Checking my bad self out in the stateroom mirror before heading out into Belize.

I found a dead Armadillo in my creek today. Now, if I start seeing Armadillo's everywhere like I did Praying Mantis's, then I will know it's a Sign.

Put together a video clip called The Ghost and the Letter F.

I took this shot of some workers emerging from the side of a cruise ship and turned it into a drawing.

And no, that big black thing does not appear in the original photo, artifacts like that are triggered by slight shadows... Here's a leaf:

Memories are fuzzy, out of focus snapshots of our life. The reason I take photographs is to record what I see at that instant, in digital purity, and not have to rely on my totally inadequate brain cells to capture it. I can then revisit and evaluate my life at that moment, at my leisure.

You can also attach a name to a photo (Cozumel, Mexico), unlike memories which don't come with a Title function unfortunately. You can even add descriptions (glass-bottom boats, U.S. cruise ships, Mexican ferries and the coastline of Cozumel) which adds the dimension of depth to the visualization.

Or just a description (baby trees starting life as vivid red seeds inside a furry bud taken this afternoon in my backyard).

I'm sitting here trying to figure out what wanks my chain. It used to be computer programming but something snapped internally this early Spring where I just lost interest because I assumed nobody was using my stuff. Ironically, part of that last coding effort has now been used 113,964 times according to my blog's control panel, which advances one of my new mantras, Never Assume!

You know how our mind fills in the blanks when we don't know the complete truth about something? The assumption remains the reality until we find out differently. My goal is to leave the blanks empty and fill each of my life situations with nothing but truth.

That's Wisteria Island off Key West, FL. A large homeless encampment lies hidden among the trees there and I don't believe they provide the basics.

Let's review the basics. The most important things in life are water, food, shelter, waste disposal, bathing, electricity and internet, in that order. If you got the basics, you're gold and everything else is gravy.

I think back of my Roatan cabbie The Mayor Omar. He and I connected the instant we met, I trusted him, he trusted me. He took me to his home, a run down house with multiple rooms and he had his own, a bed in the middle, surrounded by his possessions. There was a shared bathroom that required a bucket of water to flush it. I was standing in the middle of Roatan poverty and I got it. Now I look back and I realize they had the basics. Every human being on the planet should have the basics!

Take for example the guy below that I photographed from Omar's cab:

Looks to me like he had the basics!

I have a nagging thought in the middle of my head that slaps the insides of my brain around trying to get my attention. It's saying "You don't have as much time as you think"!

I'm trying to discern if this is a message or just a thought based on who knows what kind of insecurities about life in general that I might have. The question is: Is it true? If so, it's the perfect rationalization to continue bouncing off into what ever adventure I dream up next.

Here's people going backward slowed down on a ride that actually is going backward at the Fair in Nashville recently.

I also created a painting I call The Other Side. Click it to enlarge, and look deep...

This is my new video creature, I've named it Red Eye.

Working on a new production trailer:

It was based on another view I had of the Mantis Sign:

Here's another based on the original:

I've been thinking about that amazing eleven day cruise I just took, reflecting on a possible next one, and I realize it's bucket list checked. I don't think I could top it so why waste my time on another one just for the decadence factor. Life is short, time to move on to the next adventure.

I just returned from a road trip in my old truck, carrying my grandfathers paint-stained tools and my grandmothers blankets covering the bed in the back. One of the first stops was my grandfathers birthplace, Joplin, MO. and I felt his presence there.

Back in Idaho when I was driving the bus, the little old homeless lady that I had helped out with some money and personal items at Broulims looked up at me and said "Are you my guardian angel?" and I said no. Now I believe I was. We are all someone's guardian angel when we allow it to be so. Sometimes the slightest human interaction can change a persons life and we are both the giver and the receiver.

And then there's Chompy. I followed this thing a long ways at different times. It first crept up on me from the left as the trucks cargo came into view. It was a large Army helicopter.

I slept in a Rest Area in the middle of Missouri last night. Pulled in just before dusk and was able to unwind a bit and picture my white feet cozied up in the truck. Wow, what a day!

