Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 32: Buried Treasure


Buried treasure, Rogue River, Oregon, May 2008,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 36mm, Exposure 1/60 sec @ f4, ISO 200, no flash, exposure bias -2/3
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

What?  Doesn't look like buried treasure to you?  A big disappointment for the prospector with his metal detector?  Me thinks not.

Some might call it junk; others river detritus.  But me, I see nothing but treasure.  Look at those textures and those colors.  The contrasting shapes and surfaces.  The complimentary aspect of man-made and natural objects.

You know what they say, "one man's junk is another man's treasure."  I couldn't agree more, and not just in the material sense.  But also in the creative sense.  

What have you uncovered that qualifies for your "treasure"?  If you open your eyes -- really, open them literally and figuratively -- you will be surprised just how much treasure you can dig up.

"Look within.  Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig." -- Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180)

  • Donation:  for the delivery person, who is always there before I get up, in the cold, dark, rainy/snowy mornings with my newspaper ... thanks!
  • Exercise:  Walking to, from, and along the beach in Den Haag (not so inviting with a cold, foggy, rain) (90 mins)



Day 31: One that got away


Paradise paved, Los Angeles, California, July 2007,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 255mm, Exposure 1/200 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, no flash, 
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
I'm really amazed at the contrast between urban sprawl in the U.S. and many of the cities and towns in Europe, especially here in Germany.

You might think it was our fascination with the automobile, but hey, don't you think Germany gets a tip o' the hat there as well?

This is Los Angeles.  My brother-in-law lived there for many years, but recently, has purchased a home in Nevada.  I cannot tell you how much happier he sounds as he begins to make that his new home.

So where am I going with this?  Well, perhaps a couple of places.

First, one thing I noticed when I was stuck in traffic, especially around Wilshire Blvd, were all the six-figure cars that were stuck idling right next to me (not this photo, but you'll have to trust me).  So my first point?  Don't bother "keeping up" with the Jonses.

Second, if you care about the character of your town or city, you need strong zoning laws, that put a premium on green space, close clustering in neighborhoods, with local shopping, so autos don't rule.  And for commuting, there is no substitute for walking and biking trails and public trains.

Third, for all we bemoan our various governments about, this is what we need them for.  To look out for the public's interest, where the free-market does not care about "livibility" and "quality of life".

And finally, never forget that this is the only life you've got.  Do you really want to spend it trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway?  You get the most important vote.  You vote with your dollars and your feet.  You get to choose to work in a small town, rather than the big city (and yes, settle for less dollars but perhaps more happiness).

So make the right choice.  And when you find your little piece of paradise -- make sure you get involved and don't let them pave it.

Oh yeah, and sing a little Joni Mitchell:



Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away the D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard my screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I said don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot



  • Donation:  Mercy for Animals (MFA); you may be interested to see their letter to Taco Bell -- makes sense to me
  • Exercise:  Brisk (cause it was cold) walks on Patch (15 mins).  Lame, I know.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 30: Got Paint?


Got Paint?, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 2007,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 39mm, Exposure 1/125 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, no flash, exposure bias -1.0
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
Got an ugly building?  Got paint?  Look at that transformation!

Do you have anything that needs a little sprucing up in your life?

This just shows the power of a little creative energy (OK, and some talent too).

Go ahead.  Paint a mural in your mind.  Recreate anything you don't like, and make it beautiful.  And you have the talent to transform yourself.


Day 29: Seeds of Vulnerability


Spreading Seeds, Amherst, NH, September 2007,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, focal length 4.6mm, Exposure 1/60 sec @ f2.8, ISO 200, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I like the metaphor of spreading seeds.   Maybe because I enjoyed the childhood tales of Johnny Appleseed, planting apple trees over the countryside.

To me any new thought, or spark of insight, is a seed.

If the conditions are right (mind being receptive), it might take root.

Then, with continued watering (reflection, contemplation), it might form a new behavior.

And finally, with the requisite cultivation and pruning (alignment with one's principles, or in some cases, resetting a paradigm), it can change a person's life.

And if that happens for one person, then perhaps another, and so on.

Frankly, it's the only way we grow and evolve.

Hopefully for the betterment of humanity.

So with that as the context, here's another TED talk I think you might like (see below), that I found on the Rowdy Kittens web-site.

