. So, ok, now we have firmly established the fact that I have always been a commercial geek, it should be said that once in a while, I do have a gripe.

Does anyone else find the fairly new Burger King, "Bucking Chicken" commercial to be hysterical, and yet slightly annoying? I laughed my butt off the first time I saw it. I mean after all, it was one or more guys, in a giant chicken suit, with a cowboy riding on it's back, trying to keep the chicken from bucking him off. LOL. The thought of a pissed off giant chicken is too funny, although it does leave one with a slightly spooked feeling when that commercial is followed by a news report on Bird Flu. Between Mad Cow disease, and Bird Flu it gives one the feeling that maybe we would be better off if we stopped pissing off the animals. Sigh.

I guess the thing that disturbs me the most about the "Bucking Chicken" is the phrase, "Bucking Chicken." See, it's a little too close to...ummm...well..."(Profanity) Chicken." Sorry, but a pet peeve of mine is when people, especially adult people, say something like, "the F word," as if saying it out loud will somehow cause me to swoon, get the vapors or otherwise turn inside out, if they said the, "F word." I am pretty much going to hear that particular word in my brain anyway...so what's the point in tip-toeing around the subject? Adults should just be adults and find a word that wouldn't cause someone to be offended. Still, at times, such as when quoting someone else, one will find themselves using a term they wouldn't otherwise. It happens.

I don't know, I don't curse very often, but once in a great while something, not so nice, will come flying out of my mouth. It only happens when I either fall off my chair at the therapists office, or when I have come out of a public bathroom with my skirt tucked down in my under-roos. There is just no good time to pull one's dress out of the bum. LOL. So, anything that might tempt me to use unfortunate words, I find a bit annoying, like the phrase, "Bucking Chicken." Oh well, in the grand scheme of things, it is a minor annoyance, I am no big fan of Burger King anyway, and at least it isn't as weird as the sponge monkeys from the Quiznos commercials. Now my favorite commercials at the moment, are for Travelocity, which features the Gnome. I love watching him being blowing up, or getting electrocuted. LOL. I can't help it, garden gnomes give me the wiggins. They have ever since I had that freaky gnome in my back yard that I swear was tripping me. LOL. Of course, that was more about me then him. LOL.

Ok, your turn, tell me what your favorite/least favorite commercials are. Do you have an absolute favorite of all time? Do you enjoy watching Retromercials?

-OndineMonet
"The Chicken"
Half Moon Bay, California
October 24th, 2005
Afternoon

Monday, March 20, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Signs Of Spring

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself."

-Zen Proverb

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Snap a shot of something that lets you know Spring has come around.

-John Scalzi

I am enjoying the cherry blossoms this year. The weather here in Northern California, has been as such, that it seems there is little dots of color everywhere I look. White, pink, liliac, sometimes blossoms that are deep pink in color. It's beautiful!Sometimes, they are at their prettiest when there are tiny raindrops on the petals.

-OndineMonet
"Spring March"
March 20th, 2006
Berkeley, California
Afternoon

Obstruction...A Round Robin Promotion

Please click on the above photo to see the larger version.

"Enthusiasm releases the drive to carry you over obstacles and adds significance to all you do."

-Norman Vincent Peale

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that photographing the Golden Gate Bridge from different angles and perspectives, is a great passion of mine. Sometimes however, it can be quite challenging! LOL. Take for example, the above two photographs. Both were taken from the Vista Point, at the last San Francisco exit as you approach the Golden Gate Bridge, heading north into Marin County. The vista has a number of good spots in which to stand that allow some stunning views of the bridge, although some areas are easier to get to then others. As an example, the first photo was taken from the parking lot of the vista. It is a lovely spot all on it's own with an abundance of flowers, well trimmed hedges, several different trees, and a small, Art Deco styled, outdoor cafe. What it doesn't have, oddly enough, is a great view of the bridge. LOL.

So, what's a girl photographer to do? Well, if she wants a really great view of her favorite bridge, in order to take a gorgeous picture, then she must remove the obstruction preventing her from taking the photo. Well, see silly me left home that day without my tree trimmer, so I did the next best thing. I walked down this wonderful brick pathway, that goes straight down to an overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point directly below. It is a wonderful spot to view and photograph the bridge, but the path is around the corner so it looks a bit hidden. Also, I found it a little steep, and when it ends there at the edge it is sand, not pavement, so it can be a bit muddy at times...but oh so worth it. On a clear day, like this one, you can see the tiny light from the Point Bonita Lighthouse, which is located to the left of the bridge on the Marin County side. I guess it was through my enthusiasm, that I found the drive to move beyond the obstacle, and reach my goal.

Nancy, author of the journal, "Nancy Luvs Pix," chose "Obstruction" as the topic for our next Round Robin Challenge. I immediately thought of these photos, when I considered that topic. We all have obstacles, and obstructions in our day to day lives. Construction that we must walk or drive around. Not enough hours in the day to finish all we have to do, then there is good old YIKES constipation. LOL. Although, I don't think that would photograph well, unless you are like me and you take your digital camera everywhere! No not the bathroom silly! I was thinking of the grocery store. I like photographing items at the grocery store, like different kinds of packaging. Like canned peas and boxes of Ex-Lax. LOL. Hey one never knows when a photograph of a healthcare product might be needed. Especially if someone else is doing the shopping, and comes home with Pepto-Bismo, instead of what you really needed. But that's a different challenge! LOL.

Come and join us for this awesome challenge...won't you? The date will be Wednesday, March 29th, and as always, you can post anytime between the midnights of that day. Below are a few simple requests that we ask of you, please take a look at them before you leave your RSVP at the Round Robin Journal.

1. Leave your first name
2. The FULL URL of the journal, or blog, where you will be posting your entry for the challenge. If you are posting at more than one blog or journal, leave us BOTH URLs.
3. DO NOT POST BEFORE THE CHALLENGE DATE! If you have a problem with posting that day, it's ok, you have up till one week after the challenge date to post your entry. Just drop me an email, prior to the challenge, and I will include your name on the Linking List, with a note regarding what day you will be posting your entry. :) Click here for a complete overview of the *Rules Of Play.*

Here is an example: Carly
Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly
http://ellipsissuddenlycarly.blogspot.com

We ask you to do this even if you have played every, single challenge we have done previously. The reason we ask you to do this, is so there is NO confusion on the day of the challenge. If you have already signed up for the challenge, and haven't entered your RSVP, as in the example, please return to the Round Robin Journal and resubmit your RSVP. It is a real help to me, you know how challenged I am when it comes to linking. ;) Ok,I hope to see you on the day of the challenge. :)

-OndineMonet
"Two View"
San Francisco, California
Winter, 2005
Mid-Morning

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Goodnight Winter



"Don't be dismayed by goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again, and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes is certain for those who are friends."

-Richard Bach

Today is the last full day of winter. I have enjoyed this season very much this year, while I wasn't able to get out as much as I would have liked, the time I did spend outside was lovely. One 48 hour period was especially nice, it was on February 8th and 9th. On Tuesday, the 8th, I went to the beach along the San Francisco coastline, between Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, to watch the Maverick's Surfing contest. The very next day, I went north toward Lake Tahoe, and played in the snow. I had never really touched snow before, so it was an amazing treat. Just imagine, sitting on a beach, in a swim suit, in 75 degree weather one day, and then playing in the snow, in 22 degree weather, 24 hours later. That's winter in California! :)

-OndineMonet
"Winter Morning/Winter Evening"
El Dorado County, California
February, 9th, 2006
Morning/Evening