Saturday, June 10, 2017


As a kid they were filled with hours of unabashed fun and adventure, especially in the summer.  My folks had only two rules for us, "Don't make us have to come look for you" and "Be in the house before the street lights come on."  That was the greatest sense of freedom I would ever have.

As a young adult I spent years indulging my athletic desires, swimming, biking and running for hours along the Southern California coast.  I had ambitions of being a competitive triathlete so I would convince myself that all those hours and miles were really "hard work" but in all honesty it was another form of freedom.  A bit tortured but I was free to do whatever I wanted.  Unfortunately genetics dealt me a harsh hand and running down the Kona coast as part of an Ironman race never came to be.

Today, on the B side of my life, most of my Saturdays are anything but freedom.  Living on a small ranch I find myself a slave to the demands of a ranch life that for every one thing I fix, I find three more things that just broke.  And with a handful of equines, there's no rest for the weary.  Sure, I could be like those trailer trash folks that are so lazy they just let their properties disintegrate around them, but when you have animals one does not have the luxury of putting off responsibilities such as feeding, watering and "mucking".
So this Saturday was no different.  Up before the sun for a little "me" time consisting of coffee, some scripture reading and a couple of quick video games.  "Brain games".  Trying to stay ahead of dimentia but it's a close race.  So after all that, it was feeding time for the horses and then off to pick up about a half tun of wood slabs to finish our fence.  Yep, a long section of fence line that I've been installing these tall pieces of wood.  I call them "tree crust".  They take the tree and cut off the edges, like how kids have mommy cut off the crust of their sandwiches (I never got that).  They're about 8 feet long and can be kinda heavy.  So I take these bad boys and cut them down to about 6 to 7 feet and then wire them to our existing fence.  Seems straight forward but keep in mind we're talking sharp objects here, circular saw, wire cutters, pocket knives and the curse of my father that any manual labor begets blood.

So in between putting up the fence I stopped to help my wife with mucking the stalls.  Now for you suburbanites and city folk, that means cleaning up HUGE piles of horse manure.  It's like a giant kitty litter box but on EPIC proportions.  But let me tell ya, nothing says "love" like his and hers muck rakes and wheelbarrows.  A couple that mucks together, .....  Nah, I better not finish that.  Oh, by the way.  It wasn't until I became a rancher that I learned it was "wheelbarrow", not "wheelbarrel".  Yep, learning something new all the time, like septic tank, leech field or well water.

So back to the fence.  By this time the wind started to kick up.  Keep in mind we have very sandy soil so it was definitely kicking up a storm.  I could hear the scarecrow guy saying "It's a twister!!"  Believe it or not I actually turned to see if Dorothy and her dog were running down the road.  A small chuckle to myself and it was back to work in Dust Bowl.  Eventually I finished the job.  I'm not sure if it was stiff muscles or the layer of dirt that mixed with the sweat of my body that made every movement a task unto itself.  The thought of a hot shower sounded nice but the most effective thing I could've done to clean myself was to soak in a bath of CLR and polish off a bottle of ibuprofen.  I opted for the hot shower and the glorious thing about them is they have an amazing way of reminding you where ALL the cuts you levied on your body are.  That lovely stinging sensation as the dirt and scabs are washing away by soap and water is something to be treasured.  Well, that shower was the last of my suffering.  Now it's wine and Netflix.

So, sure, maybe life has a lot more demands on me then it had in the past but I will say the tasks that consume my Saturdays are far more gratifying.  Don't get me wrong I do

miss the child's play and it would be great to be able to do an "easy 10" again but I don't think I'll turn in my shovel just yet.  Ranch life is quite an adventure.  I thank God He wakes me up every morning to see the sun rise and to discover new things.  I just wish those things would STOP BREAKING!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

And miles to go....

You know, when it comes to hiking up mountains there are many paths that lead to the top.  Some are long, others short.  Some are relatively easy while others are downright terrifying.  Some paths make you feel serene and in touch with your spirit while others will make you shout every expletive known to man.  When attempting a new mountain, common sense will say we should reach out to others who've previously summited that mountain in order to get a better sense of the challenge that lies ahead.  You know, kinda like seeking the wisdom of an elderly person who's been around the block a few times.

Well, it's interesting when you speak to a hiker about the various paths one can take to get to the top.  Not once will that person describe a path in terms of it's virtue.  Nope, it's all about what's hard or easy, what's safest or the most dangerous.  There's no judgement, no assessment of some innate value.  They're just paths that have different consequences depending on what you choose.  Really, it's just a matter of whether or not you make it to the top.  Not how you got there. Well, ok, unless you're dropped off by a helicopter.

