All the Pretty Cameras: The iPhone 12 vs. the iPhone 11 in the Mojave Desert

(This post is part of an ongoing review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.) It was dark and getting darker as I drove away from the Teutonia Peak trailhead in the Mojave National Preserve. I turned right, heading away from my Airbnb in Baker, situated along Interstate 15, and drove south toward Kelso. I wasn't lost—I had spent four weeks last year in the Preserve as the artist-in-residence and for two of those weeks I had stayed with National Park Service employees in dorm-style housing just down the road from Kelso Station. I wasn't lost, I just wanted to drive through the park, to feel it again. In the light…

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iPhone 11 vs 12 In the Burned Joshua Tree Forest

(This post is part of an ongoing review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.) When I first turned down Cima road from I-15 I was relieved. The news reports in August had been depressing, nighttime videos of firemen battling a forest of Joshua trees aflame, one clip showing what appeared to be a firefighter, fully geared up, crying at the loss. The Joshua Tree forest in the Mojave National Preserve is the largest in the world, larger than that in Joshua Tree National Park, and the most visually stunning part of that forest is upon the volcanic Cima Dome and the surrounding area. There is no lodging within the Mojave…

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Our Daily Outrage

It's a seven-hour drive back from the Mojave National Preserve, up I-15, one of the most boring drives in the entire country, and so I did what I often do when I'm in the car alone with nothing much to do. I listened to right-wing radio. There's Rush Limbaugh, the high-priest of the common man, still atop his mountain after so many years. There's Sean Hannity, his boyish charisma all gone as he lists the sins of the Democrats in a rapid-fire cadence, each sin crashing atop the next like waves, building and building toward some conclusion, toward some final judgment. Then there's my favorite, Mark Levin, a sort of…

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Back to the Mojave, Day Two

  • Post category:ArtTravel

I don't normally publish on a Saturday but I missed a day this week and I wanted to share a few images from day two of my trip back to the Mojave National Preserve. For four weeks last year I lived inside the park in housing provided by the National Park Service working with the park's artist-in-residence program. After the forest fires and the images I saw in the media of the Joshua trees burning I wanted to go back and see for myself. Here are a dozen images from day two of any trip, all made with an iPhone 12 Pro Max Max (or maybe an iPhone 11 Pro…

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Back to the Mojave, Day One

  • Post category:ArtTravel

Right now I'm in Baker, California, a feed and fuel stop for the Vegas-bound, right at the edge of the Mojave National Preserve. I've been making images with the iPhone 12 Max Max and I'm putting together a nice review—only that takes time and I wanted to share some of the images now, the raw footage, so to speak. Last year I was the artist-in-residence at the Preserve, living inside the with the NPS employees (there are no other lodgings here) for a total of four weeks. I made many good images then, which I will share in the near future, but I felt I needed to go back down…

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The Man In the Mulch

  • Post category:ArtTravel

Writing this blog has proven so far to be rewarding in many ways but sometimes it can become a bit of a rabbit hole. This post, for example, was initially going to be a short post, sharing an odd public sculpture that we came across in Missouri. We were on the way back to California from Ohio and were somewhat desperately looking for things to do. Our thinking was that since we were traveling during the pandemic we would limit ourselves to outside activities, national parks and the like. The problem was that since we live in California and had traveled throughout the West, what Missouri had to offer—and what…

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Small Concussions In the Distance

  • Post category:NatureTravel

I've driven across the United States dozens of times, usually a round trip every year for the past sixteen years, and before this year I've never had trouble finding things to do. The trips I take take time, usually two weeks from California to Ohio to visit family, then two weeks back, stopping all along the way to see the country, to make contact with its people. COVID changed that, removing museums and restaurants and bookstores and thrift shops and anywhere there might be crowds and almost anywhere indoors from the list. My two daughters and my daughter's boyfriend are all biologists and are all interested in birding. We each…

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Cahokia: The Bodies at Mound 72

  • Post category:Travel

He is lying there on his back, you see his resplendency, at least in your mind's eye, in the white conch shell beads he lies upon, the shells brought here to just outside modern-day St. Louis from the Gulf of Mexico. The blanket of beads--some twenty thousand of them—were once sewn together into a robe or blanket, bits of string still surviving, and the silhouette the beads make hints at a bird-like shape in the original design. He is regal, kingly even. Directly beneath him is a woman, facing down, his body laying atop hers. Around them are six bodies, skeletons, five of them killed to honor the occasion of…

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Faithful and Confused

At two in the morning, California time, the number next to Georgia went from red to blue. Like some physics-class demonstration, the addition of mostly blue votes to the pool is changing the color of the pool, now more blue than red and getting bluer. But there is such confusion. People are wondering why the vote count is taking so long, COVID seemingly forgotten and out of the headlines despite record cases, over one hundred thousand today. Trump is telling them that all these extra votes being found are illegal, that votes shouldn't be counted after Election Day except, apparently, in states where he is behind. Fox News still isn't…

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Cahokia: Digging in the Dirt
Big Mound during destruction. Daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly, ca. 1869. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. Easterly Daguerreotype Collection. N17078.

Cahokia: Digging in the Dirt

  • Post category:Travel

There are eleven UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites located in the United States, five of which are American Indian sites. Mesa Verde is by far the most famous with its cliff-dwellings, Taos Pueblo and Chaco not far behind, though Chaco is a bit a of a drive, three hours from Albuquerque, the last on rough dirt roads. I'd never heard of Cahokia. We passed through Taos one Christmas, the streets thick with ice, my Volvo 850R sliding all about, defying my Ohio-born driving skills, the town mostly shut down. We found one place open, serving Mexican, and it was busy with locals, the food hot and good. At the ceremony…

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