Monday, January 26, 2015


You can infer the story from these two photos, I'm confident.  Or invent whatever you like.  Note the mud-stained nose.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Can Cute Be Terminal?

Can a creature be so constantly cute as to be boring?

No...I don't think so...


Doggie Hypnotism

Look into my will

Wait, who is supposed to obey whom?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Interspecies Play

Play is a very important activity for human childhood development, as well as often for what we might call adult emotional maintenance.  Other animals also engage in play, some to a very great extent.  I have no profound observations to offer, but I sometimes enjoy playing with dogs about as much as I do with people, and I find it interesting that play can become as subtle a method of interspecies communication as anything we've found so far.  In science fiction, a human mind can be merged with that of another being, including another species, and experience things through the senses of the other organism (sometimes even with something of the quality of existence that the other being experiences). If this is even possible, I suspect it would have to be a very long way off in our future, but it would be a direct way to address the issue people raise when they wonder what it is "like" to be some other animal.  What is it like to be a dog?  What is the nature of its reasoning, emotion, etc., and what does it feel like just to exist?  Regarding the last part of that series of questions, we might acknowledge that we can't even know for sure what another person's subjective experience of life is.  However, I think it's very reasonable to assume lots of commonality from one of us to another, and I also am convinced that there is much in the rich emotional life of a dog that parallels my own.  I don't know if your experience of colors is the same as mine, but I know that my dog Ziva experiences joy very much the same way that I do.  The same would of course be true of suffering, which is why I would go to very great lengths to protect her from that.

Yes, in the following pictures, you see a portion of a cow bone.  I recognize the inconsistency of protecting one animal while participating in the use of another one that may have been raised for slaughter.  The world is filled with carnivores, predators in every available niche.  The constant struggle for survival is how the incredible variety of microorganisms, plants, and animals (including people) came to be.  However, we can, and should, at least ensure humane treatment of any animals that we humans use for our own purposes.  We can be sure those purposes are good and necessary, and we can certainly avoid frivolous or cruel mistreatment of any creatures, including our fellow humans.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Z is for Ziva

Perhaps novelist Sue Grafton should consider using Ziva as the eponymous inspiration for the final installment of her ongoing "alphabet" murder mysteries.  I suspect Kinsey Millhone would approve, though I can't think of any connection the lovely and charming Ziva Dog Diva could have to nefarious activities.

Last night I was reading a different author's work (I've long since caught up with Grafton's output, and eagerly await "X is for..."), and parked on a sofa for comfort.  Ziva parked by my feet, only slightly overlapping one slipper (she often puts herself squarely on whatever part of me is available). So as I absorbed The Racketeer, by John Grisham, Ziva emitted z's...zzzzzzz.

One quick glance to be sure she had my permission:

She didn't budge when I reached one arm to the side to get this perspective (a camera phone is much more practical than a DSLR for this sort of shooting):

Today, when I got home from rehearsal, after we went for a hike, Ziva made it clear that she wanted to play with a "snowman" that she was recently given by a neighborhood friend.  Our dear friend has an older dog named Alexa, who was best friends with our late, beloved Photon.  Alexa had grown tired of some of her things, gets along well with Ziva, and Ziva seems really excited about getting to play with them herself.  She wanted an audience, too, so I obliged with a camera.

After the exercise (there was a lot of running and fetching), Ziva calmed down, looked around and sniffed...what dogs do to explore their surroundings, after I caught some tight portraits.

"Why don't you put down that Grisham novel and get back to The Calculus Diaries (Jennifer Ouellette)?"  Okay Ziva, you don't have to monitor my reading habits, even though I do monitor your eating habits.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Y in the sky

Contrails can be interesting.  I spotted this while walking toward a Greenway entrance this morning.  The broader trail had spread quite a lot, but it might not have taken very long.  I saw the narrow one being formed by a jet that must have been on a lower flight path than the other.  Its trail broadened noticeably in just a few seconds.  Why look up, Y...

Although the sewer line work on the Crabtree Creek Trail is far from completed, the workmen waved me through today, so I felt I had official permission to hike and explore.  So, we headed for Crabtree Valley.

Not so long ago, this area was covered with ice.

Into the woods...

No entry this way:

Ziva, the junkyard dog?  No, but how did she get in there?

She fits where most adult humans can't (and she was on her leash the whole time).

The return trip under Edwards Mill Road was impressive, thanks to reflection of a blue sky that rendered even deeper blue water.

Some of the pumping and dredging equipment is very colorful.

This might give some young kids nightmares.

It's a cyborg zombie, ready to suck the brains of the unwary.

But that oddly gruesome thought only occurred to me now, as I write.  Our trip this morning was very pleasant, and put me in a good mood for the start of the day.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nothing encourages like attempted discouragement

Returning to a site that I've photographed a number of times in the past year, I found yet another look, thanks to the angle of the shadows, and my choice of a low vantage point.  On this occasion, I think my iPhone was quite adequately suited to the technical requirements of the scene.  I like the inky black shadows, and even emphasized them in post-processing.

It is, of course, the abandoned bridge over Crabtree Creek near Crabtree Valley.  The Raleigh Greenway, my route to that spot, is still undergoing major work to install new storm sewer lines, and there are closures at Lindsay Drive and at Woodridge Drive.  However, people (not I) have lowered the orange plastic mesh barriers, and many walkers, runners, and bicyclists could be seen traveling the full length of the trail.  One needs to move carefully past some of the heavy equipment that has been left in place.

Ziva cautiously inspected piping for itinerant squirrels.

No mole sounds in there.

I think we're cleared to the next check point.

That's a friendly, inviting gateway if I've ever seen one!

And here we are at the old bridge.

In case you missed the opening photo, here it is again.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

How Do You Like Them Apples?

I was enjoying the sunlight streaming through a window and betwixt some houseplants this morning. I took a moment to play with some still life photos using strong shadows and sharp textures.

Weighty apple:

Keeping company:

In the spotlight and in the shadows:

Which apple do you think will be the tastiest to eat?  It's no contest - the first is a genuine Honeycrisp, the others are artificial.

[For my photo geek friends, these were shot hand-held with the Canon 100-400 L II IS]


Friday, January 16, 2015

Greenway sections still closed, but... alternative path through the woods let people access some parts of the grounds.  Ziva kept an eye on some boys playing in one of "her" puddles.

We took a look, from a safe distance, at some of the heavy work going on.

The closure kept us from covering any meaningful distance, but I didn't want it to stop me from at least one stab at a nature photo, so I found a spot along the river.

I like to shoot into the light (contrejour sounds fancier), though having the sun in the picture can be a problem unless there are some handy tree branches to mute things a little.  It's not the Grand Canyon or El Capitan, but working on mundane local surroundings like this is something I find rewarding.