I’m almost schizophrenic about going on my little photography expeditions. On the one hand, when I haven’t gone on one in some time (as is presently the case), I start jonesing to go. On the other hand, the closer I get to a planned or prospective trip, the more I begin to regret it—primarily because I am very much a night person and getting up early on a Saturday is akin to being tortured—and the more I tend to look for excuses (“Well, it looks like the weather will be bad, so maybe I will wait until next week”). How I ended up with a hobby that is directly antagonistic towards my body clock is beyond me. On this mid-October day, however, I was indeed jonesing to go take some photos and I couldn’t back out of it because I was going with my friend, Tsuki. Houston, we have liftoff!
When I was a child, in the 1970s, Charlie the Tuna was ubiquitous on television. Charlie was the cartoon tuna who helped sell Star-Kist Tuna (with the tag line “Star-Kist doesn’t want tunas with good taste. They want tunas that taste good.”). The commercials always featured Charlie trying but failing to be caught by Star-Kist, apparently because he wasn’t high enough quality. As a kid, I found the commercials a bit confusing, as the difference between “good taste” and “taste good” was lost on me.
But there was something even more confusing.
Sometimes the passage of time becomes abrupt, almost jarring. For example, almost overnight, it seems, people stopped referring to taxis and began referring to Uber. “When did Uber become a thing?” I couldn’t help but wonder. Sometimes it is far less apparent—just as you may not notice that someone you are constantly with has aged. One personal example of this involves the Volkswagen Beetle. Like many families of an earlier age, my family used to play “lovebug,” where occupants of a car would compete to count Volkswagen beetles, the first person seeing one shouting “lovebug!” to claim their prize (there is a less genteel version of it called “slugbug,” the parameters of which are presumably clear to the reader, but we did not stoop to that). Once upon a time, the Volkswagen Beetle—the original Volkswagen Beetle—was everywhere. Then, gradually, it was not everywhere. Eventually, it was hardly somewhere. And that’s when you notice time has passed.
We don’t always take the time to appreciate the little things in life. For example, at the moment of this writing, I have a gnat/fruit fly infestation in my house. I don’t know where the little buggers are reproducing yet and I am probably going to have to tear my house upside down. I normally don’t take the time to appreciate a gnat-free house. I do appreciate the relaxation of going on my little excursions across Ohio, but often not until I am actually on the road. What I dread, to be honest, is having to wake up so early. I am such a night person, that getting up early enough to catch even the trailing rays of the morning’s “golden hour” is certainly a chore. One saving grace of excursions in the winter is that the sun, at least, rises a bit later. I need those minutes.
I saw a UFO once. I mean that literally, as in an “unidentified flying object.” It was back when I was a kid and my family was getting up very early in the morning to go on some long trip. I went outside, to put something in the car or get something from my father’s truck, and somehow I noticed something extremely tiny and odd up in the sky—it is rather amazing I noticed it at all, so small and far away it was. It looked like the tiniest of circles hovering in the stratosphere. I went and got my dad, who came out and looked at it, and then went back inside and got his spotting scope—the closest thing we had to a telescope. Even through the spotting scope, we could make out very little, just a few appurtenances or gewgaws coming out of the thing. Eventually we decided that it had to be some sort of weather balloon, high up in the atmosphere. Sorry if you were expecting tentacles.
Even when I was a child, I always wanted to “go down in history” in some fashion—hoping that some part of me would live on, even if only as part of people’s memories. Today, many years later and pretty much in the throes of a mid-life crisis of sorts, it seems obvious to me that my chances of being remembered will be slim. But it is interesting how people are memorialized and how they are chosen to be remembered. We’ll see an example of what I mean, bye and bye. The photos here are from the second half of an excursion that my friend Tsuki and I took on a bleak day in late November 2014. Continue reading
One of the cleverest things I have ever seen in a movie was how the movie The Wizard of Oz handled going from Kansas to the fantasy land of Oz. The movie began as a black and white movie, but when Dorothy’ lands in Oz and looks out of the house, the world is in color. Such a simple trick and yet so effective. So I think I will steal that trick.
In which our intrepid hero gets in touch with his inner Victorian…
For many people, the Christmas season is rather depressing, but I must confess that I typically am filled with good cheer during that time of year, even though I am not Christian. There is just something to the Christmas season for me, a period in which—in theory, at least—there really is “good will towards man” and with the gift-giving, people often do make an attempt to be thoughtful to others. As a result, I am very pro-Christmas, even if from a secular viewpoint. On this Christmas day, I found several examples of this seasonal “good will” that made me think the world wasn’t really all bad.
In which our intrepid hero hopes that oil’s well that ends well…
Fracking concerns me, I admit it. I should hasten to point out that I do not, as many do, oppose fracking, no more than I oppose genetically modified crops. But I believe both technologies should be treated prudently, with an eye towards identifying and preventing problems. I am concerned about groundwater contamination, I am concerned about earthquakes. I can only hope that Ohio is wise enough to create a good regulatory and oversight foundation and will be proactive enough to try to deal with potential problems before they become actual ones.
Beyond that, though, I am concerned about something that it may not be within the power of the state of Ohio to regulate, and that is that Ohioans themselves will not benefit enough from fracking. One would think that it is a rare blessing that Ohio’s deposits are located in the economically blighted Ohio Appalachia; those areas certainly deserve a break, right? Yet it is those same areas that have Ohio’s traditional oil deposits as well, as can be seen by the hundreds and hundreds of wells dotting the countryside. And that traditional oil wealth seems not to have benefited eastern Ohioans much at all—so will fracking do so, or will the gains simply be siphoned out of the state, much like Ohio’s gambling money largely is? I hope the people who need the money the most get some of it.
In which our intrepid hero has an eerie feeling…
Every year the swallows come to Capistrano and the geeks come to Cleveland, because Cleveland is the mecca for a very geeky hobby, a World War II strategy boardgame called Advanced Squad Leader. Never heard of it? Do not fear, you are not alone. Imagine the boardgame Risk. Got it? Not imagine someone with a pocket protector yelling at you at the top of his lungs: “IT’S NOT RISK, ASSHOLE. IT’S A MILLION TIMES MORE COMPLEX AND IT IS ABOUT WORLD WAR II!” The first week of October is ASL Oktoberfest, the world’s largest tournament for ASL and ASL players from around the world come to Cleveland to spend a week in a hotel playing a game.