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Monday, August 15, 2016

New Photos Available

This photo of mother and baby langurs taken in India was just named Natural Habitat Adventures' Wildlife Photo of the Day.

These colorful lily pads were photographed in Botswana's Okavango Delta.


An old farm truck sits at a date farm in Chino, California, near Death Valley. 

All three images are for sale at  and at  

All proceeds will be donated to the scholarship fund of Save the Elephants to make it possible for a deserving pastoralist student to attend high school. Details are at

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why I Hate Telephones

I really dislike telephones. The only reason I can think of is because I see telephones as an intrusion into my introvert life. 

Many introverts hate to answer the phone. I don't like that, either, but what I really hate is making a phone call. It doesn't matter whether I'm calling my bank, a friend or a business. I just hate making phone calls. I suspect the reason is that it forces introverts to reach out to people, something that can make us uncomfortable, especially if we are forced to call someone we don't know. Similarly, to us introverts, incoming phone calls are an unwelcome intrusion. It doesn't matter whether the phone has an old-fashioned obnoxious ring or a cute tune; it's still an intrusion. It doesn't matter who is calling. My disdain of the telephone has nothing to do with who is calling (although I refuse to answer a call from a number I don't recognize). It isn't the person who is calling. It's the phone I don't like. But I have to admit, I really despise calls from telemarketers, politicians and charities.

The advent of cordless phones and cell phones is a mixed blessing. It has given me an opportunity to do something else -- let the dogs out, dust the furniture -- while I'm on the phone. So I can let my mind wander and feel that I am accomplishing something while on the phone. But with a cell phone, people expect to be able to reach me at any time, any where. "Why didn't you answer your phone?" they ask. Usually, it's simply because I didn't feel like it. Of course, I don't say that, making up an excuse such as I was outside and my phone was in the house, or I didn't hear it ring.

Apparently I'm not alone in my dislike of telephones. A quick Google search turned up numerous articles by like-minded people who detest using a telephone. I even have a negative reaction to incoming text messages, although not as strong as to phone calls. Anything that interrupts my day -- whether I'm taking a nap or cleaning house or watching television -- is to be avoided.

When asked my preference for being contacted by a business or my doctor's office, I always select e-mail or text. Those two communication choices are a godsend to introverts, since they lack the sense of urgency that comes with a ringing phone.

I do enjoy talking with my daughter on the phone, and catching up with a friend every few months, but despite the fact I like to hear from these people, my initial reaction to the sound of my phone 'ringing' is to take a deep breath and wonder why someone is calling.

Cell phones, of course, are everywhere, so there is no escape. They are handy in case of a breakdown or emergency, or to let someone know I'm on my way someplace, but I don't think we introverts will ever really accept these modern intrusions into our lives.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Sad Day for America

Donald Trump is one scary person.

I'm not talking about his orange skin and fake blond hair. I'm talking about his lack of compassion and his lack of common sense, as well as his alleged close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his total lack of understanding of world affairs.

He, unlike presidential candidates in the past, has refused to release his federal income tax returns. Why? What is he hiding? Is it, as reported, his close ties to Russia?

He has verbally attacked a disabled reporter, women, Mexican immigrants, Muslims and the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed fighting for his country. He asked a woman and her crying baby to leave one of his rallies. He is so thin-skinned that he responds forcefully to every perceived slight. He makes an off-the-wall comment, then he immediately says he never said that and that his words were 'twisted' or 'misstated' by the news media. He refuses to accept responsibility for his words. Everything is always somebody else's fault. He makes up things he never saw and that don't exist, such as video of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center. He is fond of saying that "lots of people" have told him something, but he can never identify who those people are.

He knows nothing about international affairs, insisting that Russia won't invade Ukraine, when in fact Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimea two years ago. 

I am no fan of Hillary Clinton, but do we really want a president who is so quick to anger and lash out at anybody he thinks has treated him unfairly or 'attacked' him? Do we want a president who is clueless about military and foreign affairs? Do we want a president whose wife plagiarized parts of her convention speech from Michelle Obama and who lied about her university studies?  Do we want a president so thin-skinned that he feels he must attack anybody who disagrees with him? Do we want a president who said that women should be 'treated like sh**'? Do we want a president who publicly makes fun of a disabled reporter and who mocks the looks of women? Is this the kind of president we want leading our nation's diplomacy and who will have access to our nuclear codes? A president who openly lies, who refuses to apologize when wrong and who refuses to back down? And do we want a president so pompous and arrogant that he claims to know more about the Middle East than anybody, and who when asked who advises him on foreign affairs, states that he advises himself? In short, do we want a president who is clueless about foreign affairs, mean-spirited and erratic?

