Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Off to Wisteria

No blogging for a few days. I am off to the Wisteria Cornstalk Music Festival, where I have been hired to teach contact improv workshops. Megan is going along as my assistant. I'm looking forward to a great experience, and good music to boot.

I may get a chance to post, but there is no Internet connection where we will be. Look for me in a few days!

Join eyeDance! Click HERE to be notified of new posts.

Read the rest of the post!

Monday, July 28, 2008


There is an orgy going on at my house, even as I type this. Writhing copulation without any concern at all about whether the neighbors are watching. Two, three, and even four or more bodies entwined, thrashing and jerking all over the garden. Oh, did I forget to mention that I was referring to Asian Beetles? There are thousands of them in my yard, mating and eating the leaves of my plants into a lace patchwork.

Asian Beetle Orgy

This one is best Viewed LARGE. Go ahead and peek, they don't care and I seldom look at out-clicks. Who's going to know?

Join eyeDance! Click HERE to be notified of new posts.

Read the rest of the post!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just a Little Off the Top, Please

Reena had a little growth on her nose that popped up a year ago. Nothing terrible, just a "fibrous papule of the nose" according to her doc. This morning she went in to have it removed. They had several options of how to remove it, but opted to freeze it and cut it out using something like a tiny cookie cutter. I had suspected that she would come home with a gargantuan piece of gauze and a few six-inch strips of tape holding it in place. Sort of comical overkill. I was pleasantly surprised to see a smallish round band-aid in place.

The end result of the process was a single stitch closing the wound. It will come out in a few days.

Being the sort of person who can spend hours wrapping a present, Reena was having none of the bandage the doc put on. Nope, she stopped at Walgreens and bought some mostly clear round bandages, and proceeded to cut it to fit her delicate schnoz.

Being the loving husband that I am, I crowded into the bathroom with her to photo-document the process. Being the Leo that I am, I had to get at least one shot of me getting the shot. Such thoughtfulness! But after all, it's probably the only nose job she will ever get.

All done, it is clear that her efforts have paid off. The new bandage is about as unobtrusive as possible. I wonder if she will make three or four of them so she's ready for work on Monday morning, or will it be Panic In The Bathroom as she realizes that she is gonna miss her bus while she's trimming the bandage? Only the Shadow knows!

In the meantime, she is not standing out like a sore thumb, and looks just lovely. In a couple of weeks one will never know there was a red blob there in the first place. Perfect!

Join eyeDance! Click HERE to be notified of new posts.

Read the rest of the post!

Wild Sunset Over Lake Mendota

I was at the Memorial Union last night, hanging out with friends and drinking Bell's yummy Oberon beer. The music was OK, and the place was really crowded. It's hard to go wrong with a Friday night at the Terrace! While I was yakking away, I noticed that the quality of light had changed pretty significantly. I was in a shaded area, so it wasn't immediately apparent. Grabbing my camera, I excused myself from the table and trotted off to the top of the Hoofer boathouse. My jaw almost hit the ground when I saw the sky! I ran down to the pier area and started shooting.

Wild Sunset Over Pier
Wild Sunset at UW Memorial Union - View LARGE

I almost couldn't believe that it was real. It didn't seem like colors like that should be possible. We get a few such sunsets a year, but this one really made my eyes pop. After I was done shooting I wished I had thought to grab my circular polarizing filter as it would have made the one patch of blue sky stand out like it should. There were hundreds of people about, and only a handful seemed to be paying the slightest attention to what was going on over their heads. I saw some other cameras around, so I'll be looking at Flickr to see if others got good shots.

Wild Sunset With Lake Rescue
Wild Sunset with the Lake Rescue Boat - View LARGE

Please understand that this is really what the sky looked like. There is no camera trickery, no filters except UV, and no Photoshop involved. It really was that amazing. I'm glad I was there to see it. These were 1/60 second at f/4.5 using ISO 200. The exposure bias was -2/3 EV.

Join eyeDance! Click HERE to be notified of new posts.

Read the rest of the post!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cycropia Prepares for Orton Festival

I'm delighted to be talking lessons with the Madison based Cycropia Aerial Dance Troupe. Learning to dance while flying on various ceiling-hung apparatus such as low trapeze, steel bars, hoops, and poles, or "silk" fabric (generally tricot) has definitely been a fun and exciting challenge. I have been fortunate to be able to perform in a couple of their shows, and loved every second of it. Each year in August, Cycropia performs a show at the Orton Park Festival, a show that is amazing, crowd-pleasing, and free. This year is no exception. The setting is outdoors, and the apparatuses used for the perfomance are hung from the limbs of an ancient, sprawling oak tree. (As an aside, Cycropia donates money to vaccinate this tree to prevent Oak blight.) The work that goes into this performance is mind-boggling, and rehearsals are at full-steam for the Aug 22-23 weekend shows.

