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June 2020

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Being a gentleman in our modern world is more than being polite; more than holding a door; and more than knowing which fork to use.   A gentleman also means more than a dashing wardrobe.  The character of a man and his actions every day, all day throughout the year.  

What’s true is the traits are common sense, though I’ve been fortunate to have wise men in my life.  Some of the men were fathers, teachers, random people I’ve met while travelling and one man in particular.  Mostly, this one man  influenced me in so many ways, and during particular situations I find myself asking “what would Bert do?”  Then, I act accordingly.

Please have a look at my Ultimate List of A Gentleman’s Rules To Live By – a Guide To Being a Modern Gentleman, if you will.  As you read through, keep in mind each of our lives and life experiences is different.  What works for me, and what I think a gentleman may be, could very well be different to you.  Feel free to add to the list or even create your own list that suits your life.  The following 50 Rules for Being a Modern Gentleman are what works for me.

  
1.    Be yourself and yourself only.  Don’t try to be something you think someone else wants you to be.

2.    Don’t do or say anything that makes others feel uncomfortable.   

3.    When someone tells you something in confidence, let that secret stop with you.  Never share anything someone tells you.

4.    Learn the art of conversation.  Be able to talk about almost everything.  If you’re unsure, “I don’t know” is a respectable answer.

5.    I might not like what the truth is, but it is the truth I want to hear.  Truth can be understood and dealt with in a civil manner.

6.    If you are going to impress, be sure to impress in the way you intend.  In other words, be natural and you’re sure to impress.

7.    Never cancel at the last minute unless something drastic happens and you genuinely are unable.  And very importantly, don’t accept an invite then say no with a lame excuse at the last minute.  

8.    Don’t be late unless your tardiness comes with an honest and genuine excuse.

9.    Not every moment is golden (and successful).  Try to get ‘it’ right the first time, and if you don’t, make the second time count.

10.  Remember your good manners at all times even at the most inopportune times.

11.  Be interested and interesting – be the man people want to associate with.

12.  Be a genuinely good listener.

13.  Know your alcohol limits, and respect them.  And sometimes, know when not to drink alcohol at all.

14.  Avoid anger without reason.  Don’t ever ‘fly off’ the proverbial handle in public.  Just don’t do it.

15.  Know when and how much to tip.  A dollar isn’t enough.

16.  There will be times you’re wrong.  Don’t be afraid to admit it.

17.  Don’t give advice unless you’re asked for it.  You’re not an expert in someone else’s life.

18.  Never turn up to a party, friend’s house, or dinner empty-handed.  Always have a host/hostess gift even if it’s simple.

19.  Be loved and liked by those who know you.  It’s ok if everyone doesn’t like you.  Not everyone will.

20.  Practice chivalry and understand that courteous behaviour is not at all dead.  It IS ok to open the door for someone.

21.  No one likes arrogance especially when it is not warranted.  It’s not at all attractive.

22.  Don’t ever be too proud to apologize.

23.  Saying thank you goes a long way.  Say it.  And always send a written thank you note.

24.  Don’t judge based on other people’s judgments.  Give everyone a chance – your chance.

25.  Don’t strive to be the centre of attention.  If it happens, let it be.

26.  Don’t regret the things you’ve done, only the things you haven’t.

27.  Television and the internet are the biggest black holes of our time.  Live and experience life firsthand in real time.

28.  Take risks.   Break out of your comfort zone. 

29.  Learn to go with the flow.  Let ‘it’ be.

30.  Be confident and realistically believe in yourself.

31.  Watch what you eat, take care of what you wear and have pride in how you conduct yourself.

32.  Confront boredom by making a change.

33.  Travel whenever possible.  Follow passions and indulge in guilty pleasures even if you want to run naked on a beach.

34.  Be spontaneous.

35.  Take a compliment as well as you can give one.  

36.  If you invite someone  for dinner or drinks, do not ask, suggest or expect to split the bill.

37.  Allow yourself to be challenged.

38.  Life’s too short to only work, eat and sleep.

39.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask for directions.

40.  Remember that most people do what is inspected and not what is expected.  So true.

41.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

42.  There are a time and a place to use English slang; otherwise, use the English language properly.
S’up is not acceptable.

43.  Have your own thoughts and beliefs based on your own personal experiences.  There are too many sheep in the world.  Don’t be one.

44.  Be original even if you’re quirky.  And if you are quirky, embrace it.

45.  Wherever you are in the world, be inclusive.  Division by any means gets us nowhere good.

46.  If you think you have the skills, creativity or means to help someone, do it without wanting anything back.

47.  Learn when and how to say no.

48.  Know when to keep your mouth closed and when to be quiet.

49.  When you first meet someone, look them in the eye when you shake their hand.

50.  If you say you’re going to do something, be sure to do it.  Don’t let your words be hollow.

Venice Italy is pure magic.  This is Venice and magic is what I tell everyone who asks me for travel advice.

