Red Rain

RedRain3394click to enlarge

Sorry about the late post today. Today was inoculation day here at the Institute and that always goes badly. As a part of our effort to keep current with society, every year about this time we inoculate for Stimulitis. Stimulitis as you know, is an insidious disease that can strike anyone, anywhere regardless of race, creed, tax bracket, shoe size, whether you voted for him or not,  or previous inoculations. Lots of people think that if you’d had the shingles inoculation you’re covered for Stimulitis but that’s not true. If you don’t get the shot and it hurts, by the way, really, really bad, you are liable to get it. Stimulitis that is. Symptom’s vary but largely they can be rapid pulse, itching in that spot that no human can reach in the middle of your shoulder blades, very wide eyes, not the spacing between them that’s a matter between you and your God, but the size they become, shaking of your head up and down rapidly, shaking of your head side to side rapidly, bleating for no good reason, talking so fast that you find yourself being slapped by people you hardly know, sweating, pretending you don’t have Tourette’s, believing you know everyone you meet, exaggerated symptom – thinking they like you, doing everything that you’re physically capable of doing, all at the same time, leasing table space at Starbucks, and lastly but not finally, denying any of the symptoms described above.

In medical talk it can be boiled down to simply being overly stimulated. Worked up like. Sounds simple, but its anything but. The causes are everywhere, some say that writing a daily blog can bring it on, but the jury’s still out on that one. The only hope you have of maintaining some sort of normality is to be inoculated. The serum we have developed for use here at the Institute is proprietary and as such we have applied for patents on it and all of its derivatives so we cannot divulge it’s make up but it’s pretty darn potent, for sure. As of now the only delivery system we have is injecting it directly into the brain stem with a 7 gauge needle, which as you are no doubt aware, a small child can stick their thumb into, and slowly inject approximately 130 cc into the amniotic fluid which affects one’s motor skills. The amniotic fluid is the fluid that fills your spinal column and allows you to run and skip with the other children. After receiving 130 cc’s though you can expect to be pretty screwed up for a week or so, medically speaking. Plus it is sometimes problematic plugging up the hole a #7 needle makes but we’ve found that the eraser off a number 2 pencil works just fine.

The fact that there is a more than small chance of death from using this method of delivery makes it very difficult to get the staff to cooperate. But as they are told as we tie them down, they should have read the fine print, it spells out very clearly their obligation to participate, willingly or not, in any trials, programs, tests, whims, or exploitation by the directorship of the Institute. So, like our butts are covered.

There is a small disagreement between the medical community and the Institute about whether amniotic fluid or something called Cerebrospinal fluid is the fluid found in the spinal column and then the Brain stem of course because they’re kind of near each other. Quite frankly we’ve never heard of Cerebrospinal fluid and my researchers assure me that the medical community, being sticklers for accuracy at the expense of making money, don’t know what the hell they’re talking about and we have a solid case if it ever goes to trial.

 We’ve chosen the image above which was taken off the deck here at the Institute, to be soothing and helpful in the inoculated’s  recovery, if they can lift their heads to see it that is. We hope to be back to out normal random posting time soon. In the mean time are you stimulated?

Moab’s Secret Shame

RockDepository0233click to enlarge

For Immediate Release

All Major Wire services; Print Media: On Air News services

Secret Government Rock Depository found in Southwest United States. National Park Service stockpiling incredible amounts of Native Sandstone rock formations. Acres of unused stone and rock carelessly piled in heaps out in the open, exposed to weather and other climatic conditions. Nations treasures at risk. Some stockpiles appear to have been in this conditions for months if not years. Officials refuse to comment. It is unknown how much deterioration of these resources have occurred but some groupings appear to have sustained weathering and damage because of their unprotected status. Shards of stone have been found around the bases of these gentle giants where it has simply flaked off due to neglect.  A National shame, and another American tragedy. Details follow.

We have found that near a small town called Moab in an un-named state there are thousands upon thousands of acres of unused rocks, rock formations, stones, some bushes, a hill and other natural stuff just sitting there in disarray. All of this hidden behind the innocent appearing name of “Arches National Park”, as if it were a legitimate place where you could go and even take your family to see honest stone and rock formations in their natural setting. It appears to have been carefully inventoried and cataloged and in some cases the identity of the various features are on small wooden signs still sitting in plain sight. Ancient and valuable arches are just left willy-nilly about the landscape where anything might befall them. Our researchers slash investigators have found huge holes in the earth where it appears rock formations of an undetermined nature have simply been spirited away, gone forever it seems. But where to? who knows. That’s what we’re trying to determine with this investigation.

