What is Wrong with the World?


DSC_5100What is wrong with this modern world? It is a question that everyone should be asking themselves.

The news we read or listen to every day is always about something horrible that has happened somewhere or to someone in this country or across the World. I understand that to make things newsworthy require some sort of sensationalism but it is very sad that so much of it relates to violence in one form or another that man is inflicting on each other. It is not just this country but many that are having this problem.

For better or worse, we are in an age of instant notification. If something happens that someone, somewhere deems as newsworthy, whatever it may be, it is broadcast around the world in an instant and becomes common knowledge to anybody that cares to read or listen to it. So, the question arises, “Was the world always like this and we just didn’t learn about it prior to the Internet and other forms of information sharing?” Because of the instant notification, is it creating a copycat instinct in people’s mind to be bigger and badder than the person they just read about?

When I was growing in England 70 years ago, life was so simple. There were no TV’s or computers. We didn’t even have a phone and our only form of contact with the world was by radio and the BBC. We would be glued to it listening to the news about the ongoing World War 11 and in the early years, wondering if jerry would cross the Channel and attack us. When the war ended, it took a long while before TV was introduced and with it came the first changes to a quiet way of living which would never ever again, be the same.

I came to America when I was 32 years old for the betterment of my family and myself mainly because I was given the opportunity. In the early years, life was quiet and reminiscent of the English way of life with an American twist to it and although there were personal setbacks along the way, I adopted this country as my own and became a citizen. Now, as time goes by, I am becoming increasingly aware that things are changing. Sure, I am an old man now and not much longer for this world but what I see going on around me makes me so very sad.

Parents no longer take or have the time to teach their kids about simple things like common decency and good manners and being polite and not so demanding. It is an uphill battle as the kids are bombarded from all sides with information both good and bad and they are forever to be found with their noses glued to their cell phones. I was in the doctor’s office the other day and these two kids came in probably around 16-17 years old. The girl had a recently broken nose which still included two black eyes and a huge plaster strip over it. They saw the doctor and came out with the girl leading the way. At the door leading out of the office, the girl opened the door and held it open to let the guy go out first. My immediate reaction was incredulity that she, the injured one would open the door for him and he never made any move to get to the door first or to offer her any help. Where were his manners or his concerns. Has he never been taught what manners are? I guess the bigger question may be that do the younger sexes consider themselves to be equal and things like good manners or treating the female sex in a special way are no longer important.

I see families walking around the Supermarket and the kids that are in their teens have their noses glued to their phones. There is no conversation within the family unless one of the parents asks one of the kids to get something and immediately following that, the noses are back into the phones. It makes you wonder what sort of a family life do people have nowadays.

Which brings me back to where I started. It appears that violence is on an increase and everything can become a lethal weapon. It is no longer just a gun or a knife although these are usually the weapons of choice but now the automobile joins the list of murder tools. What is really frightening is the lack of moral character that these individuals that commit these murders display. Whether the problem is drugs or alcohol or just a plain ole chip on the shoulder, this country and the world in general are becoming less and less safe.

Do I have a solution? I wish I could say that I did but I don’t. Sometimes there is a lot to be said for the good old days when life was so simple, comparatively speaking. Modern gadgets are supposed to help us and make life better and from many points, they have with the advances in medicine and man’s trip to the moon bringing with it modern technology. I guess there is a price to pay for all of this advancement and it is showing up in all of the violence. People are empowered like never before and when they feel like it, take the law into their own hands and only after do they realize the consequences.

Too bad as this country has so much potential but the quality of leadership is declining and along with it, the American Dream and the American Way of Life. If I was a religious man I should say, “God help us all” about now but I doubt that even he can do much to help a world that is turning on itself. Or maybe, that is a part of His plan given the way we treat the world. Maybe, we are reaping the rewards for all of our efforts to destroy the world through Global Warming. Are we being manipulated?

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Ellie, the lonely life of an older cat.


Ellie on the printerWith the recent death of Brown Cat, Ellie is the one remaining cat left in this household. Over the years, there have been many different cats, some of the indoor variety and others that spent most of their time outdoors. In terms of lifespan, the outdoor cats didn’t do so well either succumbing to the traffic on the busy road that runs alongside of my property or ending up as food for the Coyotes.