It's about "vulnerability" -- a mushy, squishy, jello-on-the-wall sort of topic.  But Dr. Brené Brown does a great job, I think, in planting some seeds.

So when you have 20 quiet minutes to watch and reflect, I believe it will be worth your time.




  • Donation:  to purchase Graphic Converter 7, a program I use to determine the photo parameters in my captions.  Now I know you might say that's not really a "donation", but since I could use the program for free, I feel this still meets the intent of my "giving" resolution.
  • Exercise:  Walk with Frito and Carol (30 mins).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 28: Looking to escape?


Looking to Escape?, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 2011,
Panasonic DMC-ZS7, 35mm focal length equiv. 96mm, Exposure 1/50 sec @ f4.3, ISO 125, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So tell me.  Are you looking to escape?  This guy looks pretty desperate to get out of that bridge pillar ;-)

Escape from what, you ask?  Oh, I don't know -- a world that treats you as an independent object, disconnected from everything else.  A culture that emphasizes sensationalism and cynicism.  Road rage and "going postal".

Well, I firmly believe in our interdependence.  And that any sort of cultural change will begin with you and me.  That's right -- the buck stops with us.  You remember that famous quote:

"We must become the change we want to see." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Or perhaps consider this explanation as to the meaning of Gandhi's quote:

"Gandhi reminds us that each of us has the power to change our world by changing ourselves.  What type of world do you want to live in?  Clean?  Peaceful?  Vibrant?  Then be clean.  Be peaceful.  Be vibrant.  Not only will you see your world conforming to your change, but you might even notice the worlds of other people around you changing for the better, too." -- David Leonhardt, The Happy Guy

 And if you would like some further motivation, consider these two videos I just came across today. May they brighten your day and give you some inspiration and ideas.



  • Donation: to Organic Consumers Association (OCA), to advocate for explicit labeling of GMO food
  • Exercise:  Walking around Panzer Kaserne running errands (15 mins).  Lame, I know.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 27: Do a little dance


Dancing with the Flowers, Amherst, NH, September 2007,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, 35mm focal length equiv. 114mm, Exposure 1/200 sec @ f5.8, ISO 80, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Sometimes, you just gotta dance!  So get up and start moving.

You don't even need any music ... you can sing the tune in your head.

That's all I wanted to say.  Hope you have a happy day.  And do a little dance!



Flower Buzz, Amherst, NH, September 2007,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, focal length 4.6mm, Exposure 1/400 sec @ f2.8, ISO 80, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

  • Donation:  Big Brother Big Sister Foundation of Greater Manchester, NH
  • Exercise:  Short walk with Frito in the woods (30 mins)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 26: Ahhhh, grasshopper


Nice Legs, Los Angeles, CA, September 2007,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, 35mm focal length equiv. 43.9mm, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f8, ISO 80, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Ahhhh, grasshopper ... what troubles you, my friend?

Do you remember that  TV show "Kung Fu" with David Carradine?  I really was into it as a kid.

Ya know, I never thought about it before, but I wonder if that influenced my interest in Eastern religions at all.

Here's a sample to remind you what it was (or for you youngsters, to have a taste).  I never realized how much the Tao Te Ching played in it.  This is one of the flashbacks in the show, where the character Caine is reminded of his various teachings.




  • Donation:  Trying to keep our food from being genetically modified, or if so, at least making sure it is labeled properly (so you can avoid it) ... a donation to the Non-GMO Project.
  • Exercise:  Walk toward town with Carol and Frito (30 mins)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 25: Turning your world upside-down


Dew Drop Reflections, Amherst, NH, October 2007,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, focal length 4.6mm, Exposure 1/60 sec @ f2.8, ISO 100, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

There's another thing I learned with my health recently.  Listen to your body.

I knew I was fighting something (dull headache, some lethargy), but rather than listening, I increased my exercise, which meant getting up earlier and losing out on sleep.  A couple of days last week I could barely keep my eyes open, and the fatigue was palpable.

I should have listened and perhaps even take off a day from work to just sleep.  It might have saved me from developing bronchitis (which is what the doctor diagnosed).  Indeed, I slept most of the day yesterday, and felt significantly better before I even visited the doctor.

So if you don't want to turn your own world upside-down, then be still enough to listen to your body.  It gives us many cues, if we but pay attention.  Your body needs to heal -- so sleep.  You have eaten enough food -- so don't bother to clean your plate.   You are getting dehydrated -- so drink more water.