Jenn and Gini on the "S"teel
Jenn and Gini on S-shaped Apparatus

Last Friday night the entire troupe and many of the student flyers met at the Boys and Girls Club gymnasium to have an initial run through of the show. The dancers all performed their works-in-progress for the critical review by the audience of their peers. The goal was to use the trained audience as outside eyes to look for ways to improve the piece, making it stronger and more pleasing to a more naive audience at the festival.

Cycropian Billy
Cycropian Billy and a Jury of His Peers

Reviewing Each Piece
Reviewing Each Piece

My role in this year's show is minor, and I'm enjoying the process immensely. Between each piece, the apparatus used needs to be switched out for another, and that can take several minutes. While necessary, it is not particularly interesting to the audience.

Rigging the Mobile
Rigging the Mobile

To provide entertainment during those transitions, a group of performers (including me) will be dancing or otherwise performing vignettes that help to tie the various pieces into a cohesive theme. Taken individually, the transition performances are akin to the clowns at a rodeo. Taken as a whole during the show, they are a subplot to the story. But oh, the story itself unfolds as a thing of wonder and delight. There are very few people who see the show at Orton who do not walk away thoroughly pleased.

Linda and Patrick
Linda and Patrick - Duet

What a treat to be part of it! If you are in Madison, or nearby, I urge you to come to the show. You won't be disappointed. Seeing it three years ago is what hooked me.

Join eyeDance! Click HERE to be notified of new posts.

Read the rest of the post!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Snidely Loses Again

I keep having this recent conversation bouncing around in my head. I was at work, meeting with a vice president of a company who was trying to sell us their services. My boss and coworker were present as well. During a non-business interruption in our conversation, this VP-Sales (who I will refer to as Snidely from here on out, as in Snidely Whiplash) related a story about his prowess as a bargain hunter and his haggling skills. It seems Snidely stopped at a yard sale and the little old lady running it (I'll call her Nell) had a moped for sale. It was some version of a Honda Spree with an sking price of $500 on it. Snidely tried to start it, and it wouldn't. Nell was confused because the scooter had just been serviced. She excused herself to go call her husband (Dudley?) to see if he could figure out why the scooter wouldn't start.


While Nell was making the call, Snidely figured out that the kill switch was turned to Off. Flipping it to On, he turned the key and hit the starter button again. It started right up. He quickly shut it off and turned the kill switch back to Off. When Nell came back out, she informed him that Dudley couldn't figure out why it wouldn't start, and was annoyed because he had just had the scooter serviced and it had worked at the shop. Nell, being an honest woman, said she couldn't sell the non-working scooter for $500, so she would sell it as-is for $200. Snidely, twirling his mustache no doubt, said that seemed too high and convinced Nell to knock another $25 off. The scooter changed hands for $175.

Back in the office, Snidely was relating this story to us - his prospective clients - with apparent glee. He was delighted that he had "haggled" the price down so far. After he left, my boss, coworker, and I had a follow up conversation. I asked them if I was the only one horrified by his story. Nope, we were uniformly appalled. We all agreed that his story seemed indicative of how we could expect to be treated if we did business with his company. We never really even talked about whether their service or rates were competitive or not. Snidely doomed his business by being a sleazeball in his personal life, and taking delight in ripping off Nell and Dudley who were merely ignorant about the scooter.

As this encounter keeps ping-ponging around in my head, all I can think about is my mother-in-law in the role of Nell. This sort of thing could easily happen to her, and for the same sort of reasons. We try to be her Dudley Doright kids and sons-in-law, but we're not always in time to untie her from the railroad tracks. So to all the Snidely Whiplash's out there, please take a Golden Rule refresher course.

Join eyeDance! Click HERE to be notified of new posts.