Cats are notoriously difficult to control especially if you have dogs and a doggy door. They are intelligent and learn how to make use of such a gadget very quickly. Consequently, they tend to roam following their natural habits of stalking and hunting. Luckily, as they get much older, they limit this outside practice to sunning on the deck and when that gets too hot, back indoors in the air conditioning.

I think that Ellie misses Brown Cats company at least in the sense that they were generally in each others proximity.  They were never buddies and in reality, could not stand to be too close to one another but they slept in the same room and in their younger lives, both would join me and the dogs on the big king sized bed at night. Never once did I ever see the two of them act affectionately towards each other. Come to that, both cats were very stand offish towards the dogs. Can’t say that I blame them as Richie was not to be trusted.

Brown Cat

Occasionally, Ellie will climb up on the bed using the steps that I built for that purpose but she is not very comfortable being too close to the dogs anymore.  As soon as I turn off the light, she scrambles down off the bed to go to her room to sleep. It’s not that she is afraid of the dogs as the incident with Richie, when he went after her was several years ago and long gone from her memory. Pete, the relatively new Chihuahua is aggressive towards her but only in an excited way and she can probably do without that sort of attention. No, I think that she is lonely as she tries to spend a lot more time closer to me than before and I go out of my way to always make a fuss of her.

I have to be very careful as I stroke her as she seems very sensitive around her back area and almost goes into convulsions as she squirms around trying to lick her back after one of these incidents. Kinda dangerous to anyone close to her when she does that as her claws are flashing around with no control.

Ellie, as best as we can put together is almost 19 years old, 17 of which she has spent with me. A lot of dogs have come and gone in that  time and the only constant in her life was Brown Cat. Now he is gone and that leaves a void for her. Another cat, even an older one is not the answer as who knows how two cats new to each other, even older ones, would get along.

No, I just got to spend as much time with her as I can to help her through this rough patch and hope that she doesn’t die of a broken heart.  Like me, she is slow moving and even slower getting up. Who knows for how long considering her age although she does not show any sign of passing on, yet.

What is the saying, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”.

APS Meeting August 2017


DSC_0837The Austin Pond Society held it’s monthly meeting on Monday August 21, 2017 at the usual time, 6:30 pm and the usual place, Zilker Botanical Garden Center. For a while, the Board Members outnumbered the guests but as the evening wore on, there were around 30 people in the room. They were treated to a meal of Tacos and Salad plus desserts brought in by the membership.

The Speaker’s for the evening were Tom & Sherry Gringas and their subject was  “Enhancing your Pondscape with Metalwork and Sculpture”. Tom teaches welding and the art of metalwork at ACC and Sherry is the designer of his projects. She also put together the wonderful slide show of their work. The presentation is marred by the poor sound quality due to yours truly forgetting the camera mic. Apologies all around.

Following the presentation, Jeannie had a small amount of business to conduct followed by the drawing for the door prizes, which incidentally, she was the lucky winner of one.  She always tells us that she buys prizes that she would like and this time, her wish came true. Well done Jeannie.

The meeting closed around 8:30 pm. The next meeting is on Monday,  September 18 and the Speaker will be Jeff Price from Price Landscape .  He will be talking about  “Landscape ideas for your yard ”. For those of you looking to change or make your yard a bit different, I’m sure that Jeff will have some great ideas. Hope to see you there.

This video is of Tom & Sherry Gringas presentation. Again, apologies for the sound content.

Gingras Metalwork Aug 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 
This video is of the Business part of the meeting. Same sound problem.

Business Aug 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

St Edwards Park 8-10-2017


DSC_0660LPI was trying to find a different place to hike as I have just about worn out my welcome at my regular hiking places. I located a new park called St Edward’s Park in Northwest Austin. It is not that big in the way of trails but it does follow Bull Creek for most of the way. Bull Creek is spring fed so it has water all year round even with our super hot summers.

The park is located off Spicewood Springs Road in a beautiful area of Northwest Austin that I had never been before. It was a pleasant drive as the road twisted and turned. I almost missed the Trailhead but managed to stop in time to make the left turn without causing an accident. There were several cars in the small lot and others were pulling in or leaving at fairly frequent intervals. I wandered over to the kiosk to take a look at the map as I had not been able to find one on the website and it occurred to me that the map was not oriented to the way I was facing. The complete reversal in fact so I had to re-imagine it in my mind in order to get my bearings. There appears to be a cluster of trails at one end and then a long trail that actually follows Bull Creek for a couple of miles. There is also another Trailhead further up the road a mile or so.

