Category: My Musings

The Amazon Region I Love

210110-202634-JEH21I have been fond of the Amazon region for a long time.  Marcia and I first visited Peru and rafted on a short section of the Urubamba  River in 2001.  It is a partially navigable feeder river of the Amazon.  When we were there the Shining Path was somewhat active and there were armed guards on the streets around our hotel in Lima and at the restaurants we ate in.  Our tour director pointed out the head of the Shining Path when he walked down the street in front of the restaurant … same person described by Darcy in her book.  He was staring right at me on the other side of the window as he walked by. 

In 2003 we traveled into the Amazon jungle region in Ecuador.  We spent time traveling the narrow channels within the jungle in a wooden dugout canoe.  We were in the area, not terribly far from where Darcy had owned a kayak tour business further upstream along the whitewater region of the river.  Our tour was downriver in the flat brown water area.  The company we traveled with stopped taking tours there later due to the drug trade, etc.

In 2006 we returned to Peru and cruised on the Amazon River upstream of Iquitos.  Hmmm, when I looked into the boat pilots station I noticed a rifle leaning against the wall in the corner.  I assumed it was for wildlife.  Heat, humidity, bugs and all, it is still a trip that I would like to repeat with a better waterproof camera this time.

Even before traveling in the Amazon region, I liked to read about it, and I still rarely pass up a good book about what others found and did while traveling there.  The book Amazon Woman is one of the better ones and if you are interested I encourage you to read it.  She kayaked it from source to mouth after we had been on the river, and I was surprised at the state of life along the river, even in the areas we had visited.  When she traveled the river in 2013, it was still just as rustic, dangerous, and difficult than when we were there, but then again, we were only in the safer regions. 

I had other thoughts as I read this book.  Long distance hikes, like along the Appalachian Trail, are very different from her 4000 mile kayak trip down the Amazon.  Hikes along the Appalachian Trail are very social where you have many interactions with fellow hikers along the way.  Kayaking down the Amazon is a very lonely trip, even with two fellow travelers.  Her Amazon trip comes closer to being similar to quarantine for the same length of time.  Her loneliness and thoughts are more like some of us have been having as we stayed isolated for the last 10 plus months.

These Times

I’m not looking back to the way things used to be since that is not the way of the future.  Time moves on like a river, until it dries up.  We have to live in the present and anticipate changes.  Those changes will be different, some good and some not so good.  All we can do with photography is capture the present that we saw as time flowed past, which isn’t much these days.

Depressing Times

200708-153850-JEH20The times are looking pretty dark.  Coronavirus is still spreading wildly across our nation under the lack of leadership and no unified plan of action.  The U.S.’s response to the pandemic makes us no better than a third world country when compared with what other countries have accomplished.  Even in Pennsylvania where the Governor has done a creditable job in managing the situation he has had to fight ignorant Republicans to keep them from throwing out the plan.  I wonder if they have looked at what that has accomplished in other states?

Even if we get the local situation under control and work to keep it that way, it is still going to be painful for us as long as parts of the country are wildly out of control since people travel.  It also is going to keep the pressure on our economy and prevent us from getting production, etc. back on track.  We are fighting a global war and it won’t be won under the lack of leadership from stupid “carrot-top.”

The debts built up under the current administration have now doomed us for all time, at least during my lifetime as well as my grandchildren’s lifetimes.  Most taxes will need to go up and most of the money will go to paying interest, replenishing stockpiles, etc.  That means less funds available for maintaining the infrastructure.  Forget about funds for building new capabilities.  Any other schemes for handling the debt will most likely destroy the value of the dollar and increase the cost of everything.  There is no free lunch.

And while we are at it, don’t forget about the looming costs associated with adapting to the effects of climate changes.  The future costs are staggering.  And don’t forget the likely costs of wildfires and potential hurricane damages this year.

Personally, I find all of this to be quite depressing and I have lost interest in photography, especially with nothing of interest or new to be photographed.  For these reasons, I sold off cameras and lenses, etc., recovered what I could from them financially, and went into a lower phase of retirement as I hunker down with a lot less photography.

Looking Forward

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Many of us, myself included, are looking forward to changes as the state & county governments as well as Homewood approaches opening up.

Me, I’m going to enjoy my new haircut, done by yours truly.  I’m also thinking about not going back to the old ways.

For those who haven’t listened to David duChemin, they should.  Take a listen to his latest podcast about gargoyles.  I’m thinking that there are a lot of changes that need to be made to our politics, to our way of life,  to my photography, and to my blog.