Read the rest of the post!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blessed With It All

Here we are sweltering through the dog days of summer. Everyone is muttering about how sticky we are as we go through outdoor activities bathed in sweat. Air conditioning seems like a godsend after yard work. The mosquitos are ravenous, and the whiiiiine of one after your head hits the pillow means waking up with an itchy, puffy bite somewhere on your body.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to post a reminder of what was going on four and a half months ago, at the end of February. Perhaps this will help you feel just a little bit cooler today:

Five Feet Deep

Each extreme in its season, I guess. I can't imagine living in a place that didn't have four distinct seasons. Wisconsin gets quite the range of temperatures in the course of a year. Lows of -10 (F) happen pretty much every year, and highs of 95 (F) are also pretty routine. Add in 75 percent humidity and that feels pretty thick and steamy. On the plus side we frequently get absolutely delightful spring and fall weather. In short, we are blessed with it all.

Along with the heat and bugs in summer, we get flowers. We get riotous blooms in wave after wave. My yard is in bloom from mid-March (crocus) until frost kills the dahlias and mums. Right now, the day lilies and hostas are in full swing, and about the time they wane, the cannas will be bursting.

Lily Bokeh
Lily Bokeh

Ever refreshing!

Snow storms to bug swarms means home -
Madison, Wisconsin.

Join eyeDance! Click HERE to be notified of new posts.

Read the rest of the post!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Pollinator

I don't have much in the way of pithy text to go with this photo except to say, "I like to eat." And therefor , I really like bees. Einstein once said, Four years after the bees die, we die. [Update 12/08 - No, he didn't.] They pollinate our food, don'cha know. This one was busy in my hostas, but if there were food flowers nearby, he (she?) would have been working them as well.

Busy Bee
Busy Bee

This one is best if you View Large On Black.

Read the rest of the post!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Saturdays Are Made Of

My day started in front of the computer, editing a couple hundred photos I had taken the night before. I had been at the initial showing of the pieces for the Cycropia Aerial Dance troupe's upcoming performance at the Orton Park Festival. The dancers show their works in progress to the entire cast and crew, and get critical feedback on the elements of the piece. Most of the photos were quickly sorted into Good/Bad categories and didn't need much work other than that. So I posted a set of 60 or so at my Flickr site.

Then Reena decided she wanted to go in to work for an hour or so, and did I want to go downtown with her? I thought I would, and perhaps find the parkour jammers who were in town this weekend for a regional event. I didn't, so I circled back to State Street where Maxwell Street Days was in full swing. I checked out a couple of booths on the street before heading to The Camera Company. Business there done, I snapped a shot down State Street to capture the teeming masses taking advantage of the bargains to be had.

First Three Blocks of State Street
Maxwell Street Days on State Street

Then I toddled across Main Street and into Sucre for a smackerel of something. I just happened to have received a new motorcycle magazine in the mail that morning.

Saturday Brunch
Saturday Brunch at Sucre

From there I reconnected with Reena and did some more bargain hunting. Actually, she did the hunting, I lingered and looked at people. Realizing that the hot sun was taking its toll, we ducked into Icon and had some calamari and a drink. Reena had what seems to be the new "It" drink, a mojito.

The "It" Drink?
The New "It" Drink?

Then I had a nap!

Read the rest of the post!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Saving the Earth, One Beer at a Time

I was posting a photo to NowPublic article concerning alternate energy in general and Al Gore's current efforts in particular. Part of my comment to the article was to point out the sheer hypocrisy of Gore stumping for responsible energy consumption while living in a 20-room mansion. It got me to feel a rant coming on, but I'm not going to do that here. Eventually though, it got me to thinking about beer...

Let it Flow!  Maibock on tap
Saving the Earth, one beer at a time.

A few years ago, my wife and I bartered for a used refrigerator and and converted it to hold a keg of beer with a tapper in the door. The beer stays fresh, and we no longer discard/recycle 53 bottles per 5-gallon 'pub' keg. The fridge is efficient because it's only opened once or twice a month. Net result: Less energy consumed.

In the past three years, that's something like 1,200 bottles not ...
having raw materials mined,
used once,
recycled (hopefully!),
and shipped.

For two people. Ponder that for a few minutes.

It's all about making wise choices and considering the entire life cycle of what we consume. Cheers!

Read the rest of the post!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Big Wheel Racing Series

Big Wheel Series - 2
At Playhaven Racetrack

Despite all the summer rains, the races at the Playhaven Track are in full swing. Here we see the machines lined up at the fence, presumably for a pre-race inspection. It seems this year most of the front runners are riding the awesome Radio Flyer. Said favored racer, Tommy "The Kid" Schultz, "The Radio Flyer just outperforms the classic Big Wheel. It accelerates faster and the tires we're running this year hold the track better. It's no surprise that all the machines at the front of the grid are RF's." Schultz then returned to the pits to observe the track, checking conditions.

