22 March 2012


I've travelled about a bit in me time.
Of troubles I've seen a few.
I found it far better in every clime
To paddle me own canoe.

Me wants they are small. I care not at all.
Me debts they are paid when due.
I drive away strife from the ocean of life,
And paddle me own canoe.

And I have no wife to bother me life,
No lover to prove untrue.
The whole day long I laugh with the song
And paddle me own canoe.

So love everybody, trust only the few,
As the world I go travelling through,
And never sit down with a tear and a frown,
But paddle your own canoe.

I rise with the lark from daylight to dark.
I do what I have to do.
I'm careless in wealth. I've only me health
To paddle me own canoe.

And I have no wife to bother me life,
No lover to prove untrue.
The whole day long I laugh with the song,
And paddle me own canoe.

It's all very well to depend on a friend,
That is if you proved him true.
You'll find it better by far in the end
To paddle your own canoe.

To borrow is dearer by far than to buy,
A saying though old still true.
You never will sigh if you only will try
To paddle your own canoe.

Though England has ruled our small little land,
And many's the country too,
Just take my advice and never think twice
To paddle your own canoe.

It's better I say to make your own way,
As the world you go travelling through.
You never will sigh if you only will try
To paddle your own canoe.

I don't know who wrote this fair poem but I suspect a Scott. It pretty much sums up my philosophy of living. But, then there is a good deal of the Scots blood running in my veins.

Kinsey Barnard 

21 March 2012


At some point the grizzly bear and the bison must have come head to head to battle out who would be the Montana state animal. Of course, despite the bison’s menacing expression, horns and fearsomely strong shoulders the grizzly bear won. Nonetheless, the bison lives on as a state treasure, despite the threats it has faced. Montana is home to one of North America’s few wild bison populations, where they can be visited and admired in their natural habitat.

American bison (bison bison) are also, wrongly, in scientific terms, known as buffalo. It is thought that French explorers called them ‘les boeufs’ which the British then changed to ‘buff’, hence buffalo. The beasts are majestic, you know the ones: massive with straggly beards, a shaggy coat, a forceful looking shoulder hump and horns with mature bulls at over six-feet high and 12-feet long and weighing around 2,000 lbs. Quite amazing for a creature that just feeds on grasses and a true sight to behold.

Bison mostly graze, chew and wallow in dry or wet hollows to rid themselves of insects, though this trouble can also be alleviated by pecking magpies, who ride on their backs. Although they look calm and lazy, they can be unpredictable. The National Bison Range in Montana warns visitors: “Bison and other wild animals can be dangerous.” Likewise, Yellowstone warns that every year some visitors are injured by bison and tells visitors to stay at least 25 yards away.

A raised tail may indicate an impending charge. Think they look slow? Think again. Somehow, they can shift their mass up to as much as 35 miles per hour! They can also spin round faster than a horse! This presents many good reasons for keeping up insurance; just as an extreme fisherman needs good boat insurance, a bison photographer should have all his equipment insured!

Past to present

Prior to the 1800s bison were free to roam throughout North America though preferred the Great Plains. Estimates vary, but it is thought that there were at least 30 million. They were crucial to the survival of the Plains Indians, who would capture them in ‘jumps’ where they were herded off a cliff and you can visit such sites today. Every part of the captured creature was put to good use: its skin was used for leather for clothing or to make shelter, meat was dried for food, horns and hooves were made into a glue or tools, sinew was used for sewing and dung for fuel. There was also a strong spiritual connection to the bison, which was considered sacred, especially the rare White Bison.

With the movement west of the early settlers in the 1800s, bison-hunting threatened the animal with extinction. They were killed for their hides and sometimes even just for their tongues, considered a delicacy. Concerns had been raised earlier, but thanks to Roosevelt and others, federal  legislation was introduced in 1894, ensuring that bison killing was met with imprisonment or a fine. By the twentieth century, there were as few as 300 bison in the wild, but the legislation halted further slaughter. Nodding to the threat the bison faced in Montana, the state quarter carries a bison skull.

Further steps protected herds in parks. In 1908, the National Bison Range was set up in northwest Montana, again under the auspices of President Roosevelt. Today some 350-500 of Montana’s bison live the 18,500-acre range. Photographers join families and wildlife enthusiasts to watch these fabulous beasts. Many moves have also been made to protect bison in Yellowstone National Park, which now, with over 3,000, hosts the world’s largest free-roaming bison. They can be seen all year-round in Hayden and Lamar valleys, in grasslands in summer and in winter in the hydrothermal areas and along the Madison River.
Plate and palate
These awesome creatures are also enjoying a revival on the American plate. The National Bison Association says that there are 500,000 heads of bison in the US, as ranches exist throughout the US where the animals are bred to provide meat for a population with a growing taste for the meat, also aware that it is said to have nutritional benefits over other meats. The president served even up ‘Bison Wellington’ for a state dinner at the White House with British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this month and took him to see baseball. Perhaps a trip to Montana to see bison in the wild would be even more satisfying!

