Hopper in the Oval Office

Good taste and judgment in a time devoid of both.

These two magnificent Hoppers were recently added to the Oval Office.

More about Hopper here. They say lots about what is great and good in our republic.

About those paintings? Here.

Lovely image by the appropriately named Chuck Kennedy of the White House staff.

Commencement Day

The address not given.

Quite the worst part of my son’s middle school Commencement ceremony yesterday was the execrable address given by the Principal. Laced with the usual platitudes about equality and inclusiveness, it was an exercise in toeing the party line …. and saying nothing at all.

Winston graduates. Panny GX7, 45-200mm at full chat.

Here’s what should have been said:

“Graduates!  Congratulations!

Each of you is the beneficiary of the finest public schooling there is to be had. My son Winston is fortunate indeed to be amongst your number today.

But today, rather than building on your warm feelings of success and relief at having survived these past three years, I want to speak to you about but two things:  

Risk and Success.

Risk is about making a decision where the outcome is uncertain or unknown.  It’s about doing what you believe in and hang the consequences.  Only if you take Risk will you live a full life, one to be proud of.  Taking Risk is not about winning or beating the other guy.  It’s about having the courage to fail and fail you will often in your long lives.   You will all fail many times but accepting and taking Risk will make those lives full and successful.  And only by taking Risks can you Succeed.

A life devoid of Risk is existing, not living,  Do what you believe in, have a passion for that belief and you will come out a winner in the game of life.

Each one of you has some hidden set of skills superior to everyone else in this wonderful audience today.  Yet, if you take no Risk, if you dare not fail, those skills will remain buried and you will not enjoy a life well lived.

When Winston Churchill, having just won the War and lost the Election, returned to his High School to give the Commencement Address, the hallowed hall at Harrow School was packed to the rafters. Winston had barely scraped a passing grade from Harrow some 60 years earlier. “We have come to hear Winston speak” they all said to a man.

Churchill arose, walked portentously to the dais, and gave the shortest speech of his life.

“Never, never, never give up”.

Then he sat down ….

He had taken massive Risks in his political life.  He had made equally massive errors.  He had failed so many times that most of his contemporaries had written him off.  Then he took one more Risk.  Appointed Prime Minister in 1940 he Risked all in his faith in the British and American people.  With a British father and an American mother, no leader was better suited to the task of defeating Nazism, the greatest evil of the past century.  Had he not taken that Risk, Success would not have been his and we would all be speaking German today.  Winston succeeded.

Let me share with you some thoughts about Success.

Success is not about money.  

It is not about power.  

It is not about wealth or possessions.  

Success is doing the very best with the many talents you, as a member of the human race, have been endowed with.

The divine spark which will make you a Success resides in every one of you.  Light the fire.  Let it burn!

Go out into the world, take Risks, do your best and never, never, never give up.  And Success will be yours.”

Winnie bids adieu to his favorite teacher.

Stone Canyons of the Colorado Plateau

By a master of the landscape.

Jack Dykinga has been featured here a decade ago and his work in the American west continues to define the standard for landscape photography.

Click the image for Amazon.

Dykinga works with film in 4″ x 5″ field cameras using the finest Schneider lenses, and it shows. While film in small sizes is largely the province of cranks and those who place little value on their time – not to mention the quality of the results – the use of large format sheet film is thoroughly justified in this case. High pixel count digital sensors may be the thing for landscape snappers today, but it’s hard to beat the sheer plasticity of Dykinga’s results. Add an expert’s eye and you have a book to wonder at. There is absolutely nothing dated about the images on display here.

Long discontinued, it’s abundantly available from Amazon and resellers like Abe Books.