Consider nearly 400 ancient bridges to cross, tall campaniles defining the city’s skyline, stone walkways,  150 canals, 139 churches, a myriad of fascinating museums, St Mark’s Square and Italian gelato that will satisfy your tastebuds as you meander your way through the timeless islands.  

There are no cars in Venice.  The roads are indeed the city’s canals and if you want to be transported, your only choices are the iconic gondolas, private water taxis and public waterbus which is the vaporetto.  If you’re lucky, Venice will experience a mild Acqua Alta while you’re in St. Mark’s Square as there’s nothing quite like it.

You might feel as if you’re on a movie set as Venice doesn’t seem real at first tho’ the city is indeed a living breathing real place where people live and work.  Be respectful as tensions toward tourists run a bit high these days.

Be prepared to think you’re lost but also be prepared to throw away your map as a map will only frustrate you.  Meander your way through the narrow alleys and simply be pleasantly surprised when you reach one of the public squares where you’re sure to find shops and cafes.

Venice is splendid to discover.  Take your time and take it all in.  The city is pure sensory overload.  Enjoy the video presentation with images captured purely with an iPhone.

If you’re keen to learn more about how to capture great travel photos with your own mobile telephone, consider the following photo composition tips :

Rule One 

Simplify the scene.

When you look at a scene with your naked eye, your brain quickly picks out subjects of interest. But the camera doesn’t discriminate – it captures everything in front of it, which can lead to a cluttered, messy picture with no clear focal point.

Remember, don’t let your camera rule you.  You rule the camera!

What you need to do is choose your subject, then select a focal length or camera viewpoint that makes it the centre of attention in the frame. You can’t always keep other objects out of the picture, so try to keep them in the background or make them part of the story.

Silhouettestextures and patterns are all devices that work quite well in simple compositions.

The simpler the shot the bigger the impact

Move in close to cut out other parts of the scene
Silhouettes and shapes make strong subjects
The balloons radial lines draw you into the frame

Rule Two

Fill The Frame

When you’re shooting a large-scale scene it can be hard to know how big your subject should be in the frame, and how much you should zoom in. 

In fact, leaving too much empty space in a scene is the most widespread compositional mistake. It makes your subject smaller than it needs to be and can also leave viewers confused about what they’re supposed to be looking at.

To avoid these problems you should zoom in to fill the frame, or get closer to the subject in question. The first approach flattens the perspective of the shot and makes it easier to control or exclude what’s shown in the background, but physically moving closer can give you a more interesting take on things.

Rule Three

Horizontal vs Vertical

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and take every picture with the camera held horizontally.  In fact, I was taught to shoot this way and only this way.  It took time for me think of turning my camera vertically.

Try turning it to get a vertical shot instead, adjusting your position or the zoom setting as you experiment with the new style.

Rule Four

Avoid The Middle

When you are a newbie, or just starting out, it’s tempting to put whatever you’re shooting right in the centre of the frame. However, this produces rather static, boring pictures. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections. 

Let me say, however, this is an overrated approach.

Instead, move your subject away from the centre and get a feel for how it can be balanced with everything else in the scene, including any areas of contrasting colour or light. 

There are no hard and fast rules about achieving this kind of visual balance, but you’ll quickly learn to rely on your instincts – trust that you’ll know when something just looks right.

Rule Five

Leading Lines

A poorly composed photograph will leave your viewers unsure about where to look, and their attention might drift aimlessly around the scene without finding a clear focal point. 

However, you can use lines to control the way people’s eyes move around the picture.

Converging lines give a strong sense of perspective and three-dimensional depth, drawing you into an image. Curved lines can lead you on a journey around the frame, leading you towards the main subject.

Lines exist everywhere, in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires. They can also be implied, perhaps by the direction in which an off-centre subject is looking.

Rule Six

Dutch Tilt

Horizontal lines lend a static, calm feel to a picture, while vertical ones often suggest permanence and stability. To introduce a feeling of drama, movement or uncertainty, try the dutch tilt technique.

You can need nothing more than a shift in position or focal length to get them –wider angles of view tend to introduce diagonal lines because of the increased perspective; with wide-angle lenses, you’re more likely to tilt the camera up or down to get more of a scene in.

You can also introduce diagonal lines artificially, using the ‘Dutch Tilt’ technique. You simply tilt the camera as you take the shot. This can be very effective, though it doesn’t suit every shot and is best used sparingly

The Dutch Tilt can be used for dramatic effect and helps portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication, madness, etc….  

