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The great digital exodus…. The fading of a California dream

February 28, 2017
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Another visual effects editor not working in California

….I know this topic is far afield from my normal postings but this morning as the caffeine from that first wonderful coffee cup excited my neurons a radio program about digital production caught my attention and it proved in the end to be more validation for me that state governments do not know how to handle their finances. I do not listen to NPR on a regular basis but on a Sunday in Texas with every AM station talking about how to invest your money Freakonomics on NPR won out.

Hollywood is synonymous with motion picture production and for a long time that included the visual effects industry, but that is no longer the case. Hollywood and its environs is now a vast wasteland when it comes to the digital production facilities the very ones that put the icing on almost all the movies and television shows we see. Based on that broadcast today on NPR those production studios have for the most part moved to either Canada or England, and the reason was simple…. money.

As with most businesses today cost cutting is a way of life and it is no different when it comes to television or the movies. Now I know when we see that it cost 90 to 100 million to produce a movie or a hundred thousand dollars to make one episode of our favorite television series one would ask why would those digital production companies be leaving en mass. As we know water, (and other things), rolls down hill and when you get to allocating money for a production visual effects at times is not high on the list.

The program Freakonomics explained in detail how England and Canada in particular made it almost impossible not to relocate to their countries. In Vancouver, BC the show described how if a company relocated there the Provence on top of tax incentives would cover 60% of the wages of any employee. To a mid sized digital production company this would be almost impossible to pass up.

Looking at the other side of the picture to find out why that same company would even be looking to relocate we find a state with business and personal taxes heading into the stratosphere. Then when you add to that the expense of finding a home for the production people to live in with a market that few can afford you have the reason that there is a drought of skilled craftsman to work in the visual effects studios. This is but one glowing example of lack of common sense by our state and federal government when it comes to spending our tax dollars.

Now when you consider that California has the largest population in the United States, one can only wonder what the state government is doing with all those tax dollars. However since California has spent more money than it has taken in for the last decade and used short term fixes like borrowing to cover the shortfall, is it any wonder it cannot offer tax incentives to keep business from leaving the state?

Maybe California should take a closer look
at where there tax money is spent
find the excess
and try and retain the companies
that are still there.

Who do you trust for the truth?

February 25, 2017

…after falling asleep in my first class of the day and getting detention I was determined to stay awake in my next class social studies. My eyelids were loosing the battle to stay open as Mr Barnes was droning on about what our nation went though during the 1929-1939 great depression. What brought me awake was when he said a 500 word term paper would be used for 25% of our mid-term grade and it was due in two weeks. No problem I thought I would do like I always did and just copy some stuff from old history books add a little of my own observations and it was a lock.

Today I am sure for our school children it is even easier to complete term papers with little or no research or study bot2because of the computer. One needs only to type in the subject and we have at our fingertips thousands of articles on every subject known to man. Then its a simple task to just find some that look noteworthy and copy and paste and your done. But unlike those days in the 50’s and 60’s when I had to go to the library and copy by hand the information from the limited number of books on the subject today’s wealth of articles and books makes finding the truth about something an almost insurmountable task.

If you were to type in ‘global warming’ like I did into Google’s search engine I got 71,800,000 possible articles on the subject. And though Google has been accused of slanting its searches you would still find millions of articles that were either in support of or in opposition to the reality of global warming. So how does one decide which one is the truth and which one is ‘fake’? A large number of the children of today are for the most part not very discerning and tend to take the easy way out when faced with projects they do not want to do, so it is these still impressionable minds that suffer because there is indeed no one totally reliable source for information.

I have done searches on subjects I knew nothing about like when I decided last year to raise tomato plants. When I did an internet search I was faced with many articles saying this or that would produce the best plants but which one was the definitive answer? For me it was trial and error and my results proved I followed the wrong article. No big deal except when you consider our children being exposed to incorrect ideas or “facts” you realize the seeds of the way they understand life has been planted, and they may grow up looking at the world and its leaders in the wrong frame of mind.

So the next time you do an online search
consider for a moment
that whomever wrote the article
may want you to perceive the world
as they see it
not
as it really is.

An Alaskan wolf tale

February 21, 2017

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The illumination from the normally bright security lights was devoured by the thick cold fog and was unable to even cast a shadow from the horse corrals surrounding it. I sat, gun in hand, in the middle of the yard on my four wheeler trying vainly to keep watch on the fleeting ghost like appearances of the horses. It was reminiscent of an old black and white horror movie, with the dense fog pulsing in intensity and the nearby howls of starving wolves. At different moments and from different directions one loan wolf crunched down teeth bared would appear and as I fired…. it vanished as if it never existed.

