Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why the Electoral College Reigns Over US Presidential Elections

When the Constitution of the United States was created there was almost no communication for distances. The election of a President would have required months before an actual winner was known by popular vote. The brilliance of our founding fathers is partially shown by the method they choose to elect a leader.

The Electoral College is an organization of persons that each state elects to vote for a President. Members of this college represent the populations of the various states from which they are elected.

The creation of the Electoral College System made our nation a republic rather than a democracy. We elect persons to vote for us during a Presidential Election.

Originally the system was probably the best that could be created at that time. There was no provision for a regular check of the system for better replacements. The election of electoral members in the early days allowed them to travel to a central location and then elect a President. This is still used today even though our communication systems allow us to know the desire of the majority of voters immediately. The President is still not officially chosen on Election Day.

The Electoral College members can still elect basically whom they wish regardless which candidate they have been chosen to elect by the population. Some states do require the members to vote as they have been directed by the citizens but not all. There have been elections in the recent past that have shown the majority of citizens voted for a losing candidate but due to the configuration of the electoral system the majority of each state voters are represented.

There is still the possibility that a tie could occur in the Electoral College and then the President would be chosen by the House of Representatives. This could throw a new vision to the voters if it ever happened. Regardless of such possibilities most politically active people want to hang on to the college system. Our system of communication is far above problems within the Electoral College. Many citizens are still concerned that pure democracy without the Electoral College would create massive problems. If the current system ever goes wild then they should learn rapidly that democracy is not dangerous but political motivations of persons in our system might be. We need to manage a new system to allow up to date vote tabulation by the individual person. This needs to be accomplished before we have a major problem.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Action Photography Tips

Action photography is an exciting and creative section of general photography. It can be completed for personal or public use, giving the photographer a sense of creation for the product gained. The photographer is in full control of what methods to use. Cameras may be of any variety and can range from cheap to very expensive. The camera used will be the choice of the photographer as to their personal comfort zone. Many expensive cameras are available to assist the photographer in ease of use.

Action pictures do not allow time for individual scene set up. You must prepare your camera for a coming frame and wait for it to develop. Desired shots arrive rapidly and give you only seconds to complete the shot. The desired shot will arrive and your capture of it will be skill with luck added.

Simple cameras are still very good at capturing special pictures. The ease of use allows a person to remain focused on the object of the picture shoot. Cheap digital cameras of today take very good pictures and require little set up for normal functions. Pictures can be great without constant worry about what setting to use for the shots. Simplicity is the name of the game. The point and shoot system of simple cameras allow great instant pictures. Too many photographs are made with excessive pre-click time in surveying the picture subject and background. Snap shot pictures are invariably great and allow complete framing without need of mental set up prior to the shoot.

Professional photography is great if you have the funding for the proper equipment. The time required for picture set up and framing is nice if you have a stationary target for your picture. Action photography seldom gives you the time required for mentally created pictures. Much of the best photography through the ages has been from instant shots at the moment action happens. Skills in action photography are gained through active participation in the same. You must be involved with action events and search for methods that produce good results for you. This is the same as with other professions and whether you consider action photography a duty or a hobby, the end result will be good from hard work. Relax and capture your perfect action moment.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tips for Easier Travel

May has come. The time for moving on has arrived. Each year the season seems to come slower as we await the venture of the road. The preparation is basically the same and there is a boring ceiling on the needed maintenance before the time comes to leave. Plans have been checked and rechecked and visions of great fun ahead brings thoughts of joy. A date is selected for the start of the year's journey for the summer. We all desire to catch holidays as we can and this in turn helps get us through the miserable winter days that so many suffer with. Americans have always looked forward to retirement but most in the past never planned very well. This creates the masses in the fixed income bracket. If you are this group like I am you know that holiday plans have to be within means.

I have found that basic holiday plans will not suffer too much, but they will be slowed down in order to accomplish what we wish. A new problem has been given us. The price of fuel has rocketed here to us. We have been sitting fat, dumb and happy as we paid low prices. We still sit at a point way below in price for fuel compared to the rest of the world. We are horrified to see our prices heading to $4 a gallon and more. Our love of giant RV vehicles has given false pride and now they are costing us much more per mile.

All this has given us concern but slowly we seem to be coming to the proper idea of how to cope. With a fixed income I have learned to plan trips with less miles per day. You don't move very fast but you can still have your holiday. When money begins to draw down then it is time to sit still for a time. This is a hard lesson to be learned. Everything has price increases now and I still find that my old gas hog motor coach is cheaper for most travel. If you have to stay in motels and eat in restaurants you soon learn that these are much more expensive now. A decent motel will bare a price of $75 to $125 a night. There are cheaper places but they don't meet my conditions. I drove big trucks over the road in the past and found that constant dining on the roadway is not so great. I also cherish my own comfortable bed.

