Life's Anchor

I had this thought at work the other day.

Remember how when you were a kid a day lasted for a long, long time?  You may not have noticed it at the time, but it was like you could cram just about anything into a day.  A kid could have a hundred adventures in one waking day.

As we got older--Say into middle school and high school--Time didn't really speed up, but it was like we were able to get less and less done in a given day.  "I didn't have time to finish it!" was a common cry back then.  Of course the responsible adults didn't go for that excuse.  After all--The adults like parents or teachers were young once, and time moved more slowly them in those days too.  Even though time moved much more quickly for them now, they remember.  To them it was like kids had all the time in the world, which of course, meant we had no excuse.  Make sense?

Like Albert (yes that Albert) said: "Time is relative."

Think about this:  Flies only live a few hours or days (depending on their species).  For them time might be moving at a completely different rate that it is for us--Probably ten time faster.  When you try to put it in that perspective, it's probably why we can hardly ever swat the damn things.  If you looked at us through their eyes, we are probably moving in slow motion.  They can see us coming.

Okay, back to the original thought I had and the reason for this blog post.

As we age, time speeds up.  The days seem to pick up speed and fly by.  The weeks pass quicker, and the seasons come and go faster and faster as we age.  I'm sure it's partly because we have less distractions and our lives are much more predictable and orderly when we're older.  What if the whole reason that our body parts and systems start to fail is to put on the brakes?  If nothing on us ever wore out, we'd have nothing to complain about.  Our lives would have less "bumps" and "roadblocks" to slow it down and make it reflect on the passage of time.

Think of this:  All the crap that makes us take notice (and it's usually negative things like health) are our life anchors.  They are keeping us grounded.

I'll bet you thought it was going to be something deep didn't you?

It's like our old friends Pink and Floyd once said:
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain

And you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say...

New Glasses and Lazy-Asses

I've been putting up with inferior glasses for far too long.  I bought my last pair of glasses in July of 2007.  I have never been happy with them since the day I bought them, but that was mostly quality of frames and such.  It wasn't until a year or two later that the coating started peeling off the lenses.  In the last year or so I've been looking through a bluish fog.  They have been horrible.  Note to anyone out there:  Don't go near Vista Optical.  I got these new glasses at Costco, and they work great.  I remember what I hate about getting new glasses every time I get new glasses:  The get-used-to-them period.

We have all been really getting into the swing of taking a picture every day for our individual 365 picture projects.  Sometimes it's a total pain to come up with something usable, but like Suzie says, it helps you be a better photographer.  It forces you to think outside your comfort zone and come up with something even when you thought there was little or nothing to come up with.  She's right.  It also opens your eyes.  We all spend our days with wandering eyes--Wondering about every little thing we see and whether it is a candidate for some camera action.  A good example is last night when we both took our cameras into one of our local Goodwill stores.  How could you not come up with something good in there?

Last weekend was a good one for photos.  We spent the day Saturday up north in Skagit county, wandering the rural back roads.  We knew that the tulips that the area is famous for would all be gone, and we also knew sporadic rain was predicted, but both of them probably worked in our favor.  I know the weather did, because the stormy sky was awesome in almost every picture we took that day.  As far as the tulips go, sure it would have been nice to see the fields of color, but we also were not cursed with the hordes of people that descend on the area during tulip time.  They come by busloads.  We got off the freeway well before we needed to and meandered the smaller roads and highways, doing our favorite "Hmm.. I wonder what's down this road?" thing.  There was also a lot of, "Stop!  Back up!" from Suzie when something special greeted her camera eye.

