Zinnias #113AR, 109AR, 112AR & 108BR

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July 23, 2016

Zinnias are a genus of twenty species of flowering plants of the Asteracea family. However more than one hundred different varieties have been cultivated since crossbreeding them began in the nineteenth century. Zinnias, which is also its botanical name, are native to the scrub and dry grasslands of southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. Noted for their long-stemmed flowers that come in a variety of bright colors, Zinnias are named for German professor of botany Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759).

A perennial flowering plant in frost-free climates, Zinnias are an annual everywhere else. With leaves opposite each other, their shapes range from linear to ovate, with colors from pale to middle green. The blooms come in different shapes as well, ranging from a single row of petals to a doom shape. Their colors range from purple, red, pink, orange, yellow and white to multicolored. There are many different types of this flower. They come in dwarf types, quill-leaf cactus types and spider types. Fully grown Zinnias range from six inches high with a bloom less than an inch in diameter to plants four feet tall with seven-inch blooms. This plant will grow in most soil types, but thrives in humus-rich, well-watered, well-drained soils. They like the direct sun at least six hours a day; however, they will tolerate just the afternoon sun.

If grown as an annual, they can be started early indoors around mid April. Any earlier and they just might grow too large to manage as the plant germinates in only five to seven days. However, these plants are said to dislike being transplanted. If seeding is done outdoors, they should be sown in late May, after the threat of the last frost, when the soil is above sixty degrees. They will reseed themselves each year. Plant the seeds a quarter-inch deep, covered with loose soil. For bushier plants, pinch off an inch from the tips of the main stems while the plant is still young.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

The Greatest Businessman Of All-Time. By A Lot.

July 20, 2016

How is it that the greatest businessman of all-time has filed for bankruptcy numerous times on his Atlantic City casinos, when the number one rule in gambling is that the house always wins? Making his business record even worse is that Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy on his Taj Mahal casino only one year after it opened. I’m no businessman (I do have an accounting degree), but that just doesn’t sound right. Most political pundits opine that Trump has filed for bankruptcy four times, but in fact, the actual number is six. They are:

1. Trump Taj Mahal (Atlantic City, New Jersey) in 1991,
2. Trump Castle (Atlantic City, New Jersey) in 1992,
3. Trump Plaza & Casino (Atlantic City, New Jersey) in 1992,
4. Plaza Hotel (New York, New York) also in 1992,
5. Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts in 2004 and
6. Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009.

In 1995, Trump created the Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts to bring all his casinos, including one in Gary, Indiana under the control of one company. After declaring bankruptcy in 2004 on this venture, Trump changed its name to Trump Entertainment Resorts.

With six bankruptcies under his belt, one would think Trump would be embarrassed by his business record of accomplishment, yet the world’s all-time greatest businessman boasts how he has swindled bankers throughout his career. When you also consider that Trump has been sued thirty-five hundred times over the years, including the ongoing lawsuit against the world’s all-time greatest university, Trump U., it makes me think that things just might not be what they seem. Especially considering how he refuses to release his tax returns, something every presidential candidate has done so since Richard Nixon. Trump gives the excuse that he is being audited, however, so was Nixon in 1972.

Law prevents the IRS from releasing a person’s tax returns, but nothing prevents a person to do so while being audited. Seems like he has something to hide, especially considering that when he released his returns in 1981 when he was getting involved in the casino industry, he paid no federal tax. What’s funny is that he has the nerve to call Hillary Clinton “crooked.”

Even more ironic is that the universe’s greatest businessman of all-time labeled Senator Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted” even though fact checkers have determined that seventy-five percent of what the donald (non-capitalization purely intentional) espouses are not true. Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter behind Trump’s “The Art Of The Deal,” has been quoted as saying, “Lying is second nature to him.”

Abraham Lincoln was right when he opined “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #1698AR, 2005BR, 1673, 1663BR & 1663AR

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July 16, 2016

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. There are many plants that have lily in their common name; however, not all are true Lilies. Two examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies and Peace Lilies. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is well-drained soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Another Day, Another Terrorist Attack

July 15, 2016

As the world quivers in fear from yet another terrorist attack, this time in the city of Nice, France after a thirty-one year old Frenchman with Tunisian heritage drove a large truck into a heavily populated street as French revelers were celebrating Bastille Day, war hawks are screaming out that America must declare war on Islamic radicals and bomb the hell out of those nations harboring them.

