Finding Focus

For some time now, I’ve felt a desire to be more involved in some way with the community I live in. I’m not sure if that community is the street I live on, the city I’m in, the state I grew up in, or the entire country or world as a whole.

I’m fairly burnt out from this election cycle (which starts extremely early in Iowa), and quite disillusioned with how unprepared, mismanaged, and unbalanced the caucuses seemed. I’m ready for it to be over with, but that hasn’t made me care any less about the issues. There are so many things brought up to compare and contrast candidates through the primary/caucusing process, and then the months of the final few battling it out, it’s overwhelming. Frankly, there’s just too much to care about. It’s easy to feel defeated and hopeless when the candidate you most align with gets knocked out of the race.

What I have realized though, is trying to focus on so many different things pretty much guarantees that not much of anything will get done. So while I might feel strongly about many things, there’s simply just not enough time (or energy) to put into them all and be able to make any difference. This combined with social media “likes” and sharing articles, I think gives the false impression that we’re actually taking action when actually nothing gets done. It’s much like with my personal creative and professional goals, spending too much time thinking about what I want to do can give me the impression that I’ve actually done something. All the thought and planning in the world means nothing if there’s no action.

So that’s why I’ve decided I need to find a small handful of issues, or even just one, that I can focus on and work to make a difference. I’m not likely to get our country’s health care system to move to a single-payer system, so that one is out (although I think it’s inevitable). I’m not likely to have much influence on our country’s war policy, either. But I do see opportunity to make a difference in some more locally based issues.

Education and the environment are two things I’ve always cared quite a bit about, and more recently food and health. Especially as my son gets older and down the road starts into the school system, these are all things that will have a big impact on his life – and mine. Even just within these couple broad topics, there are many different specifics to focus on. Water quality has been a big issue springing up in Iowa lately. It effects us not only locally, but also downstream all the way to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. That in and of itself is a hugely complex issue.

So my first step?


Making vegan muffins and cinnamon rolls. I believe a more plant-based diet will not only be healthier (not that starting with muffins and cinnamon rolls is healthy), but is also generally much better for the environment and reduces animal suffrage. Maybe next I can find time to go to a city planning meeting or find some way to volunteer my skills in a local project. I’m ready to stop being overwhelmed and disenfranchised, after all – you can’t “fight” the power if you’re not showing up to “fight”. In the words of the Jurassic 5, “… if you wanna fight the power, get the power to fight.” And for me, the power might start with just a muffin.


Why I Support Bernie Sanders Part II: Equal Rights and Ending Discrimination

I feel very strongly that the United States of America is, and should always be, a place for people of all colors and creeds, and that all people deserve to have the same rights. Our diversity is a major part of what makes this country great. The government should be ensuring that all people have equal opportunity and that no one person or group of people are denied any of their rights.

The reason for making sure everyone truly has equal rights is simple — and somewhat selfish. If being denied rights can happen to one group of people, it can happen to you.

The truth is that right now (and in the past) in our country you cannot be more privileged than to be born white, male, and Christian. You will not be pulled over for “driving while white.” You will not be paid less for your work than equally qualified peers because you are a woman. And you will certainly not fear for the safety of your family because of your religious beliefs due to the fearful, hateful, and divisional rhetoric from many of our nation’s leaders.

Unfortunately, still today we have many people and politicians who try to make and keep discriminatory laws. There are leading presidential candidates that have called for banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., even those who are already citizens but are temporarily out of the country. There has even been a suggestion that a national registry be created of all Muslims in America, which sounds eerily close to Nazi Germany.

There are many people who have tried to force their religious definition of marriage on everyone else in the country. Either denying the fact that homosexuality exists naturally in this world or not caring that a loving, devoted gay couple might be denied being together in a hospital room to make end of life decisions if one partner is ill.

And despite the civil rights movement, the black community in America is still feeling the legacy of slavery in our country. While outright racism and jim crow laws may no longer be the norm, the black community have had to start from behind on a social, economic and educational level.


The reasons I feel that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to fight for equal rights among all citizens is because his entire life he has consistently fought for the rights of those who are discriminated against, even when it wasn’t politically correct to do so.

  • Bernie was there during the civil rights movement and marched alongside Dr. King.
  • Bernie was for gay rights, decades before marriage for same-sex couples was allowed. As mayor of Burlington, VT he signed a city ordinance banning housing discrimination and in 1983 supported the city’s first Pride Parade.
  • He advocates for election day to be a national holiday to make voting easier for poor and working Americans who would otherwise have a difficult time making it to the polls while working.
  • He supports measures to end the gender pay gap and has stood up for women’s rights.
  • He has a lifetime perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign.
  • His supporters are a diverse group of people, of all ages, races and religions.

As president, I believe he will work harder than any other candidate to guarantee every single American is granted equal rights, and that is a major reason why I support Bernie Sanders for president.

Why I Support Bernie Sanders: Part 1 – Health Care


Bernie Sanders speaking in Cedar Rapids, IA on 01/08/16 (Photo by Daniel Dorman)

I have always found it strange that health insurance was tied to a job. I understand how it came about back during WW2, but I’m not sure why it’s still that way today. Many Presidents, politicians, citizens, and unions have called for change to a more universal system. The ACA (Obamacare) might seem like something new, but in fact similar things had been proposed all the way back to Nixon, and then again with Clinton. Some may be happy with the provisions in Obamacare, I however feel the most important part was left out — the public option.

There could be many benefits from having health insurance separated from employment. In the time I’ve been married, just over five years, I’ve switched health insurance seven times. I would have much preferred not to, but unfortunately that wasn’t a choice.

