Thursday, April 21, 2016

Falling In Love With Sand

Sure am glad i convinced you to enjoy the beach...

That is how the conversation began; three years ago, spending and entire day at the beach was little more than a boring concept to me; which is peculiar because I have always loved the beach in different ways throughout my life.  Case and point, when I was just five years old, my family would have regular outings to the beaches in New England.  I was told my father would take us and toss us into the ocean and force us to swim.  I can't validate that story per-say, but I know each and every one of the seven of us, has a passion for being near the ocean.

I can name every beach in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area.  You would be hard pressed for me not to know the major lakes, but I can't attest to knowing all of them.

As of this moment, I am sitting on the beach at Plumb Island, in a lesser know area, that makes summers on the beach in New England feel more like you are on an island resort.  Rarely are there more than twenty people setting up camp here, which gives it that remote feeling you only get when you have discovered a hidden pearl.  Most people who are well traveled would likely understand this description without going into details; it's the kind of experience you often can't repeat or recreate because of what you perhaps did or who you encountered during that fantasy-like visit-- and you wouldn't necessarily want to repeat it, as it gets filed away as one of the most cherished experiences in your life.  That is the kind of place that this is.  the longitude and latitude of this very moment are 42 degrees 42' 15" North and 070 degrees 46' 58" W.  That should be read forty-two degrees forty-two minutes, fifteen-seconds North and 070 degrees-forty six minutes-fifty-eight seconds West, of the equator and prime meridian.

And though it is only 71 degrees and a bit cool, today is the informant of summer arriving.  What is nice about this day is, except for the occasional passer-byer, is that there is virtually no one on the beach perhaps 10 people at this very moment- truly creating the feeling of being on a remote island.  Where on Earth could there be a better place to be than right here right now.  OK so it would have been nice to have a fleece to get that perfectly cozy feeling, but oh-uh what a feeling, as an old theme from Toyota comes to mind.

Rounding the experience off is the popular beach garb from Tommy Bahama; this supplier of furniture and other beach amenities has figured what hundreds of millions of manufactures have not.  I want to have everything I desire when I go to the beach (a cooler, beverage holder, phone pocket etc, within reach oh and by the way, I would like to be comfortable too.  Nice that someone has figured it out.

Back to the original point.  Less than three years ago, you couldn't get me to spend more than a couple of hours on a beach.  Don't get me wrong, I love going there but, honestly, what is there to do? Sit?  Nah! That's not for me.  But all that has changed, now when I go to the beach, I want to pack a cooler with a full days provisions, including: fruit, some sort of mixed greens, a bean dip, possibly a sandwich, beer or wine, chips or pretzels, plates, utensils, cups (or wine glasses- don't like plastic) and gotta have chocolate in some form.  I am planning to stay for the whole day so I try to anticipate when the people are coming and going, and how to avoid that.  Yea, I love staying at the beach all day and enjoying the sunset-- as a photographer, a good sunset alone, can make the day worth any effort you have to put into it.

After returning from Colorado, this unplanned beach run is a welcome transition.  Since I have returned I have been preparing for the construction project, doing a corporate retreat for an organization in New York, and catching up on those never-ending bills that piled up while out of town.  I am beginning to feel like it helps to keep the mental wheels spinning around up there; it feels like the cassette on the rear wheel of a bike, constantly in motion and shifting gears.  Something's definitely different, I can feel that mental shift of the tectonic plates organize themselves.

And though this is the first time I've brought my computer along for the ride, I am enjoying this new experience; it adds a nice element to the whole thing.  Perhaps even a new motivation.  Yep, I'll definitely be doing more of this, this summer.  Life if good.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Capturing the Moment... Editing and Self Evidence

I find it interesting how one story is told when you see part of the picture, yet a different experience is
captured when you understand more about the journey.

Myself, I wondered what the jumpers are thinking when they make that leap, or make that trek to their destination.  Often it is more interesting than the event itself.  I feel I have been there in sine ways.  I recall the first time I reached 210 mph on my motorcycle; the adrenaline rush was amazing-- different though when I did my my first deep sea dive.

There is a story that each of us holds inside; it tells of our motivation behind the action, a fluid that spills into our veins and gives us the purpose in our own lives.  Often this journey is inexplicable; it is that private domain that fill the void-- sometimes it makes sense not to try to explain it away, but just accept it.

What may be true is that we learn a little more about ourselves when we take such a leap, knowing that we have accomplished something that goes beyond human rationale-- it's a rare place filled with beauty, it is a new frontier from within that says I will not be defined.  Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about will to power, I have always believed that he implied this was how we choose to influence our life journey we and the in which we have dominion over that journey.  Such a journey and its choosing is captured in BASE jumps.

I have completed the editing of the BASE jump and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed working on it, and share it with friends.

