Sunday, November 4, 2012

September trip to see PA Elk

In September I decided to do something that I do not usually do photographically. I took a trip to a location for the specific reason of photographing one and only one animal. Normally I like to travel to places that give me a range of options for photographic subjects. I like to travel to places that offer possible mammals, birds, and landscapes. One subject I have always wanted to photograph is Elk. I live in NY and there is a well known herd of elk about a 3 hour drive away in PA. So my wife and I decided to take a trip out there and see if we would be able to see the elk. We were treated to quite a nice display of wild elk. It is amazing to see them and hear them bugling. It was such a great experience. I even got some nice images out of it which is good for a first attempt at photographing a new subject. I am trying to decide if I want to try and go back to photograph them in the winter. I think the Elk in the winter landscape would make some amazing images. I think if I do that though it will be a multiple day long trip.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Deer in a dog kennel

That was crazy. We came home to deer laying down in our yard. One had gotten into our 20x20 dog kennel. I walked down to the yard to get the deer to leave, so I could let our dogs outside, not realizing the one was in the kennel. The others slowly got up and left. Then I heard something bang against the chain link fence. I realized a deer was in the kennel. I tried to go around and open the other gate so it would have another escape route but it started jumping and running into the fence and just throwing itself into the fence. Luckily after I backed off fast it was able to calm down and find its way out.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wine Country Circuit Dog Show

The weekend of September 27, 28,29,and 30th I attended the Wine country circuit dog show that took place at Sampson State Park in NY. I always enjoy watching all of the dogs performing in their various events. At this event there were agility trials, obedience, rally, and conformation events. I was fortunate enough to photograph this gorgeous dog during the conformation competition  This is a Norwegian Buhund. I also was fortunate enough to get to talk to the owner of this dog and learn a little bit. It is always nice when I am able to get to talk to some of the people who own and work with all of these amazing dogs that compete here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

To Eat Meat or Not Eat Meat: A Meat Eaters Dilemma

To Eat Meat or Not Eat Meat: A Meat Eaters Dilemma

Over the last several months, I have been having an internal philosophical debate about the concept of eating meat.

This is not an issue that I have really given much thought to over the course of my life. Over the past several years, I have read an increasing number of books about how animals experience the world and the humane treatment of animals. This self-education has shifted my thinking a little. I have become more concerned over the welfare of farm animals and I would like to see the nation and world shift its practices to treatment that is more humane. However, this view did not really impact my behavior. My overall feeling was still that these farm animals which we consume for food exist for the very purpose of being consumed as food or producing food for us and while I would like them to have the best lives possible there is little that I can do about it and for that reason I have very little problem with eating meat or other food products produced by animals.

Over the last several months, a discussion about the issue of eating meat has grown between friends and family. As this discussion has been ongoing, my thoughts about the issues surrounding animal welfare and eating meat and farming have been evolving. Where I used to think there was nothing I could do to help farm animals obtain a more humane existence I have begun to as my friend puts it vote with my dollar. I try to influence businesses to adopt more animal friendly practices by looking for and buying more products that are produced through more humane treatment of animals. We have begun buying eggs produced by cage free chickens. We recently bought a whole chicken that was raised cage free. One thing I noticed is when switching from factory farm produced eggs to cage free eggs is that the shell on factory farmed eggs is brittle and easy to crack but the shell on the cage free eggs is sturdier and the membrane coating the inside of the shell is thick and the egg is more difficult to crack. While I have no scientific evidence to support this but from literature I have read it seems a logical conclusion to reach is that the cage free eggs are stronger because the chickens raised in a more humane environment are healthier and stronger themselves.

I am not going to pretend that the only thing that I buy is humanely raised food products because I do not. However, I do try to get them when I can. I am simply becoming more interested in them and I want to find out more information about those processes. It is not easy to find humanely raised farm products. It requires much more research and planning in one’s shopping routine. As I slowly conduct this research and become more well informed about the humane farming practices and where I can find these products I hope to shift my buying practices more heavily in this direction.

At some point during this internal debate, my thoughts often turn to the history of human kind. It seems pretty well established that throughout the course of human history we have relied at least in part on animals to provide us with sustenance. Even before humans began farming, we hunted animals for food. This brings up the point that maybe it is more humane to simply hunt our food than to raise it on a farm. Considering this point of view, I first turn to how the animals die. In the farming industry mechanisms are designed to deliver a death that is quick and as painless as possible. I am sure that there are occasions where this does not happen. It is my belief, without any data to back it up, that most of the time the mechanisms perform their function as designed. However, in hunting an animal that is shot seems much more likely to be only injured and not delivered an immediate and merciful death. Animals may be shot and then run frantically through the woods as their life essence drains out of them. Hunters often have to follow blood trails to find their quarry. This does not seem like a more humane way to provide sustenance.

