What Would You Do With An Extra $58 Million?

  

What Would You Do
With An Extra $58 Million?

I recently attended a fundraising event organized by “Hebrew Free Loan”. The organization traces its roots to 1897, when nine members of San Francisco’s small Jewish community decided to help Jewish immigrants build new lives. Guided by an interest-free lending mandate in the Torah, those founding members pledged to start a loan fund by contributing 25 cents every month. When the fund grew to $50.00, the first interest-free loan was made. Many things have changed over the following 122 years. Our family managed to settle in San Francisco without the remarkable organization’s help; however, we acted as guarantors to many requests, and are financial supporters (I recently discovered that the first President of the organization was Menachem Cohen, from 1897 to 1900, coincidently this is also my Jewish name). The event took place at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Besides serving as a museum, it is a very interesting venue for various events. After food and drinks we were invited to the Morrison Planetarium – the world’s largest completely digital planetarium dome. There we experienced an incredible show about outer space. I’ve seen it before, but this time I had my small, but very powerful camera with me (my wife Elfa claims that it is permanently attached to my hand, which is not true, I do not photograph while I sleep). After I made a lot of photos and saw the results, I obviously wanted to share them with you, but I needed a catchy headline and more to the story.

As it often happens, the answer to what my story would be about came out of the blue (or black) sky. I recently picked up an audiobook at the public library, by Steven Hawking “Brief Answers to the Big Questions”. Mr. Hawking, who died on March 14, 2018, was a brilliant British scientist. His book, “A Brief History of Time” became a bestseller in 1998. The new book, which is a compilation of Mr. Hawking’s various lectures, was for me an extension of what I briefly saw at the planetarium. But he also posed questions like, “Who or what created the Universe?”, “How did it all begin?” and “If there can and will be an end, and when?” “What is, or are black holes?” “How many Universes are there?” “Was or is there a God?” and “Does he play dice?” The last question was based on a famous quote by Albert Einstein, “Quantum theory yields much, but it hardly brings us close to the Old One’s secrets. I, in any case, am convinced He does not play dice with the universe.”

As important as all of those questions are, most of us are busy with other issues in our lives, like where to find money we need for so many of our everyday needs. But there are some people who can manage without a loan from Hebrew Free Loan. On June 7th the San Francisco Chronicle posted an article titled, “Long-distance trip: NASA opening space station to visitors.” It turns out that next year, two fortunate tourists might be able to brag to their friends that they were astronauts, just for a small fortune of $58 million for the trip. Perhaps they will find an answer to Mr. Hawking’s questions.

P.S. These four images show an interesting way in which digital artists can bring the view of the world to us, which only people like Steven Hawking could imagine and other scientists, with the help of the Hobart Telescope can observe. You can see images taken by the Telescope and read great stories in the book “The Hand of God. Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of the Universe” by Michael Reagan, which can be found on Amazon.com.

Enjoy and share with a friend.

Manny Signature

I Missed Him Very Much

  

I Missed Him Very Much

A few weeks ago, we were invited to our friends’ 50thwedding anniversary. The party started at 4pm. As it happened, we had tickets to a performance of Eifman Ballet on the same evening. Both events took place in Berkeley. The only issue was our puppy Max. We usually don’t leave him alone for more than three hours. Since we were going to be out for about 7 hours, we decided to have him stay at his dog sitter’s. I dropped him off there on Friday morning, and Elfa picked him up on Sunday morning.

When I came home from work on Friday night, there was no one waiting for me at the top of the stairs. Elfa tells me that Max knows when I am coming and sits by the door, even before I open the garage door. There was no one to celebrate Shabbat dinner with us on Friday night. Max usually sits and looks up while I read the prayer before the meal. At first, we thought that he has spiritual inclinations. Turns out that he was just waiting for an empty bottle of San Pellegrino water, which I give him to play with after dinner.

In the morning, there was no one to wake me up at 6 am with a lick to my face, and there was no one to exercise with, since Max did not take me out for a walk around our neighborhood. Nor was there anyone to go with to the park, to practice my ball throwing technique. There was no tail wagging or smart eyes looking with the question: What are we going to play next?But then things went back to normal on Sunday morning when Max returned home. He was very happy to be back, running from room to room, jumping and trying to kiss me. And he saw his “sister” Alona, who stayed over after the concert on Saturday night; and it is impossible to describe Max’s and our joy of being with each other. I read in “how to” books about dogs that we, the owners, should not let our “best friends” jump on us, since a big dog can easily to knock you down. But with Max this is not a problem, and jumping is his normal way of behavior.

It is not the first time Max stayed overnight at his dog sitter’s, and on a previous occasion, we went away for a week. However, since we were out of our familiar environment, the experience was different.

If you own a dog and have a close relationship with your “baby”, you can easily relate to my personal experience. If you do not have one and are lacking love in your life, I strongly recommend getting one as a remedy.

Regardless if you have a dog or not, my photo-story book, “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”, which you can buy on Amazon.com, will bring you joy, I guarantee it. Meanwhile, enjoy these four latest images of Max. He sends you his best wishes.

Enjoy and Share with a Friend.