The trails on the Trailhead side of the creek are all well worn mostly dirt tracks with a lot of shade and I followed the Creek all the way to the waterfall where I was able to cross over mostly to take some pictures of the falls. DSC_0622I discovered that on the opposite side there is also a trail that appeared to go in the direction of the furthermost Trailhead so I opted to follow this one to save backtracking which I hate to do. This trail presented much more of a challenge as it climbed upwards sometime by log steps, other time by scrambling up the rocks. It levelled out towards the top of the hill and then ran in a parallel direction to the Creek only way higher above it. I couldn’t even see the Creek from up there. In places, the trail was not very wide as it skirted around the side of the hill with a pretty steep drop off to my right. A woman and her dog passed me as I was taking a shot of the horizon but they were the only ones that I saw except for a couple of guys way down by the Creek just after I started the climb.

This trail turned out to be a real challenge especially when I got close to the other Trailhead when I was trying to find my way down to Bull Creek which included a lot of scrambling and almost rock climbing in some places. After several false trails which required both carefully picking my way down and then back up again, I eventually made it to the creek where I crossed over at one of the shallow areas and then followed the trail back passing several people on the way. The trail that I had just left, the one that scrambled upwards and then back down to the creek is not marked on the map but it was well walked so many others must know about it. I arrived back to the dam and then back up the trail to my car where I very gratefully sat for a while before changing out of my soaked clothes to something dryer and more comfortable. Cars and people were coming and going all the time I sat there. The Park gets a lot of use.

I took lots of pictures and it was truly great to find a Creek that had water in it. Altogether, I covered around 3.5 miles although the hike on the far side seemed much longer than that as the degree of difficulty was quite high. It was a real workout.

As usual, here is a video of some of the trails that I walked.

St Edwards Park Trails 8-10-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Views of the Creek and the Horizons

Bull Creek at St Edwards Park 8-10-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

DSC_0642-Pano

DSC_0648-Pano

Town Lake in Austin 8-6-2017


DSC_0580I hadn’t been out for either a hike or a photographic trip in over a week and wanted desperately to get back out again. One reason was to fill my mind with other thoughts as I grieved over the loss of my little dog, Richie and I had to get my mind back onto regular things. I didn’t want to take a long hike as the weather is still so hot and very uncomfortable so a short walk on the Town Lake trails seemed like a very good idea.

I opted to park in the lot next to the Zachary Scott Theatre Center off Lamar Boulevard and wander along that part of the trail as far as the bridge over the creek on Barton Springs Road. As it was a weekend, the trail was very busy with runners, cyclists, people with dogs, people without dogs, lovers walking hand in hand and families pushing young kids in strollers, the obvious end result of lovers walking hand in hand.

You name it and every kind was out on the trail.

Turning my attention to the Lake, I saw that it was filled with people in canoes of various types and on surf boards all paddling around in different directions as they enjoyed the Texas summer day on the Lake. Many of the metal canoes had the name of a rental company printed on them. Others were probably owned by the people paddling them. There were dogs everywhere either swimming alongside or actually in the canoes or on the paddleboards. Many of the people, especially those of the female gender were dressed in the barest minimum of skimpy bikinis with lots of flesh showing.  Many of the guys had their shirts off to catch the sun on their bodies and although I didn’t see any ladies in bikinis who shouldn’t have worn them, I did see many of the gentlemen whose portly shapes indicated to much good living and not enough exercise. Paddling a canoe around in circles barely counts as exercise and the amount of visible flab is hardly the way to attract the ladies.

I wandered along taking pictures and wishing that I had brought the camera with the telescopic lens with me as well as the one that I carried to zoom in on some of those long range shots. I reached the bridge where the trail crosses Barton Creek and took several pictures of the view into the city and back up the creek in the reverse direction. This part of the Creek was very popular with lots of people in canoes of all shapes and sizes and the inevitable paddle boards. I even saw a pair of swans who, apart from keeping a wary eye out, totally ignored all of the activity going on around them. The people were good to as most gave the swans a wide berth. Interesting how Nature eventually blends together given the right circumstances.

I passed one very hot looking policeman and chatted to him for a bit. When I said that it was a bit warm, he remarked that it was overtime so was worth getting a little hot. I agreed and moved on. I wandered back along the same trail to where my car was parked taking a few more pictures here and there as I went. All in all, an interesting afternoon.