I am no military strategist, but the problem is; how do you know who the enemy is when they wear no uniform, or are an individual lone wolf? During 2015, America dropped 23,144 bombs on Muslin nations, and the result is we are now more despised and hated than ever. We are currently bombing six countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia & Yemen. It is said that Al Jazeera airs footage of all these bombings every single day in the Arab world, yet in America such footage is rarely, if ever shown. American television very rarely mentions the two wars ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two longest wars in U.S. history. It is as if all these wars do not exist. When President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq, which had nothing to do with the horrific attack of September 11th, he did not ask Americans to sacrifice, he encouraged us to go shopping.

As I am also no counter-terrorism expert, nor historian, however it seems to me that it is our militarist aggression and our imperialistic attitude of doing only what is in the best interest of America, the rest of the world be damned, that is the cause of so much of the terrorism today. The list of U.S. backed dictators, tyrants and despots is a mile long, and the support of such evil men always seems to come back to haunt us. Osama bin Laden stated during a television interview that he attacked America on September 11th because we left our troops in Saudi Arabia, the most holy of land in the Muslim religion after The Gulf War of 1990-91 (i.e., Desert Storm).

Instead of going after the one man responsible for the surprise attack of September 11th, which caught our leaders dumbfounded despite spending billions of dollars on defense and intelligence, with a small group of elite Special Forces, we invaded two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. ISIS, who is responsible for so much of the terrorism throughout the world today, is led by Saddam Hussein’s former army, whom we disbanded during the early days of Shock & Awe. Even more ironically is the fact that much of ISIS’ equipment and munitions comes from stockpiles captured from the U.S. supplied Iraqi military, from our days when America backed Hussein. Lest we forget, America is not only bankrupting ourselves with all our military endeavors, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world as well, selling nearly twice as many weapons as number two ranked Russia.

In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, many who credit for winning World War II, America should have listened. Instead, during the past two decades America has become the world’s most war-mongering nation.

Lest anyone think my rant un-American, I am not implying that we deserve to be attacked, however America needs to understand that our military endeavors and reckless foreign policy do have serious consequences. As that old saying goes, what goes around comes around.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

The World In Donald Trump’s Eyes (aka I Am The Greatest Of All Time, By A Lot)

July 13, 2016

As the American presidential primaries finally come to a conclusion beginning next week with Republicans convening in Cleveland and Democrats meeting in Philadelphia the following week, it gives me time to ponder the potential platform of Republican presumptive candidate Donald Trump. As a candidate who speaks so very often, and tweets seemingly nonstop, yet never espousing any genuine ideas about how he would actually govern, the following is a somewhat very accurate parody of a typical campaign speech given once or twice a day, every single day for the past year by his “greatness.”

I am the greatest.  But, I’m one of you.
Mexicans are criminals, drug dealers and rapists.
Nobody knows more about taxes in the world than me, because I do not pay any.
I’m the most militarist person there is.
Lyin’ crooked Hillary Clinton is crooked as they come, a lifetime liar.
Jeb Bush is low energy.
John McCain is a real loser, not a war hero, because he was a POW.
Megyn Kelly is a bleeder.
Lyin’ Ted Cruz is a pussy.
Chris Christie is yuge, by a lot.
Lying doctors say vaccinations do not cause autism.
I love the poorly educated. I even talk like them.
Nobody is more conservative than me, except when I was a liberal Democrat.
Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren is goofy, a total failure.
I know more about ISIS than the generals.
Crazy Bernie Sanders is a raving lunatic. I want him as my VP.
I’m gonna bring back all those jobs from China, except the ones that make the products I sell.
Nobody reads the bible more than me.
President Obama is a Muslim from Kenya, my investigation proved it.
My campaign is self-funded.
Trump U. is the greatest university in the world.
Women are pigs.
I’m the world’s greatest whiner. By a lot.
John Kasich eats like a slob.
Nobody knows more about debt than me, because I filed for bankruptcy four times.
Lyin’ Ted Cruz is no longer a liar. We love him.
Vladimir Putin loves me.
Crooked Hillary Clinton killed Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Nobody respects women more than me.
I’m rich, by a lot.  But, I’m one of you.
Mitt Romney walks like a penguin.
Millions of Muslims watched and cheered the Twin Towers burn from Jersey.
I am the king of debt. I’ve made a fortune with debt.
Bankers are stupid.
Bill Kristol is a dummy.
I love you (insert current city or state or the next city or state to visit).
The media is stupid.
If Hillary Clinton weren’t a woman, nobody would vote for her.
It’s a crooked system, and I was a part of it.
The RNC (Republican National Committee) are idiots.
Bernie Sanders is a Communist. Or worse.
Lyin’ Ted Cruz’s father helped Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate JFK.
Everybody’s an idiot, but me.  But, I’m one of you.
I cherish women.
The KKK wears nice sheets.
I’m gonna turn everything around. Fast. By a lot.
President Obama and Hillary Clinton are stupid because they use a teleprompter. But not me.
I love the Bible. I love the Bible. I’m a Protestant. I’m a Presbyterian.
Radio host Charlie Sykes is an idiot.
My IQ is one of the highest of all-time. By a lot.
I’m gonna build the greatest wall of all-time and make Mexico pay for it.
Congress is stupid.
My business is the greatest of all-time, by a lot.  But, I’m one of you.
I’ll be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.
George W. Bush is a liar.
Hillary Clinton is a shouter, but I’m not allowed to say that.
Women are dogs.
The Art Of The Deal is second in importance only to Two Corinthians, or is that Second Corinthians?
I do not have small hands, or a small penis.
Rick Perry is a loser.
Reporters are liars.
I can be presidential, but I would be boring as hell.
Rand Paul is an idiot.
Lyin’ Ted Cruz’s wife is ugly.
Women are disgusting animals.
Ben Carson is a poor surgeon.
Politicians are stupid.
The Republican Party is rigged. The RNC are riggers.
Women are bimbos.
My private jet is the greatest of all-time. So is my helicopter.  But, I’m one of you.
Rick Santorum is a loser.
Our leaders are stupid.
I am the greatest of all-time, by a lot.