One of our crack investigators spoke to a local resident under the promise of anonymity and because he wouldn’t give us his name no matter how much we threatened him, who spoke of mysterious trucks coming and going in the middle of the night driving without lights, and leaving with giant loads under tarps that literally left dents in the road. The tarps didn’t leave dents in the road, that would be dumb, the trucks left the dents in the road. The locals believe that rock formations, especially arches, are being systematically plundered and moved from here, to there. Where ‘there’ might be we’ll see in a moment.

Some of these informers, who we found later to be conspirator-esses, or conspirator-able, so we can’t fully stand behind their statements, believe that many of these formations, arches in particular, are bound for China and also the Far East. If so, what a calamity. What a travesty, our nations incredible, invaluable treasures being traded for t-shirts and flip-flops and cheap metal lawn furniture, I mean, Holy Cow. Wouldn’t that just frost you. But remember before you jump the gun and go all Rambo about this, remember, we can’t prove it. Yet.

On a more plausible note however one of our researchers whom we have a lot of respect for and trust in and kind of like actually, she being cute and friendly and sociable, with long dark hair and big eyes and likes long walks on the beach holdings hands , the Grateful Dead etc., visited another well-known American site called Natural Bridges and swears that there are now new bridges (also known as Arches) in place that she doesn’t remember seeing there before. So what do we  have here? What do we know? Arches are apparently missing from the storage site; new bridges, that we know now are also called arches, are supposedly being seen in another park miles away that weren’t there before. Is the National Park service removing these formations from this storage site, relabeling them and using them in some nefarious plan to enhance other National Parks for some type of financial gain? If So, where is the money going. Money coming ,we presume, from gullible, mis-guided tourists both foreign and domestic, paying fees to enter these augmented parks believing they’re seeing nature in its natural state, when it’s really not, because they’ve been fooled by an uncaring, money-grubbing, greedy government. That’s what we’d like to know. That’s the shame. It doesn’t take a mental midget to come up with the fact that 2 + 2 = hanky-panky. More on the hanky panky-ness of this to come in our next installment of this unbelievable story.

Our team of researchers slash investigators under go an extensive training and certification program here at the Institute and do not go out into the field until we’re certain they have been trained properly and can find their way home again. Every single one of our operatives have had instruction on how to use a cell phone, what roaming means, know where and how their GPS works, how to locate secret sources of information that might be titillating and get them on record, find and recognize gas stations and locate the button that opens the little door where you put the gas in, trick high-ranking officials into making incredibly stupid remarks and then taping them so they can’t weasel out of it later, that’s my personal favorite, and of course the proper and safe steps to take when they can not locate a restroom.

We have the utmost regard for our people and their training and don ‘t have the slightest apprehension nor qualms about sending them into harms way. Our training techniques have been pilfered from all the top-notch intelligence services in the world simply by Googling anything we want to know. That’s how we found top-secret info and incorporated it into our training program. Facts like, if you’re lost in the desert you should drink lots of water, and wear a hat. Also make great big signs out of white rocks that say “Lost. Help. Will work for Rescue,” etc. Training like that can save lives. Revealing more might put the lives of our agents at risk by disclosing too much of that kind of secret stuff. You know, we abide by that old WWll slogan “Loose Lips Make Flappy Sounds in the Wind”. One small slip of the tongue might cause the loss of an agent, but if you have a desire to know more about our clandestine methods just Google whatever pops into your head and an answer will appear. It works for us.

Well there you have it readers, another exclusive expose brought to you by our diligent, but crack investigative team here at IRK, where the normal is just a little different, bringing you news you don’t get elsewhere. Watch for updates on this shocking, shameful development. I know I will.

Boulders For Sale Or Rent

Hovenweep BoulderHouse6382click to enlarge

While looking for a suitable location to establish an annex of the Institute in a place that was more agreeable to our projects needs in the coming years our Reality Acquisitions team came across an interesting ad in the Anasazi Free Press.

Commercial Property For Rent with option to purchase in mid-town Hovenweep

Beautiful village and cultural center located on major artery between Chaco canyon and Mesa Verde. Wonderful climate with several perfect days a year. Guaranteed 360 sun days annually, more in the summer season

Commercial unit strategically placed, only commercially zoned space available for 750 miles cannot be sub-let

91 sq. ft. prime industrial space. Unit suitable for Industrial, Flex and Office use.  Possibly suitable for agri-related businesses, or can be converted to small restaurant, yoga space, or research facility. Close to granaries, storage facilities, employee housing and retail outlets. Very low fire insurance rates. Tax favorable to prime tenants.

