thought of the day:

Poverty and wealth are not punishment or rewards for our good or bad behavior. They are repeated patterns of resource allocation. The conditions and resources of your childhood will greatly affect where you end up in life. Poverty begets poverty, and wealth begets wealth. And yet, we as a society still mythologize the rich, and feed their wealth while we nickel and dime everyday folks as they fight over crumbs. Seems a bit backwards, would’t you say?

It’s been a long time…

…since I’ve posted. I took 4 year long break from blogging and pretty much gave up social media. Facebook and Google, in particular, in their ever-present collecting of our info got to me. It all became too much for me, so I took a break. And felt good and then 1 year became 2, 3 and finally 4. I realized I am actually much happier staying away from social media. It makes me feel sad with its snazzy and well scripted and edited version of our lives. The commercial part of me knows I should link my work and cross promote it and market it on social media. And yet, i just don’t really want to. I want my reemergence now to be free of all that. I’ve always wanted an audience. I’d like to think that maybe I can build one here.

But, I am who I am. And I am a photographer and videographer. So, I come out my hiatus now, because behemoth tech companies don’t get to ruin the internet or keep me away any longer.

Hello world! I’m back. I hope you enjoy. I know I will; for the first time in long time.

Notes from the Pine Barrens

Brendan Byrne State Forest

I have always hiked a lot in the winter. It seems anti-intuitive to most. While the cold weather tend to keep most of us indoors, the cabin fever it induces has led me to some of the greatest hiking I’ve done. There is something about the woods in the winter that calls my name. Now that spring has finally sprung, I wanted to discuss my last winter hike in Brendan Byrne State Forest before its too late.

Flat Sandy Trails for miles makes for quick travel.

The Pine Barrens are a unique piece of earth. They’re flat sandy pine forest running across southern New Jersey from the middle of the state to the ocean. At times the forest is very dense and at others it is vast and open. Its a unique stretch of forest that is a home to many contrasts.

The pines are abundant. There’s jack pinered pine, and pitch pine. The soil is very sandy, and very acidic. The fresh water in the area is naturally brownish due to the effects of pine trees and on the water. There are other trees here such as blackjack oak, and scrub oak, but the pines are dominant of course.

Even the ice is brown from the acid in the pines and the soil

The flatness makes the miles go quickly as hiker. The sandy soil is soft on the feet. As a Pennsylvanian, I’m used to rolling hills and endless mountains and literally the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania of which ive spent countless day hiking. This is not that; its, rather, the opposite. In many ways it reminds me of some of western deserts in West Texas and the Four Corners. Its the sandy scrubby soil and the low brush giving way to pines at higher elevations. However, the Pine Barrens are low elevation, as close to sea level as one is gonna get. In the deep heat of the summer you can feel a slight extra heavy pressure of moist sea level air contrasting the dryness of sandy pine forest.

The camo clothing lover in me wants to make a jacket with this pattern.

I wonder about the fishing opportunities. What kind of fish does the golden brown waters of the rivers, ponds and lakes produce? There are ponds and rivers throuout the Pine Barrens.

What lurks is these waters. overflow from a former berry bog,

I cannot speak to other types of outdoor activities here like hunting, mountain biking or motorcycling and quads. I can say I have definitely seen a lot of motorcycles and 4 wheelers on the trails in throughout the Pine Barrens. I sense they like this area based on their sheer quantity, but that is speculation.

in trms of hiking and backpacking, the Batona trail is an epic tout of the pine barrens. i have never backpacked overnight on the Batona Trail, but have section hiked most of it in past few years.

What side are you on?

The war in Ukraine has reignited a fire within the democracies of the world.

Tanks are rolling through Europe and bombs are dropping.  An authoritarian leader  is exacting revenge for grievances against the fatherland, screaming for blood and territory.  Pardon me for thinking it’s the 1920’s and 30’s all over again.  Yet the year is 2022 and the world has changed significantly in past 100 years.  The last 2 years alone have shown the rapid pace of historical change.  While we have been beaten down by a disease and divided and conquered in a hyper partisan American cold civil war, the ceaseless march of time and history continues forward. 

The brutality of the current moment is indisputable.  Yet, extreme moments in history can also be very clarifying…  The events of the past few days and weeks have done more to highlight the existential crisis not only outside our borders but within.  So America… it’s gut check time.  Whose side are you on?  What do you stand for?   Who do you stand with?

7.62 x 39mm rounds for the AK family of weapons. This soviet design is being employed by both sides of Ukrainian conflict.

This may seem like a simple question.  Ask any American whether they believe in freedom, liberty and a number of other standard American platitudes, most invariably will answer yes.  But the light of the truth demands from us something more.   So, I will ask you in more clear terms:  Do you believe in democracy or authority?   Do you believe in the sanctity of elections to determine our leaders or do you think your enthusiasm should determine the  outcome, rules be damned?  Do you believe in the rule of law or the rule of individual will?  Are the responsibilities of  a civil and democratic society too much a payment for the rights that we hold dear?  Do you think that violence is a legitimate form of political expression?  Do you think a free press is the “enemy of the people”?

7.62 x39mm ammunition. Ukraine needs tons of this ammo to fight off Russia.

This is a pivot point in history.  The democracies of the world once again must unite to destroy the threat of fascism.  The problem we face as Americans is that we are weakened and divided from within. Through the electoral college victory of an authoritarian candidate in the 2016 election, America has flirted not only with giving up on democracy, but has turned its back on its values.  By attacking the core institutions of our democracy and quite literally attacking our legislative branch, said authoritarian candidate has brought our country to a  socio-cultural breaking point. Americans seem to be largely more fixated on grievances than building a better society.

Auschwitz- Birkenau Concentration Camp.

I travelled throughout Poland in 2003. The entire country was ”under construction” as years of Soviet influence had left Poland hungry for freedom and in need of great physical repair. Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau was a life changing experience, chilling to the core. The horrors that occurred here are a reminder of what can happen when we don’t defend democracy and human rights. The conflict we see now in Ukraine is taking place next door. The geopolitics and alignments of countries has changed, but once again Poland must be looking on this situation with anxious eyes. They have played this game before. It didn’t go so well.

Another view Auschwitz- Birkenau Concentration Camp.

Where do you stand?  Do you stand for freedom, peace and prosperity for all or are you already bowing on your knees to the Putins and Trumps of the world? Do you believe in human rights or that might makes right? Do you believe in government  by and for the people or do you think the whims of the rich, powerful, and well armed  should determine the fate of our lives and the course of history?

So I ask you one last time: where do you stand? Or are you already bowing down?  For me the choice has always been clear; I will never stop fighting for democracy.

40 photos for my 40th. 40 of 40.

Here’s to 40 more! Video from George C. Child’s Recreation area. #pahiking #pennsylvania #delawarewatergap #hiking #outdoors #woods #winterhiking #snow #streams

40 photos for my 40th. 36 of 40.

George C. Child’s Recreation area. #pahiking #pennsylvania #delawarewatergap #hiking #waterfalls #icywaterfalls #winterhiking #winter