Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized video

Learning About YouTube

I took some video while traveling through the Southwest for my book. Not much since I was focused on taking publishable quality photographs. Still, there is some video I could share.

Five years ago I made a video on dividing agapanthus that has so far gathered 116,000 views. Link below. It was a total pain to produce, between setting up the camera, editing, getting music, making sure the subtitles were correct, and on and on. Oh, and the video made me look like I had green teeth.

My goals are simpler now and YouTube is making it easier to put content on the web than before. I can take a video and upload it directly from my phone or tablet. To prove that, I just took some video of life here at Madhouse Coffee on Durango at 2:30 in the morning.

Notice the icon at the lower right in this video? Click that to subscribe to my channel. I need a hundred subscribers before I qualify for a less ugly URL. Right now I have two subscribers, although they may be at an older account. This may take a while!

Much of what I will do is one-take stuff, editing still not a favorite of mine. I have several current video clips of my recent trip to the Kokoweef Mine Cavern Complex at my rockhounding site:

Dividing Agapanthus Video from Five Years Ago — don’t subscribe through this video

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Happy Jewelry From Jwinaia

This is high-end and fun costume jewelry from Jwinaia in Italy. Freshwater pearls to make Happy and Sad ghost earrings? Very pretty stuff.

I found out Jwinai through Wallpaper Magazine. You don’t have to be a subscriber to get on Wallpaer’s e-mail list. Their issues are well laid out although all of the furniture and merchandise they show is affordable. They are best at architecture. I do wish they hadn’t gotten into fashion but they did.

Here’s what they say about Jiwinaia:

“Jiwinaia: There’s something spooky about the Milan-based jewellery label’s most recent collection – new to Dover Street Market London this Autumn. Korea-born Marisa Jiwi Seok’s latest offering features freshwater pearl earrings hand-painted with bright enamel. Pairs resemble floating ghosts or freaky frowning clowns. Boo!”

“Happy & Sad Clown Chunky Earrings in 18-ct gold plated rhodium and brass with baroque pearls hand-painted with enamel, by Jiwinaia.”

More, with a spider theme working for Halloween.











This is a link to their page but most of the fun pieces are sold out. I wish them well.


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Careless People

I’m dealing with a local dental practice that has treated me very poorly after first saying they would help.

When my Dad was in private practice he treated people with dignity and respect. He and his partner, Dr. Hedges, weren’t perfect, but they were committed, dedicated professionals.

I remember how happy I was as a child when Dad and I would walk through a mall and have people approach him to shake his hand and thank him for his help. He worked all sorts of crazy hours and I was never bothered by that, he was off helping people.

My Dad and his colleagues made sure that one of them was always on call. Day or night, weekend or holiday, Dad and his associates always made sure their patients were covered. A mother with a baby with an earache at two in the morning would get their answering service at first, but that service had the designated doctor’s number ready to dial.

In my last few years at John Gray, part of my job was as a troubleshooter. John or Jim would talk directly to anyone with a concern and then send me out whenever it would help. There was no restriction on me on either time or money to fix a problem. My salary was considered the advertising budget as we never took ads out in magazines, newspapers, or on the radio. No need, our business was based on at least 90% referrals.

It’s easy to stop caring, to let others talk for you, to pay people to cover for you. That’s one main reason I broke my book contract, since it became obvious my editor was making excuses for his bosses who wouldn’t come forward. I feel sorry for people who have to keep their jobs by apologizing for their employers.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

Update: I am so mad with this treatment that I will name names for the first time in over five years of blog posts. This my first complaint against a business at this site. I regret posting this.

The dental practice in question is Balle and Associates.

I was told on a Friday afternoon at 4:30 PM that my follow up appointment for Tuesday of next week had been cancelled. Not postponed, mind you, but cancelled. I had been waiting three weeks for that appointment. Apparently, the doctor thought my condition needed a specialist and that there was no need for me to come back. The receptionist said I could come in for a teeth cleaning, however, there would be no consultation.