All utilities included: water: rain collection pools bottom of canyon easy haul  2 eleven quart pottery jars full allocated to each unit monthly, additional jars available at local tariff rates, availability may be limited in drier centuries, Heat: Solar, radiant thermo-mass conversion process, automatic heat dispersal normally lasts thru mid-Jan then sticks and animal bio-mass may be burned in front of unit. Sewage: path to trees right of use granted to long-term lessee or purchaser. Electrical: see internet note below

Large labor pool available, hard-working, highly educated, dedicated labor force, strong able to carry exceptionally heavy loads long distances, wages lowest in surrounding area usual pay rate 8 pinto beans per 14 hr. day. Workers available 24/7/365

Parking for one donkey in front of unit, several off street spaces available for short time lease

No high-speed internet available at this time but is scheduled to be built out in 570 years. Unit automatically qualifies for free installation and 2 months free service.

Asking 91 bushels of maize per square ft. Negotiable. Minimum 20 year lease,  portion of maize may be put towards purchase price  for firms with acceptable credit rating. 800+ score necessary to qualify.

Well after reading that ad we’re excited. We’ve sent our crack team of negotiators to try and steal this property, I mean obtain favorable terms and hope to be opening our Southwest center soon. Watch for future press releases as conditions warrant.

Bluebird of Happiness?

Bluebirdof Happiness2583click to enlarge

It is one of the unwritten laws of the jungle that bluebirds are supposed to represent happiness. If you remember back to a time when you were younger and you saw the Disney movie with Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit and all the rest you’ll remember that Mr. Bluebird and we presume Mrs. bluebird occasionally, were always sitting on Uncle Remus’s shoulder. Whistling and singing, bringing good cheer. What could be happier than a bluebird?

Well I’m sad to say that there is a dark side to this myth. Bluebirds are not always happy. Much of the time they have  the same problems we all have. They just hide it better. I for one was shocked by this revelation and I’m sure you are too. Unhappy bluebirds, say it isn’t so. Underneath those deep blue colors they wear so confidently it turns out that much of the time bluebirds have the blues. Things don’t always go right for them and when they believe no one is looking it shows. The body language says it all, kind of like those pictures of Lady Di when things were heading down the old porcelain commode.

Just for conversations sake lets say that these two bluebirds are Maurice and Edna. They’ve been together for eons. On the surface they’re the happiest couple in the neighborhood, but no one sees the real story lurking just under those iridescent colors. The stints of bingeing at the feeder, the fights over spending too much time catching worms instead of sharing nest time with the little ones, the lack of chirping together like they did in the beginning, it’s a sad tale for sure. One can only conclude that there is no place where everyone is happy or even content anymore. Looks like it will be a sunny day though and that should help just because it will be too pretty out to stay unhappy.

Yellow Flowers

YellowFlowers2click  to enlarge

One of my titles as a working photographer is “Nature Photographer”. Loosely translated it means a guy that shoots stuff in Nature that is part of Nature and not part of some non-nature place like the 5 Boroughs. Not that there is anything wrong with the 5 boroughs that a HFA of nature wouldn’t cure, but some folks simply don’t need Nature or even like it. OK for them.

There is a lot of space out there that surrounds non-nature places and it has got to be filled up with something, otherwise everywhere else would just look like Detroit. Much of what was used to fill up all the other space that wasn’t concrete, was growing stuff, or plants, to use a scientific term, and some of those plants have become known as flowers. As there are still some people who don’t realize that flowers in all their many shapes, sizes and colors are part of Nature, it is my job to photograph them in all their glory so those folks can see them and be impressed with not only flowers themselves, but Nature in general. What they don’t realize though is the many difficulties faced by the photographer in pursuit of that endeavor.

First of many problems is just finding flowers, they just don’t grow on trees you know, wait, some of them do actually, I forgot about that, but you get my drift. They can occasionally be difficult to locate so when you do find some you need to be ready to shoot them immediately because you never know how long they’re going to be there. Some big stupid-hoofed ungulate may come along and just eat them. Then all you have left is stems and what good is that? Nothing I tell you so shoot’em when you see them.

Another problem is one that is of a more technical nature, a complication or a botheration if you will, and that is the auto-focus used on cameras today. A short explanation of the problem is this. There is a tiny little wizard, more like a genie really, that lives in your camera and he never gets to come out, not ever, and that can make him peckish at times. In Nikon cameras it is always a male genie. I think Canon has a female one but I’m not sure as I don’t shoot Canon stuff. His job is to look at the scene you have selected in your view finder then after making some sarcastic remark like “What, you’re going to shoot that? Are you nuts, that looks like a dog’s breakfast.” etc., and he always has an accent like one of the guys on that car show on NPR. That is so freaking annoying. He then picks out something within the image area you’ve selected and arbitrarily makes up his own mind on what he thinks should be in sharp focus. The fact that he is leaving the really important feature in your shot completely out of focus doesn’t seem to bother him in the least. He can be quite obstinate in his selection and will occasionally need a stern talking to where you explain to him exactly ‘where the bear crapped in the buckwheat’ and what will happen to his little decision-making apparatus if he doesn’t straighten the hell up and focus on what you want to shoot. Sometimes if he really doesn’t want to listen to reason, banging the camera he lives in against a rock a few times will loosen him up to where he feels cooperative again. It also makes me feel a lot better.