I have been working my butt off at work lately.  I find myself very serious at work these days, and that's not the way I used to be.  I was always a fun-loving person--A person that worked hard when the work had to be done, but was never without some sort of quip to toss out there at just the right moment to invoke a smile from somebody.  I noticed recently that it's a characteristic that I've put behind me.  Now I find myself scowling at people at work that spend almost their whole day walking around shooting the bull.  Every time I hear laughing (which is often) I note that it is always the same people.  I can't help but seethe when I have to work so hard just to keep my head above water, when others have all day to meander around and interrupt everyone else with comments.  I won't mention any names on here because last time I did that it was a near disaster.  The foreman (who is barely computer literate) decided to Google his full name, which is unusual, and one of the first hits that came up was my blog.  Imagine my surprise (or fright--It wasn't a post I wanted him to read by any means) when I heard about it!  Anyway, back to the antics of the people.  It also upsets me that TJ has to share an office with the foreman--He seems to be a catalyst for the inane banter that constantly permeates the shop.  At least half the time it is taking place in that office while he is trying to concentrate on his work.  How can people be that stupid or oblivious?  Do they not see that he is trying to work?  TJ is in the same boat as I am, but he is working even harder than I am.  We both try to tune out the constant idiocy around us, but yet it's there all the time--Eating at us and trying to dislodge our thought processes.  I don't know about TJ, but I have a lot of trouble concentrating on something.  I have to pay attention to what I'm doing.

While the shop is descending more into a bunch of lackadaisical drifters the owners are less visible than ever--Apparently still planning their secret project.  I'll tell you--It's not the same shop I was hired in to almost 8 years ago.  Phil ruled the roost with discipline back then.

An American Tourister Luggage Moment

Remember those old American Tourister commercials?  They had one where a suitcase got bashed around by a gorilla, and I remember one where something fell off a car, and so on.  Well, I lived one yesterday.  Imagine looking into the rear view mirror of your Harley and seeing your camera bag bouncing across the freeway!  Yes, it was my Canon DSLR, it's extra lens, and all it's other gear.  Sue and I were out on our first ride on the Harley in... Well, a long time.  It was a beautiful day...

Wait, let's go back and recap the weekend.

Friday started off by taking us over to the home of my coworker, TJ, where he and his wife had offered us their free-standing lawn swing they no longer wanted.  A short while later, Sue's friend Mary that lives right around the corner from us and her husband Keven came by to take us to dinner at The Outback.  It was a prearranged night out--Their gift to us for all the work and help that Sue provided to them while they were getting their house in order after a kitchen fire several months ago.  From there we ended up playing Wii bowling at their house for a little while before walking home and enjoying some hot tub time.

We were hoping for a ride on the Harley on Saturday, but that wasn't in the cards.  For one, the weather turned iffy.  For two, we had her grandsons Joe and Shayne there all day while their daddy was taking care of an important obligation.  During the time they were there I dissected our new canoe and gave it a complete tuneup.  Coleman canoes have an aluminum tubing skeleton, and this one had some minor damage from some traumatic event in its past.  Anyway, everything got straightened, realigned, tightened, or anything else it needed to make it nice again.

Sunday found the weather going extremely positive.  We got ourselves together and got on the Harley, off for our usual round of combining picture-taking with whatever else we were doing that day.  This time I opted to put my camera bag on the rack behind Suzie.  I was never really fond of the way it fit into one of the saddlebags (slightly squished) and thought it would be easier to access whenever we stopped for pictures also.  Our first stop was for a delicious breakfast at the Krain Restaurant near Enumclaw.  Neither of us had ever been their before and we both loved it.

A little ways down the road found us stopping at an abandoned section of train track.  It had several flat cars still on it and Suz thought they might present a good photo opportunity or two.  We stopped another time after that, and from there just wound our way all around some rural areas with farms, fields, and mountain views.  When we reached the end of the small roads we had a short section of freeway we had to transverse.  At the bottom of a long hill going from Bonney Lake to Sumner, I heard someone just behind me on my left repeatedly laying on the horn. HONKHONKHONKHONK!  I know what that sound means--It means something is about to come off or already did.  I looked in my mirror just in time to see my full camera bag bouncing across the freeway!  As they came alongside us the gal was hollering out the window that we had lost something.  We hurriedly pulled over and I mumbled something like, "At least nobody ran over it."  Naturally, I was upset and feared the worst.  I walked back and found it sitting in the median, right next to a shallow ditch filled with water.  It was still intact.  I shook it and didn't hear anything unusual.  I walked back to Sue, and as I neared her she asked an obvious question like, "Is anything broken?"
"I don't know--I'm afraid to look."  I answered.
Well, the story had a happy ending.  Every single thing in the bag was unscathed.  That's a testament to the quality of a camera bag I guess.  It has some scuffs on it, but it's otherwise fine.  I'm glad I chose this particular bag, because the design of it has the camera actually suspended lens down in a sling of sorts.  I came dangerously close to ending my 365 Picture Project blog right then and there.  Needless to say, my camera went happily into one of the saddlebags where it should have been to begin with.  Note to self: NEVER use less than two bungee cords when you put anything on the rack.