See earlier race reporting HERE.

Read the rest of the post!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama on Foreign Policy

Obama made a great speech today on foreign policy. I urge you to read it, especially if you are one of those saying that he has "no position" on real issues. Here is one paragraph from the speech. There is a link to the entire speech at the bottom of this post.

Imagine, for a moment, what we could have done in those days, and months, and years after 9/11. We could have deployed the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan. We could have secured loose nuclear materials around the world, and updated a 20th century non-proliferation framework to meet the challenges of the 21st. We could have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in alternative sources of energy to grow our economy, save our planet, and end the tyranny of oil. We could have strengthened old alliances, formed new partnerships, and renewed international institutions to advance peace and prosperity. We could have called on a new generation to step into the strong currents of history, and to serve their country as troops and teachers, Peace Corps volunteers and police officers. We could have secured our homeland--investing in sophisticated new protection for our ports, our trains and our power plants. We could have rebuilt our roads and bridges, laid down new rail and broadband and electricity systems, and made college affordable for every American to strengthen our ability to compete. We could have done that. Instead, we have lost thousands of American lives, spent nearly a trillion dollars, alienated allies and neglected emerging threats - all in the cause of fighting a war for well over five years in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Our men and women in uniform have accomplished every mission we have given them.

Read the rest...

Read the rest of the post!

Dancers in the Twilight

Last week I bought a new lens. It's a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 HSM. It is to replace my Nikon 50mm f/1.8, which worked fine but did not autofocus on my Nikon D40. Also, due to the sensor (read: film) size of the D40, the Nikon lens was really a 75mm (the stated 50mm times 1.5) which is a bit of a telephoto. I found I had to keep backing up to get the shot I wanted. The Sigma's 30mm is an effective 45mm, or just about "normal". Plus, it autofocuses on the D40. Did I mention the autofocus?

These photos were taken a couple of hours after the lens arrived in the mail. Since I had no experience with it, these are a little rough, but I really got a good test of its ability. The sun was setting, so the room had areas of strong light and pools of twilight. I had a lot of fun working through the challenges.

I like the warm sunshine bouncing off the wall in this shot. The dancers were at a quiet, contemplative phase of their dance, and were moving lanquidly. The camera was at ISO 800 with a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. I used +0.6 e/v to compensate for the bright wall and keeping the dancers from being silhouetted.

A Leg Up
A Leg Up

The dancers below were in a part of the room that was getting the least light, and what was there was all indirect. It made for a very twilight feeling. They were moving at a medium speed, and only vaguely aware that I was there. The camera was at ISO 800 with a shutter speed of 1/20 sec. I left the e/v at +0.6 to see if it would make the subject pop against the background. Hard to say if it really did what I was trying to do. The very short depth of field resulting from the aperture of f/1.4 is apparent here, and not too desirable. This would have been a better photo at f/8 or so, but I'm not sure I would have gotten it at that setting without a lot of blur. I would have had to bump the ISO to 1600, and the result would be a lot of graininess, or noise.

Jennifer on Greg
On the Table

This last image was taken as a lark, and pretty much as a snapshot when I noticed the dancer fooling around on the window ledges. The strong last-moments of sunlight guaranteed a sihouette since I wasn't using a flash. The camera was at ISO 800 with a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. I hastily added +2/3 e/v to try to get some definition on his body. There is some sort of funky lighting on his butt, and I can't decide if it was a reflection off my lens or if it is some sort of mirror aberration from the camera with this lens. It could be a strange artifact resulting from the UV filter that I have on. It dawns on me that one of my night shots at La Fete de Marquette had two moons in it, so there must be some reflection bouncing around in the setup.


Read the rest of the post!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

La Fete de Marquette

Part of this chock full weekend was spent taking in great music, for free, at "La Fete de Marquette", yet another of local promoter Bob Queen's cool local festivals in Madison. The 3-day (plus some extra on Thursday) festival coincides with Bastille Day, and highlights French music from around the globe, including Cajun/Zydeco/New Orleans, as well as Senegal and Ivory Coast. Follow the Fete link to see bios of the bands, and more.

Since this is a photo blog and not a music blog, you now get photos rather than audio links...