Gloomy Morning

It is a gloomy morning as I write this.  I had planned to take the week off from posting anything or making any pictures as I thought about some major changes with my photography.  My thinking hasn’t been going well since my changes are dependent upon going off campus and finding other things to photograph.

With the very slow, extremely cautiously slow release of the constraints on my coming and goings, I can’t make any changes until it is all over and I go out and try some different things.  Unfortunately, the economic and social aftermath of the pandemic in conjunction with the demonstrations and the woeful response of the government to all of the above, I am so depressed that my photography might dry up to nothing.  To counter these feelings I decided that I had to get a camera out and make something … anything to counter my depressing thoughts.

With that in mind, I decided to do some more experimenting with a style of B&W that I had been considering for the possible printing of a small book or magazine.  That is what I did with these pictures that I made while looking out the window.

PS, WordPress is changing the editor and I need to learn how to utilize it properly; i.e. to make things look like my previous posts. I don’t like it so far.

We are Responsible

200526-060314-JEH20The image is no accident.  It was deliberate as I try to figure out where my photography is going.  It is all a blur these days and I am responsible for its future.

Life is no accident.  Nature is evolving continuously; but isn’t it true that all now is the result of man.  Man has been changing nature day by day, altering what happens at each step now.  Everything is changed by everything else.  All things, all actions, are connected and man has disrupted the natural ecosystems.   

Covid-19 as we know it and its impacts are an example. The output of its actions are all strongly influenced by man, whether we wear our masks and physically distance ourselves, etc. 

Man now affects everything that happens.  Man, and what was done, or not done, is now responsible for our future.  Collectively, and individually, we are all responsible.  We control everything, to varying degrees, through our words, our votes, and actions, or lack of actions.

Grasping

200523-081434-JEH20I’m grasping for reasons to photograph.

I’m grasping for what to photograph.

I’m grasping for styles to use.

I’m grasping for what cameras to own and use.

I’m grasping for why and how I should continue with photography.

Just a Blur

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 Life is just a blur, passing by.  Many are wishing for a return to the way it was.  It never will be the same.  The fear of the virus surging again and another lockdown will be hanging over their thoughts day and night.

And for those who no longer fear the current virus, there is still the economic aftermath to deal with, and if not that, there will be the political situation and the decaying of democracy and the increasing impacts from climate changes.

Reality

No matter what others think and say, I see reality.  I captured these views this morning when others saw a nice sunny day unfolding.  Me thinks too many don’t listen and look closely at what is going on around us since they hope that if they pay no attention, it won’t happen on their watch.  It is either that, or they believe in fairy tales and liars.

Pandemic Impact on Educational Systems

200502-075701-JEH20As with all of our systems, Covid-19 will have a major impact on our educational systems.  Everything from preschool through our graduate schools are going to undergo changes.

At first people just think about how they are going to maintain physical distancing and change everything from transportation to classrooms.  But, that is only the tip of the iceberg.  The big impact is going to be on funding.  Many things will cost more but at the same time our local and state governments will have less revenue to pay for the new costs.  Revenue from income and property taxes will all be reduced due to the impacts of the pandemic.

Considering that most school systems were already underfunded and undergoing revenue stress it is really going to be a lot worse now.  How will the schools respond?  Will they increase online teaching?  That will work in some cases and the current efforts at doing that will help clarify what works or doesn’t work.  Will online teaching enable them to consider laying off teachers, reducing their fleets of buses, closing dorms and dining rooms and housing to cut costs?  It could, but what about all of those people who would lose their jobs and their incomes?  What about sports?  Will children now grow up without learning how to work as teams and relying on others?  What are the costs associated with that?

Dealing with all of these questions will not be simple.  For example, what if a local school system or university decides to expand online teaching and then reduces the number of required teachers, bus drivers, infrastructure, etc.?  That translates into more people without incomes and less taxes for the school system due to increased unemployment.  It becomes a spiraling down of the whole economic system and will require other savings that will also have additional deteriorating impacts on the economy.  Taking it to the extreme, if you go down that rabbit hole you end up with a smaller population all living in self subsistence mode on farms with at-home teaching, or not.

What is the answer or solution?  I don’t know, but I do know that dealing with the problems will require a very careful weighing of all of the potential unintended longer consequences.  We all need to think our way through our recovery and consider solutions at large or we could end up making it worse.  Recovery will not be simple or quick.  It is going to take many years in dealing with interlocking systems of systems and the best talent we have to manage it.