Niagara Falls #82B, 77B, 42B, 24C, 36B, 113B, 21B & 69B

October 26, 2013

Niagara Falls, which lie along the border of Ontario, Canada and the American state of New York, is actually made up of three individual water falls; Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil Falls.  The Falls are located along the Niagara River, at the southern end of Niagara Gorge.

When photographing nature, especially when traveling great distances to do so, you are always at the mercy of Mother Nature.  These photographs were not taken during a honeymoon getaway, but a few years into marriage, when I believe my two precious babies were several years old.  Little did I know at the time that these dark gloomy days at arguably the honeymoon capital of the world would be a harbinger of years of dark gloomy days in a failed marriage.

As these were shot many years ago, back in the dark ages with film, I write sarcastically as I have only been shooting digital for four months, the 4×6 prints were scanned onto the computer.  Needless to say, looking at the photos on a computer or online do not do them justice compared to the 4×6 print.  What I really need is a film negative scanner.  However, what I need first is a new Stratocaster, then a negative scanner.

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

An Open Letter To Congress

October 23, 2013

With Congress having adverted an economic meltdown just last week, and will be facing a similar scenario in a matter of months, I just had to write my three Congressmen to express my dissatisfaction over what is turning out to be a semi-annual debt ceiling crisis, in which one political party is holding the other hostage all the while making the United States look like a fool in the eyes of the world.

Below is a copy of my letter to the Speaker of the House, who just happens to be my Representative.

Steven H. Spring

October 22, 2013

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
1011 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3507

Dear Speaker Boehner,

With another self-inflicted crisis having been temporarily settled this past week, I wanted to write to express my dissatisfaction with Congress.  There are many immense problems facing this nation for Republicans and Democrats to continually fight over such trivial matters as the debt ceiling.  Be it our rapidly crumbling infrastructure, our failing kindergarten through twelfth grade educational system, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid facing drastic reductions in benefits due to budget shortfalls, all the while we are bankrupting ourselves with our numerous military and imperialistic crusades, and in spite of all that we have a dysfunctional Congress.

Passing the Second Liberty Bond Act Of 1917, in which the debt ceiling was enacted, might have been a good idea at the time, however, instead of helping curb federal debt, all it is used for now days is leverage for one political party to hold the other party hostage to its demands, whatever they may be.  In 1979, Congress seemed to correct this flawed law when it instituted the Gephardt Rule, which raised the debt ceiling as needed when a budget was passed.  However, most likely for partisan political reasons, Congress repealed the rule in 1995, which led to the debt ceiling crisis of 1995 and the shutdown of the federal government in both 1995 and 1996.  Since then, we have had a debt ceiling crisis in 2011 and two just this year, the first of which resulted in the downgrading of this nation’s bond rating, the first in our history.

One would think we learn from our past mistakes, yet that does not seem the case, as this nation will once again reach the debt ceiling in just a few months, and we will go through this ridiculous procedure once again.  Asinine, is the word that comes to mind when I think of the time and energy wastefully spent dickering over paying for debt already incurred.  Congress needs to implement the Gephardt Rule once again.

With record low-interest rates and a stagnated economy, now is the time to rebuild our entire aging and rapidly deteriorating infrastructure system.  This is how we put the country back to work with decent paying jobs.  Not only will this provide local work that will actually trickle down into all forms of the economy, but will also create much needed revenue to pay off the enormous debt facing this nation.

Is there really any wonder why Congress has an approval rating in the single digits?


Steven H. Spring

Who Really Benefits Most From U.S. Entitlement Programs?

October 22, 2013

Reading op-ed columnist Robert J. Samuelson’s October 20th article that appeared in The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, “The label ‘entitlement’ has outlived its usefulness,” in which he opined that this nation’s defense and domestic programs are being shortchanged at the expense of programs for the elderly, poor, disabled, unemployed and college students, I could not be more amused.  How is it that the defense budget, which has nearly doubled since the horrific attack of September 11th, is being shortchanged?  America spends nearly as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, yet, according to Mr. Samuelson, we should be spending more.

Also included on Samuelson’s list of deadbeat moochers are receivers of farm subsides.  America pays about twenty billion dollars annually to farmers for crop insurance and commodity price supports.  How is it that politicians have no problem insuring crops but not the health of theirs constituents?  Moreover, why is it that our government artificially inflates the price of certain crops, such as wheat, cotton, sugar, tobacco and feed grains?  Is this not a form of socialism?  However, the really sad thing about this program is that most of the money is paid to Big Agra and mega farm owners.