So why is life so different?  There are infinite number of paths in our lives, some easy, others challenging.  Certainly no matter what path you choose, each will have their own rewards and consequences.  Remember, they're just paths.  We really can't say one path is better than another.  Each path will present it's own share of hardships and victories depending on the person who travels it.  What may seem easy to one person may be more challenging to another.  The same path that provides great success to one may bring devastation to another.

To look at someone and cast disparaging judgements on them for the path they've chosen is simply ridiculous.  You could have a young person, slow on the uptake, that seems to be frittering their life away on an aimless path when in fact that path could be leading them to a life alternating experience they wouldn't otherwise have known if it wasn't for that one particular path.  Now that same path may not work for me but it certain did for that one person.

Instead of judging the paths people take in life, how about just encouraging them along the way on their journey?  We're all on a journey.  We're all on our own respective paths and not one is really better than another.  Sure, I may periodically fall into the trappings of jealousy over the person who seemingly has it easy and is enjoying the fruits of very little labor but I don't know where they've been nor do I have any idea where they're going.  They're just moving along, just like me.

So here's to everyone who's still on their journey.  May it always be a long road to the top.  Why, you say?  Because the real joy in life is not where we're going but how we get there.

Love you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fresh set of eyes

In the work environment when we struggle with a problem sometimes the best solution is to get a "fresh set of eyes".  When we've stared at a problem for days, months or even years with little to no progress, a new perspective from someone else may be just the thing we need to get over the hump.

When it comes to achieving joy in our lives we may feel like our problems just perpetuate, that there's no real solution in sight.  Why am I not really happy with my life?  What can I do to get the kind of life I want?  No matter what we try or what we indulge, there's still that nagging emptiness that we just can't seem to fill.  I bet most of us will reach out to a close friend or that one family member who may be able to provide us all the answers, a new perspective if you will.  But how often are we frustrated when that go-to person can't make any more sense of our lives than we can?

As a child I saw the world in a particular way.  All things were fresh and new, as if they had never happened to anyone before.  The joy and excitement found in life's adventures filled me up and sustained me through my childhood.  But as I grew into adulthood it was easy to become disenchanted with life.  The same old same old didn't do it any more.  It was easy for me to fall into that trap of trying to grasp that next big thrill in order to fill some perceived hole in my life.

But along came fatherhood.  As a new father many of the same things I experienced as a child I now had the opportunity to see through the eyes of my daughter.  Disneyland, Christmas, days at the beach or the park - they all brought back distinct memories for me as a child.  But when I had the chance to experience them all over again through the eyes of my daughter it brought a whole new unique experience for me, a different, more fulfilling joy than I ever experienced as a kid.  Maybe it was maturity but most folks that know me would laugh at that conclusion.  I believe God opened my mind and my heart to see, "with new eyes", the life I was actually blessed with.  

Now with the arrival of my second grandson I'm experiencing the thrill of life all over again through the eyes of my two precious little boys.  Seeing my oldest grandson play with an empty box, pushing race cars across the floor, or just tossing a ball have filled me with an incomprehensible joy because I'm seeing life through his eyes.  The joy I feel is his joy in experiencing all things new.

Perhaps that's the trick.  Maybe we just need to put a fresh set of eyes on the life that's being experienced by the ones we love.  I'm not going to say I'm an old guy but I am old enough to know I've been around the block a few times and that REAL joy isn't necessarily found in my own personal pursuits but in the adventures of my little grandsons.

So this Thanksgiving season I wish to say that I'm so incredibly grateful and so incredibly blessed that I've been given new eyes to see the beauty and joy that's in this world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Mighty strange times we live in, huh?  First the Cubs win the World Series, and now a reality TV star has been elected President.  When the Chinese came up with the proverb, “May you live in interesting times”, I don’t think they could’ve imagined this. 

So, what’s next?  I tell ya I’m at a loss as how to process this.  If you’ve read any of my blogs you’ll know I’m pretty up front about things and can be a bit “TMI” at times.  So what I’m about to share is just my observations and thoughts on current events here in the US of A.  The honest truth is I’m conflicted, disappointed and very much concerned over the welfare of this once great country.

First things first, I didn’t vote for the Donald.  Now before anyone gets twisted in one direction or the other hear me out.  The only reason I voted for the other candidate is simple – from the sage advice of Michael Corleone, “Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.”  Right or wrong I figured that Clinton was a known entity.  Reprehensible in so many ways – honesty, integrity, moral character, you name it.  But it was my, perhaps naive, belief that someone like her in office could be contained by other elements of government.  I even entertained the idea that she would eventually get impeached and that I was really only voting for the Vice Presidential candidates. 

