New Blog?

Many of you may come to this blog from a Google search or social media link.  If you read this in early to mid 2017, you may think that I’ve not been doing this long.  You would be wrong in that assumption, but I can’t blame you for thinking that.  Though this is technically a new blog on a new server, I’ve been blogging since 2005.  Several friends and I did a fairly popular podcast from 2005 to 2011.

We stopped the podcast due to being burned out, I think.  I don’t recall exactly why we ended it, but that seems to have been the reason.  I ended the blog in 2013.  At the time, I was working in the security field and couldn’t write about what I was doing.  I still can’t, but I can write about what I’m doing now.

I, like so many other people, needed a voice again.  The years of keeping my mouth shut and my head down had taken their toll.  So, I decided to reactivate this url that had been sitting dormant for a couple of years.

The subjects of my posts may be a bit random, but they are based around politics, tech reviews, photography gear, photography, writing, and general observations from a unique American perspective.  I also write about Ireland (long story) and am still working on a book of short stories about my travels through Ireland.  I have published four travel photo books about Hibernia.

You may ponder, politics and tech reviews?  They don’t generally go together, but my background is varied.  I grew up in a business and majored in IT security before moving over to Criminal Justice.  I am best known for my photography.  Everyone needs a creative outlet, photography is mine.  Though, I do dabble in writing fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  I am all over the place.  It is due to growing up in a business and having to be multifaceted.

Now you know a tiny bit of the back story of this blog.  Thank you for visiting the blog.  Take a seat and enjoy the randomness.  🙂

Meeting Martin McGuinness

It was a warm and dry October afternoon, a rarity in Northern Ireland, when I met Martin McGuinness in Writers Square area of Belfast. I arrived late amidst a sea of revellers, rallying against Tory cuts. After the rally finished, I shook hands and spoke to Mr. McGuinness as he and his entourage were trying to leave.

He looked tired, but his smile was still as bright as ever. At first he thought I was a local, but once he realised I was an American, he humorously wanted to know what I was doing listening to a rally about Tory cuts and suggested sights to see.  I said I was just a curious ‘Merkan. He laughed and was sped off by his crew. I wanted to do a story about him, but I never could crack the media blockade at Stormont, and I only had a few days left in the North.

There was a time years ago, when I idolized McGuinness and Adams for their leadership and resistance during the Troubles. The older and wiser man I met that day was more calculative and kind than the fiery young man that joined the Provisional IRA out of a sense of duty and necessity.

McGuinness had a hard time when running for President of the Republic of Ireland in 2011. He came in third place behind Michael D Higgins and Seán Gallagher. Higgins won the presidency and is the current President of RoI. Martin was lambasted by the press and pundits who never understood the struggle, some of which never set foot in the North. But, that is the case when running for public office.

The political party, Sinn Féin, is a democratic socialist party. Since the term “Socialist” makes me cringe and is an affront to freedom, I can’t support it. But, due to my long relationship with people in Belfast and the Short strand area, I do understand the mindset. Regardless of our political differences, I do support a United Ireland. It was one of his greatest hopes.

If I would have been born in the Bog Side around the same time as him, I might have taken a similar path. He made mistakes, and he went to prison for his crimes. In later years, he worked hard towards peace in Northern Ireland. He and Ian Paisley worked together towards peace, two men of different faiths that once hated each other.

While walking through the short strand one afternoon, I met a man that summed it up perfectly. He said that if he’d been born on this side of the wall, referring to the Catholic enclave within Loyalist East Belfast , he would’ve fought for Provos, if he’d been born on the other side, he would’ve fought for the UVF.   Religion played a role in the troubles, but it was not the defining factor.

Martin was a product of the Troubles and tirelessly worked to mend fences with Unionist and other foes from that era. In fact, a large group of Unionist are now favouring a United Ireland. Only time will tell what will happen regarding the North. As an American, all I can do is watch and wish them all well. I hope for a United Ireland where Catholics and Protestants are happy in one country on the isle of Eire. It may never come to fruition, but there’s no harm in dreaming.

Rest in peace, Mr. McGuinness.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Writing

Some people have asked me why I stopped running a blog and writing regularly.  I managed a blog and wrote regularly from 2005 through to 2013, almost a decade.  I also produced a podcast with friends from 2005 to 2012.  At the time of the ending of the blog and podcast, I was finishing up my last year of University.  To put it mildly, I was burn out.  The toll of a full-time job, academic life (sleepless nights with books and Earl Grey), a social life, the blog, and the podcast was too much.

Since giving all of that up, I finished up my college days and worked for various organizations, universities, and media groups.  I also run my own tiny photography business, but like so many other people in the field, it’s not profitable these days.  Not to say that you can’t be successful at it, but it takes years upon years of mere starvation to build up a customer base big enough to sustain a business.  I still love it, but at this point, it is just the occasional side income.

For a while now, I have wanted to start another blog.  I have been talking to friends about it for a while, but even though I have a varied background in everything from photography to criminal justice, I didn’t know where to start or what subject to concentrate my efforts on.

To give a minute bit of background about one subject I will be covering frequently, I caught spinal meningitis as an infant while in the hospital.  I’m not crying about it, but because of that, I have several health problems that will be with me until the end.  I have hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, and Addison’s disease to name a few.

Due to a multitude of health problems, I am also dyslexic.  This is just an annoyance.  When I was in college and writing papers and doing the blog, I managed to rewire my brain into working correctly.  Back then, I could type out a perfectly coherent and accurate ten page report in less than an hour.  My writing ability has trailed off severely since those golden days of yore.

I was talking with a friend that’s a doctor yesterday about the trouble I’ve been having in the last year or so.  She said that there was a study published recently that proved that writing regularly actually helps the brain fight the effects of aging and slow down the progression of common problems like dyslexia.  She didn’t bother giving me the name of the study, but if I find it, I’ll link it here.

Her exact words were, “Write it, damn you, write it! What else are you good for?”  I laughed at the Joyce reference.

Having health problems is not an excuse for me, nor should it be for you.  Take those problems and use them to your advantage.  Giving up is easy, overcoming barriers is hard.  I’ve published five books.  I graduated at the top of my class, even though my family was told not to bother because I would never live long enough for education to matter.  I have been to more places and done more than most people with no health issues.  I’ve been dead twice and have been told on multiple occasions that I’d never live this long, yet here I am.  I was told twelve years ago that I’d be in a wheelchair in five years, yet I’m still walking and running.  Bust through barriers and make the most out of life!
I’m going to do exactly what she suggested and what I’ve been wanting to do for a while, write.  I’m going to write every week day.  Some posts may be about politics and the impending repeal of the AFA (Obamacare).  Other days, I may write a personal story.  One way or another, I have to do it.

It may take me a while to get back in the swing of things, but it will get better.  I’m not going to worry about stats, as I did so much in the past.  I’m just going to write.  What else am I good for other than photography?