Friday, February 26, 2010

Photo for today -- "Footprint"

Do you find footprints in the sand interesting, particularly when the light shows them off nicely? Perhaps it is a 'photographer's 'thing' .. the effect of light on otherwise quite dull aspects of the world

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Photo for Today -- "Double or Quits"

I can understand why two people needing access to an area would employ a padlock each but a third using wire? Crazy! It was just a waste area where a school had once been and there was free access from a pathway on the opposite side of the ground.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Photo for today -- "Dog's Fun"

Enough of IR .. now for a multiple image with three snips of time joined to illoustrate a dog having a whale of a time chasing seagulls at the beach.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Photo for Today ---'Canon Trees'

Still in Canon with this small collection of infra-red studies. I didn't catch the train since it was a private charter and I didn't push myself on the organisers. Later that morning I found an interesting little 15" guage railway which took me to a lookout over the gorge that the big train travels ... I will try and find a photo I took of it for another day. Meanwhile another Canon ....

Californian Death Spiral

A challenging and gripping heading for an OP-ED by renowned Paul Krugman in the NYT today.
The health insurance business is facing a crisis in California and I expect elsewhere becuase of the financial crisis. People who think they are healthy and less likely to need insurance coverage are dropping out or moving to to cheaper less coverage options. Naturally the people who know they are sick or likely to be hang on. So the proportion of uncalled on premiums of the healthy which pay for the treatment of the sick falls and the insurance companies increase premiums some as much as 39%. A death spiral for sure.

Caused of course by the natural instinct to look after oneself and to hell with the rest of the world. This is a basic right wing characteristic and promoted as a good thing. It isn't and merely provides the best argument I know for compulsory contributions to preferably a government run or government owned , non-profit making, organisation to handle health care for everybody in the country.

It beats me how a leading country of the world can be so blind to this basic need for its people. How a so called civilisaded people can be so primative in its approach to health care for so many of its people. For somebody living in a sensibly run country it is hard to imagine a situation where 20% or well over 45 million of one's fellow citizens do not have access to health care other than emergency situations. It is a situation really too horrible to contemplate .. yet the right wing think it is good .. how wrong can the right be. Oxymoron ?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Slow Boat to China

NYT today
Mearsk Shipping have discovered that by sailing their ships at 12 knots or 20 Knots instead of the previously standard 24knots they save considerable money, even when longer crew costs are taken into account, and also reduce emmissions.

While American States apparently are raising top speed limits it is suggested that driving at 55mph is better than 65mph. Here in NZ a couple of winteres ago I built myself a camper trailer to sleep in the motor camp close to the ski field I like, Cardrona, a field with plenty of beginners runs suitable for an old mad returning to the sport after an absence of several decade so feeling nervous and cautious.

Anyway because I was towing this light camper [ 4ft by 6ft ] I was supposed to not do more than 90k as opposed to the 100k permitted for the car by itself. I discovered despite this limitation my trip time only increased by about 15 minutes on a three hour trip, hardly worth bothering about. Fuel consumption remained about the same and I was saving on the backpacket bed costs, let alone a hotel cost. The trailer paid for inself with about three trips of four or five days each.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Photo for today --- "The River"

The River close by Canon Station

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Photo for today --- "IR in Canon"

One of a series of IR shots I took around the Canon Railway station while waiting for the train.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photo for today --"Beacons" an infra-red study

Not all cameras can shoot IR satisfactorilly. My Nikon 5700 doesn't supress the IR as much as my Panasonic FZ50 so with a proper IR filter, not just a deep red filter, Wratten 87 equivalent, I get the IR result without any redness. Exposures tend to be long such as one second at f/4 with 100 ISO so movement is blurred but the results are satisfying with some subjects.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Photo of the Moon for a neighbouring blogger

Acroos the road between my house and the harbour runs a train track and one evening I saw the moon and heard the train and rushed to place the camera on the concrete post which supports my front gate. I selected one second exposure and it has been modified a bit in editing. Camera and editing programme, a good one that is, are equal partners towards the final result.

Photo for Today -- "Back Beach"

Back Beach is now a snug little anchorage protected from the easterlies by reclaimation and buildings for Port Otago and the log trade, while to the west the bay curves around with a high hill to protect from westerlies over the uppper harbour. This morning it was foggy and little or no wind.

US Army Corp are stupid

Reading the following story it strikes me that the USMC are somewhat lacking in common sense. They have a reported 10,000 single parents and they don't set up a foster division to free up the soldiers they wish to draft away from bases where parents can both serve and look after their children.
NYT 12.2.2010
Single Mother Is Spared Court-Martial
Stephen Morton for The New York Times
Specialist Alexis Hutchinson's plan for care of her son, Kamani, while she was to be deployed to Afghanistan fell through.

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Published: February 11, 2010
Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook and single parent, was days from deploying to Afghanistan last fall when her mother backed out of an agreement to take care of her 10-month-old son for the duration of her one-year tour.

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Mother Refuses Deployment (November 17, 2009)
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Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Angelique Hughes, Specialist Hutchinson's mother, found she was unable to help.
Specialist Hutchinson’s mother, Angelique Hughes, had a child of her own at home and was also caring for a sick sister while running a day care center from her home in Oakland, Calif. Feeling overwhelmed, Ms. Hughes took the boy back to Savannah, Ga., where Specialist Hutchinson was based, and begged her to find someone else.

That is when Specialist Hutchinson did what might seem natural to a parent but to the Army was a serious offense: she stayed home with her child and missed her flight to Afghanistan. She was arrested and later charged with offenses that could have led to a court-martial and jail time.