The problem is that I had other questions and that no one asked me how I felt about being cancelled before a weekend with no one to call. I had hoped to establish a relation with a local dentist and now it seems I will have to start again without this office willing to help. Meanwhile, the soreness and the pain in my mouth goes on.

My questions were:

1. Your teeth cleaning method seems interesting but I want to know if it is compatible with patients who have problem teeth. Is there any harm in using it if one has occasional pain in an area or an uncomfortable feeling from same? Your office wanted me to schedule a cleaning for next week but insisted that my consult was off. How can I go forward with a procedure when I have questions?

2. Is there a relation between frequent cleanings and avoidance of major dental work? In my experience, crowns fall off, bridge work cracks and comes apart, and teeth fail sometimes for no reason. I have had a tremendous number of cleanings yet major, painful, costly work keeps coming up. Is there any study linking cleanings to prevention of dental work?

3. What about an MRI to better understand what might be causing my occasional tooth pain? You’ve done X-rays but perhaps an MRI would give a better, deeper look.

4. I also wanted to game plan future work, as I want to know ahead of time what I need to get done and the time frame to do that work. Again, I wanted to establish a relation with a local dentist so I don’t have to fly back to San Francisco again.

I am an anxious patient but I have never contested a bill and I always pay cash out of pocket. I now find out that this practice doesn’t take calls after hours and that they have no working e-mail address to get in touch. My last e-mail just bounced. It is extremely unprofessional to cancel an appointment with such little notice or explanation. Good companies don’t work this way and they don’t allow line personnel to tell clients what the owners or managers should say for themselves.

Balle seemed nice at my first appointment but after all of this time lost and no notice I feel completely abandoned.

Monday Afternoon Update:

I’m sad to report that no one has called or e-mailed me my promised referral. I found another e-mail for them, sent them a message, and that e-mail has not bounced. Yet no word. I’ll report tomorrow on what happens. If they don’t respond then I will leave this message up as a warning to others. I’m still galled by how unprofessional this is. A total waste of three weeks.

Tuesday Afternoon Update:

With no phone call or e-mail by noon, I called their office. I didn’t want to talk on the phone because I feared I would lose my temper. The staff person didn’t know about any referral but said she would check my file. After ten minutes on hold she came up with a name and a phone number. I wish I didn’t have to force them into something they promised to do on their own.

Staff once again tried to get me in for a tooth cleaning. Cleaning yes, follow on appointment, no. I said cleaning didn’t seem to make sense while I was still having pain. I’ve often had painful, bloody cleanings. Cleaning is always an aggressive procedure. She said that they had teeth cleaning done on a variety of patients with different problems but would not address those with pain. She said the hygienist could answer my questions. Really? That’s what the dentist was supposed to do, to answer questions, approve a potentially risky procedure, and take responsibility in case something went wrong. This is all incredibly unprofessional and I continue to be angry and upset.

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organizing writing Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips

Outguessing Google

I’m taking on new responsibilities for inFocus, the Vancouver company I have written and edited for since 2015. Our clients are law firms throughout the United States and Canada. We build their websites and maintain them, filling  them with content tailored to their individual practices. Our writing includes practice area pages, blog posts, and press releases. I’m primarily the editor, although I have done a great deal of writing myself and even work around video.

Chief among my new tasks is coming up with new topics for our writers to write on, fresh material the only thing that seems to increase search result rankings. There’s a variety of ways to come up with new ideas, many of which I am only starting to think through. The owner has has produced several pages of techniques for me to look over. This is challenging, sometimes mind-bending work. And work we have to keep to ourselves, just as Google keeps its methods quiet.

I’m an independent contractor at inFocus, not an employee. A benefit working for a Canadian company is that you don’t have to take out self-employment tax. Normally, you have to figure out and then pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your own. But Canada had no relation with our social welfare systems so you only have to pay Federal tax. And rarely do I make enough money from writing to pay Federal tax. Well, back to the editing.