The other aspect I consider when comparing farming to hunting is the life the animals lead prior to death or otherwise producing food. On its face, hunting seems the logical winner in this comparison. Animals that are hunted live out in the wild. They live the lives nature intended for them. However, nature is often a cruel and uninviting place. Animals may very well suffer at times during their lives in the wild. Animals may experience food or water shortages causing suffering and even death. Animals that are typically hunted for food are also prey species in the wild so they are animals that spend much of their lives being on alert, constantly wary of predators. They may be chased down to the point of exhaustion by predators and killed often being torn apart while still alive. In farming, the goal is to produce the most healthy and thus profitable animal possible. Animals are fed and watered well so that they can grow or produce as much as possible. Farm animals have no need to be ever vigilant for predators as they are protected. It would seem that as far as for the basic needs of food and safety farming provides a better life for our food animals.

The biggest problem is trying to provide a farm environment that meets the emotional and psychological needs of an animal. This is where industrial scale farming falls behind. I know there are many issues and needs for improvement in the farming industry so I will not get into that here.

I do believe that farming animals for sustenance can be done in a humane and sustainable way. The question is will we as a nation or world hold industry accountable to implementing those practices. That is the only way it will happen. Farming is a business and if the can make more money by cutting corners in animal welfare they will. A business is about making money. If they are not making money because people decide to only buy products produced through humane and sustainable methods business models will have to change. The people have to demand it. We have to vote with our money. Buy products from industries that do business the way you believe it should be done.

As a side note, I have also learned about the various benefits to our environment and our health that can be achieved by eating less meat. So, while I am a meat eater and probably always will be I believe it can be very beneficial to eat less meat.

I continue to think about all these issues on a regular basis. I try to educate myself on the facts of what is best for animals, what is best for me and what is best for our environment. I use these facts and my feelings to revise my position on this topic as I become more educated. I look forward to continually engaging myself in this internal debate and growing because of it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dogs Vs. Guns

One of the phenomenon that occur in our country that I fail to understand is the breed specific bans that have been implemented in various regions in the United States. These bans make even less sense to me when you look at it from the perspective of other things that we choose not to ban. The most obvious item to look at here is guns. We do not ban guns but we do ban dogs.

There apparently are people in this country that view certain breeds of dogs as inherently dangerous. This inherent danger that these breeds of dogs posses in their eyes warrants their being banned.  Guns on the other hand are inherently dangerous. The very purpose of a gun is to cause destruction of objects, injury, and death. The primary reason people own dogs is for companionship. The primary reasons people own guns may be for hunting (killing things), protection (threat of injury or death), or target shooting (destruction of objects).

I won't argue that dogs don't have the potential to be dangerous. However, there is no breed of dog that is in and of itself born dangerous. I would argue that any dog raised in a good home and has its needs met including proper socialization and training is a friendly dog to people.

Of course dogs can be trained to be a weapon as in the case of the police or military, but I would argue that those dogs are the least likely to be dangerous to anyone other than criminals because they have had extensive training and are handled by people with extensive training. Dogs have to be trained or conditioned to be made any danger.

Guns are dangerous right out of the box no training required.

Lets look at the statistics.

"Man and woman's best friend bites more than 4.7 million people a year.... Each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children. Of those injured, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about 16 die." (Dog Bite Fact Sheet, CDC,
From a report you can generate on the CDC website at using 2009 statistics there were 8,021 fatal firearm deaths in just 16 states in the United States. (CDC, SAS output 16 states is roughly 32% of the US population. According to a report generated by the CDC website there were 73,505 gun shot wounds in 2010. (CDC, WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports,

I will admit to being surprised by the number of dog bites that occur each year. There is one glaring difference that cannot be ignored. Dogs cause 16 deaths nationwide while guns caused 8,021 in just 16 states. So dogs may cause more overall injuries but guns clearly cause excessively more deaths in comparison. Also not all dog bites require treatment in an emergency room. In fact less than half do. I am pretty sure that most if not all gun shot wounds require an ER visit.

There is another way to look at the statistics. I am not sure if there is any way to get solid data for this but think about how often each thing is present in daily life. Dogs are much more frequently present in our daily lives, even for those that don't own a dog. I think it is likely that most people at least see a dog every day if they are out and about. Now think about this. How often does the average person see a gun? I know I can count on my fingers the number of times I have seen a gun maybe even on one hand. A gun owner may not even see a gun every day. My thinking on this topic is for the amount of time a gun is present in daily life they cause more injuries. Guns are only present in certain circumstances. They are not present at all times like dogs are. So the opportunity to cause injury or death is greater for dogs because they are present more of the time yet guns still cause way more deaths than dogs do. To me that tells me that guns are much more dangerous.