On Thursday, Specialist Hutchinson received an other-than-honorable discharge, ending an impasse that had surprised many legal experts and spurred lively debate in military circles.

In a news release, the Third Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., said Specialist Hutchinson’s rank had been reduced to private and that she would lose some Army and veterans’ benefits.

The statement asserted that evidence from other soldiers and Specialist Hutchinson herself indicated that she “didn’t intend to deploy to Afghanistan with her unit and deliberately sought ways out of the deployment.”

Rai Sue Sussman, Specialist Hutchinson’s lawyer in San Francisco, said the soldier was prepared to deploy and that they would have rebutted those accusations at trial. “This resolution will give Alexis closure and the ability to move on immediately, without a lengthy trial and possible jail term,” Ms. Sussman said.

Legal experts said it would have been extraordinary if Specialist Hutchinson had been court-martialed over child care issues, saying they could not recall a similar case. However, hundreds and perhaps thousands of soldiers have been administratively discharged for such problems in recent years.

Some legal experts speculated that Specialist Hutchinson’s commanders threatened court-martial to send a message to other single-parent soldiers in the brigade. Last year, more than 10,000 single parents on active military duty deployed overseas.

“It could be that they have a ton of single parents and deploy regularly and can’t afford to have disruptions like this,” said Michelle M. Lindo McCluer, a former Air Force lawyer who is now director of the National Institute of Military Justice, a nonprofit group in Washington.

In its statement, the Third Infantry Division noted that there were many other single parents or dual-military families in Specialist Hutchinson’s unit who deployed to Afghanistan. “They have experienced similar challenges but have been able to overcome them so they could deploy with their units,” the statement said.

Specialist Hutchinson’s case unfolded about the same time as the division’s commander was embroiled in another controversy. In December, the commander, Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III, who oversees forces in northern Iraq, issued orders threatening to punish soldiers, married or single, who become pregnant. (Punishment was also threatened for sexual partners.) The general, who has sent home about eight soldiers from Iraq because of pregnancy, later backed off the threat of court-martialing such soldiers.

Raised in Oakland, Specialist Hutchinson was a member of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in high school and then enlisted in the Army upon graduation. She wanted, she said in a written response to questions, “to get away from home and try something new.” Her son, Kamani, was born in January 2009.

Specialist Hutchinson declined to say anything about the boy’s father, other than that he had never been involved with Kamani. Ms. Hughes said she believed he was a former soldier.

Single parents are required to file family care plans months before deployment. In her plan, Specialist Hutchinson listed her mother as a long-term caregiver and in October she used a two-week leave to take her son to Oakland.

But it took only a few sleepless nights of caring for the infant for Ms. Hughes, 42, to decide she was in over her head. “I was working a full day and then staying up all night with Kamani,” she said.

Ms. Hughes said that she called Specialist Hutchinson’s company commander to explain the problem and that he said the specialist could delay deployment for 30 days to find alternative care. But apparently the delay was never granted because Specialist Hutchinson was arrested in November when she returned to her post, Hunter Army Airfield, a day after missing her flight to Afghanistan. In January, she was charged with absence without leave, dereliction of duty, insubordinate conduct and missing movement.

Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Fort Stewart, said Specialist Hutchinson had been given a previous extension to work out her family care plan, though he could not say when. Mr. Larson also said that a “notable national veterans organization,” which he declined to name, had offered to care for Kamani during Specialist Hutchinson’s deployment, but that she refused the help.

The legal wrangling over Specialist Hutchinson’s case stirred much discussion on blogs, with sympathizers wondering why the Army would prosecute a parent struggling with child care problems and critics questioning the soldier’s motives.

Ms. Hughes has heard some of that criticism firsthand. “People have said to me: ‘She signed this contract. She’s supposed to go. That’s her first priority,’ ” Ms. Hughes said. “My response is: ‘I don’t think so. This is her child. This is her family. This is her priority. The military is a job.’ ”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Photo for today --- Photo trickery

I like this shot as an example of how my concept of digital photography works ... that camera and editing programme are equal partners towards the end result ... and a knowledge of what you can do in editing can help in the field.

I was early and picked my spot for the shot but somebody later decided to stand on the stone pillar in front of the railcar. But I also got a shot of the railcar further back on the bridge and used a portion of that to replace the part of the car hidden by the person. It involved a small enlargement to compensate for the car being further back for the first shot. For this I think Paint Shop Pro superior to Adobe Photoshop ... still I started with PSP becuase then I couldn't afford PS and have never really taken to PS .. likely the reverse would be the case for somebody starting with Adobe :-)

It amused me :-)

As a photographer I am interested in how other togs work and was amused to see somebody using the LCD screen in bright sunlight when the camera has an Electronic Viewfinder, EVF. I guess old habits from film die hard and I almost always use my EVF and only the LCD for occasional low and high angle shots.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photo for today --- "Freinds and Romans"

I wonder if the person who stuck this piece of wood in the sand saw the same thing that I did.

The inequality of unemployment

There is an interesting and disturbing op-ed in the NYT this morning by Bob Herbert where he points out the wide differences in the amount of unemployment in different decile groups.
It makes me wonder how similar groupings are being affected in New Zealand. I would expect it to be pretty similar which is disturbing for the long term effects of governments doing little or nothing to rectify the problem.

It seems to me that in the Unioted States we have a caring President and supporting party hamstrung by the political system from achieving any progress while in NZ it is the basic 'speak calming words while doing nothing'.