After reading his article, I wanted to address one question to Samuelson; however, unlike most other op-ed writers that appear in the paper, his column does not include an email address, thus I decided to pose this inquiry to my fellow citizens.  My question is, Mr. Samuelson, assuming you own your own home, how much of an income tax savings do you receive via the home mortgage interest deduction on your annual tax return?  Why do taxpayers have to subsidize homeowners via the mortgage deduction, which encourages people to buy bigger houses than they might be able to afford at the expense of lower-income folks who can only afford to rent?  Personally, I find this type of “entitlement” far worse than helping the poor and the elderly, especially when you consider that the mortgage deduction entitles taxpayers to subsidize millionaires, helping them pay for their mansions.

Steven H. Spring

Throwaway, Not Throwback Uniforms

October 21, 2013

Why is it that football teams, both college and professional, take great pride in wearing hideous looking throwback uniforms?  We all know the answer, that being money.  Uniform makers, such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour make millions of dollars selling team jerseys, and by having more than just the typical home and away jerseys means much more revenue.  Especially from fans of the Oregon Ducks, who have something like three hundred different possible game uniform combinations.

Watching Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and my beloved Cleveland Browns, I could not help but laugh at the dreadful looking throwback uniforms worn by the Packers.  There is a very good reason why that team changed the design of their uniforms many years ago, that being they are truly ugly.  The Browns might have gotten their butts kicked by the Packers, but at least they did not look comical in doing so.

For it to be truly a throwback uniform, there should only be a couple of numbers and maybe the team name or insignia.  And especially no uniform manufacturer’s name or emblem plastered everywhere. However this is never the case.  Football lost its soul when it started placing the player’s name on the back of the jersey.  Identification of each player is the reason for a number in the first place.  After adding names, football as a game, changed from being about team and instead, certain position players (i.e., quarterbacks, running backs and especially now, wide receivers) have become huge stars, many times overshadowing the very team for which they play.

Granted, there are several pro teams whose throwback uniforms look better than what they currently wear, those being the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers.  However, all three of these teams came into existence in 1960 during the creation of the American Football League, which later merged with the National Football League in 1970.  I have yet to see a throwback uniform dating back much longer than 1960 that does not look repulsive.

Another thing many college teams are doing is wearing black uniforms, even though the school colors are anything but that.  Again, the reason is money, as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all know that black jerseys sell.  While channel surfing in search of a good game to watch; now days you never can tell what teams are playing because of all the different uniforms being worn.  Call me old-fashioned, or just plain old, however, when I watch a game I like to be able to recognize the teams playing by their uniforms.  Not being able to do so, I might as well be watching a game between Podunk U. and Northeastern Southwest State instead of two traditional powerhouse universities.

Thankfully, when the Browns, the team of my youth, wear their throwback uniforms, they look almost identical to what they currently wear.  The only thing that indicates something different is a small number on the helmets.  The reasoning for the popularity of these modified throwback uniforms, we are told, is that the players like them.  In reality however, what really do 18-20 year old, college kids know?  It is this very same generation who proudly wear their pants down around their knees.  We all know the real reasoning for the old-time uniforms.  Authentic team apparel is big business.  That is the sole reason for throwback jerseys rapid rise in popularity in recent years.

Steven H. Spring

Flowers #3405B, 3402C, 3404C, 3407B, 3406C & 3403B

October 19, 2013

I must admit that when I first became serious about gardening and photographing flowers about fifteen years ago, I thought Daylilies were just those funky looking orange flowers such as in these photographs.  Since then, I have come to learn that there are many glorious Daylilies that I would love to have growing in my gardens if not for the limited space I have outside my apartment.  Over the years, I have tried eliminating this particular flower from my gardens as I am still not very fond of them.  One thing I do not like about them are their very long stems.  My opinion has changed some about this plant during this past summer after tweaking the colors and tones on several photos to obtain somewhat decent photographs.

Daylilies thrive best with a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, though darker flowering plants such as purple and red need some shade as the darker colors soak up too much heat.  These plants adapt to a wide range of soil and light conditions, however they do best in slightly acidic, moist but well-drained soil.  Some Daylilies bloom in early spring, some in summer and some even in the fall.  The blooms come in many different shapes.  Depending on type, each plant should bloom for thirty to forty days.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too great 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

Stupid Commercials – Nissan Altima’s “The Break Up”

October 18, 2013

This particular commercial first aired last year, as an advertisement for Nissan’s band new 2013 Altima automobile.  At the time, it received heavy airplay. Then, as all commercials eventually do, it finally disappeared.  However, I have seen it several times during the past couple of weeks, and no, it has not lost any of its stupidity.

The premise of the commercial is that a man has purchased a new Altima; however, nothing in the commercial conveys this message.  The commercial starts innocently enough with a man walking into a gas station carrying a ball cap, coffee mug and a soda cup, all boasting the logo of presumably his favorite gas station.  The station attendant, who is very emotionally upset, tells the man he wanted him to keep the items.  The customer responds, “It would be weird.”