If you’re heading to Montana and want to see some bison my favorite place is the National Bison Range near St. Ignatius. This park is a gem. There are great roads you can drive and, if you’re lucky get quite close to these elegant beasts. Also, you are not likely to have to battle crowds as this park does not get quite the press as it's near neighbor Yellowstone. That makes it even more special to me. I can watch the herd graze over the hillsides and imagine and be transported to a different time. Very special!

Black and white image of a bison at the National Bison Range in Montana.

15 March 2012


The other night I watched the HBO docudrama "Game Change". It's the story of Sarah Palin's selection for Vice President by the McCain campaign. The ratings for the movie were one of HBO's best.

First I must say the Julianne Moore (Palin) and Ed Harris (McCain) were superb. They played their characters flawlessly.

Of course this was a movie and of course there is always the makers bias but if this movie is anywhere near accurate it's just too frightening to contemplate.

Most will focus on the beating Palin takes in the movie but what I found so abhorrent was that she got in that position in the first place. It just never should have happened.

The movie portrays the overriding objective was to pick someone solely for their ability to derail Obama's momentum with no thought to the importance of the position. Apparently, McCain's advisers were so focused on Palin's ability to capture votes they didn't even bother to find out if she had a clue about even the most basic issues and historical events. Which clearly she did not. There are tapped interviews to pretty much confirm that is true.

Once Palin finds out she actually has to have actual knowledge as opposed to simply spewing soccer mom sound bites she quickly becomes overwhelmed to the point she is nearly catatonic and close to complete mental collapse.

If a leader is as good as the people he surrounds himself with then McCain is just as incompetent as Palin. His advisers failed to properly vet Palin and McCain did not vet his advisers.  Had McCain prevailed all those idiots who supported picking Palin would be on the Whitehouse staff advising the president. Who would want such idiots advising their president? Especially, when that president didn't have enough character to get involved and ask his own questions. How incredibly irresponsible to be so cavalier about a person who could be a heartbeat form the presidency. It scares the hell out of me.

It would be easy to condemn Palin but after seeing this movie I find her a sympathetic character. There was no way she should have ever been put in that position. She was so deluded she didn't have enough sense to realize she was in no way a suitable candidate for Vice President. McCain's advisers certainly should have. But, that seems to be politics today. To hell with leadership. It's all about what plays for the voters.

I didn't vote in the last election because there was no one to vote for as far as I was concerned. I didn't care for either of the candidates. I am still no fan of Obama's but if this movie is anywhere near true then I would have to say he was the lesser of evils.

What an incredibly sad state of affairs American politics is in.

I do recommend you watch this movie.

©Kinsey Barnard

14 March 2012


Intense, charismatic, understated and devastatingly handsome – Gary Cooper was one of Hollywood’s screen icons, yet rarely gets a mention these days.  In a career that spanned almost 40 years (right up to his death at the relatively young age of sixty in 1961) he acted in some memorable films, receiving five Oscar nominations and winning two.  He was also named the 11th Greatest Actor on “The 50 Greatest Screen Legends” list by the American Film Institute.

Early Life
Cooper was born in Helena, Montana in 1901 to British parents who hailed originally from Befordshire in England.  His real name was Frank James Cooper, and he only changed his name to Gary when he hit the big time in the mid 1920s.  To all his friends and colleagues he was affectionately called “Coop”.  Though initially sent back to England to complete schooling in Dunstable, Bedfordshire (In fact there is still a public house there that bears his name “The Gary Cooper” which belongs to The Wetherspoons Group), on the outbreak of World War One, his mother Helena insisted he and his brother came back to Montana for safety.  The two Cooper sons went to High School at Bozeman, though Gary never fully completed his education.