We made a quick stop at Steve's house (who wasn't home), and a quick stop at her friend Judy's house and made our way back home.

Sarah came up for a visit while Sue went to Meeting, and we enjoyed some time together.  She took some pictures of of the finches on Sue's new feeder and we played a little with some dry ice.  When Sarah left, we capped our weekend off with a good burger from the grill and a soak in the hot tub.

Quite a weekend!

Canoes and Canoeing

Well, I should play catch-up.  A lot has transpired recently.

Last week I went to Costco and had my eye exam done so I could order myself some new glasses.  I have been putting up with these horrible glasses I got from Vista Optical for far too long.  When I got the price after all was said and done, I wondered why I waited so long...

After kicking it around off and on for a while, we (myself, Suzie, and Sarah) finally went and rented a canoe on Saturday.  The University of Washington has a Waterfront Activities Center that rents canoes and rowboats.  They're cheap, and the area you can use them in is a pretty cool area.  Anyone that's familiar with the area knows how close SR-520 runs to the UW, but for those that don't, here's an idea of the layout.

We went there a little before we could actually rent the canoes because a rowing event or something was taking place.  To kill an hour we went over to the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum.  We wandered around there taking pictures for an hour or so.  It was a little early in the season because not many plants or trees were in bloom yet, but it was still a real pretty day and we all got lots of pictures.  When that was finished we went back to the canoe place.  By then parking was free, so that was a cool bonus.

I don't know how long the canoes were, but they were all the same:  Aluminum 2-seaters.  They all had plenty of room for 3 though, and they came with a third person seat cushion for the floor.  Everyone also got life vests and oars too. 

We spent a couple hours or so wandering around the Arboretum area in the canoe.  Back and forth underneath the highway we went, exploring the marshes.  We saw tons of ducks, many of which would swim right up to our canoe--Apparently hoping for handouts.  There were also turtles sunning on logs and Herons standing still looking like folded umbrellas.  We saw evidence of beavers too, but no beavers themselves.  The three of us took hundreds of pictures.  It was a beautiful day for doing something like that.  When all was said and done, we got out of there for a measly 18 bucks!

So we decided that it was so much fun that maybe we should keep an eye out for a canoe of our own.  I found several good ones on good ol' Craigslist.  I was just about to act on one today that was for sale up on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, when a new ad popped up.  An older Coleman canoe right here near home.  The $250 obo turned into $200 bucks.  Nice.  Sure, it needs some cleaning and tweaking here and there, but it even came with a couple of nice oars too.  Here's a shot of it in its current state of glory after bringing it home.

Our 365 picture projects are going well.  Sarah is having a great time doing hers and is impressing me with what she is putting out there.  Like I explained before, they all have ups and downs.  A 365 project is quite a roller coaster ride.

Overtime: Phase Two

I wish I could walk through my workplace with a camera.  Unfortunately, that is not possible where I work, due to the owners' personal policies on liability and privacy.

This has been a strange week.  Actually, it started last week--On Wednesday.  That was the day we stopped production and started the inventory-to-end-all-inventories.  Although production did resume the following day, it was considerably limited.  The only work that has been done since that time has been things that needed to be done.  The CNC section, that part of our shop that runs several computer-operated mills, has always been pushed to the limit, so they are one of the areas that resumed the following day.  The only other stuff that has been done has been sporadic work to support the CNC functions, such as shearing additional sheet metal when they needed it, or something of that nature.

All week long, all over the center of the shop, there have been guys dissecting piles of materials, carefully breaking down the stacks and racks of sheet materials and extrusions--Much of it long untouched.  Poring over multiple sheets of paper, comparing, measuring, and trying to find correlations between the actual items & their lot numbers and the paper listings.  There are piles of sheet metal and stacks of extrusions everywhere you look.  It's a slow, tedious job, and it's made even worse by the years of nasty dark, oily dust that coats everything in the building.  This is the activity that I wanted to take pictures of.