I had worked for Les Cobb, at Lost Creek Ranch, as an assistant hunting guide for two years now and because he was away working at a gold mine he called and asked me if I could go out to his ranch and help his wife keep some wolf packs from killing his animals. I made the 130 mile journey out from Fairbanks to find his wife Norma looking exhausted from her nightly wolf patrol.

Normally wolf packs do not join forces to attack their prey but because of the numerous forest fires raging they had pushed a number of packs in the direction of the ranch. Add to that the fact that there was a good number of animals at the ranch and because the now starving wolves had all picked up the horses scent a number of packs had joined forces to go in for the kill. Norma had notified Alaska fish and game but they did not believe her when she told them that it was more than one wolf pack attacking her ranch, and would not send any people out to help keep them at bay. Apparently wolf packs joining forces to attack is relatively unheard of in Alaska.

So hear I sat at six in the morning, beyond tired, feeling cold and damp shooting at ghosts in the mist. I could tell day was dawning because the light from the security light now appeared even weaker as the fog itself brightened with the coming sunrise. I could now see maybe 20 feet away from my position and could clearly see the fencing surrounding the horses. Like anyone who stood guard for an entire night at times my fixed stair would cross over to an awaking sleep….

For some reason a colder than normal chill went down my spine and as I turned to ward it off I was shocked at the sight of a wolf not 5 feet away. In that instant the squalid, teeth bared wolf looked to be as big as a full grown bear and for that brief instant we both froze and just stared at each other. Yes I know not the actions one would expect from an Alaskan hunting guide, but with almost 24 hours of no sleep it could be expected.

Time seemed to be suspended and what surely was but seconds seemed like minutes before I raised my 357 and fired. In that same instant the wolf seemed to disappear and re-materialize on the bank of the stream 10 foot further away. I switched over to my shotgun and fired twice more as he headed down the embankment to the stream.The sounds of my firing brought Norma from the house and she arrived in time to see the wolf as he crossed the stream and melt into the dense brush.

We may have been disappointed
that no blood
or sign of a dead wolf was found
but we were content
that at least for another night
the animals of
Lost Creek Ranch
were safe.

God, faith and my search for reality

February 19, 2017
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Photography by Tricia Lynn

…first a brief note. Though I have focused on the Catholic church it is because it is the one that I was raised in, however over my lifetime I have been influenced by other churches. For instance my marriage in a Presbyterian church or when a hand was extended to me when my wife died by members of a Baptist church. Then lastly by a ‘home’ church which consisted of a number of locals living as I did in the bush of Alaska. But regardless of which church or faith I participated in when alone it was always my bible that guided me along life’s path.

My belief in God has remained with me throughout my life. As a child and young adult it was easy because I was raised a Catholic and for twelve years went to Catholic schools. At that time my faith in God was so strong I shuddered with fear when for the first time I saw a communion wafer dropped on the ground. Now at 71 I look back and though my belief in God is still there I find myself at times questioning that belief.

Throughout my life I have prayed for many things, no more so than when after a routine surgery my wife was in critical condition. I remember as if it was yesterday kneeling in a church and begging God that she would be alright. I had just finished the Lords prayer when for some reason my mind focused on four words from the prayer, “thy will be done”. I don’t know why I kept thinking about those words until much later in the day when I saw that for some unfathomable reason God had decided that he would not grant my prayer.

We were taught in school and it is written in the bible that God hears and answers all prayers, but we are also told that his answer may not be the one we are looking to receive. Now there is no way I could understand why he would not grant my prayer for my wife’s life while letting such a wretched human as myself live but if we are to accept our faith we must accept his decisions, and this is where I think the seed of doubt about my faith and God was planted.

However over the years that followed many examples of his guiding hand were witnessed by me. There were countless times when because of my carelessness I should have died but I did not… was that the hand of God and for what possible reason was I allowed to live when a much purer heart was taken.

So today I sit
and instead of acceptance
I ponder what truth
I will find
at journeys end.

Sex, lies and the truth… a new mindset for this old curmudgeon ?

February 16, 2017

SEX
Just down the hallway from the oval office she was hurriedly wiping drops of liquid from her dress as she rose from her kneeling position. Because of the location and participants the occasional encounter between these two monica2consenting adults this encounter soon to become national news when described as ‘not having sexual relations‘.

LIES
Standing before the podium and a room full of news people and cameras it was stated as fact that the ‘affordable care act’ would save you and I $2,500 dollars over our present medical coverage and we would be able to “keep the doctors we now have”.

TRUTH
Are we not all tired of the same twisted truths told to us by our political leaders? Aren’t we also totally feed up with a news media that drones on for days, like a dog ripping apart an old bone, when they have even the hint of foul play withing the government irregardless if it is based in truth or not? Well I am and I have found that for the past week since I have avoided any televised news casts or read any online news web sites my general aggravation level has diminished, but there has also been a down side to this personal censorship…. loss of inspiration.

