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Broad Stripes & Bright Stars

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Broad Stripes & Bright Stars
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Image by Jason A. Samfield
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

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Football: Jets-v-Eagles, Sep 2009 – 29
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Image by Ed Yourdon
Note: this photo was published in an Oct 4, 2009 blog titled "The Excessive Celebration Rule in College Football is Insulting to the Brain."

Moving into 2010, it was published in a Feb 2, 2010 blog titled "Poll: College Football Or The NFL." It was also published in a Jun 22, 2010 blog titled "Living with the what-ifs ." It was also published on an undated (Oct 2010) home page of the Ohio Attorney General’s website. And it was also published in a Dec 3, 2010 blog titled "The best way for good teams to win close games." It was also published in a Dec 6, 2010 blog titled "Scoreboard: The Weekend in Seattle Sports."

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 11, 2011 blog titled "National Championship." It was also published in a Jan 28, 2011 blog titled "Violation Alert: Cheering Against the Local Team." And it was published in a Feb 2, 2011 blog titled "I’m Going To Become A Freelance Writer … What Should I Do First?" It was also published in an Oct 15, 2011 blog titled "Football for Mommies." And in early Nov 2011, I noticed that it was used in the "banner" section of the "About" page of a blog titled Extra Benefits.

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in an undated (late Jan 2012) blog titled "Wheelchair Basketball Rules vs. Regular Basketball Rules." It was also published as one of several illustrations in an undated (late Apr 2012) Mashpedia article/blog titled "Football." And it was published in a Jul 23,2012 Fast Company blog titled "Want A Branding Challenge? Try Marketing An NFL Team," at www-dot-fastcompany-dot-com-slash-1843230/want-a-branding-challenge-try-marketing-an-nfl-team. It was also published in an Aug 7, 2012 blog titled "Shannon Eastin set to debut as first female NFL referee in Thursday game." And it was published in an Aug 15, 2012 Forbes blog titled "Using Replacement Refs Would Be A Disaster For The NFL," as well as a subsequent Sep 21, 2012 blog titled "NFL, not replacement referees, to blame for poor officiating." It was also published in a Sep 28, 2012 blog titled "Deals Of The Week Looks For A Replacement." And it was published in an Oct 19, 2012 blog titled "Shreveport Bossier Area High School Football Schedule – October 19," as well as an Oct 19, 2012 blog titled "Watch NFL on your iPhone?"

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Feb 1, 2013 blog titled " The Super Bowl, Undercover Vegans, Horse Meat, and Celebrity Chefs. Done Vegan Style!" It was also published in a Feb 4, 2013 blog titled "Milwaukee beats San Francisco for Super Bowl audience." And it was published in a Mar 5, 2013 blog titled "Interflora Google Penalty, Advertorials & SEO Content Marketing." It was also published in a Jul 31, 2013 blog titled "Dodgeball tournament hosted at Huntington Center." And it was published in a Sep 6, 2013 blog titled "The Most Pathetic Reasons You’ll Claim Your Football Team Lost."

Moving into 2014, the photo was published in a Jan 24,2014 blog titled "Having the faith to make ‘The Call’." It was also published in a Mar 24, 2014 blog titled "NFL Looking To Enhance Referee Communication Through Wireless System." And it was published in an Aug 20, 2014 blog titled "Veteran NFL Referee Refused to Work Washington Games Because of Team’s Name."

********************

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that, until last night, I had never been to a professional football game in my life. Baseball, basketball, and tennis: yes, of course. High-school and college football games: sure, though that was a long time ago. Indeed, the last college football game I watched (in person) was in the mid-60s, when I was invited to the annual Harvard-Yale game by a Radcliffe student I had begun dating — a development to which my MIT college roommate reacted, in shock, by howling, "Radcliffe? You’re dating a Cliffie? She must be a pig!" After which he pulled out his flute, every time he thought she might be present when he returned to our off-campus apartment, and played "Old McDonald Had a Farm" until he collapsed in gales of laughter on the stairwell. Highly inaccurate, I hasten to note, and totally unfair. But I digress…

Anyway, a freelance writer, Mitch Ligon (whose photo you can see here in one of my Flickr sets), invited me to accompany him last night to the New York Jets – Philadelphia Eagles game out in the New Jersey Meadowlands — another first-time experience. I was given a photographer’s press pass, which gave me access to the locker rooms, press box, various other "inner sanctum" locations … and, most important, the football field itself. I was given a red jersey to wear, told to stay outside the yellow dashed lines that ring the field, and turned loose for the evening. I felt somewhat inadequate, because I knew that the "real" professional photographers would be equipped with high-cameras and monstrous telephoto lenses beyond anything I had ever touched, or could possibly afford; and even though my Nikon D300 and 70-300mm zoom lens is fairly respectable in amateur circles, I had no idea if I would be able to take any decent photos at all…