It all started to transform from great road trip vibes to surreal when I entered a freeway on ramp after fueling and spotted someone on the side with a sign that said "Going to Manhattan, Stranded, Please Help!". I stopped of course and Jack climbed into my front seat with a small backpack he stuck between his legs on the floor, and the sign.

He was 28, a troubled young soul with a peaceful face. Said he'd been hitch-hiking for three weeks trying to get back to a girl that he met at a party somewhere and she's in Manhattan Kansas, just down the road. Ok, I get it! I praised him for perpetuating the great American hitch-hiking tradition! He had lost his phone somewhere, hurt his hand and had $5 to his name that he just found on the ground before I stopped. I relate!

I took the Manhattan exit thinking I'd drop right into town and let him off at a store but the town was eleven miles down the road. My reaction was instant, I told him that I had been assigned to be his temporary Guardian Angel by the Other Side and that I was taking him to Manhattan and he began smiling and nodding his head up and down saying I believe you, thank you. It was a moment. Anyway, dropped him off and got back into my homeward bound journey just a little behind.

I really like night driving across the country after 2am. The moon was out again under a clear Kansas sky as I rolled along two lane roads through small towns keeping my speed legal and cranking my formidable stereo music out of my open windows into theirs.

My spirit guides were active as I was easy to find out there on the open road with no distractions. I was playing my entire music collection stuffed on a USB plug into my stereo and it was amazing. Songs would pop up that I had previously made a connection to and I was belting them out with my Parkinson's shattered voice into the moonlit night as loud as I could.

My sweet little GPS gets me off the path sometimes and photo subjects like the one below pop up but she always comes through. Pueblo was dull so I moved on up to Colorado Springs which allowed me to meet the budda.

Update: I was planning my return and captured this map. The dot Eastward is my current location, ultimately US 70. The little blue line below was my Westward route this morning.

I went to bed last night at 6:30pm, slept for 4 hours and then was out the door showered and coffeed at 1130pm. I pulled up to the Discount Tire place in Springfield, MO exactly at 0800 and they got me in and out as their first customer with balanced and rotated tires in 18 minutes. The moonlight drive was great! I'm currently in Wichita, KS. Next stop, Pueblo.

I treated the girls along with their mom and grandmother to the Tennessee State Fair today. Parking was bizarre, shuttle drivers were rude and I think some of the big animals went home early since it was the end of the event, and it was damn hot. I've been to much better Fairs but a good time can always be had anywhere if you let it happen.

Click the cute mug below for a fifty shot PhotoSet.

I think this rendering pretty much sums me up...

...

On Aug 10, 2011 a girl named Megan gave her cat to Steph and I because it kept coming to our house and Megan was pregnant and concerned about a cat in her life. Piper was rescued by this girl and bottle fed, fixed and loved very well. We were honored to have her.

Piper eventually became my cat because I'm the cat guy and we have had amazing adventures together. She and I now live together in my little place and she is my partner and my best friend.

I checked with her vet back in Idaho and today, Sep 12, is her 14th birthday. Happy birthday baby!

I met a great guy on the cruise boat named Ma Jun, from China. He didn't speak English but I was impressed by his ability to communicate anyway. We shared the common bond of photography as we were the two guys walking around the boat with nice camera rigs always taking pictures.

He wanted to send me his photos so I gave him my email and they showed up today. They're great and I've created a photoset out of them (click the one below). He got some good shots of me and now I'm scrambling through my originals to see if I got a decent one of him.

Here's his email:

Dear Jim, Very happy meet you on Empress of the Seas!

I send some photos to you. I'm not a professional photographer, please understanding. Just to evoke memories of your trip. I think your photography technology is first-class.

Welcome you to visit China.

Next week I go to Malaysia for one week.

I wish you a happy life!

Best Regards, Ma Jun

Here he is!

Join me at the stern of the Empress of the Seas somewhere in the Caribbean.

We see only what we look for. If we don't look for something, we miss it.

Update: After I created this post I walked to the kitchen to make myself a drink because my body craves it after a booze soaked cruise and I'm weaning myself down and as I reached for the bottle I saw this:

I don't have any bugs in this house, much less one this size and I can only rationalize this as a sign. I took his picture and then carried him out to a tree where he casually stepped off, job done.