I suspect most Clinton supporters will rant about how horrible things will now become, that Armageddon is at hand and our dogs and children are no longer safe and male bosses will go back to slapping their female secretaries on the ass.  To them I say, “What did you expect?”  Plain and simple, Trump is a freak show on wheels.  But you have to ask yourself a question, what has happened that the natural, most logical course of action by the majority of the people of this country was to elect an ego-maniacal, self-serving, unqualified sycophant?  How bad have things become that electing Trump made sense?

I will say “we” have become so delusional over the last eight years about the condition of this country.  We had a black President, yes, I’m pointing out color, who convinced many of us that he was going to bring the country back together, that it was all about inclusion and harmony among all.  But these past eight years have been nothing but divisiveness, segregation and finger pointing.  Just look at last night’s election reporting.  It blew me away how the media focused almost entirely on the color, gender and intelligence of the American voters.  If you have two people with opposing views on a topic and you start by labeling them by their color, gender, orientation or whatever, the issue has now taken a back seat.  Through the manipulation by the media these voters will look across the table at each other, not seeing a person, but rather a black, Hispanic, white, male, female or whatever label that’s been applied.  To point out that women without college education were voting for Trump was one of several ways the very liberal media created bias among the population.  Should anyone really care who voted for whom?  I personally don’t.  So why the need to make that discrimination?

Although I’m not a fan of Trump I will say that I believe he’ll bring back some form of accountability.  Being a business man and understanding that performance is what affects the bottom line I think he has the potential to force people, businesses and government to step up and take accountability.  Last night’s election was a tremendous backlash over the way this country has been run over the last eight years.  We would do well to keep that in mind.  Now is not the time to finger point or make idle threats.  It’s time we all get involved in our communities and live righteous, upstanding lives.  Stop looking for handouts.  Stop seeking favor because you’re different or feel entitled.  Own your own condition and stop blaming others for your lot in life.  YOU are responsible for you. 

The only thing this government is responsible for providing us is life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness.  Many have tried to remove that word “pursuit”.  But we create our own happiness.  It is not given to us.  Until you learn that and embrace that you will continue to live a miserable, self-centered life.  Remember, the strength, character and will of this country was founded in that word “pursuit”.   If you honestly believe that the world is coming to an end, that there’s no future to be had for any of us I suggest you at least do this – pursue integrity, righteousness, compassion, service, honesty, good will and above all, love.  If we are really going to “make this country great again”, we have to start from the bottom up.    

Just my two cents.

Image provided by

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Right Tool for the Right Job - Sleeklens Presets and Brushes

Hey my fellow photogs!

Wanted to share with you a great new set of tools that I think you should add to your post-production work flows.  The good people at Sleeklens have an amazing offering of Lightroom and Photoshop presets and brushes that will really bring some snap to your photos and help you elevate your photography skills to the next level.  They have a wide range of packages of LR and PS presets and brushes geared towards all types of photography and techniques such as portraits, landscapes, products, textures, moods, seasons and affects.

I've had the opportunity to use their "Through the Woods" workflow for LR and I can honestly say I've found my new set of favorite tools.  Wow!  The wide range of presets, from the dramatic to the serene, are simply fantastic.  I know the challenge for many of us landscape photographers is capturing the "feeling" we have when we photograph landscapes.  The extensive preset options available in this package really makes it easy to find that perfect preset that brings out exactly what we are trying to capture.  The supporting adjustment brushes give the photographer so much flexibility when it comes to fine tuning an image.  This is really one of the best collection of post-production tools I've ever had the privilege to use.

Getting down to basics - the cost?  MORE than reasonable.  Installation and use?  About as easy as it can get.  I really encourage all of you to visit Sleeklens and check out all their product offerings.  You won't be disappointment.  See my before and after photos below.

Friday, October 7, 2016

It's Inevitable, Part 2...

This was a post from my "Guten 365" blog back in 2012.  I've made a few modifications and updated to mark the times.  Certainly this is not a comprehensive list.  Feel free to add as you see fit.