La Fete de Marquette
La Fete de Marquette

This woman from Ivory Coast of Africa (and Paris), R-O-C-K-E-D the crowd on Friday night. She sang with passion and power, and prowled the stage like a panther. As we were leaving, we overheard a handful of comments about the show, and everyone commented on how athletic and muscular she is. See her live if you get a chance.

Dobet Gnahore
Dobet Gnahore

Dobet Gnahore
Dobet Gnahore

Saturday night closed with a performance by Senegalese artist Fallou Dieng. I can't say it better than the blurb in the Fete link above does, so here's the quote: "[This] is beautifully crafted music, where the relentless, random polyrhythms of mbalax contrast perfectly with Fallou's lyrical, versatile voice...funky, jazzy, afro-pop, but the tama and sabar drums are unmistakeably Senegal." Relentless yes. And he and his fellow musicians were showmen as well, working the crowd with humor and charm.

Fallou Dieng
Fallou Dieng

Fallou Dieng
part of Fallou Dieng's band

This fellow's acrobatic, and suggestive antics were both amazing and hilarious. Part of his schtick was emphasizing the size and ability of his manhood through dance. No doubt about it though, he had power, stamina, and grace.

Fallou Dieng
Amazing Leap

One of the things I love about this sort of East Side event is that it really pulls in a diverse crowd of happy people as this crowd shot displays.

The Crowd
Happy Crowd

And in this rich melange of people, there is always some beauty that catches your eye. This woman was right behind me while I was taking a bunch of photos, and I thought I'd share her beauty with you.

Beauty in the Front Row

Read the rest of the post!

Jam Packed Weekend

Man, it's getting so bad here in Madison that it is almost impossible to have all the fun that's available, and often for free. I try and try, setting my inner otter free to play, and I find that at some point I simply tip over and have to sleep for a few hours. Dangit!

Art Fair On & Off The Square
Art Fair On & Off the Square

Saturday day found me making a fast lap of the annual Art Fair On the Square. It's a large collection of artists and crafts people from the US, with an emphasis on regional people, selling their art or craftwork on the square around the state capitol. Prices for things are all over the spectrum, from $10 to at least one piece I saw for $18,000. I'm sure there were pricier things.

Cool Sculpture

Menomonee Falls artist Thomas Wargin had some really cool sculpture for sale at the Art Fair On The Square in Madison, WI.

Here are a couple other pieces I enjoyed.


Fly!  Be Free!

We All Live...

Stay tuned. Later today I'll have images and tales from the 3-day music festival - La Fete de Marquette - going on in Madison this weekend.

Read the rest of the post!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just What We Need

Madison, and Wisconsin in general have been experiencing numerous storms this summer. Another storm walloped Madison today, after scouring a line coming across Minnesota. This one was promising 70 mph winds, torrential rain, and possible hail. I was on my commute home from Sun Prairie when I stopped to take this photo. It looked ugly and was moving fast. 30 seconds later I was in the thick of it. The rain was coming down in sheets, driven by strong winds. It was like driving into a wall.

Here It Comes!
Here It Comes!

The high winds had snapped off about a third of this tree. At rush hour time it was blocking two of three lanes on East Washington Ave near Mendota St. I expected to arrive home and find a big chunk of my neighbor's silver maple on my house. Again. Fortunately, it survived another storm.

East Washington Obstacle
East Washington Ave Obstacle

As it turns out, after the second wave of storms came through last night, there are numerous trees down all around the city. Hmmm, as I type this I hear rain starting again. A quick check of the NOAA radar reveals - Another storm coming!

Read the rest of the post!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Toy

With a little early birthday present assistance from my sweetie, I bought a new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 HSM lens today. It will replace my Nikon 50mm. The best part? It will auto-focus with my Nikon D40!

Coneflower - cropped
Purple Coneflower

I look forward to some great depth-of-field shots, and the ability to shoot dancers better than ever. Woot!

Day Lily
Day Lily

These were among the first dozen or so photos I took when I got home with the lens. I imagine once I figure out it's quirks, I'll get some stunners. In the meantime, I'll accept these.

Read the rest of the post!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Pleasures

I found myself on a beautiful piece of land over the weekend. It's in northern Wisconsin, near the little town of Clear Lake. A creek runs through the area - I'm pretty sure it's called Hay Creek. I spent a couple of nights in a tent there, and the first morning I woke up just after sunrise, and naturally, my thought went to "Beautiful light on the creek." I had pitched the tent up against some tall brush leaving only one of the two tent doors available. Between me and the door was my slumbering wife. While she is tolerant and indulgent of me and my need to capture light-just-right, it seemed a shame to wake her. So, sneaking as quietly as Gollum, and talking quietly to myself as well so I didn't forget anything and have to come back, I zzzzzipped open the screen and the fly, set all my camera gear out and climbed out. Mission accomplished (no, really)! She snoozed on and I was mosquito bait. The stream was only about a hundred yards away, so in moments I was rewarded with just what I expected: Sun dappled creek.