Trying To Hit The Big Time
Gary’s father Charles Henry Cooper was a lawyer and sat on the Montana Supreme Court Bench.  They were a reasonably wealthy (by the standards of the time) family and although the move was a good one for Charles, Gary struggled to find work.  One day he happened to meet up with two boyhood friends from his hometown. He was intrigued by what they told him about their own jobs - stunt riding as cowboy extras at a movie studio.  "In rodeo you're paid to stay on a horse," they told him. "In films, it's for falling off." This chance meeting and conversation was enough to whet his appetite to try out the same…
He finally landed a role as an extra in the 1925 film version of “Dick Turpin” – his first time on screen, though uncredited.  In 1926 he worked with the actress Eileen Sedgwick in a two reeler called “Lightnin’ Wins”:Gary Cooper in Lightnin' Wins

His real breakthrough came in the film that also established Clara Bow as a firm favorite, the silent epic: “Wings”.  It was rumored that the two had an affair when they worked together, and frankly – who could blame Bow for falling for his charms, Cooper had instant sex appeal – tall, dark, handsome, with just a hint of an English accent behind the All American Cowboy.  A sad but true fact is that when Clara died in 1965, she had been watching an old Cooper film just before she took her last breath. 
In 1929, he shot the film “The Virginians” a clip of which you can view below.  This was his first full length “talkie” and came at a time when people were mourning the death of the silents and remaining suspicious about whether talking flickers would really work:Gary Cooper in The Virginian. This was the start of his ascent proper to the big time.  He’d made it and made it good.

Cooper’s Biggest Mistakes!
It’s alleged that Cooper was the producer’s first choice for the role of Rhett Butler in the 1939 epic “Gone With The Wind”.  He turned it down and was quoted as saying: “Gone With The Wind is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history.  I’m glad it will be Clark Gable falling on his nose and not me!”  A decision no doubt he must have come to regret after the picture’s final release and success.  Similarly, in the following years he also turned down the chance to work with Alfred Hitchcock, but later bitterly regretted that decision too – and no small wonder either!

Later Works
Despite turning down two major roles, Cooper got the chance to work with Cecil B. DeMille on the film “North West Mounted Police” in 1940 with a former paramour of Charlie Chaplin, one Ms. Paulette Goddard.  He also notably worked with Frank Capra and Howard Hawks during the late 1930s and early 1940s.  While he himself was a big box office star, he also worked with some of the other amazing talents of the time: Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Tallulah Bankhead, and Charles Laughton to name but a few.
His career seemed to tail off during the late 1940s, but he had one last trick up his sleeve – at the age of fifty one, he made what is probably his best known film, “High Noon” in which he played the character Marshal Will Kane:High Noon

He had a simple philosophy as to why he and his films were popular: “To get folks to like you, I figured you had to sort of be their ideal. I don't mean a handsome knight riding a white horse, but a fellow who answered the description of a right guy” and it worked.  All in all, Cooper starred in more than one hundred films spanning both eras of silents and talkies – of those movies his best known were the Westerns, of which he made twenty, three of them being silent.

Cooper died in 1961 after a battle with cancer – eight years later he was still topping television personality lists in such publications as “Variety” magazine.  This just shows how popular and respected he was, and all from relatively small beginnings in Montana.

Coop was a hunting pal of my father's. I have a photograph of him  at the duck club they all belonged too near Oxnard, California. In it he is painfully thin. No doubt from the cancer. A real gentleman that Montana cowboy.

10 March 2012


If you are old enough to remember who Hedy Lamar was you will most probably know her as a Hollywood beauty. But, this video shows another side of her beauty. I'm old enough to find this a very interesting video

09 March 2012


I have been a fan of Lowepro camera and gadget bags for many years. I reckon I have over half dozen different ones. I've just bot a new one that I really like and thought I'd mention here.

I nearly always carry a point and shoot with me for various reasons. The main reason being I'm always seeing things I want to photograph, even if it's just for fun. I also use it for setting things up when I'm being serious.

One problem I have had is the case that comes with these little cameras. They are way too bulky for my taste. I have been stuffing mine in any empty pocket without protection. The net result of that practice is that I get dirt in and behind the lens and the camera has to be replaced more frequently than it should. The other thing is these bulky dudes take forever to get the camera out of and ready to shoot.

I recently lost another camera to abuse and had to purchased yet another new one. I thought this time I'd try and make it last a little longer. So I wandered into Best Buy to check out what they had that would suit my purpose.

What I found was the Lowepro D-Wrap. It is was exactly what I was looking for. The case just wraps around your camera, barely increasing the bulk. When you want to use it you just you just release the Velcro hasp and it flips right open in seconds. You need to be sure you've first slipped the wrist strap on or you might flip it right on the ground. The ends are open and some may see this as a drawback. I do not.

If you are in the market for a low profile, point and shoot camera case I recommend you check out the Lowepro D-Wrap. I got mine at Best Buy for 14.95 but you can get it at Amazon for under $10.

Below is a photo of my favorite Lowepro Dry Zone. It's a waterproof backpack. It's spendy to be sure but worth every nickel if protecting expensive gear is required. Especially here in the Rockies where the weather can change on you in a Minestota minute.

Lowepro Dry Zone

Have a great day!

©Kinsey Barnard