At this point in the commercial, viewers have no idea it is a car commercial, and one might think these two men are lovers, especially as the station attendant is in near tears over the assumed breakup.  We then see the customer getting back into his car while his wife/girlfriend asks, “How did it go?”  The man replies, “He’s upset.”  Finally, at the very end of the thirty second commercial that we are informed that Nissan’s 2013 Altima gets thirty-eight miles per gallon.

Granted, thirty-eight miles per gallon is decent gas mileage, but it is not as if the couple will never have to fill up their gas tanks again.  Even if the Altima doubled his gas mileage, they still probably would have to buy gas every other week.  The commercial makes it seem as if the customer will never have to purchase fuel for his car again, especially how broken hearted the station attendant seems to be.  Maybe, if this were an advertisement for an all-electric vehicle, would its theme be more plausible.  Since it is not, this commercial is just downright stupid.

With advertising having taken over our radio and television programming (there are now at least twice as many commercials on television as there was during the 1960s), those men and women who create the ads should have the decency of airing smart and/or funny commercials, in lieu of the unintelligent, mindless drivel that passes for this Nissan Altima advertisement.

Steven H. Spring

Flowers #715E, 628B, 749C, 749E, 750B, 776D, 775B & 661E

October 12, 2013

I must admit to not having a clue as to the type of flower this is.  Hopefully, someone can leave a comment to clear up the mystery.  I believe these are some of the first photographs I shot with my new digital camera (and first new camera in thirty-three years) this past June.  Looking at them now, I think I have learned quite a bit about which setting to use when shooting flowers.  I cannot wait until next June when these flowers bloom once again.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too great 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

Flowers #701B, 703B, 826B, 705B, 706B & 822B

October 5, 2013

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

U.S. Government Shuts Down

October 1, 2013

Pity those poor Republican members of the United State Congress.  Those uncompromising, deceitful, hatred-filled Democrats forced them to shut down the federal government, all because President Barack Obama had the audacity to get a health care bill passed into law three years ago, giving all Americans health insurance, something most every other industrialized nation provides its citizens.  The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act was passed by both houses of Congress, signed into law by the president, upheld by United States Supreme Court (that bastion of political liberalism) and was even approved by the majority of voting Americans this past November when they re-elected the president over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who ran on the premise of repealing the health care law, even though, as governor of Massachusetts, implemented the very same health care program that the so-called ObamaCare is based.  RomneyCare was based on an initiative proposed by the Heritage Foundation, itself a very conservative organization, so why all the Republican outrage over a health care plan created basically by the Republican Party.

U.S. presidents had been trying to implement some form of universal health care for seventy-five years, until President Obama was finally able to get it done.  We subsidize Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Agra and most likely every other big business along with giving the uber rich numerous tax cuts as well as subsidizing their million dollar mansions via the home mortgage deduction and it seems that we start a new war every other month, yet providing health care for the working poor is just too much to ask.  Congress recently had to cut food stamp benefits to the poor just so they could give Big Agra and the owners of mega-farms their desperately need farm subsidies.

Republicans have bent over backwards in the attempt to work with not only their fellow Democratic members of Congress and the president; yet, those terrible Democrats refuse to work with them in the best interest of the nation.  The president even chooses to eat alone and watch movies alone instead of inviting Republican members of Congress over for a political get together.  The nerve of this uppity president.  Jon Stewart probably said it best on his show last night, after showing several sound bits of Republican Congressmen whining that the president can successfully negotiate with the Russians, Syrians and Iranians, but not Republicans, when he concluded that maybe the problem isn’t the president.  In what may be the most ironic issue concerning the government shut down, members of Congress who created this self-induced political catastrophe will be paid, while members of our military, who are fighting our ongoing wars, will not.  This is a disgrace!

Many Republican members of Congress have appeared ecstatic on camera in recent days while leaving hearing rooms after discussing the proposed shut down.  They refuse to call the health care law by its proper name, preferring instead to use the intended derogatory title ObamaCare.  They even refuse to call it a law, instead refer to it as a bill, even though it has been a law for three years.  What’s that old saying, repeat a lie often enough and people will eventually believe it true.  It has also been reported that Congress is thinking about creating an exemption from the Affordable Care Act for the federal government, which just so happens to be the nation’s largest employer.

The 113th Congress appears headed to becoming not only the least productive but also that of most despised in this nation’s relatively short history.  Eighty-seven percent of Americans recently polled said they disapprove of Congress, while only ten percent said they approve.  Even if this shut down is adverted, or is settled within a matter of days, we still have another pending self-inflected crisis looming on October 17th.  It is on that date that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has determined the country will reach its current debt-ceiling limit.  As always the case in recent years, you just know the Democratic Party will turn what should be a very simple procedure to increase the debt ceiling as to be able to pay its already spent funds into a political football, and most likely will once again threaten to shut down the American government.

Free thinkers will surely get the gist of this post.  Lemmings, most likely will not.

Steven H. Spring