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The Ride Operator
A soul sparkles
01/15/16

The city fathers of Sacramento took a chance. Like most of us, they'd seen Chinese lanterns, that is, colored sheer cloth stretched over thin wire frames with a light inside, sometimes with a candle to cause them to float over a nighttime landscape. But this "Global Winter Wonderland" was a million dollars worth of huge lanterns, an entire city of Chinese lanterns shaped into art as never before. I spotted it driving down the road and had to take my camera into their midst.

Not content with sheer amazement, I snuck in the next morning to photograph the place in its drab grey gloom. Devoid of it sparkle and magic, the place was like a party guest flopped out on the sofa with a hangover.

That gave me the idea for experimenting with a new kind of photography called morphing. Morphing blends and moves one picture into another, in this case, the dreary morning shot of the lanterns metamorphing into a fantasy world of illumination.

Click one of the top 6 images at the right to see what I mean.


Walking aroung the light festival with a fistful of churro, I grew lost in my thoughts in spite of the howling multitude flowing around me.

A friend of mine characterized our hectic world as "the mechanical maniacal hubbub of the chattering monkeys". His point was clear and easy to concur, but growing disgusted with our species may be to go too far. We are made in His image, even some dormant spark in chattering monkeys. Like my friend, I enjoy the seclusion of my predawn walks in the woods when even the chattering squirrels are curled up in their burrows. But I also enjoy my forays into the unwashed masses. I feel the thrill of the diaper packer's first glimpse of Santa lying about elves to a gaggle of squealing piglets.

Wonder, enchantment, miracles, and love are not bounded by forests and mountains. We can walk through the valley of dearth bringing our x-ray glasses to see past the fantastic plastic. Having shed myself of so many possessions, I feel the invincibility of a man left with only the clothes on his back and the eyes in his head. I can finally subscribe to the saying, "Serenity is not escape from the storm, but peace amid the storm."

Let me explain.

At the outdoor light show, complete with toothless side show barkers, ever hunting with my Canon, I spied a black fellow in a rumpled jacket feverishly working the gates, buttons, and levers of a little roller coaster. Hopping out of the way at the last moment, he brought the plastic caterpillar to a halt and watched the chimps sticky with cotton candy pile out like Marines hitting the beach, tittering and hooting as they passed him.

Then, emerging in the middle of that dreadful dark face was an ear-to-ear, piano-keyboard smile. No one could see it but me, the secret agent in their midst. This peek into a soul lasted but an instant, far too quick for me to aim and shoot, but it was a squirt from an ocean of love that we humans command. Inundated by chattering monkeys, dulled by the mindless and weary repetition of his movements, this ride operator was nonetheless infected by the mirth of munchkins. He probably didn't even realize that he was smiling, yet he could not help but reflect the joy that he had caused.

He whirled to catch the next batch before they could shove each other under the caterpillar, and his face sprang back to business black. But the glow of that instant epiphany followed me the rest of the night. Behind the walls and veils of mass mediocrity swirling around me, there lurked the reason for our creation, ever ready to squirt out like the tongue of a snake, if only we're there in the moment and ready to see it.

This alone allows me to get along with humans, reminding me that the glass is entirely full; half with water and half with air. We just have to take notice of it all.

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African critters
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Giant seahorses
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Swan Lake
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Magic Tunnel
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Fairyland
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The windmill
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Sacramento's "Global Winter Wonderland"
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Festival for the eyes
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Empire Mine machine shop
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Roadside refreshment
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Mono Lake's tufas
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Twas a cold day
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Can you guess that I'm experimenting with new filters?
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Tuff looking tufas
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The artists of Tehachapi
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Gotta be bad for business
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Motherly oversight in Palm Springs
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Leaving California

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