Saturday, January 23, 2021

North Lake (The Silmaril Series)

 This is a new type of series I will be presenting as time goes on. I have wanted to show some of my drone footage and photos. I have two drones. One is a Parrot Bebop 2 and a Parrot Anafi. The Anafi has great video footage, but I primarily got it for taking aerial pictures of some of my favorite spots. For now in this series I am going to just show pictures. 

Since the lockdown(s) I have been on a J.R.R. Tolkien kick. I have been reading a lot of his fiction. I decided to call this series name after my favorite book of his legendarium. With that said, here we go.

The following was taken in October at North Lake outside of Bishop, CA. I have been here before and talked about it in 2016. I wanted to go back and get a drone shot of the area. My first silmaril:

Not bad. It was close to 9am that morning. The sun has just come over the ridgeline enough so the shadow was not in the lake anymore. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to stick around a few hours to wait for more light in the area.

I also took pictures with my normal camera at the lake.

A lot of people were taking pictures in the area. A bunch of fisherman too. I waited a little longer for better light, but a guy on a small boat went out into the middle of the lake to fish. I had better light at the time and took some pictures, but I do not want to feature the guy on my blog. Lol!

That was kind of the theme for me this last fall season. There were a lot of good fall colors, but lots of fisherman would get in the way. Oh well, we all have to share in nature's goodness.

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Principle of Charity

 One last thing I wanted to mention before I go back to the type of thing I normally do on here is to talk about something I wish would be used a lot more online, on mainstream news, and in life in general. I know from experience in life it is just not realistic to expect this out of people. It is a little too idealistic, but I am going to mention it anyways as someone might find it helpful. 

One thing that could make the world a little better place is for people to use the principle of charity when communicating with each other. It is an interpretative principle that when someone says something you always assume the most reasonable and strongest view of what they say. You do not put the worst possible interpretation on what someone says. 

Not only in my own life, but listening to others talk about school, work, online, family, etc. I have seen examples of people being very uncharitable with what people say. As a silly example just so you can understand what I mean, lets suppose a kid comes home to his parents and they ask him how the football game went. The boy says, "We killed them!" The parents respond in shock, "You what! Your football team committed murder!?!?" The boy responds, "Ugh, no? We defeated our opponents 49-0!" Obviously, the boy was using a common sporting metaphor, and not talking about literal homicide.

That is a silly example, but I have been through a bunch of times in life where people respond to something like that to what I have said. Sometimes it is simple misunderstanding, other times I am not so sure. This is one of the main reasons I do not watch TV or the mainstream news anymore.

There is an article called Media Trust Hits New Low. In it the author reports what the data from Edelman's annual trust barometer show the public trust in the media has gone down to 46%. For the first time less than half the people trust the media. This is consistent with the way things appear according to my thinking. I suspect the number is going to get even lower than that.

 Part of the reason for my own lack of trust is the complete inability to represent other points of views fairly. They are scared to death of this because they see presenting an opposing view fairly gives the other side points in their favor. The last time I watched some news in the evening on TV it was so filled with bias and catch phrases that I just felt like I was watching a bunch of cheerleaders at a sporting contest. I often use the terms "professional hecklers" and "false prophets" a lot when describing them to friends.

A few years ago during October I did a Halloween series that was an anomaly compared to my normal way of doing things on here. I created it as a fictional story that I think most people understood I was doing it that way, but using real locations as the setting. I did have a few people that literally believed the story. I wanted to keep it as a mystery, and I did reveal most of the truth later about it in November. Here is the thing about that story. Every sentence I said was true during that Halloween series, but a lot of the statements I made were out of order, missing a bit of context, or the timing was a little off. 

It was my way of making fun of the urban legends of the area, but also me making fun of documentaries and the news on TV or print that is the same way. What bothers me the most is information being withheld from people that present the news. Everything that comes out of their mouths could be factually true, but if you are missing information or context that changes everything. The common notion of fact-checking has a problem here if we are just asking if statements are just true or false. 

I have made this a lot longer that I wanted to, and I could keep going on, but let me suggest two things:

1)When considering different views and news points. Find out what both sides are saying in the most reasonable way. When talking to others try to represent their view by repeating it to them and asking for clarification. "Is this what you mean?" or "What do you mean by that?" should be questions used patiently and calmly for clarification.

2)When you hear "breaking news" or any type of current news give yourself a day or more to digest it before coming to a conclusion about it. The old saying, "there are two sides to every story," is often true and it might take a few days to hear the other side of the story. I have found that some of these click bait new stories get a lot of attention for a day because of the emotional responses they bring, but then it comes out that the story does not have good sources or is a big misunderstanding.

Okay, the last three blog entries were just me getting myself going again for the new year. I am going to get back to normal. I want to start presenting a new series I will be doing on here. Check back in a few days.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Price of Freedom

While I am not sure it is the perfect analogy I remember seeing a scene from the 1940 Disney Pinocchio movie when I was a little kid that I have always remembered. Pinocchio and a bunch of bad boys go to Pleasure Island. There they are able to engage in all types of bad and illegal behavior. It is a paradise for bad boys. However, the island is cursed. Over time all the boys become literal donkeys or "jackasses". The donkeys are then taken away.

