A room of one’s own

[with respect and gratitude to Virginia Woolf]

I spend hours each day in one room of our house. Many years ago, this room was our bedroom. Then, it was an office we shared (briefly), before it became my office / our guest room (with foldout couch). During a remodel, it became our bedroom again. Now, I think of it as our tv room, given most vestiges of my office have gone. Though it is “our” room, I’ve felt comfortable outfitting it unilaterally. Let’s have a look, shall we?

the nook

Start with the corner that used to have a stand-up desk I built. Now, it’s a nook. I’ve documented the wall of photos elsewhere. The chair was Merri’s mom’s. Mer spent many hours there in her youth; I commandeered it during visits to her mom’s house. On the floor in front of the chair is a futon — a terrific place for a nap. You might note the wall of photos is white; the wall with the window is light green; those colors meet again in the opposite corner. (Long ago, that white wall was Taos turquoise — so vibrant people stepped back when they saw it.) 

exercise corner

Passing the north window with the Japanese-style paper shade featuring cranes, the next corner used to hold a sit-down desk I built. Now, it’s stuffed with exercise gear, a part of my effort to keep the grave at bay. 

the couch

Pass the double-wide east window to the recliner-couch, a second-hand revelation. Next to the bookcase is a wooden crate I stole from my college roommate (he knew about it). Fitting, since theft would surely be an honor code at UVa (diploma normally hidden by the door).

the southwest corner

And the tv, which most often is a very large computer monitor connected to a tower in the nook.

I’ve glided past some art. Least obvious is an African mask that holds my wireless headphones. I love loud music while I work out. This leaves 4 bird images. The red cardinal I bought for my Mom a lifetime ago. The cardinal was her spirit animal (her daemon). Nearest it is a fabric peacock with chrysanthemum. This was also hers, possibly before my birth; she painted the frame. Most recently, I’ve added the gorgeous cerulean warbler (above the tv) and the great great horned owl (behind some gear). I bought them as indulgences at the start of the new normal, the age of staying home. (Both are by Linda Apple, who came to me via my friend AE.) 

Time spent in this room would better expose my few knickknacks: silver baby cups, cobra candlesticks (Dad’s), a Himalayan salt lamp. There is Teddy, my bear who rode on Mom’s coffin to the graveyard, the monkey, my beanie babies (cardinal & wolf), two giant mugs (“Think BIG” says one from Mom), the books. The double-door closet (below) is STUFFED with a hodgepodge of electronics & photography gear, plus a few clothes. 

Now, you have an insight into my daily life: hours on that couch, looking at that tv (mostly on the Web, reviewing photos, or journaling). Plus, 30-60 minutes most days working out to a mix of oldies and less-so. Mer and I watch comedies in the evening; I watch sci fi now and then. The dogs come and go as they please. (We got the larger couch to accommodate us four.) Life is good. (We are lucky.)

big screen selfie

Every picture tells a story — don’t it?

[no apologies to Rod Stewart]

my wall of old photos

These pictures span 40 years of my life, up until 25 years ago. Most have been languishing in the garage for ages. I like uncluttered walls for the most part, despite what you see here, which is one reason it took me most of a year to put these up, tucked in a corner of a room, half-hidden by a bookcase. 

Start with the three photos of me as a baby (well, 5 pictures. if you count each in the triptych).

In the upper-right (or center) are my Mom and Dad in college. (Damn, he had great hair. I more resemble my bald-pated maternal grandfather in that regard.)

Farthest left, as they would like it, are my brother, Dan, and his wife, Sharon, after tennis 37 years ago). Below them, my sister, Elizabeth and her two daughters, JoanE and Julianne (look closely).

Below my parents, central to my second life, are The Droogs. “My friends — I made them myself.” Above: we are teens by the Dart in front of Pine Street, all part of the mythology. That photo was taken by Michal Patten. Below: nearly 10 years later, behind Preston Road. Photo by Merri Rudd. 

In the lower left, a photo I took of the market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The artwork on the right is a drawing by Steve O’Neill (“The Easter Egg Hunt,” above, with a photobomb) and a painting by Jas Mullany (“Iconographic Mark” at 40, foreshadowing 47). 

People who are hugely important to me are missing here only because I don’t have large prints of them (the organizing principle of this display). They (you) abound in photo albums and thousands of digital photos I see every day. So many stories.  

Guns are a distraction

Note to gun owners: I don’t give a damn about your gun. I think guns are deadly. I think owning a gun is foolish. I think owning more than one gun is madness. (I think military weapons should be illegal.) I’m free to have these opinions just as you are free to have your guns. As long as your goddamn guns aren’t used to threaten people, to cause violence, to kill, or to demonstrate your smug moral superiority or terror, you can dress them up in hats and call them your girls, as far as I’m concerned. So, let’s drop this bullshit part of the “Culture War” that others exploit to keep us all riled up and distracted from the fact that the Rich want more, more, more. 