I would like to walk you through these changes to help explain why I feel like universal health coverage from a public option is important.

  • Before I was married, I had insurance purchased privately (1). I was working multiple part-time jobs as well as freelancing while trying to start a business, so I had no full-time work benefits.
  • Soon after I was married, my wife got a full-time job teaching. We took the opportunity to have insurance through her work (2). The coverage was good, but also very expensive.
  • The next year, we switched to a HSA plan (3). It was more affordable, but I was expecting to get information about steps to set up a savings account, but never did. I have no idea where the money that was deducted from my wife’s checks actually went to.
  • I got a new full-time job with a company that paid for a significant portion of the health insurance costs, so we switched to that (4).
  • Six months later, my position was eliminated, so we were forced to switch back to insurance from my wife’s job (5).
  • Then we had a baby. Adding him to our policy would have made the premium significantly higher. We switched to a private insurer (6) and paid roughly the same for two adults and one child as we had been for just two adults with similar coverage.

This brings us to now, beginning of 2016 when — you guessed it — we had to switch plans. Our insurance company was no longer offering health insurance in 2016. We would have stayed on this plan, if it were still offered. Luckily, insurance plans at my current job were more reasonable due to the company starting to pay for a portion of it (7).

This is a mess! The world has changed a lot since the 1940’s. People can barely depend on a company for a job, much less a life long career. Many positions are kept as part-time and contracted out to avoid having to give workers the benefits that were once used to lure workers in! The reality is, people can’t just walk down the street from their high school graduation and into the front door of a factory and take an entry level job, work to move up to better paying positions, earn a pension and retire comfortably anymore. You can’t even walk out of a college graduation and do that. The system set in place no longer works for our current economy. I believe it’s marginally better with Obamacare — it’s more convenient for self-employed people to shop for and compare insurance plans, but costs are still too high and rising, and it still doesn’t solve the problem of health insurance being tied to jobs.

Another problem with health insurance coming and going with a job is that people aren’t always able to take the jobs they want to do or are good at, because the company they would work for doesn’t offer affordable insurance. I’m sure we’ve all heard people who have stayed in jobs they didn’t like because they needed to keep their health insurance for their families.

Just imagine, if health care was an American citizen’s right, we would no longer have to worry about leaving our jobs to start our own businesses or join a start up because we would loose our health insurance.

Imagine being able to freelance and work from home without being stuck finding your own health insurance and paying higher rates because you’re not part of a larger pool.

Imagine not having to worry each year about plan changes and figuring out which plan is going to best suit your unknown future needs.

That seems incredibly liberating and freeing to me. It removes a major barrier to entrepreneurship. It takes a burden off of businesses and allows them to compete for employees by offering good paying jobs, offering exciting environments, or fulfilling work.

Bernie Sanders speaking in Cedar Rapids, IA on 01/08/16 (Photo by Daniel Dorman)

Bernie Sanders is the candidate who I believe has the best chance of helping usher in a new, better system for American health care. He has long advocated for such a system and has plans for how to implement and pay for it. He has been consistent on this subject since before he started his presidential campaign, not just after polls came back suggesting people support it. I believe he will fight harder for this than anyone else.

This is just one reason why I support Bernie Sanders for president.

For more information on Bernie’s health care plans, visit

My 2015 Resolutions

About a year ago, I challenged myself to learn more about photography and how to use my camera (Resolution 01). I have learned quite a bit and am much more comfortable with my camera, but I’ve also discovered there is a lot more to understand.

My initial goals were to:

  • learn all of the features of my camera.
  • get comfortable with the controls and settings.
  • understand better how to control depth of field.
  • work on composition.find interesting points of view.

While the are still many features of my camera that I haven’t even touched upon yet, I have gotten to know the camera pretty well. I still end up setting it to full auto quite often when just trying to get snapshots of moments or when I need to get a photo quick and don’t have time to fuss with settings. I’d like to get quicker with finding the right settings so in the future I can have more control over how images turn out in the “get it before the moment is gone” situations.

I feel like I understand well enough how to get the desired depth of field that I want. My composition has improved, as well. The first few “resolutions” I did a lot of cropping during editing. I’ve gotten a lot better at “cropping in the lens” and getting a better composition from the get go.

Looking back, I’ve noticed that I don’t always have much of a subject in many of my photos. Going forward, I want to focus more on really bringing out a clear defined subject to focus on. I’ve also noticed that inevitably I end up taking pictures of my Saab.



My favorite photos from the last year tend to be ones that have bright, bold colors. Vintage, faded, washed out, looking images are really cool, but whenever I was editing mine I was always drawn more towards heavier color saturation.

All of the photos are on Flickr, but here are some of my favorites from 2015:




Resolution 08

It had been some time since I had been out shooting. On one of the final days of summer, just as Autumn was starting to roll out across the landscape, I found a ditch along the side of a road covered in yellow flowers.


It was really windy that afternoon so I had to keep a fast shutter speed, which worked out okay because there was plenty of light to make up for it. At first I struggled to come up with an interesting composition, but I eventually found a few points of view that felt interesting.


One thing that I got out of this session was using the zoom (crop factor) to get a narrower depth of field. Previously, I’d always just tried to have a wide open aperture for that effect. However, I discovered I’ve really been missing out by not using the lens to achieve blurred background/foregrounds. I’ll have to admit, I don’t entirely understand why it works that way, but it’s something new for me to use and do some reading on to better understand.


I really like the bright, bold, yellow flowers on a fairly solid blue sky background. I wish I had gotten some more shots of the flowers with a mostly sky backdrop. They’re long gone now, but I’m hoping to get some autumn colors before the season changes yet again.P1060050a

A few more along with these are posted on flickr.