The other problem is that I know little or nothing about the nuances of football, beyond the obvious fact that the quarterback either passes the ball, or hands off to someone who attempts to run the ball downfield. Punts and field-goal kicks are also a familiar concept, but if you don’t have a good anticipatory sense of who is about to do what to whom, it’s easy to miss the "moment" when the perfect shot might be available. Also, I didn’t really know anything about the players, aside from the respective star quarterbacks: Philadelphia’s controversial Michael Vick, and New York’s newly-named starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez. I had looked at the team rosters on the Internet before the game, so at least I knew their jersey numbers (#6 for Sanchez, and #7 for Vick, as you’ll see in the photos) — but the "action" was often so far away (at the other end of the field) that I couldn’t tell whether the starting quarterback, or one of the substitutes, was making the plays.

Nevertheless, by the beginning of the second quarter I was feeling a little more comfortable — if only because I found it easy to follow along behind the other professional photographers as they marched (or ran) from one end of the field to the other, in order to get their equipment set up for what they expected would be the next great shot. By the end of the game, I had taken 1,100+ photos, including several of Michael Vick in a post-game locker-room interview; and from the sound of the clickety-click-clack of my fellow photographers, I could tell that many of them had taken several thousand. I’ll spare you the technical details of my feeble attempts to get some decent shots; I had picked up some good tips from the sports-photography chapter of Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography, and I did my best within the limitations of my equipment and my lack of familiarity with the situation.

What impressed me most about the whole experience was the scale of modern professional football — the scale of everything. It’s one thing to read that there are 80,000 people in a football stadium; it’s another thing to actually be there and hear the simultaneous roar of those 80,000 people as a quarterback is sacked or a long pass is completed. It’s one thing to read that a professional football player is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 350 pounds; it’s another thing to stand next to several dozen such giants. Heck, I thought there were only 20 or 30 such giants on each team; I had no idea that there were 64 of them (a number which will be pared down as the pre-season comes to an end), or that there might be 20-30 different coaches. And then there are the hundreds of "staff members" scurrying around all over the place, carrying out their various duties and assignments; and there are the security guards and State Police, who spent most of the time scanning the stadium crowd rather than watching the players, presumably watching for scuffles or fights or … well, who knows what. There are cheerleaders too, in this case bearing the official name of New York Jets Flight Crew; I had expected half a dozen, but there were two dozen perky, long-haired beauties, with permanently frozen smiles, who who danced and pranced before the crowd at every conceivable opportunity.

All of this has resulted in the photos you’ll see in this album. I had to delete roughly a hundred of my original images, because they were out of focus, or because a referee decided to walk in front of my camera at the wrong moment; and another 900 were "okay," but not terribly exciting. I’m sure that none of them are as crisp, sharp, and well-composed as those taken by the Sports Illustrated photographer and the other professionals on the field; but I did end up with 72 "keepers" that I hope you’ll enjoy…

… and, yes, I probably will attend another football game or two in the years ahead. Whether I’m lucky enough to get down on the field again is anyone’s guess….

NYC – Staten Island – Sailors’ Snug Harbor: Staten Island Botanic Gardens – Allee
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Image by wallyg
Planted in April 1997, this walkway connects the Lion’s Sensory Garden with the Chinese Scholars Garden. The Allee is planted with 120 European hornbeams which, on reaching a height of six feet, will begin to arch and meet, creating a shaded path. This will create a different perspective for the individual walking between gardens. Instead of merely walking across afield, the enclosed area creates a different perception of space and a sense of anticipation.

Sailors’ Snug Harbor, now the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, was established with an 1801 bequest from the merchant Robert Randall, who left a large plot of land north of Washington Square for the establishment of an institution for the care of eldery sailors. Randall’s bequest was challenged in court and by the time it was settled in 1830, the area became a hot property during a residential boom. The trustees leased the land and instead purchased a large farm on the north shore of Manhattan where they proceeded to erect a complex of buildings. Opened in 1833, Sailors’ Snug Harbor became the first and only home for retired merchant seamen in the United States. It saw a peak of 1,000 residents by 1900–a number that would decline after the Social Security system was implemented. By the mid 1950’s, fewer than 200 residents remained and by 1976 it was moved to North Carolina. Following a series of landmarks regulation, the facility was sold to New York City and converted into a cultural center. Today it houses the Newhouse Center For Contemporary Art, the John A. Noble Maritime Collection, the Staten Island Botanic Garden, and the Staten Island Children’s Museum.

Sailors’ Snug Harbor Historic District National Register #72000909 (1972)

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