Stop the bad cops TODAY

I am sick with sorrow and rage. Sorrow over the endless cruelty of others (in particular, white men), sick of a lifetime witnessing people hate, abuse, rape, torment, and murder other human beings they don’t like.


I’m enraged by the certainty that today, more than one cop will murder more than one black person under circumstance in which a white person might not even be inconvenienced. Guaranteed. The people who could stop that — the bad cops’ coworkers, supervisors, friends, and family — know these future killers but will do NOTHING to stop them. Tomorrow, the bystanders may share our shock and dismay but today they wait, as we all do, for the next murder, and the one after that, and again and again and again. It could be stopped but we won’t stop it. I’m sorry.


I’m an old white guy who literally could not be more comfortable or secure, if not for my humanity and empathy. I can only imagine the dread that hangs over black people, has hung over them for centuries. How has that not ground them to a pulp? Even if the pressure made them into diamonds, it wasn’t worth it for any of us.


This has to STOP today, not tomorrow, not after the election or a study, TODAY. No more abuse, no more murder. If you live with a bad cop, a racist, a dick, do something: report them, fire them, break their gun hand — I stop myself short of saying kill them, even though I know they will not stop themselves. We must stop them together NOW.


Organizing my photos

This year, I’m going through my archive to organize photos. I have arrived at this process:

• Moving / reorganizing into folders
• Rating (1 to 5 stars; 0=delete)
• Deleting unrated photos
• Tagging
• Editing

I continue to use Microsoft Photo Gallery because there is no better tool that combines organizing and editing. (I try other tools now and then to confirm this.) Sadly, Photo Gallery was discontinued years ago; I cling to my setup program. Although I have jumped around, I’m settling in to a chronological approach.

Letting Photo Gallery count All Photos and Videos, I had over 100K files when I started. Yes, 100,000+ photos requiring more than 300 GB of storage. Over a month or two, I’ve already rated and deleted from the years 2000 through 2005, leaving about 5K photos from those years (98K total).

I’ve changed my organization over the years, in particular how I name folders. I now prefer to have photos organize by the year and month taken (rarely, the full date). I choose names that easily sort alphanumerically; 2020-01, not 01-2020, for example. When warranted, I include an event name. For example: “2020-05 mjh’s 65th bday” would sort after “2020-05” in the 2020 folder. I generally no longer change filenames, which are easiest to leave to the camera (a change from the first few years).

As I process the archive, I’m moving older photos into this structure, which I have been more consistent with for some years. Way back, I had folders like “Flowers,” instead of taking advantage of tags. All of the files might be named “Colorado” followed by a number. The new order pleases me more.

It’s fitting that this is my first photo from 7/5/1985, the extended Hinton clan on the front porch of the family home outside of Clarksville, Tennessee. Ironically, this isn’t my photo. Merri Rudd took this and others in my archive. [I should say more of the reunion 35 years ago, in a separate write-up.]

I’m puzzled by this being the first photo because there were no digital cameras then. I must have scanned this, then edited the file date and GPS info. Granted, I have scans of even older photos. In most cases, I have not bothered to alter the file date.

My first digital camera was an OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (as it helpfully wrote as the comment for every photo I took), which I bought at Costco in anticipation of my 47th birthday in 2002. [Camera ID was C-1ZD-150Z, though that changed later.] The first digital photos I took (and still have) were at UNM Continuing Education, of all places. Why wasn’t my first photo of Merri or Lucky Dog? Those firsts came on a camping trip 3/29-31/02 in the San Mateo Mountains. A month later, I took that camera to Chaco for the first of thousands of photos with numerous cameras over the years. Organizing just the Chaco photos is a future project in its own right.

47 degrees at 7:47am

Recall that after organizing into folders, if necessary, I’m then rating the unrated. I’ve been better about rating these past few years, so there should be fewer unrated files as I move on. After I’ve rated or deleted all, I’ll work on tags. (I do a little of that as I go.)

This will likely take more than another month or two but I could be done before the end of the year.

Your guns don’t keep you free, the Rule of Law keeps us all free

Police detained armed militia members after a man was shot at a protest in Albuquerque – The Washington Post

“The heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a ‘civil guard,’ were there for one reason: To menace protesters, to present an unsanctioned show of unregulated force,” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said in a statement. “To menace the people of New Mexico with weaponry — with an implicit threat of violence — is on its face unacceptable; that violence did indeed occur is unspeakable.” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (D) said the statue would now be speedily removed as an “urgent matter of public safety” until authorities determine a next step.

Note: the “militia’s” actions brought the opposite of what they intended: shame and arrest. You shot yourselves in the foot again. 

“The bases, all in former Confederate states, were named with input from locals in the Jim Crow era.”

Why are Army bases named after Confederates? – The Washington Post

Fort Benning in Georgia, the home of Army infantry and airborne training, is named after Brig. Gen. Henry Benning, who led troops at Antietam and Gettysburg. In remarks in 1861 laying out slavery as the reason for secession, Benning warned that abolition would lead to “black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that?”

Three of the biggest bases in the United States are named after Confederate leaders, including some who were famously inept.

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." — Sam Adams