The body is amazing.  I plan on listening more closely in the future.

  • Donation:  Gave some more clothes to Patch thrift shop
  • Exercise:  Walk with Carol and Frito (30 mins)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 24: Shore up your defenses


The TowerHohenzollern Castle, Mount Hohenzollern, above Hechingen, Germany, December 2008,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 63mm, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f8, ISO 200, no flash, exposure bias -2/3
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So how are your defenses?  I thought mine were pretty strong -- eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and generally taking pretty good care of myself.  Well, that all came crashing down on my last business trip.  I don't know for sure what I have, but it seems to me like severe bronchitis -- we'll let the doc sort it out later today.

And then as for my running, it has been getting stronger, and a little bit easier.  Still no where back to where I was during marathon season, but I guess that's what training programs are for.  Until I got tripped up on a loop of metal (road detritus) and went crashing to the ground ... nose first.  Ouch!

I was pretty amazed a driver stopped immediately right in the busy road, and got out his first aid kit and tried to help put humpty dumpty back together again.  And within a minute, a police officer stopped as well, and was going to make arrangements for an ambulance.  But it wasn't *that* serious, so I thanked them both profusely, and hobbled back to the hotel to clean up and raid *their* first aid kit.

Not a good combination -- gouged up nose with bandages that just about cover the nostrils and some kind of cold/bronchitis (think sneezing, running nose, with a wicked cough).  My defenses have been trashed.  I am (and look) officially pathetic.  

I hope your defenses are in better shape.   Something to keep in mind as you make your dietary and exercise selections each day.  And maybe not hanging out with sick people ;-)

But this too shall pass and at some point, things will be back to normal humming on all cylinders.  Lord only knows when ;-)

  • Donation:  KIVA loan to Félicité Kabassele
  • Exercise:  Walk with Frito (could have been a scene from night of the living dead, in my trench coat, hacking away) (30 mins)



Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 23: What a Character


What a CharacterJan Palach Square ("We" sculpture, by Jaume Plensa), Prague, Czech Republic, April 2009,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 93mm, Exposure 1/640 sec @ f6.3, ISO 200, no flash, exposure bias -0.7
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
This was an awesome sculpture (see below for details*).

To me, it triggers the thought that humans are "labelers."  We label everything, as the way we process information.  It allows us to categorize various objects into archetypes, which of course is an efficient method for generalizing about specific instances or types of information.  

As useful as this process is to our survival in the sensory- and information-rich world, it also can easily lead us to "judge a book by its cover" -- without getting to know what is really inside (the book, the person, the incident, etc.)

So watch out for this "character" -- the labeler.  He may lead you astray.  As an experiment, spend some time noticing things around you and consciously *not* labeling them.  Try to examine their unique characteristics, their rich textures, the hidden stories.

I think you will find it very useful, and it should help you avoid our natural tendency for prejudice -- that is -- judging things prematurely.

  • Donation:  Extra large tip my taxi driver.  Hey, I never said I had to be "pure" about this.  Just trying to keep "giving" near the forefront of my thinking.
  • Exercise:  Run beyond Jaffa and on the beach (10 miles, 100 mins)
Update on the exercise:  I am officially a basket case.  100 meters from the hotel, I tripped on some road detritus and went down hard.  Fortunately my nose and chin broke the fall, rather than my teeth.  And my hand and knee a bit.  It is not a pretty sight.

Couple that with what appears to be a severe case of bronchitis I somehow contracted in Israel, and let's just say the plane ride home was not so much fun.  Passengers were drawing straws to see who had to sit near me and get either phlegmed or bled on.  

I'm heading to the doctor tomorrow and see what's what.
*Here's some more information on this cool sculpture:
Jaume Plensa presented his sculpture "We" in Jan Palach Square, opposite the Rudolfinum, from 7 January-30 June 2009.  We (2008) is a 5 meter tall, white coated, sculpture weighing 2,700 kilograms and was cut out from stainless steel using laser beam technology. 
Plensa celebrates the linguistic diversity of the human family by putting multiple alphabets together on a single human form.  The form is "everyman & woman" who all share the experience of language.  Characters make up the outline of the androgynous body -- neither a female nor a male is clearly discernible.  The letters that form the shape of the human body with an open front side come from various languages:  Roman, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Hindu, Greek, Chinese and Japanese.
The original idea was to create a visual statement of belief in the possibility of peace and understanding between all nations of the world.  His artworks pay tribute to the human body as the perfect architectural form that provides a shelter to the soul, dreams and desires.