Kind regards,

B.A.S.E. Link

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Woke Up This Morning...Never Saw This Coming

Mike's Jump Photo Scotland Willis
Life is full of extraordinary experiences; the more you seek them the more they will  become part of your life.  And each experience is dictated by the amount of energy you apply to be vulnerable to that experience so that you can embrace it.  Be ready because here it comes!

I woke up this morning, continuing my pursuit of building my own home.  By many standards this could be considered a major accomplishment-- I would generally be inclined to agree; today however was embedded with a bit of a twist.

As I was headed into town to pick up some additional supplies to begin the plumbing work, I saw a small group of people assembled, only two vehicles, looking skyward.  As it does with most onlookers, it caught my attention and I began to look skyward.  Initially I thought perhaps someone was repelling or rock climbing; to my surprise, it was a couple of men base jumping! (check out the video here)

JP's Jump in an undisclosed location
Now one must understand, base jumping is an event that is not common among the majority of the population; I would guess that less than 1/10 of 1% or less would even consider base jumping.  It is a cocktail of a leap of faith, insanity, adrenaline junkie and liberation from all the things in life that bind us and oppress the human spirit that makes you feel alive.  Moreover, base jumping occurs so quickly and is over in less than an instant.  So seeing this event was rare.  So rare in fact that I missed the first jump and missed half of the second jump.

But a natural born opportunist I drove off; then realized that I would be missing an opportunity of a lifetime if I did not go back and at least talk to the two people who had just embraced life in a way most can only dream of or fear all together.

So I turned my vehicle around and stopped to chat.  Mike and JP were the two base jumpers.  I initially was only able to talk to Mike, but that was enough.  He picked up on my enthusiasms and allowed me to prod a little bit.  After a 5-7 minute conversation, Mike informed me that they would  be jumping again today, after  I told him I would love to shoot the jump.  I had both my HD video camera and my second still camera with me-- never leave home without them.  JP then jumped into the conversation and asked the pertinent question after I asked if I could hike up with them for the shoot, "how good are you at climbing?", I replied "good".

So I headed off to town to eat, run a few errands etc.  Before I knew it Mike was texting me saying that they were about to do another jump if I wanted to go with them.  Darn!  I was not quite ready yet, and still had a few things to do, but I think I could make it work.

After Mike asked if I could be there by 9:30, I told him probably more like 9:45.  I began to pick up the pace with my list of todo's and began to wonder if I even needed to really do this things.

What is peculiar is that I almost did not go into town; I was prepared to head up to the work site and continue my project Antlers Edge; plus I had visitors coming to town-- my mother, my son, my granddaughter and his girlfriend, I wanted to prepare,  I turned around less than half way there and decided I would burn some time as it was before 7 a.m.-- something I did not realize.

So I rush back to the jump site and luckily Mike and JP were patient enough to wait 20 minutes for me to catch up to them.  I threw my video camera bag over my back and we began the trek up to the cliff they would jump off.  Their preparation was meticulous but routine, as have had hundreds of jumps.

Life is full of chance moments and we never truly know what to expect so two things come to mind: 1) enjoy the human experience, it is full of gifts and even the negative experience can and in many cases do, lead to the extraordinary-- backtrack and you may be surprised by the events that lead you to where you are; 2) allow fate to intervene and chance to play a role in making you life outstanding. I live each day open to being vulnerable and never regret it; it puts a new face on vulnerability, one I find very appealing.

I got to meet two great people, who allowed me to enter their lives for a brief moment in time, capturing a priceless experience up close and personal.  Never miss the opportunity to seize the day.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Pause for the Clause...Good Faith

Image result for antonin scalia images
(google images)
In light of the death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, it is important to reflect on his role as well as his contributions on both sides of the fence. On the surface we see a staunch republican whose views might be directed by his political beliefs; dig a little deeper and some of his positions on SC decisions might surprise you. More on that later. What is more important to understand is the implication of the circumstances which surround this conundrum of the vacant seat that now exists in the Supreme Court.

Known for his fiery descents, if ever there were a scenario that explains away the division in congress right now and for the past eight years at a minimum, this is yet another one. “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Mitch McConnell, Jr, to delay a nomination would be a failure to your constitutional obligation on the grounds of the evidence you publicly pronounced: "The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” (Facebook page Feb 12, 2016)

Chuck Grassley Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa),"has no plans to start up the confirmation process on his panel." accord to Politico.

"This president, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda," Grassley said. "It only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

The oath of office for congressional leaders includes the following: "I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter."  This would include maintaining the balance of Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court-- that number is currently nine; and unless modified by Congress, should remain at that number; it is not a personal choice but a congressional obligation.

Article I Sec. 2 of the U.S. Constitution states:

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies. Would this attribute of the Constitution exempt SCJ, when the very same doctrine later states the responsibility of the Supreme Court itself.

Can one honestly state that Justice Scalia, were he obligated to make a decision on whether President Obama had a responsibility to appoint a new Justice, if  one were  prematurely removed, that Justice Scalia, would argue against a nomination rather than President Obama's (or any other president) legal obligation to submit a nomination for replacement.

