Friday, February 27, 2009


Four-Hulls, originally uploaded by Paul-G.

A little something to tide me over for a bit during this extremely busy week (coming home from work just a bit too tired to trust my writing skills and interpretive judgement).

I shot this image at the County Dock in Mandarin Florida last weekend (our favorite spot to de-stress and catch a Florida sunset). Post-processing in Photoshop Elements, using the Topaz Adjust add-in filter.

Hopefully this is a harbinger of a peaceful weekend to come. We have started (as of last week) a Saturday morning Tai Chi beginner's class -- and I have a photo going up for auction at the Florida Native Plant Society.

A happy and safe weekend wish for all....simple.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Blast From The Past

And now for something completely different....

About 35 years ago... Back in college in central Ohio... I played saxophone and sang in a 1950's Rock an Roll Revival Band called Dick E. Do and the Don'ts. The guy in the top photo (shot a a concert we played at Centerville High School) is Russ -- our lead guitar player. Until two years ago, I had not seen Russ since graduation in '75. That's me, immediately below -- breaking the hearts of the high school girls...

A couple of years ago someone had the bright idea that it was time to get the band back together again -- at least to hang out for a few days. So four of us (two have died and a couple couldn't make it) met in Austin Texas to gawk at each other's signs and symptoms of aging after more than 30 years. So here's Russ -- older and a little wiser, two years ago at a guitar show we stopped at in Austin...

Ah, but there's more... early last week I get a text message on my 21st century cell phone asking if we would like some company for a day. Turns out our boy Russ was biking from Texas through Florida -- taking a week off of being an oil company executive.

So this is Russ, as of yesterday morning, along with Mrs. Muse (who was a mere rock and roll groupie back in the day). The man still plays a mean guitar...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The (Un)Disciplined Life...

Simplicity is a discipline. Just like any other discipline it requires practice -- habituation in order for the lifestyle to take hold and become a natural part of who you are. Simple. Unless, like me you happen to be a naturally undisciplined person -- and that will sound totally foreign to many people who think they know me pretty well. The people I work with, for instance. People who are used to seeing me focus on a problem for hours -- to be among the first to arrive, eat lunch at my desk while continuing to work, and often work late into the night. But outside of the work environment..... well that's another story entirely.

I have a huge variety of interests -- some of you already know about that. I have this photography habit that can have me looking in the river grass for the stray raccoon looking for the stray snail or clam, while balanced on a rotting piece of wood at low tide, for instance. I have this music interest that causes me to search the unpopular racks at out of the way music shops for that off-beat CD, or sends me on 300 mile cross-state trips to perform with The Ashley Gang for a 30 minute set and no pay -- or at least not enough to cover the cost of gas. I have this technology thing going that keeps me in front of my iMac for hours working with digital images, answering emails, working on my photo site, checking out friends on MySpace or checking in with my nephew and nieces on Facebook. I have this reading thing that lands my nose in a James Madison or Thomas Jefferson biography, or a Richard Russo novel late into the night. I believe that learning is an eternal, ever present necessity. I like to hike -- need to hike -- and spend time in the wonder of natural, undeveloped Florida. I'm more of a loner than a people person, but family time, grandkid time, is essential. Then there's this writing thing -- and here I am. Doing one thing and always knowing that I could be doing something else -- always worried that I'm missing an opportunity. Mental hyperactivity. So what's the difference? Why can I manage the distractions at work, stay focused and keep on a strait line from start to finish there, but not here? This is my dilemma -- my simple living challenge. I've thought about it and come up with some basic ideas...
  • At work I'm an "organizational captive" -- at home I'm not "captive"
  • At work I have a limited (though large) focus -- at home the depth of field is unlimited
  • At work I have a set of tools -- email, calendars and schedules, a team with a shared focus, incentives, a strong ethical obligation because of the nature of the work, a distraction-limiting environment (office)
So, my question is what of this set of circumstances can I translate from the in-office to the out-of-office environment, or in fact, should I? I think the answer is no -- certainly not all of it, but maybe some of it. Maybe one thing (at a time). With care not to confuse simplification with not doing things -- I have just about determined that the broad resolution to "simplify" is too complicated. Just pick one thing. I'm not willing to sacrifice my creativity to a simplicity pledge. But I am willing to cast out the unnecessary for the essential. To identify the time wasters and life wasters -- by employing a few of those work life tools to identify the waste (TV time for instance), remove it and keep it out.

New pledge:
  • one hour per day max with intellectually stimulating content - no American idol.
  • read twenty pages of something non-work related every day.
  • Tai Ch'i class on Saturday mornings (when not on the road making music)
Hey -- it's a (re)start! -- simple.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Photography Site Move and Upgrade

Indulging my primary passion -- I am moving my River Road Photography website from its current home to the photo sharing site "Smug Mug". Smug provides great opportunity for customizing / personalizing the way photos are displayed, has a good system for sales, and offers technical and account assistance (essential customer service) at a superb level. So with an assist from David Wolf at Wolf Snap Photography, I am putting together a simple, yet attractive site that reflects me and my photography (I designed and produced the site banner shown above, and David has handled the rest).

Access to the site will soon be available through my URL, but in the interim, you can get a glimpse of the work in progress HERE. Your feedback and ideas will be appreciated as we continue to build the site over time. For now, I am focusing on my themes of simplicity, and environmental preservation. So go check it out! Simple....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Little More Music...

Short of having the capability of embedding music files directly into this blog -- and in response to a few folks expressing some interest in hearing more and old Muse's tunes, I went ahead an signed up for my own MySpace Music page and uploaded a few of my unreleased solo recordings. These are songs that I had recorded at Acoustic Music Production in West Palm Beach when the Ashley Gang band (see posts and links below) was working on our second album. They are just me and my guitar -- all my own compositions based on real events.

"Home for the Healing" is based on Florida Author Patrick Smith's unfortunate experience during a north Florida winter road trip.

"WalMart of Her Dreams" was inspired by the tale told by a co-worker of mine whose wife was so anxious for the opening of a new Super WalMart near their home that she would watch the construction progress from her car.

"Cat" was inspired by an old yellow ferrule male feline who frequently visited our yard in vane attempts to woo our female house cat. Both have long since departed this world, but the song is left behind.

You can find them HERE.   I'll probably put up more over time -- some from the same sessions, and some from my 1996 solo album. And if you haven't already, please drop by the Ashley Gang's MySpace page here to check out songs from the whole band.

I'll also have a new photography website up in the next couple of weeks -- will keep you appraised of where to find it in the days ahead. And yes, this is all part of my life simplification project for 2009 -- just a couple more pieces of the puzzle falling into place.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!