I know many people that hunt and I enjoy eating the deer meat they have as a result of hunting, but there is no question that the sport of hunting is inherently dangerous. Many people are accidentally shot and sometimes killed across the United States while hunting. These are supposed to be people who have knowledge of guns and know what they are doing and yet accidents still happen during the limited time they are around guns. On the other hand I have never heard a report of a dog and their owner running the agility course at a dog show and suddenly their dog attacks and mauls them.

A good dog owner brings joy into the lives of others by having their dog around. A bad dog owner can potentially be a dangerous situation. A good gun owner may be able to put their firearm to good use, but they may also have an accident and shoot someone. A bad gun owner is dangerous to everyone.

My point is that if it is OK to ban dogs because they have the potential to be dangerous then it is at least equally acceptable to ban guns for the same reason.

Guns have many legitimate uses but there is no arguing that the purpose of a gun is to allow a person to kill something.

The purpose of a dog is to give big wet slobbery kisses.

Which sounds more dangerous to you.

I want emphasize I am not advocating banning guns simply drawing a compassion of banning guns and dogs.

I would encourage people to comment and defend with rational logical thoughts why it should be acceptable to ban dogs but not ban guns.

Saying the second amendment gives us the right to have guns is not a logical and rational defense. This amounts to saying my mommy said so when you were a kid as justification. I want to hear your own thoughts and opinions not those of people who are long since dead.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today is Our first full day back from vacation. I was able to get all my photos transferred to my hard drive last night before crashing for the night at 1 AM. Here is an initial posting of some of the photos that I like from vacation.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I have been undergoing quite a transformation recently. About a year ago I decided I wanted to try and eat healthier and exercise more and lose some weight. However, even as I worked to increase my amount of exercise I rarely included cardiovascular workouts in the form of jogging or running. Occasionally I would get on my treadmill, but I never did it on a regular basis.  I have just never been able to get up the motivation I required to actually exercise for jogging that I can for a weight training workout or sports of some sort.  As I have been getting healthier I have been reading more books and articles about achieving good health. Not too long ago I came across a source that recommended a workout of interval jogging. Jog for 1 minute walk at a fast pace for 3 minutes and repeat. That sounded like a workout I could handle. But I still didn't have the motivation do actually do it. I just hate the idea of running around a track repeatedly. I get so bored so easily and just want to stop. One thing I do like is hiking and I have used that as part of my exercise routine from time to time. Then I also learned that the trail I liked to hike is almost exactly a 5K. That little fact motivated me, because I always thought a 5k was something I could not do, but unbeknownst to me I had been doing one up and down a mountain for years.  So now I had the confidence to really give this a shot. I was going to use this new interval jogging routine on this 5K trail. I have always loved hiking so it seemed like a natural fit. I quickly learned that the amount of focus and attention that one has to pay to the trail while running keeps the mind active and does not allow for one to get bored. After I had run the trail a few times, once a week, I found myself thinking about trail running more and more frequently. I actually began thinking about doing the trail run multiple times in a weekend. And today I Did it for the second time in 4 days. I am contemplating making this my regular weeknight routine as long as its not too hot. It is amazing and fascinating to me that I have so quickly gone from someone who loathed the very idea of running for fun/exercise to someone trying to figure out a way to do it more frequently. Although I still would not say I find it fun at this point, but I am getting there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

There are many different things I enjoy in life. I feel like I have a very well rounded multifaceted life. It is always special when those different facets come together. The way things I love and enjoy in my daily life, the things I learn in my academic pursuits, and my life experiences intertwine always fascinates me. I have always loved sports throughout my life. I love watching sports, but I especially love playing sports. I have played, many times not very well, several different sports. Last year I decided not to participate in any organized sports for the first time in a long time. I felt I was losing my enjoyment of sport through other frustrations involved in participating.

This year I was asked if I would like to join a bowling league, two leagues in fact. I had not bowled in a league or on any regular basis since I was a young child and I had never really considered joining a league as an adult. I decided to give it a shot. I was not expecting much out of myself, or our teams for that matter. We were just there for the fun of it and I was just learning how to bowl.

As the bowling season went on I gradually improved and out teams gradually improved. I had the potential to bowl well but remained wildly inconsistent. I bowled many games over 200 as well as some games where I did not even reach 100. Towards the end of the season I became a little more consistent. In one league going into the last week our team was locked into second place. In the other league we were one game ahead in first place and bowling the team in second place. The second place team was a very good team, which we had not beaten many times during the season.