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Some Day

Peace in the Valley

by Thomas A. Dorsey (not to be confused with Tommy Dorsey of Big Band fame)

Oh well, I’m tired and so weary
But I must go alone
Till the lord comes and calls, calls me away, oh yes
Well the morning’s so bright
And the lamp is alight
And the night, night is as black as the sea, oh yes

There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

Well the bear will be gentle
And the wolves will be tame
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh yes
And the beasts from the wild
Shall be lit by a child
And I’ll be changed, changed from this creature that I am, oh yes

There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

non-fiction writing Uncategorized

The Self-Righteous Self-Help Industry

“We are truly the sum of our own choices, nothing more.”

That’s the distillation of every self-righteous self-help advocate who has never had a loved one suffer or die from mental illness. Or had a loved one killed when someone blew through a red light. Or had a friend or loved one brought down by a crippling disease like cancer. To these zealots, life is simple. Problem is, life ain’t simple.

My mother and grandfather didn’t choose to have dementia. They didn’t ask to die from it. They didn’t choose how they felt, which was probably anxiety and confusion and feeling lost. The sum of our choices?

I have a 60 year old friend in Folsom who is still tending to her child, now a fully grown adult in his thirties. It would break your heart to see him as he approaches you, with his staggering, clomping, limping gait. His head swivels in an aimless manner while he walks, looking at everything, looking at nothing. His face wears a constant smile, but it’s vacant and punctuated by random grunts and other other unidentifiable sounds of disease. The sum of our choices? Damn you!

John Lennon said that life happens when you are making other plans. Exactly. Life happens. We control what we can but life makes its own plans, too. Too many self-help advocates make money off of misery as they blame people for things they would desperately like to change but can’t.

I didn’t choose to have my nightmares. I don’t choose to have them now. But I can’t count how many totally clueless people nearly drove me to suicide with suggestions that I was responsible for the way I felt. That I could control how I felt by simply thinking better. Making a choice to feel better. Perhaps these people are more mentally ill than I am.

You try to act normal after you wake up from a nightmare in which you just smashed in a baby’s head with a baseball bat. Live with that! I feel tremendously for vets and anyone else who suffers from PTSD or whatever caused their problems. Whatever caused their problems. You see, you might understand what started something but finding the off switch may prove impossible, no matter what you try. That’s life.

Finding the off switch is like trying to find a light switch panel in a huge, dark room whose floor is littered with painful tripping obstacles you can’t see. These self-help experts seem to know where that light switch is, you just need to listen to their advice. Their life is undoubtedly a mess. But they know how to get your life straight.

According to them, you could find that switch with more talk therapy, less talk therapy, more medicines, less medicines, meditation, Scientology, organized religion, exercise, hypnosis, or whatever seems in at the time. Oh, and most importantly, buy their book. As if that would do any good. Because their outlook is based on blaming you. You’re the one making bad choices, so suffer from that until you listen to them. And if you did listen to them and their advice didn’t work, well, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough. You’re still to blame.

This self-determination mantra might work for mentally healthy people, whatever healthy means. But while they peddle their self-serving, self-righteous shtick, they drive anyone tortured by mental illness further into madness by saying that one can control the often uncontrollable. They debase people depressed over losing a loved one or those fighting the blackness that comes from having a miserable, crippling disease. Isn’t a little charity in order?

In the Inferno, Dante is allowed to move through Hell and eventually return, leaving the condemned to the Pit. As Eliot translates it, a wretched soul cries out to Dante upon seeing him start back. “Now, I pray you, by that virtue which leads you to the top of the stair, think of me in my time of pain.”


What Is The Real You?