Unfortunately in the shot above the yellow flowers, which were quite lovely by the way, were left out of focus but their buttery yellow color was so gorgeous I felt the need to share them with you. It is my hope that you can see past the distractions and appreciate this little bit of Nature in all it’s glory. I guess I’m just a flower child at heart. Now if you would excuse me I need to have a conversation with my camera again.

Boys Are Different Than Girls

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You know when girls get together to hang out it’s all “oooh, I like your shoes” and “Have you lost weight?” and “How’s your no-good husband?” They have an easy manner about them that is definitely girlie. They have no need for all of this physical masculine kind of stuff that guys do.

Guys on the other hand are different. For one thing they don’t give rat’s hind end about each others shoes or whether you’ve lost weight unless you have and they no longer get to call you ‘Lardo”. That can be a topic of conversation for a moment or two. “Hey Lardo, Whatcha doing, losing weight, ya toad-bastard.” Guys also have a much more physical way of greeting each other, high-fives, bumping fists, and in some cases rearing back and slamming their heads together as hard as they can. This is normally reserved for guys you know well and like. If this is done by someone you don’t know or like very much, you normally just shoot them.

The last time I saw two girls rear back and slam their heads together it was in a bar in Singapore. Now that was something. I’ve still got scars from that night. But it is not girls normal behavior. Some of the communication difficulties between men and women stem from the fact that guys are just different. For the most part guys don’t get it that women don’t understand that guys tend to be less delicate than they are and as such they act differently. Just ask any cage-fighter. They’ll tell you that if you can’t butt heads with a buddy you ain’t squat. Now if you tell that to a girl she’ll just look at you as if you are from another planet, says Mars for instance, and need serious therapy.

Well, I’ve thought about it and it’s a mystery we’re not going to solve today so I say ” You leave us to our head butting and we’ll leave you to talk about your no-good husbands.” and by the way, your shoes don’t make you look fat.

Ain’t A Gonna Shoot Ol’ Moulton’s Barn No More

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As is often the case in life everything seems to have two sides to it. One side is good, the other side drives you gonzo nuts. This is particularly true for photographers that spend a lot of time alone with that part of your brain that likes to make you crazy. You know, like when it makes you think of something you did that was really embarrassing, so embarrassing that when you think of it you make an involuntary noise out loud, always when there are other people around who look at you like you’re some kind of weirdo. Or in my case besides the thinking of embarrassing stuff, my brain likes to remember one phrase in one song and it starts playing it in my head and won’t stop no matter what I do. For the longest time that song was “The spirit of New Orleans” for me. Once I was reminded of it days could go by and all I could hear was ‘Da Da Da the Spirit of New Orleans” then every so often another fragment of a verse would appear but soon it was gone and it was back to the same five words. Over and over and over.

Just outside of Jackson Hole there is a group of old houses and barns they call Mormon row. The most famous of the buildings there seems to be the barn pictured above. Apparently it was owned by a Farmer named Moulton. Hence it became known as Moulton’s Barn and has appeared on every calendar that has ever been printed anywhere English is spoken. Everybody has to go to Mormon’s row and shoot old Moulton’s barn. Me too. I don’t care if everyone else has taken that picture, I hadn’t so off I went to Moulton’s barn. The mistake I made was leaving too early and getting there while it was still dark. I parked and waited for the sun to come up. I didn’t want to fall asleep so I turned on the radio and the very first song I heard was Dylan singing that song that had “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.” in it. Of course being half a sleep what I heard was “I ain’t a gonna shoot ol’ Moulton’s barn no more”. That was probably six years ago, but every time I see this shot I’m stuck for the next 48-96 hours listening to that single phrase repeat itself. Its playing right now as a matter of fact. Fortunately I have a volume control for this and can turn it way down if it gets too crazy making. Back a long time ago when I liked whiskey better I could remove it entirely but the cost of that treatment got too high. So far though I’ve been lucky in that all the songs that have infected me have been cool to start with. Here’s a version to help illustrate the problem.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkvrnNzVTNs  Now don’t blame me if all you hear is Maggie’s farm for the next couple of days. The guy in this clip obviously suffers from the same dilemma, I wonder if he is a photographer too. Can you imagine the torture if this worked with rap. In fact knowing that it doesn’t work with rap just made my whole day brighter. See, good thoughts win out.