I was very nervous going into this matchup. I did not expect to bowl well under the pressure of bowling for first place. In several games this season when I had been bowling well I cracked under the pressure of simply finishing out a good game and getting a good score. In the first game I was clearly nervous and bowled a 125 which is 26 pins below may average at that point. We lost that game by eight pins. We were now tied for first.

In the second game I was a little more relaxed because I think in my mind the pressure was off because I didn't think we could win. As the second game progressed I was bowling pretty well. I had 125 in the fifth frame. I felt the pressure building as I began to think I could have a good game and we could win this game. I had to work real hard to just relax and not feel the pressure. I did not finish out the game as well as I would have liked but I was able to bowl a 193. I did not have a single open frame in that game.

In the third game the pressure was still on. Neither team had locked up first place. We still needed to bowl well to win, and this would be the third and deciding game. I was really feeling the pressure now. I felt the pressure of the moment. I also felt my own internal pressure to bowl well. I am a competitor and when presented with a chance to win, even if I didn’t expect to have the opportunity, I really wanted to win. Once again I stated off the game bowling well and that increased the pressure. I began to be able to feel my heart race and fell it beating against my chest. When I stepped up on the lane to prepare to bowl, I felt the trembling. My legs were weak and unsteady. I physically and mentally struggled through that game but through my focus and determination was able to bowl a very good game for me. I matched my season high of 233.

At the end of the third game we were in a tie for first place, but not just a tie with the second place team. The third place team bowled well and caught up to us too and now we had a three-way tie. There would be a one game bowl off for first place. Team with the best score wins.

Just when I thought there couldn’t be any more pressure, I was wrong. This whole thing was a very unique experience for me. In all my sporting life I had never been a significant contributor on a winning team. As an adult I had never been on a winning team at all.

In the bowl off, I continued to be stressed out and nervous. It required all of my focus and effort to bowl well, and bowl well I did. Despite the anxiety I was feeling I was able to manage a 195. I was very happy and impressed with my performance. I was also very surprised. I had just bowled the best three games in a row of my life. I had a better three game stretch than anyone else on my team and I was a first year bowler. How in the world did I do that? I think a large part of it was luck. I also think a large part of it was due to my knowledge and education. There may also have been a small component of skill as I have always been a decent all around athlete, never really excelling in any one area.

I give the most credit to my mind. In order to have any chance to bowl well I had to get my physical manifestations of the psychological pressure I felt under control and that meant I had to get my mind under control. Each time I stepped up to bowl I took several deep controlled breaths to release the tension and energy causing me to shake and to help relax myself. I tried to tune everything else out around me. (It didn’t help that many people from the league stayed to watch the bowl off.) When I went back to my seat after each frame, my heart was pounding. I tried to sit relax, take some deep calming breaths, and maybe chat with people around. I just tried to take my mind off of the game and off of my performance while there was nothing I could do to affect it. I also took the time to do some mental imagery of myself performing what was for ma a perfect shot, using the right arm angle, hitting my mark, throwing the right speed with the right amount of rotation. This helped especially after occasions where I did not throw good balls. I was able to apply my knowledge of stress management and some sport psychology techniques to my personal 
experiences. It is particularly gratifying to use my education in my own life for something fun.

I also think there is a component to me bowling well that has to do with the fact that I did not expect to bowl well. In most sports, I have played as an adult I am pretty good and usually one of the better players on the team. This usually puts more pressure on me to play well, especially when we don’t have a particularly good team overall.  However, in bowling I was our weakest bowler. I was just learning. I had no prior expectation to do well. I did not go into this with any pressure to bowl well. I think in some way that I cannot quantify this helped me.

My other thought is why was I suddenly able today to put three good games together in a row? I had bowled two good games in a row before but never three. I think another big part of that is psychological. I think it has to do with the fact that there is an optimal level of anxiety/arousal needed to perform well. For most of the season there was no real pressure to bowl well. I often lost focus and could tell when I did. This resulted in poor shots and poor games all together. In this game because of the pressure and fact that I wanted to win I cared more about this match up and intentionally paid more attention to my level of focus. This helped me to be more consistent from frame to frame and game to game.  There was also a point in the match where I consciously decided I was going to stop trying to make adjustments and just trust my natural motion to work. I am not sure when this was but I know it was at some point after the first game. I would like to believe it was right before I strung together a series of strikes in the second game. That would really illustrate the point, but I cannot be sure that is when it occurred. So once I stopped thinking about every little component of my bowling motion from where to stand to my arm angle to my wrist position and amount of rotation I began to bowl better. I simply focused on my mark and bowled. This also illustrates another sports psych principle that when you have a natural motion and then start breaking it down in your head and try to control each little component of it as you do it you actually hurt your performance instead of help it. The motion or skill is automatic and performed better when left to the unconscious mind. My biggest problem was that I did not believe I had an automatic learned skill. I thought I needed to pay more attention because I was still learning, but once I let go I bowled better.

