Palo Duro Photo Mojo

Photo Mojo

Remember when Instagram was about photography rather than celebrity? Yeah, me too. I don’t hang out there anymore. Instead, I share photos here on my blog, but it’s been a while. So…you’ve heard of the Grand Canyon. But what about the Grand Canyon of Texas?

Palo Duro

Texas is a big state and is kinda known for big stuff. In this case, it is outdone by only The Grand Canyon. Just south of Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon sits nestled in the Texas panhandle. It’s a popular state park.

My family got to visit for the first time 8 years ago on a Fall vacation. And once again, this year we’re planning to enjoy this wonder of creation right after Halloween!

So I revisited the canyon in my photo library (thanks, Google Photos) and found a few nice pictures to share. One day (it’s on my bucket list), I hope to visit The Grand Canyon in Arizona to see its breathtaking chasm with my naked eyes. Okay, I’ll hold the camera up too and take a few hundred pictures.

Until then, here’s a few Palo Duro Canyon shots I took with my wife’s now broken Nikon D60. I also took some with my amazingly trusty Canon Powershot S5 IS. (That thing, after using it since 2007 and falling on it once, which damaged the lens ring a little, still takes good photos today. I used it this year for some of my Bluebonnet pictures. Anyways, I’m chasing a rabbit.)


UPDATE: I added a Palo Duro Gallery page with additional photos, and I plan to add more photos after my upcoming trip back to the canyon!

The Expensive Halo Effect

Living in Apple land was nice and comfy. My sweet set-up consisted of just two things: iPhone and iPad. Well, I guess I should also include the cheap bluetooth keyboard I cobbled together with my Apple tablet. But it’s good that I escaped the soft glow of The Apple logo because the Halo Effect is real.

Halo Effect

I sometimes feel strongly attracted to Minimalism, which happens to be a trait of Apple’s hardware. The iPhone is a featureless glass rectangle. Even its software is simple, just a grid of rounded squares.

The best halo over Apple products is that they simply “just work.” And in keeping with simplicity, I was content with using only an iPad and an iPhone for all my computing needs, nothing more.

But Apple’s Halo Effect slowly pulled me into a shiny vortex, like a black hole swallowing light. Over time, I gravitated to more Apple products. And being the opposite of less, “more” is antithetical to Minimalism.

First it was the AirPods. I saw their new features in Apple’s marketing and had to have them. They became popular; most owners of AirPods loved them. So I wanted them more and more. And I almost bought them, despite their high cost.

Then another desire snuck into my psyche. The Apple Watch, which I had long dismissed as redundant, became attractive to me. It gained more features over time, making it better. It grew in user adoption; people like their Apple Watch a lot. I may not have needed one, but I started to want one.

Besides the AirPods and Watch, Apple’s Halo Effect also moved me with my typing needs to the Smart Keyboard. But it works only with the more expensive iPads, so I would need to upgrade. Nice, but it was a lot more money.

There was one more thing. For a brief time, and to my surprise, I wanted to buy a MacBook just to have the Photos app and its extra editing features that were missing from my iPad. But again, the price tag was too steep. My wallet can tolerate having less cash in it but not zero cash.

Horns Expense

The thing about Apple products, great as they are, is that they also have horns hiding in the blinding glow of the halo. Apple devices are often far more expensive than their competitors.

The only way I could afford an iPhone and an iPad was to buy older pre-owned devices. When I shopped online for Apple’s shiny merchandise, I only considered used or refurbished. Yet even those products cost a lot.

I’m no longer sold-out to an Apple-only ecosystem. For technical reasons, I’ve switched from iPad to Chromebook. And for financial reasons, I sure am glad I switched.

Apple’s stuff is not cheap. Many people often depend on a payment program to afford living in Apple land. And now people can rely on a shiny new Apple credit card to get cash back on Apple’s high-margin wares. But outside of the aura of Apple, you can find great savings and huge values in tech gadgets.

Android smartphones compared to iPhone are so much more affordable! And there are great Android phones with fewer compromises than the $1,000 phone marketing would have you believe. Consider the Pixel 3a phone by Google. And good Chromebooks cost less than the cheapest iPad.

Less Is More

Going all-in with Apple products is swank, but the buy-in price is too high. The halo effect is alluring, but what I find more attractive is spending less money. There’s great value in being frugal. Looking outside of Apple, I see more bank-friendly options with fewer compromises than you might imagine.

A striking example, the one that dispelled me from from the halo effect, was Apple’s AirPods. As mentioned, I had wanted them for a long time. But their asking price of $159 is too exorbitant. So I finally tried a pair of wireless headphones from Amazon; they cost only $29 and they’re really great! Talk about more value!

This one purchase helped me to see, no longer blinded by Apple’s radiant halo, that there’s awesome tech products from other good companies, and they don’t cost an arm and a leg to buy.

Thrift is undervalued; simplicity is priceless.

Is your budget the bottom line? How much is quality worth to you? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

This Marks Post 100 For 2019

More Meta

This one’s gonna be meta. Along the way of blogging, I like to trumpet my small milestones. I make these mini-celebratory posts to encourage myself in writing, despite the taboo of tooting my own horn. Maybe my fellow bloggers will get a little pumped themselves. Our solo writing gigs could use the camaraderie. Otherwise, this post just happens to follow the 99th one.

One Hundred Posts

I’ve blogged off and on over the years. But last October I recommitted to stick with it – no more hiatus.

Just. Keep. Writing.