Constitutional Interpretation
More importantly under Article II Sec. 2 of the Constitution it states that: "... he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court."  There is neither precedence nor written law that states that the President should not at any time fill a vacancy of a Supreme Court seat. He in fact has an obligation to fill such a position immediately as the number of SCJ's is established by Congress under Article III Sec. I of the Constitution. Again nowhere in the Constitution does it state that there should be a delay in the nomination of a SCJ at any point in an administrations tenure.

As Politico reported "no Senate leader has ever asserted a right — and there is no precedent for a sitting president to hand over his power of high-court appointment at the request of any member of the legislative branch."

In an article from the Washington Post, Barnett states the following regarding the interpretation of the good faith clause:

He is executing the laws passed by Congress, which includes this discretion. If Congress doesn’t like this, it should change the law... He goes on to counter this statement, he once held by asserting in an example of a tenant who has a contractual fiduciary responsibility to their landlord based on a volume of business "... it would be bad faith for the tenant to refer the customer to the tenants other store for the purpose of avoiding the percentage lease¹.

This is a poor example of bad faith in the context of the good faith clause, as 1) POTUS is not pondering a decision so simple as a few revenue dollars in a lease agreement; as an authority on Constitutional law, he more than likely understands the gravity of this nomination 2) his contract comes with a moral obligation to a much wider audience i.e. citizens of the United States. And just as he has stated in the past that he could not show favoritism for people of his own race because he is representative of all citizens not solely his own ethnic group; it is a moral compass and obligation that goes beyond the dynamics of a 1 to 1 relationship-- such as that given in Barnett's example, a elementary oversight. Both the repercussions and expectations are exponentially more significant. Would you not say that a SCJ position influenced by his/er upbringing would render their decisions unfaithful? At which point do we then distinguish between experiential influence and moral obligation, and which persons are manipulated by those factors.

The Senate and House behavior in matters relative to advancing legislative action in the interest of the United States, borders on criminal.  Never should personal emotions be engaged or confused with the foundation of what the Constitution was built on-- morals and responsibilities.  For it is not possible to build a more perfect Union, without fully embracing its predecessor:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

As an originalist, the late Justice Scalia, would have encouraged a replacement, under a judicial obligation, were he around today to submit a decision.

1. Randy Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center, and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


[2] Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena.

Merriam Webster
:  [1] the state or experience of one that suffers

A brief look at the days' news headlines, and it is not difficult to see; the impact of war, the struggle to pull people out of poverty, deteriorating environment, from glaciers to endangered species, disease, famine etc. And though the two definitions above both suggest that suffering is a human experience, not until Wikipedias' second explanation (listed above) do they infer suffering in the boarder sense of things not human as well.  This is the context in which this article is written.

This morning I woke up at approximately 4:00 a.m. EST, disturbed by the matter of suffering; different images and thoughts entering my mind about suffering from a historical perspective to modern day.  For over an hour I could not shake the visions and thoughts from my mind.  I don't generally have a propensity towards these thoughts, but they arise periodically; it is not an emotional struggle in the sense that it disturbs my thought process, but more along the lines of an overwhelming desire for a different sense of the human experience as it relates to all things that result in, interact with or are some part based on human actions as a causal factor of suffering.

After reflecting on a statement captured from a food critic on a local Boston radio show, a rather odd source to be sure; it helped create some context for this approach for suffering.  The essence of the food critic's argument was that farm-to-table  is a way of life and not a propaganda technique to get people or consumers in the restaurant.  We cannot use propaganda to end suffering. Authentically doing something about suffering actually holds  value.  Perhaps that is not the most productive way to put it, because there are multiple agents of change who "want to do something about it", but where does the real change occur?  What type of campaign, commitment, determination, endurance and perseverance would it take to ensure suffering comes to an end?  Can we achieve that?  Authenticity however, may suggest something all together different, a more active role in ending suffering.

By saying or assuming ending suffering is not possible, not related to personal injuries of course, then why would we attempt to change the course of events at all?  Does that result in some sort of fatalistic view that there is no hope.  Yet and still, even the sound of the word "hope", brings with it an air of never-going-to-happeness.  It is that very sense of jargon, and hyperbole that often results in the autonomic response of head-nodding.  Out of the jargon jar, and into a more productive script may be one possibility; that with a lot of will power, political effort and fundamental shift in the way humanity thinks about suffering and the ability to end it, that we perhaps will emerge on the other side.

This article will begin a short journey into my exploration of suffering, and what we will do, are doing and can do to end it.  My initial thoughts are that it requires a never ending effort, the kind of effort business people put into running their company, but with a different objective.

All of this begins with the belief that suffering exceeds all other priorities and that it is not limited to people, but animals, the environment or anything else that is subject to virulent exploitation by the human species.  Ending suffering is a way of life.

I look forward to discussions and insights.  I can also be reached on twitter @scotlandwillis