Rule Seven

Space to Move

Even though photographs themselves are static, they can still convey a strong sense of movement. When we look at pictures, we see what’s happening and tend to look ahead – this creates a feeling of imbalance or unease if your subject has nowhere to move except out of the frame.

You don’t just get this effect with moving subjects, either. For example, when you look at a portrait you tend to follow someone’s gaze, and they need an area to look into

For both types of shot, then, there should always be a little more space ahead of the subject than behind it.

Rule Eight

Backgrounds

Don’t just concentrate on your subject – look at what’s happening in the background, too. This ties in with simplifying the scene and filling the frame. You can’t usually exclude the background completely, of course, but you can control it.

You’ll often find that changing your position is enough to replace a cluttered background with one that complements your subject nicely. Or you can use a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length to throw the background out of focus.

It all depends on whether the background is part of the story you’re trying to tell with the photo. In the shot above, the background is something that needs to be suppressed.

Rule Nine

Be Creative With Colours

Bright primary colours really attract the eye, especially when they’re contrasted with a complementary hue. But there are other ways of creating colour contrasts – by including a bright splash of colour against a monochromatic background, for example. 

You don’t need strong colour contrasts to create striking pictures, though.

Scenes consisting almost entirely of a single hue can be very effective. And those with a limited palette of harmonious shades, such as softly lit landscapes, often make great pictures.

The key is to be really selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted colours.

Rule Ten

Breaking The Rules

Photo composition is basically a visual language – you can use it to make your pictures pass on a particular message

Just as we sometimes use the written word to create a deliberately jarring effect, we can do the same with photos by breaking with standard composition rules.

When you understand the rules of composition and then break them on purpose things start to get interesting

It’s often best to break one rule at a time, as John Powell does in the image above.

Just remember: for every rule we suggest, somewhere out there is a great picture that proves you can disregard it and still produce a fantastic image.

“The images of El Paso and 120 miles around conjure so vividly something of the character of the wonderful Southwest. Under a sky that seems limitless, the roads invite one to travel, to explore, to become a pioneer. When I see these great unending routes, piercing the vastness of the territory, they trigger in me the beginnings of an understanding of the importance to the American people of the concepts of freedom and opportunity.”

Daragh McDonald
London, England UK

All too often the El Paso area is an afterthought in any publication chronicaling West Texas or the Southwest. When I view photography books illustrating this vast area or read magazine articles, the message I receive is always the same: “Oh, by the way, there is a dusty place in far West Texas called El Paso; it is stuck in the middle of nowhere.” This corner of Texas is a footnote, if you will.

No doubt this area is overlooked due to El Paso’s distances from other civilisation. I say this lightly, though there is some truth to the thought. After all, El Paso seems to be a never-ending drive from other cities: twelve hours from Dallas, nine hours from San Antonio, four hours from Albuquerque, five hours from MIdland-Odessa, and seven hours from Phoenix. So yes, I do undertand why this area is considered the “edge” and off the radar for most.

It seems perfectly natural, if one mainly travels along Insterstate 10 through West Texas and southern New Mexico, for a traveler not to give El Paso much thought. As one looks out the window of a moving car, the easy conclusion would be that there is not much more to see than a plethora of tumbleweeds, desert brush, a few mountains, and a sea of wide-open space. Quite frankly, the roads one usually navigates move directly through the least interesting parts of the landscape.

Admittedly, the shape of this book didn’t immediately occur to me. I, too, based my judement of the area on Insterstate 10, not really piecing all the bits together, despite the fact that I am based in El Paso. The adventurer in me would visit the areas covered in this book independently; each a day trip and roughly a two-hour drive, or 120 miles, from El Paso. White Sands National Park in Southern New Mexico and the Guadalupe Mountains – Salt Flat area are two of my favourite destinations, though the landscape found in Lincoln National Forest at Cloudcroft has always offered an interesting contrast to the desert plains – and the cooler climate from the heat of the Chihuahua Desert.

My visits to Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site directly east of El Paso have been sporadic, although I enjoy my amatuerish attemps at rock climbing, and City of Rocks, between Deming and Silver City, New Mexico, allows my imagination to run wild thinking I am visiting the Flinstones’ Bedrock. Van Horn? Indeed, the Van Horn area – the “Gateway to Big Ben Country” – offers some of the most rugged and inspiring landscape in far West Texas. Seeing the sunrise over the Sierra Vieja mountains at the Coal Mine Ranch will be forever etched in my memory, and the largest collection of Precambrian rock formations in the wold at the Red Rock Ranch is a delight.

Most notable for me, however, is El Paso, as this is home. The Franklin Mountain range runs directly through the city and is the largest urban state park in the United States. For me, the Franklins are old friends that I miss when I travel around the world. In fact, this range is literally just outside my back door, and my friend Eric and I hike its slopes almost weekly.

Each of the aforementioned destinations is “just around the corner” in local terms, since driving times to other areas are four hours or more. While each of the areas photographed for this book have captivated me, I find the roads to and from equally fascinating. I believe the wide-open spaces that unfurl along these long, unobstructed roads epitomize the spirit of freedom many of us in the West feel.

Whilte I travel quite often throughout the world, each time behind the lens of my camera, I can safely say the landscapes of West Texas and Southern New Mexico touch my soul more deeply than any other place.

A spirit of freedom that is second to none wells up in me when I stand upon a high desert ridge; the sky above me opens up its cobalt tent, and the land below it stretches toward a horizon that seems to recede into infinity. Not only do deep fresh breaths fill me, but I can actually hear my breathing because the sounds of the cosmopolitan world are nowhere nearby.

The weight of the world swiftly lifts off my shoulders – I begin to connect with that which is around me, begin to move back toward my own centre. In a way, this great landscape offers me the freedom to feel whole again. No competeing demands tug at me from different directions. This is silence. Time is once again my friend.

The roads pictured in this book were avenues I traveled for the most part, but it was in the air where El Paso 120 came together. As I flew around the area in a twin-engine plane with Suzie Azar, my pilot the the former mayor of El Paso, I realised El Paso is not at the edge but right in the middle of an amazing landscape. And it is a landscape that is quite significant to the rest of the world, as you will discover as you flip through the book.

One might think I deliberately used a mathematical compass on a map to draw out what would be included in this book, but this is not the case. Flying above it, as a bird would, allowed me the opportunity to pull together what I had already explored on the ground. Surveying the land from atop El Paso’s Franklin Mountains, I can glimpse each of the areas portrayed in El Paso 120. A number of these destinations, all within striking distance of the city, are significant icons in the natural world.

Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, at 8749 feet. El Capitan, a massive limestone formation is the Guadalupe Mountains most recognisable feature.

The remarkable City of Rocks is a fantasyland of wind- and water-sculptued volcanic rock. Only six other places in the world have anything like them.

Near Kilbourne Hole, New Mexico, a lava tube (cave) at Aden Crater yielded up the skeleton of one of the last giant ground sloths in North America. The nine-foot-long skeleton, with much of its skin and hair still preserved, is now at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

At White Sands there is the world’s largest gypsum dune field, where great waves of gypsum lap nearly three hundred square miles of desert. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of it.

Then there were Hueco Tanks, known in the nineteenth century as the last source of water between the Pecos River and El Paso. The site is now one of the most popular destinations in the world for rock climbers.

Not only have I had the luxury of discovering the El Paso area, but each trek has helped me find my balance. I can think clear thoughts. Any and all stress goes away.

I have traveled these roads from El Paso countless times to escape the pressure of cosmopolitan life. I get lost behind my camera. My mind wanders with each trek, wondering what the area was like underwater millions of years ago, or what the Spanish explorers thought when they came upon this terrain, making their way northward. Can you imagine what they must have though when out of the brown desert arose the larges white gypsum sand dunes in the world? The idea of this fascinates me and in turn inspires me to venture further.

As you view my photographic exporation, I hope you, too, discover that El Paso is not at the edge but instead at the very centre of some remarkably amazing landscapes. One may think 120 miles is a long way to get anywhere. But within these wide-open spaces, it’s only just down the road and around the corner.

With good fortune during my next journey, I shall find you discovering firsthand El Paso and the wonders radiating 120 miles in all directions from the city.

Make sure you say “Hello,” when we cross paths.

QUIRKY FACTS ABOUT THE LONDON UNDERGROUND

The first escalator on the Underground was installed at Earl’s Court in 1911. A one-legged man, “Bumper” Harris, was employed to ride on it and demonstrate its safety. Unlike modern “comb” escalators, the original “shunt” mechanism ended with a diagonal so that the stairway finished sooner for the right foot than for the left.

Anyone not wishing to walk on the escalator was therefore asked to stand to the right to allow others to pass, leading to Britain’s unique flouting of escalator etiquette which dictates in most countries that escalators tend to match the rules of the road.

The first crash on the Tube occurred on the line in 1938 when two trains collided between Waterloo and Charing Cross, injuring 12 passengers.

The inaugural journey of the first Central line train in 1900 had the Prince of Wales and Mark Twain on board. The tunnels beneath the City curve dramatically because they follow its medieval street plan. The Central line also introduced the first flat fare: tuppence.

The tiles at Leicester Square depict film sprockets; Baker Street has Sherlock Holmes, Oval cricketers, while Eduardo Paolozzi’s abstract mosaics at Tottenham Court Road celebrate musical Denmark Street.

The recording of the phrase “Mind the gap” dates from 1968, and is voiced by Peter Lodge, who owned a recording company in Bayswater.

He stepped in apparently when the actor hired to record the lines insisted on royalties. There have been several books, a gameshow, two theatre companies, several films and lots of songs called Mind the Gap.

While Lodge’s recording is still in use, some lines use recordings by Manchester voice artist Emma Clarke, while commuters on the Piccadilly line hear the voice of Tim Bentinck, who plays David Archer in The Archers.

On 7 July 2005 a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks during the morning rush hour killed 56 people and injured 700. Three bombs exploded within 50 seconds of each other at Edgware Road, Aldgate and King’s Cross and a fourth exploded an hour later on a bus in Tavistock Square.

Filming takes place in many places in the Underground system, but the most common locations are Aldwych, a disused tube station which was formerly on the Piccadilly Line, as well as at the non-operational Jubilee Line complex in Charing Cross.

One of the levels in “Tomb Raider 3” is set in the disused Aldwych tube station and sees Lara Croft killing rats!

In “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, the Headmaster at Hogwarts has a scar shaped just like the London Underground map on his knee.

Covent Garden station on the Piccadilly Line is said to be haunted by a man dressed in evening wear who disappears very suddenly. Some staff members have refused to work at the station because of him.

The best places to spot the legendary underground mice running around the tracks are Waterloo Station and any platform at Oxford Circus. An estimated half a million mice live in the Underground system.

People who commit suicide by throwing themselves under tubes are nicknamed “one- unders” by London Underground staff.

It is estimated that around 100 tube suicides occur each year, the majority of these at Victoria and King’s Cross.

The most popular tube suicide time is 11 am.

Christopher Lee and Donald Pleasance starred in a 1970′s horror called “Death Line,” which tells the story of a cave-in while a station is being built at Russell Square in the 1890s. Several laborers are presumed dead and the bodies are left there when the construction company goes bankrupt. Of course these people are not really dead – instead they survive and reproduce… Years later, they start to find their food supply from the platform at Russell Square.

A fragrance call Madeleine was introduced at St. James Park, Euston, and Piccadilly stations in 2001 as an idea to make the tube more pleasant. It was supposedly a fresh, floral scent, but it was discontinued within two days after numerous complaints from people saying they felt ill.

In January 2005, the London Underground announced that it would play classical music at stations that had problems with loitering youths. A trial showed a 33% drop in abuse against tube staff.

In 2004 it was found that rubber mountings on carriages were collapsing on Piccadilly Line carriages due to excessive passenger weight! The estimated cost of replacing these defective mountings is in excess of twenty million pounds.

Is it because the Cadbury’s Whole Nut chocolate bar is by far the biggest seller in the dispensing machines at tube stations.

The nickname “tube” originally applied to the Central London Railway which was nicknamed the Twopenny Tube – because of the twopenny fare as well as its cylindrical tunnels. The “tube” part of the nickname eventually transferred to the entire London Underground system.

In terms of asphyxiation, traveling on the tube for 40 minutes is the equivalent to smoking two cigarettes.

The Underground is a good place to stumble on musicians busting out tuneful tunes to the delight of passers by. Following in this spirit, Julian Lloyd Webber is rumoured to have been the London Underground’s first official busker.

Bubonic plague swept through England in 1665, and was especially rife in urban areas. Aldgate Station, on the Circle and Metropolitan Lines, is built on a massive plague pit, where more than 1,000 bodies are buried.

Many tube stations were used as air-raid shelters during WWII, but the Central Line went one better and was actually converted into a massive aircraft factory that stretched for over two miles, with its own railway system. Its existence remained an official secret until the 1980s.

There are several unused stations down there. For instance, Down Street Station was used by Winston Churchill and his cabinet during the Second World War. The British Museum also has an abandoned tube station, lying on the Central Line between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.

Next time you walk into a tube station, keep your eyes peeled for roguish fruit. Green grapes are particularly notorious offenders, causing more accidents on the London Underground than banana skins.

The mosquitoes inhabiting the tunnels of the London Tube have evolved into a completely different species to any that lives above the ground. Unlike their upstairs brethren, which bite only birds, the London Underground mosquitoes bite rats, mice and show a distinct affinity for human blood. Biologists named these voracious biters Culex pipiens molestus