Trump craps on our Constitution, rips off taxpayers and Congress does next to nothing!

❝ In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies…What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.

Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

Trump says “Jump!” Pentagon says “How high, boss?”

❝ On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.

But on this particular trip, the plane landed in [Prestwick] — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.

Prestwick needs more dollar$ to keep from bankruptcy – and Trump needs Prestwick to stay in biz to even hope to jack up his overpriced Turnberry Resort to profitable.

RTFA for all the slimy details. The worst of it is the Pentagon rolling over and sticking all four feet in the air for the Fake President. Paying million$ for fuel when our military is one of the biggest providers of jet fuel in the world is absurd – and taxpayers continue to pick up the tab.

Trumpolini knows his meal ticket is getting ready to disappear. The carrion-eating flock in Congress lets him getaway with graft no president has ever tried on; so, why not push it another notch. Directly crap on Constitutional writ prohibiting payoffs and kickbacks to his business and properties. A criminal enterprise that the original constitutional congress figured might be tempting to some crooked politician. An impeachable offense written into the foundation of our laws…that the fake president not only flouts, he gets aid and comfort from brass hats in the Pentagon along the way.

Thanks to UrsaRodinia and Ignorance is Strength

Traveling to Ladakh – part 2


Om Malik

❝ When I went to sleep last night, I was excited about the prospects of the new day. I had no idea that it would turn out to be one of those red letter days that teach you pretty much everything about life. Now that I think of it, it was a good parable for life, and a reminder of how despite our illusions, we are never really in control.

❝ The day started for me very early – at nearly 3 am. It is — in the words of my friend Liam Casey — the jet lag witching hour, when you lie wide awake in the bed, looking at the roof of the room. In my case, I turned and looked outside.

And what I saw was magical. A sky that was wholly adorned with stars. It was the most beautiful night sky I ever saw. I’ve never seen so many stars ever before. Never in California. Never in Death Valley. Never in Iceland. To be honest, never anywhere. It was simply fantastic. Stars were like the sparkling pearls embroidered with abandon into the black velvet that is the universe…

When Om is traveling, his letters, his posts are as magical as his photography. The talent he expresses with his vision of the world around us is as special and alive as any description or analysis.

Restoring historic neon signs in New Mexico

❝ There are nine new reasons to rediscover Route 66 in New Mexico. In 2003, nine vintage Route 66 neon signs have been restored to their former brilliance. From the wonderful TeePee Curio Shop sign in Tucumcari, to the wild and crazy neon Rotosphere in Moriarty, to the elegant Lexington Hotel sign in Gallup, the beauty and artistry of classic neon is once again dazzling and delighting Route 66 enthusiasts.

❝ There was a time when Mercury Meteors, Olds Rocket 88s, and the Pontiac Star Chiefs would trek through a galaxy of neon on Route 66. The streets with illuminated with a palette of ruby reds, sapphire blues, and emerald greens that broadcast promises of adventure, discovery, and gratification. Neon cowboys, Indians, sombreros, teepees, cactus, longhorn steers, thunderbirds, swallows, wiener dogs, ponies, and other critters and characters would come out at night to greet visitors. Places with neon lit names like the Bow and Arrow, the Royal Palacio, the Pig Stand, the Lariat, the Oasis, the Arrowhead, the Desert Sun, and the Trails West called out with invitations to stop and experience something unique.

RTFA. Just another reason traveling around our state remains fun. Sign restorations continue as do restorations on any old motel that comes up for sale.

First London-bound freight train departs China

The first freight train from China to London set off on Sunday on a journey that will cover a staggering 7,456 miles.

It departed from Yiwu West railway station in Zhejiang Province, China, and will arrive in Barking, London, having been trundling along for 18 days.

Its route will snake through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France and finally Britain.

The service is being run by the China Railway Corporation. Britain is the eighth country to be added to its list of destinations, with London its 15th city.

The new route is set to boost trade ties between the UK and China with goods such as clothing and bags delivered along the re-established Silk Road, connecting Europe and Asia, according to The Indian Express, which cited a report from Xinhua news agency.

The focus on strengthening trade by expanding China’s railway infrastructure and network is part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy, announced in late 2013.

I don’t think anyone asked Donald Trump for planning permission. Or ever will.

Pic of the day – Finding my lens, Om Malik


Click to enlargeOm Malik

My recent visit to Faroe Islands turned out to be life changing in more ways than I had thought. The first break through came on the second night of the trip and it has allowed me to focus on what matters, and why some tools work for some people and some don’t. It has had a remarkable impact on how I make photos. Here is how it happened.

