Things Are Sometimes Exactly What They Appear to Be

 

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Zazzle Art Designed by Blonde Blythe

About 42 years ago I was taking a summer drive from Huntington Beach, Southern California to Santa Barbara on the central California coast to know better someone I had recently begun dating. When we arrived in Santa Barbara, we noticed a large banner showcasing the Santa Barbara Arts & Jewelry Fair.

Barbara was an excellent pen and ink artist. In addition to photography, I painted in pastel, watercolor, oil and acrylic. We were both interested in sharing a little time at the fair.

I followed the signs to a sprawling one story building.  I parked, and we entered into the aroma of incense and the almost overwhelming sight of walls hung with large psychedelic posters. It reminded me of my time in the San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The counters on numerous open booths displayed a variety of handmade jewelry and paintings.

For me, it was like returning to the late 60’s and early 70’s. Many visitors and all of the sellers at the booths were dressed care-free in tie-dye shirts, miniskirts, halter tops, and patched jeans. Some like me wore shoulder-length hair. Yes, I was then and continue to remain an unrepentant long-hair hippie.

At the first booth, sat a natural looking young barefoot woman with a colorful headband over her long straight dark hair. A small Peace Sign Pendant with a leather necklace hung around her slim neck. She was reading a well-worn paperback book. “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck as I recall, through her granny eyeglasses.

I noticed a delicate ring isolated on a little pedestal next to her. I was intrigued by the ring and the small artistically hand painted sign which read, “This ring free to show customers.”

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Day About Veterans

1422555_10202116325577158_742156603_nYes, I am a Vietnam Veteran. However, I don’t have to be a Veteran to share my personal belief that Veteran’s Day must not be simply another day of celebration. I believe that it should be specifically about inspiring us to celebrate our Veterans every day! In every way possible.

Veterans dedicated and risked their own lives to protect each of us and our families. And to protect our country. Many carry the memories, traumas, health issues and PTSD the remainder of their life.

Should you, and me seriously give less in protecting the well-being of our Veterans? They are yours, mine and everyone’s Veteran. They are family.

You have my permission to share this post exactly as it is presented with the content and image. I do not know who to credit for the incredible image. I stood at the Wall and had the same experience. Even more powerful in person.

Appeasing My Empirical Interests Resulted in Serendipity

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When I was in high school, I spent some of my weekends appeasing my empirical interests by undertaking thought-provoking science experiments. Included in the research; I tied a small lightweight cardboard box filled with scientific instruments for measuring ambient temperature, pressure, humidity, and other atmospheric properties to the bottom of several small balloons filled with helium gas.

Walking out into an empty church parking lot, near my home, I carefully released the balloons and cardboard box. I knew that animals may mistake balloon debris for food, ingesting the material, blocking their stomach or intestines leading to starvation. Therefore, I kept the balloons tethered to a very long line and not floating free. After sufficient time for the instruments to gather the information, I retrieved the balloons and cardboard box by pulling on the line and bringing it back to the ground.

When it was colder I used a PEACOCK brand lighter fuel hand-warmer which used lighter fluid that reacts with a platinum catalyst to release heat by oxidation reactions. It generated heat for about 12 to 24 hours to keep me warm while launching and retrieving the balloons especially at night.

One day I remembered reading that in 1962, John Glenn thrust into space on board the Friendship 7, America’s first manned spacecraft to orbit the earth, with a specially modified Minolta Hi-Matic camera. I decided to get more sophisticated by adding a camera that had a self-timer to my experiments.  This way, I could take photographs of the city and countryside from a high altitude.

During several months the increasingly quite larger, now single authentic weather balloons, reached ever greater heights with more complex electronic equipment packages including cameras in a large wooden basket. I was in the process of locating and purchasing a huge weather balloon when I received a phone call from the Command Duty Officer at the Naval Air Station Los Alamitos, later renamed Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base / Los Alamitos Army Airfield.

Always interested in aviation, I thought this call was a to notify the surrounding community about an upcoming airshow provided by the NAS Los Alamitos. The officer invited me to a tour of the base, lunch at the mess hall officers club and a brief meeting with the base commander. Continue reading

Human Brains, Vietnam & Schizophrenia

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Photograph: Tony Latham

IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Charles Dickens wrote these opening lines in his novel, Tale of Two Cities.

It could very well have been written for the Vietnam War. Certainly for my 14-month Vietnam War tour of duty.

The war in Vietnam was looming bigger each year. The Tet Offensive, one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, launched on January 30, 1968 by forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam against the forces against the forces of South Vietnam, the United States, and their allies. This was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian commands and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The name of the offensive comes from the Tết holiday, the Vietnamese New Year, when the first major attacks took place.

I was drafted in May 1968. I went through the rigors of basic training at Fort Ord, a United States Army post on Monterey Bay of the Pacific Ocean coast in California and trained on firing ranges with hand grenades, M18 Claymore anti-personnel mines and rifles. The beach was the military firing range and closed to the public for nearly 77 years. I recall that at the rifle range it was so cold and windy and the Army field jacket so inadequate that I envied the drivers in passing vehicles with their heaters blasting.

Completing basic training I was sent to Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas for combat medic and medical laboratory training. After the training in 1969 I was ordered back to Ft. Ord to Silas B. Hayes Army Community Hospital, as my first duty station. I became the non-commissioned officer in charge of one of the primary hospital medical laboratories.

I lived off the post just above Cannery Row. I had read the novel, Cannery Row (1945) written by John Steinbeck and my curious writer’s mind was invigorated as I visited the areas depicted so well in his book and began my own novels and short stories when off duty.

I had wanted to be a novelist since I was a child. My older sister said I was writing short stories at least by age four. Nonetheless, I knew that it was inevitable that I would be sent to Vietnam in the medical field. And whatever the future held for me, I trusted writing would be of significance.

I was kept very busy as we were short staffed since many personnel had been shipped to Vietnam. In a small room in the hospital laboratory there were approximately fifty whole human brains sitting silently, preserved in large specimen jars of formaldehyde. I remembered spending what time I could spare gazing into each of the jars and wondering about the person whose brain now floated in formaldehyde. Continue reading

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

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I took this quick image in September 2015 of the “Supermoon Lunar Eclipse” turning red during total Lunar eclipse early this morning with a Nikon D4 and Sigma 50-500mm telephoto lens on a tripod. The color is exactly as I photographed the Moon. This was a challenging project given the darkness and photography equipment that I used and that I took this photograph on my deck with street lights around me. I was primarily wanting to show the actual color more than the details of the Moon. 

http://www.stephenbrunophotography.com/

Humanity: Priceless

Many years ago, I was a vegan; I ran 16 miles several times a week along the canals in Phoenix Arizona. This was the healthiest time in my life. In the years since that time, I have experienced many life changes and challenges just like most of you. I find myself moving closer to becoming a vegan again even though I occasionally have other cravings. I now juice frequently, use a pressure cooker to steam vegetables and eat more salads. Sometimes when I have a craving for fast food I use a strategy that seems to be a benefit as well as compassionate.

I will order as healthy and natural a hamburger as I can find and place the bag on the passenger seat of my vehicle. For a number of reasons, this seems to satisfy my craving. I then look for individuals or families who I believe could use a meal. Unfortunately, I do not need to look far to find someone holding up a sign or sitting near a fast food restaurant.

I will drive up to these people, get out of my car and connect with them in conversation. I ask them if I may share the meal that I purchased. If they inquire, I will explain why I am offering them the meal. I chat with them a little longer and then drive away. I feel that I have accomplished keeping to my preferred diet while serving others a meal that they certainly can use. Continue reading