The total trail length is 10 miles and can be broken into smaller segments by crossing any of the bridges to complete the loop and there are several different places to park to gain access to the trail. On any given day, there are always people out on this trail.

The slideshow is of the different views of the Lake  especially of the people in the watercraft.

Town Lake 8-6-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

What to do in the Hot Weather…


Top row is the current temperature at 2:45 pm.
Second row is the humidity,
Third row is yesterday’s high of 105 in the shade where the sensor is located,
Fourth row is the inside temperature and humidity in the A/C.

I looked at the clock and it said 11:20 am. Right alongside of it is one of those indoor/outdoor thermometer thingies and the temperature said that it was already 97 degrees. Out of curiosity, I checked on my computer to see what the weather forecast is for today and they forecast that it will be 101 degrees at 1:00 pm. You gotta love these Texas summers.

Obviously, not a good day to hit the trails or do too much of anything outside. I always check the ponds the very first thing when I get up so unless something breaks or one of the pumps quits working, we are generally good until the evening. Not that the evenings are much cooler as the temperature does not drop very much. Maybe a degree or two. Usually, overnight the temperature in the morning will read between 75 and 80 degrees. Thinking about it, our mornings are as hot as a lot of countries high temperatures. 80 degrees in England where I originate from is a heat wave.

Now we have concluded that it is really too hot to be outside at least with any degree of comfort, what does that leave. Several things spring to mind the first of which is already happening as I write this blog. The next is that my house desperately needs the services of one of those cleaning outfits that you see advertised like Rent-a-Maid or Clean-Your-House or something like. Trouble is, I am too much of a tightwad to have someone come in and clean so maybe, I could start on that today. Maybe. I could at least get the cobwebs down and wash the floors and clean the windows. No wait, cleaning windows involves going outside so scratch that idea. Actually, I am always washing the floors as that is where the dogs leave the most lasting impression as they come and go with their dirty paws. OK, scratch washing the floors.

I could at least pick up the things I have laying all over and try to find their proper place wherever that may be or if they even have a “proper place”. All too often, everything just ends up in the spare bedroom which is already beginning to get messed up after the last cleaning go round. Out of sight and all that…Anyway, what is a “proper place”. In a drawer somewhere or maybe a closet most of which are already full up with things from earlier cleanings that have all been assigned to their “proper place”. I’m running out of “proper places”. I could start putting things in the sheds but as I just spent a week cleaning them up, I hate to undo all of that good work.

It’s not that I like having a dusty house or that I care if the the spiders have found a permanent home. It’s that there are so many better things to do in the world than cleaning especially as it continually gets dirty. I blame the dogs for bringing in all of that dust. How else would it get as bad as it does. Certainly can’t possibly be me that makes it that way for I have no hair left to shake. I, at least, wipe my shoes off before I come in. Maybe I need to train the dogs how to do that.

So what does that leave? Nothing except the absolute essentials outside and maybe a little pick up and a light dusting inside? How about a nap? That always sounds good except I always feel guilty about wasting the time I could have used to clean the house and I never really feel refreshed afterwards. So scratch the nap idea.

I think that I will do what I usually do if I find myself at a loose end and that is to go for a long drive and listen to Audiobooks. I am getting to the end of another interesting story and would love to see how it works out.  Like I expect or is there a twist to the tale. Will the hero come through or will it be the villain who wins this time. Will my favorite character die  or will they win out and don’t forget the dog. Will it survive at the end. Or maybe the Zombies will eat them all…

Writing Poetry.


DSC_0340I stuck my head outside the door
confirming what I knew before
that the temperature was already high
more than I wanted to give it a try
although not yet peaked, it was morning still
the afternoon would be in for the kill
and the thermometer could go high
maybe all the way to one hundred and five.

Today’s heat might well be
the hottest day that we will see
although a lot of Summer remains
fifty five more days the Calendar claims
as Autumn starts September 22nd
when it comes it will feel like heaven
compared to what is outside my door
although we have been here many times before.

I would like to go on another hike
so that I have something to write
but I do not want to brave the heat
and inside the house will be a treat
I can sit and write to my heart’s content
bad poetry as my thoughts relent
as words spill out in a jumbled mess
putting my brain to the test.

Somedays the words really flow
and on one of those days is when I know
that the words that I write will sound fine
and the poem will reach it’s end in rhyme
for it is not easy to write good verse
especially when it is at it’s worst
and the only reason to try to write
is the temperature outside is so bloody high.