That is what I think of regarding the free social media and news sites out there. There is a lot of hiding behind anonymity or the comfort of your own pc/cell phone to say all sorts of crazy things one would never say in public. That is one thing. The other that bothers me a little more is that after all these years of allowing a free service they are starting to clamp down on free speech. 
Over the years I have been doing this blog I have always mentioned at times that I was a bit skeptical of social media and especially Youtube. They were offering something for free usage, yet I have always wondered what the real price would be. The terms of service would always change every six months or so. I would always say something like, "It is not the changes now that I am worried about, but the changes they will make in six months." 
#1 I do not do Youtube Ads
The first thing I want to mention is the issue of the ads on Youtube. One thing they announced in November, 2020 was the right to advertise on any video someone uploads. So basically, you do all the work and they get to put up ads for their own revenue benefit on your videos. They are a private company, have the right to do that, but its sets a sad precedent after all these years.

I have always intended the videos I put up to be something fun and for free. I never got into this thinking it was a way to make money. In fact, quite the opposite since I will never get back the time and money I have put into it. So, in the future, if you see any ads running on any of my videos, then know that it was done without my permission, not my doing, and I do not get any revenue from it. I have never put up ads on anything I have done. I do reserve the right to change my thinking on this, but the situation would have to be a lot different than it is or where it is going. Honestly, not really worth my time and the hassle. 

Yes, I recommend ad-blockers. UBlock Origin is my current favorite. Even the ads I am "forced" to watch I never do. In fact, I recommend not purchasing anything from these types of ads since a good percentage of them are outright scams. 


#2 Freedom of Speech for US, but not for YOU
The second thing related to Youtube and most of social media right now is the issue of free speech. A lot has happened in the past ten years on this. I always thought something like Twitter was really silly. Someone writes out a limited message for everyone to see. It started out with stuff like, "I am going to the grocery store today!" to the last few years where people are getting their major world news off it. I still think people take something like this way to seriously. I mean, can you imagine saying to someone that, "I am really popular on twitter. Have you checked out my award winning tweets?" Do not even get me started on news articles selectively quoting tweets as the basis for their articles. That immediately tells me that the news reporter is saying, "Don't take me seriously".

Then in the last few years I started to see arbitrary rules being made up and enforced on a lot of people I follow on these social media platforms. That is the major political issue regarding free speech in the U.S., "Is the social media site a platform or are they a publisher?" Then due to the U.S. election cycle I started to see outright bans and suspensions on people I follow.  

I thought it was interesting that some months ago right before the U.S. election, Yahoo News articles suspended commenting on any of their articles. I do not make a habit of reading comments on sites like that, but I thought that was interesting since most of what the news articles are on there are recycled click bait. It was their attempt to stop people from pointing out and countering how bad and fake their news is.

How does this affect me on this blog and on the sites I share my content? Practically, not very much right now. I am not a person that is throwing out political commentary. Most of what I do is meant to be fun and educational. It is rather tame and family friendly for I what I consider normal people. If someone sees me showing where a movie western gunfight was filmed is somehow a political statement, then I just have to throw my hands up. Yes, I know there are people that read into everything we do as political statements. 

However, I am using sites that I see major logical inconsistency regarding the creation and enforcing of rules on others. There is a sense that every time I log in to these sites I am "supporting" what they are doing. Part of this is a lot of these sites do not have competition. I was pushing for this years ago. I tried to support Vimeo as a competitor to Youtube a long time ago. Vimeo kind of went into a direction I did not care. Also, I did not think the type of videos I do really worked on their site. My videos were not "artistic" in the same way I saw others that use that site.

#3 Competitive Solution(s)
So at this time I am thinking I want to spread out future content to other potential sites. I have made a few accounts elsewhere that I am going to test. There is one video I have in mind I might try as an exclusive to that site and link it here. 
I still intend to keep everything on Youtube and post future content there. I do see the need to find a way for the public to keep them, along with all the other social media sites, in check. They have become a little too powerful and controlling. Competition is needed in this area. Sometimes you have to wonder if we the users are actually customers or actually the product. The product being our private information being sold to others.
As I have said in the past, check this blog for any news I do. Do not go looking for me on other platforms out there. Everything I do starts here.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Welcoming in 2021

 A strange thing happened a few weeks ago. 2020 ended and within seconds 2021 started promising a new future for all! Yet, it feels a lot like last year. 

I wanted to start this year with a few blog entries about where am at mentally and where this blog is headed. I will upload a few fall color shots I took in October as I go along. It is kind of a "state of the blog" that I like to do as we start the new year.

For me 2019 was the worst year of my life, not 2020. So much was expected of me taking care of my mother the final six months of her life and the aftermath of it all that anything I faced in 2020 was really nothing. The only thing I will say about that regarding 2020 was I meant for it to be my "recovery" year where I felt I was getting my soul back. That really did not happen due to the lockdown(s). I still feel the weight of what happened in 2019 because of 2020. So until we get back to normal I am not sure what that means for me.

Here is something interesting to note about this blog: ten years ago (!) I stated the blog was coming to "an end" right here. I am still going on here of course, but what I said was true then as it is now. It was "an end", but not "the end". It just meant my activity level is not the same as it was during the first years of the blog. That is the way things have to be for me to keep going as long as blogger continues. 

In the future there will probably be periods where I do not say anything at all, but then return with something. That has been the way of the last ten years for me. 

I am going to stop with that. I have a lot I want to say regarding other things, but wanted to keep this entry short. So, wherever you are in life just keep pushing forward.