One of the gifts we get from the changed rules of holiday fun is we manage to see much more of areas we pass through. We are great for living in an area for years and never really seeing what is around that can be enjoyed. I purposely search the Internet for things to see as we move along. I have traveled most roads in the states and still admit I have seen little of the country. The saying of "Stop and smell the roses" seems appropriate here. I have also learned that slower travel is some better for my old bones.

I have one great aid for the holidays now. I am retired and therefore have no need for speed. I am now happy to travel a distance of 900 miles and take up to 10 days to get there. The old saying applies here for me - 'Home is where we down jacks!' I have been in high gear most of my life and now that shows on my health and appearance. I doubt that high fuel prices will ever stop RV travel. We are seeing fuel prices rapidly heading upward and diesel prices are higher than other fuels. This has been caused by a large increase in personal vehicles that burn that fuel.

I have now found a new joy. I look for unique things as I travel. I have seen many interesting items as I have traveled but now I take pictures. The digital camera has also given us the luxury of cheap photography and almost instant pictures. Polaroid recently announced that it will discontinue its instant camera and film within the next year. Another era has come to a close. So all that is required for a wonderful holiday is to get out there and go.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Lost Norwegian


By G. LaVerne Crowell


Ollie Schvents grew up in Minnesota in the early 19th century. He was an adventurous lad and constantly was out in the woods tromping around. At times he might be missing for a week but his parents had finally learned to accept the way he was and they allowed him his ‘out time’. Ollie loved wild animals and he grew to learn from them as he watched nature’s progress in his wilderness. There were not many people in the area yet and he enjoyed being as an animal while wandering around in the woods. He managed to miss most of the education that his parents felt he needed and finally they stopped pushing him to the book learning. He always told them he was far ahead in his education from nature. His parents had to admit that he needed nothing to survive out in nature and he was definitely happy with living there.

By the time Ollie was sixteen years old he had very long hair and a weathered face. His parents began seeing him less each month and they knew soon he would probably never return home. Ollie began venturing further out into the wilderness and finally he headed toward the western direction. He soon found that the land in this direction was very open and this presented him a challenge to survive while he moved through this land. He watched and learned from animals to survive on his own. He began acting more like a coyote as he caught things to eat. He ran into small groups of Indians while he was moving along and they gave him a wide range. They seemed to think he was crazy or something. This did not bother Ollie since he had no wish to get involved with other humans right now.

Ollie moved steady toward the west and he could see that winter would be coming before long. He could get himself a burrow to survive the season but he finally decided to move to the south where the land was somewhat warmer. A hard winter in the north could leave a person very hungry. After traveling long distances through the barren land he finally found some great mountains. This was new to him, as he had never seen such things. He did soon learn that the area was easy to survive in but also was getting very cold. With this he headed south again. Without intending Ollie lived through the winter while he was moving south. He did not have a bad time since he was on the move and ate as he could. The snow and hard wind did not bother him as he moved along.

One day while he was moving along he slipped on some icy rocks and his leg was twisted and he heard a loud snap. His leg suddenly hurt badly. He figured he had broken his leg. He knew that most wild animals that broke legs would soon die. He sat thinking through his injury and trying to figure what to do next. He found that when he held his leg straight it felt better. He gathered a couple of larger sticks and managed to bind them on the side of his leg with some vine he found. This helped the leg a lot and he next found an old Indian dwelling under a cliff. He moved in to get out of the weather and see if he could get food there. He found that many small animals were not that afraid of him so he settled down to allow his leg to get well. He managed to stay awake at night and he could catch rabbits as they came too close to him. If he was fast and did not allow them to squeal they would not frighten off others. So Ollie was getting food and in a protected environment for the time he needed.

After many days his leg was in good shape and he was feeling the increased heat from the weather. He headed on and hoped to find some mountains that would be cooler. He carried a larger stick he had found and hoped it would assist him in moving by giving him additional security from falling. He came to an area of barren land that had many large structures rising without touching others. These were some way apart. He also had seen some other Indians in this area but as before they stayed off from him. He could wave his stick in the air and these Indians would turn and run rapidly from him.