After a long day two, I came back to the hotel and downloaded my photos to the laptop, only to find many of them were unsatisfactory. I had been using the (24mm – equivalent on full frame) 16mm f/1.4 Fuji wide angle lens. Many of the vistas that looked great when standing at the top of the hill, felt so much less inspiring when viewed on the desktop screen. They looked flat and lacked the three dimensional feeling I aspire to in my photos and other creative efforts. I felt discouraged, because of what seemed like white noise. The puffin photos weren’t good either and despite walking to the very edge of the cliff and lying in cold and wet grass for a while to capture the moment. (A handful made the final cut, but frankly I could and should have done better.)

Later in the evening, Dan Rubin, who is one of the instructors at the f8workshops, and I ended up talking about the day’s work and my frustration with the pictures. Dan suggested that perhaps what I like is to shoot is tighter and highly isolated views. He pointed out that I feel so happy with photos I make with my 50mm focal length lens. His suggestion: switch to the f2/50mm full time and use it not only as my general purpose lens but also for travel and landscape photography.

Forget about the wider views and instead focus on composition and strive to find ways to make photos that give the feeling of wide sweeping vistas and vastness, but leave that to a viewer’s imagination. You don’t have to put it all there in order to engage the viewer. And just like that, it all clicked in place.

RTFA to continue this voyage of discovery – or even better, wander over to Om’s site and wander back in time through photos and feelings about his trip to the Faroes.

10 adventure trips for every photographer


Click to enlargeChad Copeland

If you’re making travel plans for 2016, these ten places are the best adventure trips for photographers to explore and photograph this year.

For photographers seeking inspiration, or adventure-seeking travelers looking to explore, we’ve put together a list of our favorite adventure trips to take this year.

Beyond their beauty, we believe these locations have more to offer than you might initially think. From hidden caves along the Oregon Coast, to snow-capped mountains in Japan, the following locations are not only worth photographing, but also traveling to see a few sites you might not know exist.

One of the delights of making it to being an old fart is memories – and visual reminders/your own photographs – of the places you visited that stick in your mind for their beauty. I’ve been to a few of these places and they are among my favorites.

Thanks to Om Malik for the reminder.

Whale whisperers


Click to enlargeAnuar Patjane

Diving with a humpback whale and her newborn calf while they cruise around Roca Partida … in the Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life, so we need to accelerate the incorporation of the islands into UNESCO as a natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big-game fishing.

Amazing photos – at the gallery containing this, the 1st Place winner in NatGeo’s Traveler Competition. And also click on the link just under the photo above to go to Anuar Patjane’s photos.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Ground broken for California’s 130-miles high-speed rail project

Gov. Jerry Brown and state political leaders on Tuesday celebrated their perseverance over lawsuits and skeptical lawmakers and voters as they ceremonially started work in the Central Valley on the initial 29 miles of the nation’s first high-speed rail system.

Speaking to about 700 supporters of high-speed rail in a vacant lot in Fresno, the governor was cheered when he called critics — about 30 of whom protested outside the fenced-off festivities — “pusillanimous … that means weak of spirit,” and said the state owed it to the future to think big and invest in projects like high-speed rail.

Brown noted that the State Water Project, BART and the Golden Gate Bridge all faced opposition in their time. “We need to be critiqued,” he said, “but we still need to build…”

While high-speed rail backers made speeches and signed a symbolic section of rail in lieu of cutting a ribbon or wielding golden shovels, a new Congress whose Republican majority has vowed not to contribute more federal funding to California’s high-speed rail project took office in Washington. They include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, whose district would be bisected by the fast rail line…

Surely no one expects a 21st Century Republican to favor transportation, logistics and commerce considered modern in most nations.

Along with the financial challenge comes the need to complete the project without significant delays or massive cost overruns, and the question of whether state legislators have the political will to keep the project going when it runs into trouble.

The current construction is expected to be completed by 2018…The authority expects to award a contract this month for the next phase, which would take the tracks south to Bakersfield. Once that stretch is completed, with work overlapping the initial leg, the plan is to work on a connection to Palmdale, not from Bakersfield but from Burbank. Not only is that a critical stretch in connecting high-speed rail into the Los Angeles area, but officials believe it could operate as a profitable line even before the connection to the valley is completed.

By 2017 or 2018, the agency expects to have a 130-mile stretch through the valley that can be used as a test track for high-speed trains. And by 2022, it expects to be able to run trains from Merced to the Burbank Airport. Connections to San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center and Los Angeles’ Union Station would be finished by 2029.

Critics…waved signs with such messages as blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!

In the same time period China is scheduled to build several hundred miles of standard rail – only travel at 110mph – for Thailand connecting Bangkok and major cities to Laos and southern China. Myanmar’s main industrial areas will be linked to the deep-sea port of Dawei. 2000 miles of rail will be built in a trilateral project for India, Myanmar and Thailand – linking those nations to Laos, Cambodia and VietNam. The ASEAN north-south corridor will be extended down to Malaysia and Singapore.

Besides ASEAN nations, there are six more partner countries – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, combining half of the world’s population.

Good thing ain’t many of them as backwards as American conservatives.