  1. When you're running late, you'll hit every traffic light.
  2. A piece of toast or open faced peanut butter sandwich will always fall face down.
  3. Your transmission will fail shortly after you receive an unexpected bonus from work.
  4. Your phone will go off mute just as you're baby talkin' to your dog or yelling at your kids.
  5. A person with 30+ items, a checkbook and no understanding of the concept of exchanging money for goods will step in the express checkout line in front of you.
  6. Your car will need gas as you're late for an engagement.
  7. The one time your team is on TV they lose horribly.
  8. For you photographers, while in the middle of Photoshop-ing a highly complicated retouching project that you spent four hours on, your computer will suddenly crash.
  9. While creating your patented turkey and cheese sandwich you discover there is no cheese. 
  10. The day you feel like being lazy and making it a "movie day", all you can find on TV are Lindsay Lohan or Hillary Duff movies, or Swamp People marathons.
  11. When you're hoping to get their voice mail, they pick up.
  12. When you need them to pick up, you get their voice mail.
  13. When you're surrounded by a bunch of people, with no means of escape, the chili you had for lunch will kick in. 
  14. The day you decide to take a vacation day from work, an office emergency will require you to come in.
  15. On the day of your big social event, a zit the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro will appear on your face.
  16. The restaurant you've been Jones-ing to go to will be closed for renovations the night of your big, romantic evening.
  17. After a long week and you're heading home from work on a Friday and you need some rockin', pick me up tunes, the only songs playing on the radio are songs by Air Supply, Coldplay, Oasis or Rush.
  18. Your absolute, most favorite shirt will get a stain.
  19. When you DESPERATELY need toilet paper there will be none.
  20. Of the 60 days of record heat and dryness, the day you plan a barbeque is the one day it rains.
  21. The toner cartridge of your printer will run out when you have to print a report for your boss.
  22. That item you've spent months saving for and finally bought will be on sale the day after you bought it.
  23. Your pants button will pop off as you're frantically getting ready for work.
  24. Smoke alarm batteries will die in the middle of the night ("CHIRP, CHIRP, CHIRP!!")
  25. Your baby's diaper will explode as you're heading out the door.
  26. The biggest, widest person imaginable will be assigned the seat next to you on the airplane.
  27. The drunk person will always have the room next to yours.
  28. The car that refuses to drive the speed limit nor move over will eventually kick up that one, tiny rock that nicks your windshield.
  29. The post office clerk will put up the sign "Use Next Counter" just when it's your turn.
  30. Your boss will call a meeting on a Friday afternoon.
    The bottom line is, when you need something to be this way, life will almost always conspire against you to make it that way, or so it seems.

    Monday, July 4, 2016

    It's OUR fight...

    Right about now most people are up and prepping for a day of celebration that'll consist of mass quantities of eating, drinking, games and fireworks.  Facebook is already getting slammed with posts wishing everyone a safe and happy 4th as well as a call to remember our service men and women who are out there protecting the freedoms we enjoy.  But there's one thing that's missing, something far more important and critical to the reason why we celebrate this day in the first place.

    I'll say it right now - we've lost the meaning of the 4th of July.  I'm not talking about those street interviews where idiot teens and 20 somethings have no idea what the 4th of July means.  I mean collectively we've failed to see the importance of this date.  Somehow we've gotten to the point where we feel we're fulfilling our patriotic duty by merely posting photos of the American flag or saying thank you to our military personnel.  Our freedoms are not just ensured by those who put themselves in harms way.  Our freedoms are guaranteed by ALL of us.

    When I was commissioned in the United States Army I gave an oath to protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign AND domestic.  We are so fortunate that some of our men and women are willing to don the uniform, pick up a gun and fight and die for our freedoms against foreign enemies.  As United States citizens we are obligated to pick up the fight here at home against the domestic enemies that threaten our way of life.  I'm not just talking about the radicalized rag heads or the self-absorbed discontented who go on shooting rampages in order to get their 15 minutes of fame.  I'm talking about those enemies that are willfully destroying our opportunities to purse life, liberty and happiness.

    A Christian really can't call themselves a Christian unless they thoroughly read and study the bible and practice it's virtues.  Similarly a United States citizen can't call themselves a citizen unless they read, study and practice the obligations set forth in our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address.  Over two hundred years ago a bunch of folks on the east coast decided enough was enough and took over their country from a tyrannical government hell bent on exploiting and oppressing it's people.  I fear in some ways we're being faced with a similar situation.  We have a president that is clearly more concerned about the interest and well being of those people determined to destroy the safety and well being of this country.  Most all of the elected individuals we've put our trust into are nothing more than self-serving, petty, immature children that feel compelled to indulge in their wants and desires at the expense of the people they are suppose to serve.  Throwing temper tantrums and sit-ins, blocking legislation that would help citizens because someone else proposed it, shutting down government that's led to citizens losing their jobs, all because they got their egos bruised - is this truly government of the people, by the people and for the people?

    Folks we have a responsibility to fight agains those who seek to oppress us.  It's time we stood up to Washington and our so called leaders and say enough is enough.  We need to stop this mob mentality that just goes with popular opinion, as determined by the media.  We need to force our elected officials to force change.  We need to put a leash on our congressmen and women as well as our president.  We need to put people in office who aren't afraid to take a stand even if it offends someone.  And as American we need to accept the responsibility of fighting for and demanding this freedom.  It's no one else's fight but our own.

    So for this 4th of July take a moment to not only
    say thank you to a vet or knock back a few beers, but take the time to reflect on what it means to be an American and the responsibilities we ALL have in maintaining this country as it was intended.  Our freedoms are not the responsibility of someone else.  Freedom is something we all must fight for against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.