I was just glad to see all these pieces of my life come together. I makes me happy and makes my life complete.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Paterno discussion

All the how should we remember Joe Paterno discussion is getting a little old. It is simple. You remember the whole story. You celebrate the great man he was and all his good works. But you also remember that despite all that he was just a man. And as a man he was falable as we all are, and he made mistakes. So don't rush to put men on pedastals as we are all human and fall short. I would also say when remembering a man's mistakes "Judge not lest ye be judged". How would any of us feel if no matter what we did in our lives, upon our deaths we would only be remembered for our biggest mistake or wrongdoing?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Its been a long day

My dog Mojo here is making it an interesting past 24 hours. He has always been a very unusual dog and has many peculiarities. One of these is that he does not like to come into the house on his own once he is outside. Another is that he doesn't really like to just come up to people and let them pet him or handle him. He will come within arms length. Inside he will come and sit on the couch or come to us to be petted but it has to be on his terms. As we discovered these tendencies we have made sure that he is either on his leash connected to a tree or has a long lead attached so that we can get a hold of him. He has no problem going into the house or being near us once we have a hold of his leash or color. It is very strange. There must be something about doorways that scares him, but I have yet to figure it out.

Yesterday at approximately 6:00 PM Mojo somehow got off his leash. He has been outside ever since. We have tried everything we can think of to try to get him to come inside. I even stayed home from work today to keep an eye on him and try to get him to come in. I have been unsuccessful so far. Thankfully the weather has been mild for this time of year. However, Mojo is a Husky and likes the cold and rain and miserable weather. But I would feel much better if he would just come inside. We recently put a dog house outside for our dogs to use if they want while outside, but Mojo does not appear to have any interest in using it. I am sure he will decide to come in eventually. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

Upon further inspection there appears to be nothing wrong with the leash. So we are still not sure how he got off.

If you have any advice on the situation please feel free to share. Thanks.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Movie / Inspiration

Today I watched a very good movie. My wife and I went to see "We Bought a Zoo". It was the perfect movie for me to see at this point in my life. I found it pretty inspirational and moving. As my favorite photographer Moose Peterson often says about photography, this movie pulled all the right heartstrings for me. It was about love and passion and doing what you believe is right. It is about having that "20 seconds of courage". If you believe in something and believe it is worth putting every ounce of effort into doing and you have passion for it you can make it part of your life.

For me this is a very personally relevant message. I have been pursuing my education my entire adult life and I am reaching the culmination of that dream. I have been doing it because I believe in my heart it is the right thing to do and it is what I want out of life. I am about to begin my comprehensive exam for my PhD program and after that the final step will be to write my dissertation. Then I will have achieved all my educational pursuits. But leading up to this point I have been having doubts about my abilities and my self confidence has been lacking. Seeing this movie has helped me just regain focus and know that if I put myself fully into this I can do it.

I have also been pursuing a career in photography. I have been making modest gains each year. I try to expand into something new each year. But at times I wonder if this will ever be something I can do on a regular basis as a professional. I love my photography and I feel like I learn something new in the field of photography and its business aspects on a regular basis. I know that if I keep trying and I am not afraid to make mistakes I can do it. I just need to take on the challenges and do what is needed to push through it.

On top of all these things I have a regular full time job that pays the bills. This is part of doing what is necessary to make this all work out. I am just glad that movies with such positive themes are still being made. I don't know if this movie had as mush an impact on anybody else, but I am thankful it connected with me. Now just to read the book.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Remembering 2011

As 2012 begins I want to take a moment to reflect on 2011. I want to focus on some of the positive things that happened in my life in 2011.

1. I celebrated being in love with my wife for 11 years and being married for the last 7 of them.

2. Thanks to my wife I began volunteering at the local SPCA.

3. I became a member of a local arts association and started showing my photography in their art gallery on a regular basis.

4. Completed my final course in my PhD program.

5. Several newborn babies born into our family. (None of them mine, whew.)

6. Flew by myself for the first time.

7. Went out and took photos of nature on numerous occasions and experienced the wonders of this world.

8. Lost 50 lbs.

9. Began eating healthier and exercising more.