Day 22: Stairway


StairwayYaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon, May 2008,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 27mm, Exposure 1/15 sec @ f3.5, ISO 800, no flash, exposure bias -0.7
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Sometimes there are many, many steps between you and your final destination.  

But the only way to get there, is to take that first step.  

If it seems too high, or you are scared of heights, just look straight ahead with your hand on the railing and keep on walking.  

Eventually, you will reach your goal.

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." -- Martin Luther King Jr.
"The longest journey in the world begins with but a single step; and it is the one most often not taken." -- author unknown

Update:  People who know me know I'm not a big boxing fan.  But this video isn't really about boxing (or at least you need not look at it that way).  As the web-site says, consider instead that it's about taking that first step.  Which can only come after you have made the decision, established the intention, and changed your direction.  Go farther.  Go higher.

  • Donation:  Tip for club lounge wait staff -- great service
  • Exercise:  Walking with Carol around Akko (aka Acco, aka Acre), Israel (60 mins)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 21: Texture


Texture, Animal Kingdom, Disneyworld, Orlando, FL, March 2008,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 255mm, Exposure 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 280, no flash, exposure bias -0.7
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
How is the texture of your life?

Smooth and silky, with nary a flaw?  

Or rough hewn, with plenty of hard edges and maybe a few splinters?

I hope the latter, at least a little bit.  So that you can really appreciate when things are flowing smoothly, and also have the reserves available to polish up some of those rough edges.

  • Donation:  Cash to street performer in Zikhron Ya'akov, near Haifa
  • Exercise:  Walked to and from the Nachalat Binyamin and HaCarmel markets in Tel Aviv (90 mins)





Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 20: Crazy or Majestic?


Crazy, Tel Aviv, Israel, April 2008,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, focal length 4.6mm, Exposure 1/125 sec @ f8, ISO 80, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
A double dose today.  Are you crazy or majestic?  What if I were to say they can easily be the same thing.

What "people" might call crazy are just those thoughts, ideas, actions that are out of the social convention or norm.  And yet, where else do great or revolutionary ideas come from?

I think the key is simply having the self-confidence to march to your own drummer.  Then you can stand proudly and majestically while others try to figure out exactly what makes you tick.

Now that should be a wild and crazy time.


Majestic, Tel Aviv, Israel, April 2008,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, focal length 17.3mm, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f8.5, ISO 80, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

  • Donation:  SHARE Outreach of Milford, NH
  • Exercise:  Running on boardwalk (4.8 miles) (45 mins)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 19: Dragonfly


Dragonfly, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2008,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, focal length 17.3mm, Exposure 1/200 sec @ f5.8, ISO 100, no flash, 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
Are you like this dragonfly?

Confident.  Self-assured.  Beautiful.  Colorful.  Willing.  Patient.  

Not anxious.  Not hyper-active.  Not fearful.  Not hunkered down.

Give it a try.  It's a great way to be.

  • Donation:  to Motivating Miles Foundation, in Amherst, NH
  • Exercise:  Run to Jaffa and back (5 miles, 45 mins); also walking with Carol (3.5 miles, 90 mins)




Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 18: Follow your star


Follow Your StarRothenburg o.d.T, Germany, December 2009,
Nikon D5000, 35mm focal length equiv. 36mm, exposure 1/125 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, no flash, exposure bias +0.33,
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
Interesting person I met yesterday during lunch ... somone who calls herself a Messianic Jew.  Which, as I understand it, is someone who considers themselves Jewish but also believes Christ was the Messiah.  Basically, and evangelical Christian, but also a Jew.

Seems like that could be a pretty tough belief system to hold while growing up in Israel.  She said about 0.5% of the population fall into this category.

I guess you need to be able to follow your own North Star in such situations.
"I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books;
I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me."
-- Hermann Hesse
"Let the water settle; 
you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your being." 
-- Jelaluddin Rumi



  • Donation:  to YogaCaps, Inc, in Amherst, NH
  • Exercise:  Another boardwalk run, this time toward Jaffa (4.5 miles, 40 mins); plus walk with Carol (60 mins)