None of us wants our personality judged when we’re drunk, high, or have lost our temper. “That’s not who I am.” Fair enough. But what if you always want a drink, a drug, or live in a violent environment? Who are you then? What’s your true personality? The person you are during years of addiction? Or the person you were before? What’s the real you? With years passing and the changes that happen naturally because of that, can you even remember what you were before?

We all know people are different at twenty than forty. And that a person acts differently if they are an alcoholic, addict, or live locked up in a threatening place. They’ll get back to normal once their life gets back to normal, right? Maybe. So what are they now, in their present condition?

I started Zyprexa for my violent nightmares in 2007 and it helped immediately. It saved my life. And it drastically altered my personality, at least that’s how it felt to me. Drugs like Zyprexa or Prozac aren’t temporary and short acting, they build up in your blood stream and stay with you as long as you take them. They’re not like a drink or a fix, you are under the influence for perhaps years.

Although Zyprexa reduced the number of intensity and severity of my nightmares, it never ended them. They’re still with me but less bloody. And Zyprexa wasn’t my first attempt at ending them, I’ve been on psychoactive drugs of all kinds since 1990.

With Zyprexa I became less contentious, less argumentative, less inclined to make a point. Actually, not inclined to make a point at all. I walked away from insults and slights I would have never tolerated before. I didn’t care anymore. I also didn’t care about many things that were important, that were worth fighting for. More difficult to explain was that I felt my brain changing. A physical-like feeling which was very disturbing. But I couldn’t live with my nightmares so I accepted my new personality.

The question, though, again, is what makes up a person’s personality? I worried tremendously when meeting new people. I didn’t want to start any new relation. Who were they meeting? I wasn’t myself, I was something else. A new person would only see me in this drug altered way. Would they accept me when I went off the medicine and got back to my real self? Or would that self return?

Zyprexa failed me last December and I went off it because it was no longer working. And I gave up alcohol on doctor’s orders in April of 2018 for health reasons. I’m still drinking coffee but stopping that has always left me tired and stupid. I should be as clear as I was before the drinking and the drugs. The real me. Right? And that’s a good thing. Right? But who was I all those last few decades? Something else. I don’t know what.

Life is now back in my face. Drinking and medications put a blanket over everything. A soft focus on the world, distance. That distance is now gone and I’ve noticed this every time I’ve stopped prescription medicines or drink. Everything is painfully close along with tremendous anxiety. That anxiety starting for me in the third grade. Well, here I am again. The real me. Right? It’s been a long road back.

“The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.” J. Krishnamurti


Photography rocks and lapidary Uncategorized

The Kokoweef Mine and Cavern

Read some outdoor stuff at my rockhounding blog:


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art Uncategorized

Remington and Maynard Dixon

Maynard Dixon (internal link) is my favorite western artist. Many consider Remington the best. Perhaps. No one, however, created a better sense of place than Dixon. When asked about Remington’s view of the West, Dixon answered that Remington understood horses. Indeed he did.

Maynard Dixon

Fredric Remington


Update: On The Eye of A Horse

In Remington’s work, the horse’s eye projects distress on the verge of terror. Very similar to  the horse ridden by the Knight of Swords. This is from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck. The horse is looking back at this moment, concerned, perhaps wondering what this fanatical, occult driven charge will lead to.







I can’t draw  but I sometimes doodle. Years ago I scratched out an attempt at that horse’s eye. It’s a misshapen eye but I got the horse looking back. Question: Are we all looking back in terror?

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books non-fiction writing organizing writing Uncategorized

Book Contract Cancelled

Yesterday was the worst day of my writing career. I was trying to get my book contract cancelled since I no longer trusted the people who lied to me over 14 months. It took eight hours of angry, bitter, inflamed back and forth correspondence for them to let me go.

This morning I received the cancellation letter and I am free of them, their double talk, their hidden marketing agenda, their situational ethics, their crippled idea of a team. While I would like to write about what happened, I won’t spend another moment on people who never gave a damn about me in the first place.

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