As I walked around the tree later looking for him I spotted this Cicada shell:

Update, 4 days later: I'm seeing images of Praying Mantis's everywhere now and I have no doubt my friends on the other side are telling me to clean out my liver. I have listened.

Here's 10 minutes of edited belly flop contest goodness for you from the Empress of The Seas:

I shot a bit of video footage on my cruise and here's part of my wild and bouncy ride through Roatan Honduras with my private driver Omar, the Mayor.

God it's nice to be back home after being trapped on a cruise ship for eleven days, forced to visit exotic locations I keep forgetting the names of, eating food I would never make for myself because I couldn't afford it and shamed into drinking top shelf booze because my fellow travelers say I should because I can (I'm being facetious of course). And, the girls loved the shirts I got them that change color in the sunlight.

The outer bands of mister Hurricane Dorian were rotating around Miami yesterday as we came into dock. Lightning was exploding inside the dark clouds all around as if the weather was welcoming us home with a light show.

We floated right by a container ship and another cruise boat as we turned into the pier and I got some cool low-light shots of the event. I walked around Miami for a bit with my travel bag and left the camera inside of it, just too much to handle, and Melissa, Steph and Dillan grabbed me at Nashville airport last night. Cruise done.

Click the photo below to see the last shots of a great cruise. (Yes, that is lightning inside the cloud)

I feel sorry for our hosts Royal Caribbean, they made a call to not return to Miami last Sunday because of Dorian, and then it stalled. Now as we sail towards a landing tomorrow the hurricane is bumping up against the area big time.

So, at this moment I don't know if we're going to make it and if we do wether the airport will be open. Assuming both those things true, I get to spend all day in Miami before the flight. What an adventure!

Here's the Disney ship as we set sail yesterday:

One of the best things I did for this trip was to get a stack of one dollar bills at the bank. Gratuities onboard here are 18% and you accrue the charges daily, and the crew splits it all up at the end. Sliding a single along with my card when I get a beverage means they all remember my name and often have the drink ready. This morning the guy who makes my fresh squeezed orange juice had it sitting on my table as I came back with my eggs and I didn't even see him. Here's the sunrise over Cuba for you as we sail on by:

It's Mudslide time somewhere, might as well be here and now.

Dorian is fading and heading North, Miami is spared, and this trip is finally ending. Goodnight.

Hmmm, never thought I would type the words cruise day 10. Good morning world, we're pulling into George Town, Grand Cayman now and I have no plans and I don't know what to expect. It's great to be alive though!

Update: The anchor has dropped:

Another beautiful day, another paradise. Rode the tender boat to shore this morning with Ron and Cheryl and we ended up hanging out together. We first went to hell, and then back, then we walked seven mile beach. These are the obligatory tourist things to do in George Town Grand Cayman, and we did um!

There's 39 photos to see by clicking the one below:

Update: We have set sail to the North, cruising all day tomorrow and Miami come Wednesday. That's assuming Dorian doesn't change her mind.

We are in a fluid state, so to speak, currently out to sea somewhere with a new destination: George Town, Grand Cayman. The scuttlebutt around the coffee pot on the top deck this morning is that we probably could have made Miami safely this morning, and they could probably head straight there now if they wanted to but they would have a bunch of pissed off people on board needing to change flights again. I think they're committed and we have three free days on R/C.

It's 0800 and I'm sitting by the pool. The emerald blue of the Caribbean surrounds the ship completely and I heard it's well over a mile deep here. I mentioned to the guy that makes my fresh squeezed orange juice every morning three more days and he smiled knowingly and said "maybe more". What?

The internet package I had bought for 8 days ended this morning and I just re-connected and there it was, internet on the house. I better go check my drink package! Anyway, no plans today, just another day in paradise...

Update: Good news, bad news, the drink package is alive and well but they're out of whipped cream and cherries for my Mudslide.

Melissa texted me about how delicious that Mudslide looked and I told her: It's cold, chocolatey, strong and melts in your mouth. I've got some pictures up that I took last night if your interested, click the photo below. And before anyone asks who the chick in the metal hat is, since she's appeared twice now, I don't know. Last night she had me shoot a selfie of herself on her phone...