Manny Signature

I Cheated

  

I Cheated

The first time I participated in the Break to Breakers was on May 20th 2017. Ok, I didn’t exactly participate in the race. I went there to take photographs. However, after everyone started moving forward, not necessarily running, I decided to join the crowd in spite of the pain in my knee. My plan was to walk a few blocks, take a few pictures and go back home. Four hours later, I found myself at the finish line on the beach, with hundreds of images of the participants. Many of them dressed for the occasion, or not dressed at all. The next year I decided not to go, since our puppy Max was too young for me even to consider the trip. This year on the day before the race, the newspaper warned that the rain might “spoil the parade”; and besides, a seven mile walk could be too much for a young dog. So, I decided to cheat. At about noon, I took Max and we drove to 45th Avenue and Lincoln, which I knew was close to the finish. In the park, we melded with the other walkers (the runners finished the race long time ago). People wanted to pet Max while I photographed my encounters. As predicted, it finally started to rain, and we returned to the car. There was an interesting coincidence related to the race. While finishing my next book, which my wife suggested to title “42 Encounters in San Francisco, Volume Two,” I decided to use one of the images from the race in the book, with the word “FUN,” as the story coincides with the image.

When I checked online, the meaning of the word “FUN” comes from Middle English “FONNEN”, and one of the meanings is cheat.

Cheating or not, the Break to Breakers event is really fun. It also has an amazing history. If I hadn’t checked online, I would never have guessed that the race began in 1912. In 1986, it had a record of 110,000 participants. If you’ve never taken part in the Break to Breakers and do not like to cheat like me, it will take place again next year on May 17, 2020 at 8am. I might see you there. Meanwhile, start running (or walking).

P.S. Thanks to Max, I regularly practice for the next race by walking regularly twice a day. Meanwhile, you can enjoy these four images from this years’ Break to Breakers. Seeing dog lovers I am sure will remind you that to get your copy of “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” – you just have to go on Amazon.com.

Enjoy and Share.

 

Manny Signature

Where To Find Love

  

Where To Find Love

Last week, I alluded to the special reason as to why I am writing this story now. Two weeks ago, I participated in a photography workshop in Palm Springs, during which as an exercise, we had to create a composition and then photograph it. I frankly had no idea what to do, since my style of photography, which I call “encounters”, has nothing to do with directing my sets. Nevertheless, after a visit to the local antique store, where I found an artwork with the word LOVE written on it, I decided to use it as my prop. We were taken to special locations for our photo shoots. The first one was an hour and a half drive to what is now known as Coachella Movie Ranch. Online you will find a lot of photographs of the place. After I used the LOVE sign everywhere to take my photographs, an idea started forming in my head. But it took a second trip the following day, to another very interesting destination – the Salton Sea, as well as spending some time photographing at the Bombay Beach Estates to decide to create a Share Love campaign, utilizing social media starting with Instagram, where I am going to post images every day with the word LOVE, and some inspirational quotes written by me and other authors. I hope to spread the idea of sharing love. Like a small light that can dispel darkness, some love can bring a lot of joy into people’s lives.

Two thousand years ago Rabbi Hillel the Elder wrote:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, who am I?
If not now, when?

I took the liberty to paraphrase this famous postulate into my take about love:

If I do not love myself, who will?
If I only love myself, who am I?
Share love now.

Since returning home, I continued taking images with the LOVE sign. My first destination was Stern Grove, where we go play ball with Max. People whom I encountered there were more than happy to participate in the love sharing campaign. As time goes on, I intend to develop new ideas, which will help to share love. I hope you will join me too. For starters, if you are on Instagram, you will be able to find my daily posts on MannyKaganMrLove.
Please share love.

P.S.
These four images with LOVE were taken in an abandoned house not far from Bombay Beach Estates.

Enjoy and Share with a Friend.

 

Manny Signature

Please Share The Love

  

Please Share The Love

I believe that Kaizen, a Japanese business philosophy that believes in continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency, is the cornerstone of any occupation.  This is the main reason I constantly take classes and workshops to improve my photography skills and try to get a better understanding about my development as a person who has an inner desire to record the outside world using a photo camera.

During our recent experience at the Palm Springs Photo Festival (I started writing about it last week), not only did I learn from the workshops leader, a renowned photographer Roger Ballenwho came from South Africa to teach this class, but also from other participants and teachers, as well. One of them, a well-known photographer, Melvin Sokolsky, pointed out that you cannot learn how to become a good photographer unless you have a gift, which we call talent (in my view, this reflects all artistic or creative endeavors).  According to him, you either have it or not. Ive seen it again and again while looking at the photography work of other photographers. At the Festival, there were 20 workshops to choose from. I ended up taking Success in Fine Art Photography.”  This was not my first choice, since Im only starting to see evolvement of my photo-work as an art form. Besides, after checking Roger Ballen’s photography online, I was not initially interested, but Im glad I made this choice. During the workshop with eleven participants, we shared our own photo images, as well as Rogers creative art. We also had discussions about what it takes to be an artist and how to make a living doing what your heart desires.

Two days were spent photographing around Palm Springs. Before our trip, we visited antique stores where we had to choose props, which we would use for our creative process. My eyes caught two items a beautiful silk scarf from India, a present for my wife, and a framed sign with the word LOVE written on it. The first hour and a half trip was to the Coachella Movie Ranch, which offered us an opportunity to use our creativity to create and photograph our masterpiece. On the second day we drove to another unusual destination The Salton Sea. This place has an interesting history and certain areas which have abandoned houses filled with junk and graffiti. Some of them, like the Bombay Beach Estate, became a destination for artists. I used both locations to create images which incorporated my LOVE sign. Someone in the group, seeing me all the time with LOVE sign and listening to my remarks about life, called me “Mr. Lover. I liked the idea, and upon my return, I decided to create a Facebook and Instagram page called MannyKaganLove. I hope this idea will catch on, and others will start sharing their LOVE images as well.  When we focus on love, many other issues in our lives might disappear.

P.S.
I would love to share my love with you In the four images I photographed during the trip.

Enjoy and Share with A Friend.

Manny Signature