That’s what I’ve been doing. Just putting one foot, or post, in front of the other. It adds up!

Once again checking my stats (no shame), I noticed I’ve published 99 posts so far this year! The last time that number was cool was in 1999. I digress.

So I had to (you know I did) make a special 100th post. It’s like a birthday or anniversary. Just for fun!

Publishing Fun

Personal blogging tends to be informal. You can be loose with it. Like any hobby, I think blogging should be fun. Even though one can get serious about writing, especially if you want to profit from it, I don’t think it should be “all work, no play.”

I’m serious about having fun.

Of course, you can pursue any hobby however you want. Yet often, hobbies relate to your passions. I think that includes a healthy balance of laser-focus and laissez-faire. Work hard and play hard. For reals and for funzies.

Sum It Up

After 99 posts, I’m happy to report this one additional post makes for one-hundred. And counting!

I don’t get paid to blog. I pay to do it. It’s my hobby; I enjoy the process of writing. So I plan to keep at it and keep adding posts.

The journey itself is fun. And I’m serious about the goal of better writing. I might even join a Grammar Police Academy!

Until the next post…

What’s your hobby? How do you keep at it? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Headphones Rescue Parents

Headphone Help

Weeks ago, I finally took the wireless plunge and bought my first bluetooth headphones. That act was a rock in the pond. The ripple effects – I didn’t see this coming – made parenting a little easier!

Boys Boisterous

My wife and I are trying to raise 5 sons – that’s right, all boys. And boy, are they boisterous. It’s normal for boys to be loud, noisy, rowdy, rambunctious…I guess that applies to any kid, but especially boys. And when you have five (5) in one house, all within about 2 years of each other, it can get a little wild. My youngest boys have the loudest lungs, trying to talk over their older brothers. They all want to be heard! Mom and Dad feel the stress.

Dad Delivers

After I bought my new wire-free headphones, I needed to do something with my wired pair since I no longer would use them. My two oldest sons both wanted them, so I auctioned them off to the highest bidder for a reasonable price. The oldest got them, and they were a big upgrade over his old Apple earbuds that were either lost or damaged. My other son’s desire for headphones, rather than dissipate, grew stronger.

Mom Maneuvers

A few days later, my wife took all the kids to the store to spend some money they earned from taking care of our neighbors animals. And guess what they bought? Headphones! The store had the cheap five dollar variety. Better than nothin’, I guess. And I guess all my boys want to be like me, dear old dad, and wear headphones.

Noise Nixed

All the boys started wearing their headphones. One would play the electronic piano (keyboard). One would listen to his iPod shuffle. Another jacked into the iPad. They would be plugged into their Nintendo 2DS handhelds, gaming away. The youngest one wanted to borrow mommies phone and listen to anything. They even wore headphones for fun or fashion.

Then something happened that my wife and I did not expect. The house got quiet!

Think about it for a moment. Five young boys. A quiet house. Seems like a dream. But the stark contrast was a surprising relief to this dad. Each of my sons were in their own little world. They were entertained or occupied within their headphones, enjoying whatever noise they wanted to.

Meanwhile, the usual house raucous came to a full stop. A sense of quiet calm settled on our home. I started to love their new headphones. I had no idea how nice and helpful headphones would be. It was as if all my sons were engrossed in books! Headphones and Harry Potter now have something in common.

Calm Conclusion

If you’re a parent in need of some peace and quiet, then invest in some inexpensive headphones for your kids. I recommend it. Even if it only puts the noise on pause, you’ll reap some well earned calm.

And now I can say this: The best noise cancelling headphones ever cost only 5 bucks!

Got kids? Got noise? Have other ideas for controlling it? Let others know! Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Blog Post Cramming

Stat Checker

Some people are good at ignoring certain things. But most of us pay attention to the numbers we get: likes, shares, comments. For my blog, I check the stats. I’m the blogger who, close to the end of the month, wants to post more, hoping to boost my monthly numbers, like cramming for a test at the last moment.

Writing with purpose

I know that writing should be authentic, and I don’t want to be a disingenuous blogger. So I try to always write the right way, mustering frank honesty as much as I can. In truth, I think some pretentiousness sneaks in there like a subtle serpent.

So to be honest, when then end of the month draws near and I see my blog stats looking anemic, I get motivated. I try to think of what I can post in the closing days, what drafts have I left dormant that are otherwise sincere attempts at jotting my thoughts down.

Then I dust off those drafts, crack the knuckles, bust out my trusty Chromebook with it’s sublime keyboard and get to tapping away.

Numbers are not the goal

Having a bunch of stats to look at is nice and helpful. And as nice as big numbers are, it should be obvious that numbers are not what a writer or blogger aims for. We aim for words and letters! Big numbers are for accountants, not authors. More than blog stats, I like word-counts because those numbers directly reflect the myriad of words. But not the message of those words.

The quantity of words is important, but not as important is the quality of those words.

Words in sum

A sum, or summary, of words adds up to one message. While I admit I tend to cram posts at the end of each month, I don’t always pull that off, yet it helps me stay on track. And in any case, I aim for my posts to be good and sincere. Plus, I really enjoy the process of writing, not just the culmination. The journey is as good as the destination.

I want my writing to improve and my blog to grow. High stats at the end of each month signal some kind of growth. They also show lack of growth, which moves me to get cracking, to discipline myself to get some stuff published. Hopefully good stuff.

What’s your take on blog stats? Like’em or ignore’em? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!