It seems to me that without exposure to any national or world news I have no seeds of illumination. It is akin to when you were young and fell and got a bad scrape on your body, as it scabbed over you would find yourself absently scratching at the scab, well that’s what the news did to me. I would repeatedly hear some act of stupidity or arrogance on the news and after a while, just like that old scab, I had to scratch that itch or as in the past write about it.

Now resigned to the fact that I am just one voice shouting into the wilderness against the wrongs that I perceive I am joining the tens of millions of people across this nation who just don’t give a dam what happens. Sure I am ignoring that there is some organization or hierarchy out there that is continually mustering and financially supporting agitators to thwart any actions by the current administration and that same group is making sure the media attacks every move emanating from the White House, but my words will have no effect on their actions whatsoever.

Now that I am a neophyte in the world of Americas uncaring I must find new subjects to write about. I have thought of and no doubt will write in depth about my life in the Alaskan wilderness but remembering the old adage to ‘write about what you know’ it can be a bit daunting.

So what is left to write about
but ones own life
from births and deaths
to the many struggles we all share.

…..Then again
our nation was founded by
ordinary people
speaking and standing up
for what they believed was right
so this old curmudgeon
mat yet return
to poke his nose in where it doesn’t belong.

Something is wrong… when reality and depression collide

February 12, 2017
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My old home of 14 years

…back in 1995 something was definitely wrong because the four lane highway had now turned into a street. I had, just a few months ago, traveled North on this same Alaskan highway and never had one problem. However now heading South to the lower forty-eight it looks likely I missed a turn somewhere as the four lane highway now turned into an ever shrinking side street.

That same feeling from 1995 is with me today as I woke up at 10:30 in the morning. Yes I have found that when one is depressed staying in bed asleep definitely makes the day go faster. You have way less time to think about the many possible decisions that lead you to this moment and it also gives you less time to wonder what to do next.

I am sure you have noticed my lack of postings of late especially when the news if ripe with fodder for criticism. From the politically bent five million dollar commercials aired on the super bowl to the blatantly skewed ruling by the ninth circuit court which never addressed the constitutionality of the Presidents actions but ruled on it just the same. Well I have a reason for this funk that has settled over ‘casa-del-pete’ and left whatever creative juices I had locked away, my lease here in Texas is up and this week I must either renew it or give notice I will be leaving.

Many of you who know the story about my 14 years living in that wilderness cabin are saying it is an obvious choice. Because living in that Texas apartment you are close to your son, his wife and grandchildren plus it has electricity, running water, refrigerator and 24/7 internet and phone service. Whereas back at the cabin you had none of those things plus -20 to -30 degree temperatures and yearly snow that went over your knee’s that had to be dug out to move your truck… its a no-brainer isn’t it?

To those people I say you have never spent any extended time in Alaska or else you would understand Alaska is not just another place to live…. it is a state of mind …and as I found during my first trip to Alaska it grabbed a hold of my soul and has to this day not let go. Yes I now have time with my family in Texas and live with many amenities I did not have back in the cabin and yes the weather back in Alaska is at times quite severe but for some unexplained reason while living there those things were just a part of your life… part of being an Alaskan.

Though hard to accept
reality has found
my detour to Alaska
on my life’s road is at an end
and a new and maybe final stretch
of the road of life
now awaits me.

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Just a bad dream…?

February 6, 2017

mky9The shock of one minute being in deep sleep dreaming and the next sitting upright in bed sent my heart racing. I sat there in the inky darkness with my eyes open not seeing anything but fully aware that the ‘buzzing’ in my chest was my designation for the Afib that plagued me. As I reached over for my nitro tablets the buzzing and tightening in my chest quelled and I held off taking any. In a few minutes I was calm again and able to remember bits an pieces of the dream. In my mind I saw myself driving across this nation like I had done so many times before, only this time at each bend in the road I was confronted with scenes that made my blood run cold like….

living in a land where free speech was met with violence
or
Living in a land where you could go to jail
because you did not want to provide a service for someone
because their lifestyle was anathema to your religion
or
living in a land where you went to jail
if you believed in corporal punishment for your children
or
Living in a land where you were labeled a racist
if you wanted to enforce already established laws concerning immigration
or
Living in a land where violent demonstrations and destruction of the property
was not punished by the local police.
or
Living in a land where teachers not parents taught our children about sex
or
living in a land where being politically correct was paramount
over telling someone the truth
or
living in a land where your sexual identity was determined
by how you felt not based on the organs
you were borne with
or
living in a land where there were no more borders
or
living in a land where pride in your nation
was considered selfish and wrong

…here I thought it was a horrible nightmare
but I soon realized it was just me ‘blanking’ out
while listening to the news on the radio.