Ollie soon arrived in an area that had some mountains that had trees growing on them. He was enjoying all this and was happy. The weather was not real hot and he was able to gather food from berries and such besides small animals. He soon was joined by more Indians in the area and these did not seem to be afraid of him as others had been. One night in a camp he had made, a small group of warriors came in. They were jabbering and he couldn’t understand them but they were not acting in any threatening way toward him. They had their food with them and a brave started a fire. These Indians cooked their meat and gave some to Olli. The group sat around and jabbered almost constantly. Finally an Indian got up and walked to Ollie. He looked at him and then pointed to his leg. The Indian walked a little then with a slight limp and Ollie now knew they were discussing his leg that had been injured. He figured he probably did limp some with it. The Indian returned to Ollie and spoke slowly saying “Co tak” as he pointed to Ollie’s leg. Ollie had to laugh even though he did not understand. Soon everyone at the fire was looking at Ollie and saying “Co tak”. Finally everyone found a place to lie down and the night was over.

The next day the morning came after everyone was up. An Indian handed Ollie a piece of dry meat and again said “Co tak” to him. The Indians got together and started to move out. A couple of the braves motioned for Ollie to come also so he did as he had nothing else to do anyway. This started a long history for Ollie with the Indians. He learned their language and they were Apache. His name that he now learned was “Co tak” which meant ‘two step’. He kinda liked this name and the Indians treated him as if he was one of them. They accepted that he was able to care for himself and a friendship grew between him and the tribe. This tribe lived among the mountains and the lower desert floor that their tribe spread over. Ollie had become the same as a member of the tribe and many of the chiefs had tried to get him to marry a woman of the tribe. Ollie had no use for a woman as he could see so he stayed alone. He did enjoy the tribal dances and participated in these plus warrior games. He was a very hard person to beat in the games.

Years past and Ollie was living among the tribe plus out on his own at times. The tribe had accepted the fact that he was a special individual and let him do his thing, much as his parents had. Ollie did enjoying finding the yellow metal that the tribe had shown him and he would fashion this into pretty little charms for the women of the tribe. The Indians had no use to this metal and until now they could see no worth in it. Soon the warriors were seeing that gifts to the women of the tribe were special and Ollie was gaining some great privileges from these gifts. Now the young braves were watching Ollie very close and they were learning how to find and make these small gifts. Before long Ollie began learning to hide his gathering of the metal and keeping clear of warriors that followed him. As the time marched on, Ollie began getting further and further from living with the tribe. He had gained a lot of years now and he was looking as if he was very old. The weather had hardened his face and it showed a very old man. Ollie was still very limber in his body but at times he would act as if he was having trouble with sitting and standing. This was a way of fooling warriors who were following him.

Things finally came around to the place that Ollie had to leave the tribe. He had seen other humans just out of the mountains and he wanted to be close to some humans in order to get his special way with ladies of the various tribes. He knew his metal work would always keep him in communication with these various ladies. He wandered toward a new camp of other humans and when he arrived he found the place was occupied by white people like his parents. He began a new life now and found that their dances were even more fun than the Indian ones. He kept his name as ‘two step’ until people at a dance were surprised that he could not dance the two-step. He had learned another dance as a very young child that his parents had taught him. This was the waltz. Now he was displaying his abilities with this dance and before long he was being called ‘Mr. Waltz’ by the white people.

Ollie continued his gathering of the yellow metal for making trinkets for the ladies and he soon learned this metal was called ‘gold’. He managed to disappear many times into the mountains and was very adapt in hiding his trail from both Indians and white men. Many people had tried to follow him but none were able to do such. Soon Ollie found that this metal was valued by the white men and he could get many things to make his life much nicer. Although he was looking as a man into this late seventies, he was actually almost a 100 years. He was in very good condition for his age and he knew his activity in the wilds had helped him with this. Rumors spread rapidly about his “gold mine” in the Superstition Mountains but no one had been able to follow him and find it.

Ollie had obtained a burro to assist him in carrying things for his personal use in the wilds and he could hide the burro as well as himself while he was in the mountains. This assisted him with his older age now as he was feeling the age. He no longer needed special privileges from the ladies and he was finding that humans were more depressing everyday. He finally left town and moved into the mountains and was never seen again. Stories have developed over the years about this man and who knows but what the man is still living a grand old time hidden within the mountains.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Barnes and Noble Book Signing

We've been all over Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas this summer pushing my books and doing impromptu signings in local stores, libraries and private parties, but this was my first "Official" Book Signing. It was held at a large Barnes & Noble in Mesa, AZ. on 09/11/2006.

We had a good time, talked to many folks, passed out lots of book markers and business cards. Even sold a few books! Overall we were pleased with the evening. I've posted a couple of photos here.

Hope to see YOU at the next one!




Thursday, July 27, 2006

An Episode of Gallantry


By G. LaVerne Crowell

The dawn broke crystal clear, not a wisp of white to be observed anywhere.  At seven a.m. in the morning the temperature had just cleared 90 degrees.  It was July 4th in beautiful, bountiful Arizona.  Arizona, it should be noted at this time, abounds with wildlife of every type.  One of the more graceful and pleasant species of this wildlife is a midsize quail.  They are lovingly referred to as "Desert Quail" by local residents.  "Desert Quail" are somewhat prolific during the spring, summer, and fall, producing between five and 20 offspring per family.  Though this may seem to be a rather large family, it must be noted at this point that "Desert Quail" are a favorite dish with Mr. Coyote.  And, due to their size, one is not a main course.