If America has not yet become the laughing-stock in the eyes of the world, a Donald Trump presidency would surely make us so.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Orchids #152AR, 153AR & 154AR

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July 9, 2016

Orchids, whose botanical name is Orchidaceae, has more than thirty-five thousand species and as many as three hundred thousand hybrids in its family, making it one of the two largest plant families along with the Asteraceae family, which includes such flowers as Asters, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Daisies, Marigolds and Zinnias. In addition to being one of the largest flowering plant families, evidence suggest that Orchids first appeared more than one hundred and twenty million years ago, making this elegant flower also one of the oldest.

Because of the exotic appearance of this flower, I always assumed that the plant had its origins in the tropical regions of the world. However, since getting my first Orchid, I have learned this assumption cannot be any further from the truth. Though many species do grow in the tropics, in locales such as Central and South America, Africa and the Indo-China region, other species are found in our planet’s temperate regions along both sides of the Equator in regions such as the United States, Europe, Russia, China and Australia. Even more interesting is the fact that Orchids are also found growing in rather cold regions of the planet, in places such as Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and northern Russia. In fact, there are only a few countries in the world in which Orchids do not originate, such as the desert countries of northern Africa and the Mid East, and also the continent of frigid Antarctica. In an interesting note, forty-eight species have been found in the state of Maine, while Hawaii only has three.

All Orchids are considered perennials, and grow via two different methods, monopodial and sympodial. Monopodial Orchids has a central stem, which grows upward on top of its prior growth. The plant’s roots and flower stalks all begin life from that same central stem. Sympodials, in which most Orchids are members of, new growth originates at the base of the prior year’s growing season, resulting in the plant growing laterally.

Due to the immense number of different plants in this family, the blooms of Orchids come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some Orchids produce just a single flower, while other varieties produce multiple blooms. The flowers range in size from a pinhead up to nearly twelve inches wide. They come in all colors except true black, although the most dominant colors are white, yellow, pink, lavender and red, although green and brown are very common as well. Typically, Orchids consist of three sepals, three petals. One of the petals is greatly modified, which forms the flower’s throat and lip. The plant has simple leaves with parallel veins, and they normally alternate on the stem and are often folded lengthwise. The leaves may be either ovate, lanceolate or orbiculate in shape. As far as soil types go, this to me is what makes Orchids very unique from most, if not all other flowers. Some grow in soil; some grow on trees, some on rocks, while others survive on decaying plant matter. One more interesting note is that vanilla favoring comes from the Vanilla Orchid.

The particular type of Orchid shown in these photographs is a Phalaenopsis, which are commonly referred to as a Moth Orchid. If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #102CR, 107BR, 104BR & 112BR

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July 2, 2016

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. There are many plants that have lily in their common name; however, not all are true Lilies. Two examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies and Peace Lilies. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is well-drained soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth