Tampa Number 5 on Worst Traffic for Cities in North America

Tom Tom created a list of the worst cities for traffic in North America and Tampa is number five on the list. I travel to Tampa often and living in the Daytona Beach area, it’s like night and day. People from my client company are often delayed by 1/2 to an hour on their drive to work.

I’m surprised New York City didn’t make the list. I’m guessing it’s because of public transportation, but I remember being stuck on the BQE every morning. It was 12 minutes from the hotel to the office with no traffic and an hour to an hour and a half in rush hour morning traffic.

Check out the entire list here.


Anam Cara

by Mike on July 27, 2011

John O-Donahue was an Irish poet who wrote on Celtic spirit in a lyrical voice that resonates with me every time I pick up one of his books. My favorite and constant companion on my Kindle is Anam Cara.

When I’m in sour mood, I read a few passages or a few pages and I’m reminded of what matters. Anam Cara means “Soul Friend” and is deep and passionate in its expression, but soothing. I’ve recommended the book to a few people in the past, but this is one that everyone should at least sample. It could be a long friendship with a dear departed poet.

I started reading Anam Cara from the beginning again a few nights ago. As I read, a thought came to mind that I posted on Twitter – “If we put ourselves in the middle of the noise, and we stay there, are we not then noise? 2:00am thoughts.” I have a lot going on right now. A lot of it is good, but there’s a lot of noise too. Reading Anam Cara worked. It calmed my mind and set me back on track.

If you find yourself up at 2:00am, you might want to follow me on Twitter – @mfbyrne.


Friends I’ll Never Meet

by Mike on April 22, 2011

For Whom The Bell Tolls

I learned of the deaths of two photojournalist this morning in Libya – Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. I didn’t meet either when they were alive, but somehow their deaths touched me.

If we consume any news at all, we are bombarded with news of death. It’s a steady stream. The deaths of the famous and those who die spectacularly are reported. The deaths of military men and women are reported all too frequently. These deaths are sad.

Even sadder is that too often the passing of these people is taken like the news of a traffic accident. It invades our consciousness, is noted, but doesn’t get beyond the noise.

The passing of Mr. Hetherington and Mr. Hondros was like that for a minute, but then I did something I usually don’t – I found out a little more about them. Learning about their lives, even a small bit, makes them human. It’s not that I know them, but now at least I know about them. I would have liked to have met them and shared some time, maybe a toast or two. They are friends I will never meet.

John Donne wrote:

“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I thought of these words as I read about the life of Tim and Chris. The bell tolls today for them; and in a way, it tolls for me as well. I am diminished by their deaths for I have lost friends I’ll never meet.


What Happened?

I gasped in awe when I walked outside of my Ormond Beach, Florida home a few nights ago and turned to looked at the moon in the southern sky. A very bright moon cast a brilliant light on the clouds taking my breath away.

Tonight, I walked out a few minutes ago and the same moon was painting feather clouds with a beautiful white light. I was stopped in my tracks again.

These brilliant inspiring events got me to thinking. What happened on the way to the way we live today? As a matter of course we are tucked away in our homes and our cities without consideration for the grandeur of nature. We make parks and build houses with views, but few of us experience nature in our homes or offices. Oh, we have plants in the house and office and trees in our yards, but it seems more like museum pieces than living with nature.

Everywhere I’ve lived, even the barren high plateau of western Wyoming, I’ve been awed by the natural beauty of nature. This is not some nostalgia, but a respect for beauty and power. I am inspired by nature.

I’m wondering when we as a society, as a country and civilization decided to isolate ourselves from nature. It seems in the same spirit of eating food products instead of natural foods. We are consuming nature products rather than nature.

Who Decided to Block Out the Sky?

Who decided that out homes should have roofs that block out the sky? I feel so much different when I’m outside with the immensity of the sky overhead, don’t you? That’s one of the big reasons I love to golf. I love the big sky. I think it would be wonderful if instead of roofs, we had designed open skies into our lives. Maybe someday we will.

I try to spend at least a few minutes outdoors everyday, longer if I can. Even in the brutal heat of Florida in the late summer, I need to make time for those few minutes of sunshine and moon glow everyday.

I have in mind that my next home will be more open to nature. Now, if I can find it great. If not, I may have to create and build it.


Putting Tips Site

by Mike on August 22, 2010

Putting Tips Site Launched

I’ve launched a new Putting tips website.

Those of you who know me, know that I’m an avid golfer. Maybe that’s an understatement. I have been know to play over 150 rounds of golf in a year, but not in the past year. I’ve cut way back because of international travel and time. I still try to get out a least once a week when I’m home.

I’ve been playing at Daytona Beach Golf Club for the most part. The rate is $15.00 after 3:00 so it’s a really good deal. It’s also cooling off about that time, although that hasn’t help the last few rounds. It’s been brutally hot.

I launched the new site to share what I learned playing hundreds of rounds in the past five years or so. I figure that between rounds on the course and practice, I taken over 70,000 putts during that time. I learned a few things that may help other golfers during that process. While I’m building the site, I’m also looking for products and information that will help. I will be testing every product before recommending it, so look for those recommendations on the new site.

I’ve also set up some putting tips pages on other content sites.

Check out http://www.puttingtipsandhelp.com for more.

I’m working fast to get up as much content as possible because I’ll be traveling to Puerto Rico for a 6-8 consulting assignment in two to three weeks. I hoping to play some golf while I’m there, but that hasn’t work out so well in the past. I travel light to avoid checking bags, so bringing along my golf clubs is not an option. If anyone has any tips on a good place to play in Puerto Rico that is reasonable in cost and has good rental clubs, please let me know.


New Daytona Beach Used Cars Website

by Mike on May 5, 2010

Daytona Beach Used Cars Website Launch

The newly created Daytona Beach Used Cars website was created on Friday and published to the world at 5:00 p.m. At 7:48 p.m. that night, it was indexed by Google. Is that good? Actually it’s pretty amazing. Getting indexed by Google is the first step to the site ranking in the SERPs (search engine results page).

I’ve been working to master building websites and getting search traffic for the past two years. There is quite a bit to making this happen quickly and then holding on to the results. I use the Wordpress blog platform, video and social media to build rankings fast. How fast?

If you search Google for Daytona Beach Used Cars, you will find the video I created at about rank 13 to 15 as of today. The video ranked in less the five hours. This search term has about 428,000 pages listed in Google, making it fairly competitive for a local term. For the term, Daytona Beach Used Cars Buyers Guide, the video has the top four and number 10 spots in Google.

I used the Thesis Theme to create the website and that took a few hours. Creating the video and sending it out to the video hosting sites took a few hours more. I created a blog post and a report as well. All together, I have about 8-10 hours in creating a site and media that is ranking for the targeted search term in just a few hours.

Obviously, there are techniques to making rankings happen quickly. I am not going to give you the details because I’m about to launch a business where I will be creating sites and media to generate search engine traffic for local businesses. This is powerful stuff. I’m not going to give it away.

Check out the site at www.daytonabeachusedcars.us, or check out the video Daytona Beach Used Cars Buyers Guide at Dailymotion.

I’ll report back periodically on the results from this site.


A Rock With a Rudder is Not a Ship!

by Mike on April 11, 2010

A Rock With a Rudder is Not a Ship!

It has often been said that a ship without a rudder or a course will not reach its destination. That may be true. But most people are not ships, they’re more like rocks or boulders. It doesn’t matter whether a boulder has a rudder or a course – it’s not going anywhere. A ship is built to travel the rivers and oceans. A boulder stays in one place for most of its existence. Are you a ship built to move or a boulder built to stay in one place?

On the other hand, a great vessel can take you or me on to great adventures or simply to the same places over and again. Once you have the vessel, what you do with determines your life. Will you take your great vessel on a trip around the block or around the world?

I’ve had great adventures and I’ve had extended stays in port. I need the adventures, but I also need those stays in port. I always hope to be able to answer the call to adventure when it comes, but while I’m in port, I hope to relish that time as well. Adventures are important, but reflection on those adventures makes them a part of my life, my story.

If a person doesn’t answer the call to adventure, what’s their story?

From John O’Donahue – “Beauty does not linger, it only visits. Yet beauty’s visitation affects us and invites us to its rhythm, it call us to feel, think and act beautifully in the world: to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful. A life without delight is only half a life.”


1907 Fiat is Star of Ormond Beach Parade on the Beach

It’s not something you see everyday and it’s likely that we’ll never see it again. Today, at about 2:00 p.m., some 20 antique automobiles paraded down the sands of Ormond Beach as part of the Centennial of Speed celebration.

After the parade, the cars were on display at the riverside park across from the casements. I really liked the two seat 1912 Ford Speedster, but the star of the show was the 1907 Fiat.

1907 Fiat

1907 Fiat

I was able to make this photo when the parade was stopped while the cars got back in line. This old girl sat there in all her glory for about 10 minutes. I waited for this shot for awhile. Most of the time people were gathered around taking photos and just looking. I used the Topaz Adjust 4 Photoshop plugin to enhance the detail and color and create the image that I wanted. This is my favorite plugin.

Ford Two Seater

1912 Model T Speedster

This 1912 Ford Model T Speedster is just gorgeous. I used Alien Skin’s Bokeh plugin in Photoshop to blur the people in the background and put focus on the automobile.

The Ford and the Fiat were my favorites from the parade and show. It was very nice at the park next to The Casements. On the beach, it was windy and cool. Everyone is commenting that this weather is so unusual. I’ve spent over 25 years in Florida and I cannot remember it being so cool for so long and this far into March.

The upside is that the cool weather gave us a great blue sky and clear air.

Camera Info: Fiat: Olympus Stylus Tough 6000, 1/1000 sec., f/6.3, ISO 200, 6.5mm. Ford: Olympus E-520, 1/400 sec., f/8, ISO 200, 48mm – 40-150mm lens.

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Basic Digital SLR Camera Kit

My digital camera adventure has been mostly pleasure, but if I had better information when I started I could have saved literally thousands of dollars.

Let’s start by saying that I did a lot of research before I purchased my kit. I looked at Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Olympus cameras before settling on the Olympus E-520. Why, because of the combination of cost, quality and size. I travel a lot so I wanted a smaller camera that could still give me great quality.

If you’re in the market for a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, you’ll soon find out that you will be overwhelmed with choices, but it gets worse. Once you’ve decided on the camera, you now need to select lenses and other “accessories” such as lenses, flashes, filters, tripods, clamps, software and more… If you want to take good photos without the complications, consider a high-end point and shoot camera. They take great photos.

I love my Olympus, but I’m sure I would be satisfied with other camera brands as well. I don’t think you can go wrong with any major brand. You will find evangelist, especially for Canon and Nikon, who espouse their version of the truth. Listen if you will, but recognize it for what it is. I’m not going to try to convince you that Olympus is best. It’s just worked for me.

What Should Be in Your Basic Kit?

You’ve decided on you basic camera. Now you need at least one lens to use the camera. You will get the best value for the lowest price if you buy the camera body with a lens at the same time. I bought four lenses when I bought my camera, the wide angle came with the camera:

  • 14-42mm Wide Angle
  • 40-150mm Medium Telephoto
  • 70-300mm Super Telephoto
  • 35mm Macro

The lenses I use everyday are the first two. Of the two, I use the wide angle most, but I also use the medium telephoto at least once a day. I use the 70-300mm maybe once a week and the macro lens maybe once or twice a month. I take a lot of landscape photos, people photos, and real estate photos.

The Six Most Important Accessories

The first two are easy. An extra battery and at least one extra memory card. Don’t even think about it. You will need it.

Next, get a bag that will protect your investment. I use a $100 bag that I bought from Amazon (Wolverine). It’s traveled about 200,000 air miles without any problems at all. There are other bags that cost more than the camera body, but find something that will protect your gear.

I consider an external flash unit, a tripod and photo processing software as requirements for digital photography. One thing that just about everyone in the photographic world agrees on — the built-in flash unit on DSLR cameras is poor to useless.

A good external flash that fits on the camera shoe will improve flash photos more than you could believe. Better yet, get an external flash unit that can be used off camera as well. That’s one of the best features of the Olympus E-520 I bought, it has a built-in remote flash controller. I can use my external flash on the camera or off and still control it with the camera without an additional control device. A stand for the flash is cheap and should be considered as well.

Do you need a tripod? If you are going to get sharp photos, you need a tripod. I doesn’t need to be titanium. I paid $100 for mine and another $90 for the head and it works fine. I use the tripod for landscape photos and to get much sharper pictures when using the telephoto lenses. I carry it with me whenever I go for a shoot, even if I think I won’t need it.

Photo processing software is absolutely necessary. There’s no way around it. Your camera will come with a proprietary software package. You can use this, but for another $80, you can get Adobe Photoshop Elements. The current version is 8. There’s a ton of resources and tutorials available on the web for this software. You can try what comes with the camera, but if you can afford it go with Photoshop Elements for a fraction of the cost of the full version of Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture.

The Basic Kit

  • Camera Body
  • Camera Bag for Protection
  • Wide Angle Lens
  • Medium Telephoto Lens
  • Extra Battery
  • Extra Memory Card
  • External Flash
  • Tripod and Head
  • Photo Processing Software

After putting together the basic kit. Take 10,000 photos. After that, decide on what’s missing and go for it. Even if you have a big budget, I would recommend this path. It’s not what I did, but if I did it again, I would start with this kit.


Late Afternoon Sun Washes Against Waves in Ormond By The Sea Florida

The late afternoon sun kissed the breaking waves against a brilliant blue sky on a beautiful day. The location is north of Ormond Beach Florida in the small seaside community of Ormond By The Sea. The photo was taken near the walk-over from Bicentennial Park a few miles north of Granada Blvd on A1A.

Last night I went out to the beach to catch the sunset and make images. The sunset was spectacular and can be seen in the post Dramatic Sunset in Ormond Beach Florida – Colors and Jet Trails.

This image was taken about 40 minutes before sunset looking to the south.

Ormond By The Sea Florida Late Afternoon

Ormond By The Sea Florida Late Afternoon

This section of the beach is usually very quiet. There is no driving here. Driving starts at Granada Blvd and goes south. A lot of people park across the street in Bicentennial Park and watch the ocean. There were six cars there last night at sunset.

I used the Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 camera. This camera is sealed and weatherproof. I feel comfortable taking it on to the beach without concern for damage due the sand and sea mist. I had my Olypus E-520 with me in the bag, but it was sealed in a plastic bag against the elements. I used it later across the street to get the sunset photos.

Camera Info: Olympus Stylus Tough 6000, 1/200 sec., f/5, ISO 50, 5mm.

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Two Time Survivor of Atomic Bombs Dies at 93

January 21, 2010

He survived the atomic bombs of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In later years he wrote poetry to tell the story.

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Dramatic Sunset in Ormond Beach Florida – Colors and Jet Trails

January 21, 2010

It all came together with a drama that only nature can provide. The vapor trails from the jets topped it like whipped cream.

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Mr. Brown Goes to Washington – Now What?

January 20, 2010

Republicans rejoice at Scott Brown senate win in Massachusetts. Do they get what happened?

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Breakfast Filipino Street Style – Photo of the Day

January 20, 2010

These gentlemen decided that it’s breakfast time. Why not right here?

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Do You Want Web Traffic or Customers?

January 19, 2010

Web traffic does not buy anything. Customers buy – an individual person taking an action. Find the buyers and laser focus on their needs and wants.

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The Brown Brown Grass of Home – Florida Freeze Photo

January 18, 2010

I have never seen brown grass like this in my more than 26 years of living in Florida. Today’s photo shows our new brown lawn, courtesy of the January 2010 freeze.

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Health Care Spending vs. Life Expectancy – USA Out of Control

January 18, 2010

If you spent more on health care, a lot more than any other country, you would expect life expectancy to be at or near the top. Wouldn’t you? Well? Not even close.

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The Last Florida Cold Weather Photo – Ice on the Windshield

January 14, 2010

Is the great cosmic joke over in Florida? We’ve had snow, ice and cold weather for over a week – it seems like much longer. It’s over for now!

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The Power of Words – There Were Roses

January 14, 2010

Some songs we like because they make us feel good. Few songs make us think, but There Were Roses is one of those.

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Surreal Glowing Heron Photo – Ormond Beach Florida

January 14, 2010

Glowing in the sunlight, this heron could be an apparition, it’s not. Shot on a bright clear cold day, the bird glows against the background.

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Buying Small – Dealing with an Owner

January 13, 2010

On a mission to simplify things in my life, I’m focused on dealing with real people who want my business and provide real service.

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Living Smaller Slower Better

January 13, 2010

An experiment begins – an experiment to find the gold, the elixir of life. There is no cast of characters, only one man, perhaps a fool, experimenting on himself.

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Cold Florida Day Turns Into Brilliant Sunset

January 10, 2010

This Florida day started out with snow and ended in a brilliant sunset. This cold snap has created beautiful skies that only cold weather can seem to do.

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Oh No Snow in Florida – Photographic Evidence Provided

January 9, 2010

More evidence of global warming sweeps into Florida with snow in Ormond Beach. 8:30 in the morning and it’s still cold enough for snow.

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Philippine Jeepney Art Photo

January 9, 2010

Photo of the Day – Philippine Jeepney Art Photo
An art photo? Well, it’s nowhere close to the original image. The original photo was of a Jeepney driving along the Tagatay Highway in Santa Rosa in the Philippines.
Let’s talk about Jeepneys for a bit. After WWII, transportation in the Philippines was scarce, but there were plenty [...]

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