In order to further provide stage sets for this episode, it most be brought to your attention that in the Spring of this year, a four foot trench was excavated behind our trailer.  This trench was being prepared for the installation of new electric, water, and phone lines.  The trench was constructed in a manner to allow dirt to be piled high between it and the fence.  The width of this trench was approximately 18 to 24 inches.

At this stage of the story, we must return to the original date above.  I was outside enjoying the lovely morning and tending to various farm chores of feeding the chickens and watering the crop.  The terms "chickens" and "crop" are to be translated as "doves and quail" and "grass".  During these duties a family of desert quail penetrated the rear fence and proceeded to venture toward the feeding area.  This particular family was within the normal size of approximately 15 young and two loving parents.  The young quail were new hatched and appeared to match the size of a fifty cent coin.  Imagine if you can a feather of that size with two toothpicks protruding down.  This should paint a realistic mental photograph of the young.

The loving parents proceeded over the three foot mound of dirt and across the trench with graceful ease.  However, the rest of the family, being a bit smaller and not as sure footed, proceeded to drop into the construction trap with vigor, until not one small one was out of the trench.  Mother quail immediately recognized the situation as one requiring emergency response.  She proceeded to produce extensive noise as only would be emitted by a quail in such a situation.  She then jumped into the trench itself in an attempt to teach the young how easy escape would be.  Having failed in her attempt at instructing the young in the art of trench escaping, she again flew out and continued the proclaim the emergency with great gusto.

The mother quail's insistent proclamation reached my impaired ears and I immediately recognized some sort of emergency situation was unfolding.  I proceeded to the scene of the tragic event and observed the threat.  With my extensive military training I perceived the proper action that needed to be taken.  I immediately informed higher headquarters (Joyce) of the situation.  As anyone of the human race knows, female emergency response is highly developed.  Joyce re conned the scene and immediately called Carol.  At this time an emergency response team was formed, trained, and dispatched to the scene.

It needs to be noted at this point that my condition did not allow for mobilization in construction sites.  (And no I was not intoxicated!)  The construction trench behind the trailer was designed for approximately 20 feet of length and then dirt dams placed to avoid cave in possibilities.  It should also be noted that these small single feathers with toothpicks are designed to navigate 20 feet in just under three nano seconds. 

The emergency response team entered the trench at this time in an attempt to assist the speeding bullets in escape.  As anyone involved in emergency response teams knows, speeding bullets are not easily assisted in any direction.  Carol positioned herself toward one end of the trench, Joyce at the other.  Now imagine a trench constructed of marble and polished.  Place 15 droplets of mercury in the bottom and attempt to extricate the same.  This might bring to your mind a similar scene as to the happenings with our situation at the moment.

The emergency response team rapidly learned that these droplets were not designed for easy capture.  An immediate change in technology provided a plan to scoop the droplets out rather  than waste moments in capture attempts.  Human hands can to placed as to resemble a grain scoop shovel with some imagination.  However, one must also understand to  scoop grain is much easier than droplets of mercury.  As the scooping procedure was initiated, mother quail was assisting as best she could.  Verbally that is!  The scooping procedure began to accomplish the team’s mission.  The mission was compounded somewhat by the fact that each droplet was required to reenter the trench at least twice before finally reaching the fence and proceeding through it to mom and dad quail.

The entire procedure, from an overview, was not unlike watching bears in Alaska attempting to scoop fish out of a roaring stream.  The main exception might be that you would have to increase the film speed approximately to Mach 1.  The thought occurred to me at the time, and it is heard, to various exercise professionals, that this might prove a very good form of exercise for anyone!  Needless to say ‑ after 15 minutes or so of this mission in full progress, the mission was fulfilled.

It now has been several weeks since this episode.  There have been no other incidents requiring the reactivation of the emergency response team involved.  It has been heard from street talk around that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been studying and conferencing regarding this incident.  It was said that they ( FEMA) have never enabled such a team to respond with such swiftness and efficiency, let alone actually completing the mission!  Hollywood was considering movie rights etc to the incident, however, after much consideration, it was concluded that such short movies ended popularity around 1894.

EPILOG

Several sittings ‑ believed to be of this quail family ‑ have been made lately.  Most of the young have survived and all appear to be doing well.  The young are now approximately 7/8 grown.  It is hoped that grandchildren and great grandchildren will remember this touching story about nature.