Morning Bluff
Morning Bluff

Using the tripod and the 18-55 mm lens that came with my camera, I stopped it to f/22 at ISO 200, and used timed exposures to capture as much of the richness as I could. This also gave me the bonus of slowing the water down to a nice, silky foam as it burbled across the rocks. I got the feeling as I stood there looking at the bluff and the creek bed, that this creek had been here for centuries, perhaps longer, while I was the most temporary visitor. Even the 'squitos were generational. So I used my remote trigger to insert myself into the photo in a way that expressed what I was feeling.

Temporary Vistor
Temporary Visitor

I made a loop of the area, taking photos as things caught my eye. I've always been fascinated by this sort of segmented grass, which I understand dates back to prehistoric times.

Ancient Grass
Ancient Grass

After an hour or so, the temperature was beginning to rise noticeably, and the day promised to be hot. Since there were no showers to be had, and I was mostly alone, I decided to brave the decidedly chilly creek and splish-splash and pretend to get clean without any soap. Here then, is a photo of a Common Skinny-Dipper in Summer Plumage...

Common Skinny-Dipper
Common Skinny-Dipper

As I typed that title, I was reminded of a delightful painting by Wisconsin artist Hugh Mandelert, which I believe was titled "Common Skinny Dippers in Summer Plumage". I saw the original in Madison at the Fanny Garver Gallery, but this painting must have been done either at the same time, or by request for someone who loved the other. Thinking of you, Mr. Mandelert. RIP.

Read the rest of the post!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Independence Day 2008

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is one of those holidays that tends to have it's message lost in the hullabaloo of fireworks and backyard cookouts. We seldom recall that the day commemorates nearly a decade of hard-fought battles by American colonists to secede from the rule of the British Empire (1775–1783). It is with deliberate intent that I refer to the Empire rather than merely England. England was doing what powerful England did: They colonized and annexed for the purpose of expanding territory and establishing military bases around the world. The colonists of the New World resented the yoke that came with that mindset of empire. Our forebears yearned for the right of self-governance, or in the words of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Not lightly did the colonists foment war against mighty England, nor was our eventually self-governance cheaply bought. While our actions in Iraq may be alarming and worthy of review, they are in no way analagous to the litany of tyranny presented in the Declaration of Independence. So as we make merry, let us recall with pride and dignity the Herculean tasks that led to the formation of the United States of America. And yes, it was a war for that independence. Our tradition of fireworks recalls the terrible battles and impartial artillery that defined that struggle.

Fire, Fireworks, and Friends
Fire, Fireworks, and Friends

We gather these days as friends and family, feasting and enjoying the fruits of that Revolutionary War. At dusk, we Oooh! and Ahh! at the beautiful fireworks displays.

Independence Day Galaxy
Independence Day Galaxy

Young and old alike, we celebrate in the moment, with pretty sparklers and the reports of firecrackers and grand fireworks.

Smoke-Shrouded Allegra
Smoke Shrouded

Age is not a factor

Remember why we're free, and remember what it means to be free. At what point does the ox notice the yoke? When one seeks to repress another, witholding freewill to speak, to love, or to practice religion (or choose no religion at all), it is they who are lowering the yoke. When a corporate entity renigs on its contracts and agreements and shutters a plant (GM-Janesville), it affects more than just those 5,500 who lose their jobs, but also all the businesses and non-profits who benefited from those salary dollars. After Chrysler shuttered its Kenosha plant, the poverty rate doubled from 13.3% to 26.3% in five years (Source: Isthmus, July 4th, 2008, "From promised land to graveyard"). When our elected officials do things in our name that we find reprehensible, it does affect us all. Why should we allow short-sighted corporate or political interest to supercede the interests of We The People? We don't need a war to remain free from these minor tyrannies, but we do need vigilance and action. Silence is tacit approval. Rise up for the freedom you believe in and be heard and be seen. Choose wisely, and understand the consequences of those choices. Freedom fighting is not the exclusive domain of soldiers.

Read the rest of the post!