I get that Americans are fed up with our government, and they are looking for a change. I, too, am tired of the partisan politics that are paralyzing our government. I am tired of being ignored by politicians who respond only to what their big donors want. But Trump is not the answer. He is not going to care about average Americans. Just look at how he treated tenants in his New York apartment complexes. Look at his history of refusing to pay contractors who did work for him. And why are news media ignoring the charges of his alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl? True or not, don't these charges deserve to be investigated?

I agree with the many Americans who don't trust Hillary Clinton. She has too many questionable actions. But she does at least have experience on the world stage, as a former first lady, as a senator and as secretary of state. But beyond his lack of experience, lack of knowledge and lack of compassion, as well as his inability to compromise, Trump's erratic words and shoot-from-the-hip behavior are truly frightening.

This is an election in which I would like to vote for 'none of the above.' But that isn't an option. Either Clinton or Trump will be elected to lead our country for the next four years. I will hold my nose and vote either for Clinton or for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Someone with Trump's thin skin and explosive temperament and need to always be right is not suited to assume the office of the most powerful person in the world. I do not trust a person who repeatedly asks "Why can't we use nukes?" to hold the codes to launch nuclear weapons. 

It's a sad, sad day for America when the best we can find to lead our nation are two people with no integrity.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Bakery and A Bicycle

This is perhaps my favorite photograph from a recent walking trip through rural England. 

I found this nostalgic site while wandering the streets of the village of Lacock, which dates back to the 1250s. Despite its small size (the population is about 1,250 people), Lacock is a popular tourist destination.

When I spotted this old-style bicycle parked in front of a bakery, I immediately saw symbols of a long-ago England: a single-speed bicycle with a  wicker basket on front parked in front of a bakery housed in a very old stone building.

Prints of this image are available at  and at

As always, all proceeds will go to the Save the Elephants scholarship fund to help deserving students attend high school.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Let's Focus on our Common Traits, Not our Differences

I recently read an article about some Muslims, both everyday people and imams, in France and Italy who attended Sunday Mass in solidarity with Christians. Some Jewish worshippers also attended.

In this time of deep religious divides and religion-fueled terrorism, this simple act has really touched me. Muslims are at last speaking out against those who are using a corrupted version of their religion to slaughter others. By standing together with others who share their belief in one God, these brave people are not only speaking out against the actions of Islamic terrorists. They also are showing the world that they will not tolerate having their religion highjacked by radicals, thereby painting all Muslims as terrorists in the minds of some.

I got into an argument on Facebook a while ago with a friend of a friend who accused me of condoning terrorism because I have a Muslim friend. My friend is no more of a terrorist than I am. She was born in Germany to Turkish parents, now lives in Turkey, is not religious at all, speaks three languages and works in tourism. Do you see anything in this description that makes her a terrorist?  And exactly how does my having a Muslim friend equate to my condoning of terrorism? I also have friends who are Jewish, Christian, agnostic and Buddhist. What terrible things must that mean?

Islamic terrorists no more represent mainstream Islam than members of the Westboro Baptist Church represent mainstream Christianity. Both groups are using corrupted versions of their holy books to attack others, either physically or verbally. Both groups need to be denounced by those of the same faith. How about starting with the Baptist organizations insisting that the Westboro 'church' stop calling itself Baptist? How about all people of faith condemning and denouncing the radical fringes of their religion?

I hope that more people take up this practice of attending worship services of other religions. It is a small step in beginning to bridge the gap between religions, reach across religious divides and hopefully start to ease some of the suspicions of others who are 'different' in their beliefs.  

We need to stop focusing on how we are different -- Christian or Muslim, black or white, police or not police, Democrat or Republican -- and focus on the things we share. It doesn't matter what our skin color or religion is. Aren't we all after the same thing -- freedom, safety, the ability to live our lives in peace, and to pursue our dreams for ourselves and our families?