My job was much the same.  For most of the last several days I was involved in the same elaborate counting game.  The first couple of days of counting had my in my area of control--The "standards".  Standards are all the little packages of hardware that we use on assemblies, such as rivets, nutplates, screws, and things like that.  There are hundreds of little bags of these things that I maintain, and all of them had to be counted and noted.  After a few days of that it became apparent that the people doing the inventory of the finished goods we stock upstairs needed major help, and I was recruited to help up there until it was finished.  That took several people several days to complete (including Saturday).  When that was finished, I went back and finished my count of the little hardware, which took several more days.

All this time, new material items still arrived.  Carefully stacked in the area near my desk, they sat untouched by me until yesterday, when I was finally given the "green light" to start receiving things in.  Stipulations were in place though--I can only receive in things that arrived before April 1st, and even those things can't physically move from the check-in area lest they end up mixing in with stock that has already been counted and noted on someone's sheet somewhere.  The whole idea is to maintain the inventory "placeholder" they have created while still allowing it to move a little where it needs to (if that makes sense).  My inbox is now over 7 inches tall (I actually measured it yesterday).  It has never been close to that before.  That doesn't even include several small items that have come in UPS or similar that are stacked around behind me in my office area that also need to be "received" in.

The overtime for inventory reasons looks to be finally over even though there are still pockets of employees that are still counting and marking things.

Now the overtime to play catch-up is about to start.

The Non-Traveling Bonehead

One of the places I was stationed--No, the best place I was stationed during the six years I was in the Air Force was Italy.  I was at the very top of it in the little town of Colle Isarco, (or Gossensass in German), only about 7 or 8 miles from the Austrian border.  It was a very, very beautiful place.

Like a lot of people that "live" somewhere I was complacent about it and didn't take advantage of the rare opportunities I had at my disposal.  Only having a year there, I should have been traveling all over the place.  This was especially true because of my work schedule--I worked 4 days and was off 4 days--The entire year I was there.  Anyone that has ever been in or around Europe will tell you the same thing:  You can go anywhere in Europe in 4 days.

Where did I go?

Not many places.  As a matter of fact, I hardly went anywhere.  Switzerland was just right around the corner, but did I ever see it?  No.  Similarly, France was just "right there" and I ignored that too.  Going north, west, or east could have taken me to any number of countries.  Did I even explore Austria? No.  I went through it a few times on my way to Garmish-Partenkirchen or Munich (where I learned that McDonald's had beer on their menu), and went several times to Innsbruck (for the night life aka partying), but that's about it.  I never even went to the lower part of "the boot" to explore the rich historical treasures that Italy itself had to offer.

Here's one of my travel blunders:

My brother Don was in the Air Force at the same time as I was. Although he was only in for 4 years, he ended up stationed in Italy at the same time as me but farther down.  While I was at a small, remote site, he was at the main base of Aviano.  Because it was headquarters to the communications group I was part of, I did go there several times.  The blunder?  Aviano is close to Venice.  I distinctly remember going by the exit to Venice several times thinking, "I need to go there one of these days."  You know what?  I never did.  Stoopid!

That isn't my top blunder though.

I was actually in the city of Pisa.  Everyone knows what famous landmark resides in the city of Pisa right?  Did I see it?  No!  My boss and I had borrowed a guys new Triumph TR7 to drive down to Pisa to pick his car up that had finally come in on a ship.  Pisa was the port town that the Air Force used to ship personal vehicles into if you were high-ranking enough to have that luxury.  We had so much fun driving that little car down there that we instantly lapsed into a cat-and-mouse chase game when he got into his worn old Dodge Scamp.  It was a lot of fun, but the realization didn't hit me until we both stopped for gas a while later:  We were in Pisa and didn't see the Leaning Tower!

In life there are seldom do-overs.  What a bonehead.

The Monday Morning Report

I got a lot of overtime this last week.  I worked the equivalent of two extra days I think--I'm not sure.  For some reason I can't keep a grasp on the math.  Maybe I'm still in shock.  The inventory at work is long and tedious and we're still not done.  It will be a tasty paycheck this Friday.

My 365 Project blog is up and running--So far, so good.  I have only posted 4 days worth, but they are going well.  It's apparent that I don't select the best shots of my group of pictures (when there are enough to pick from) by gauging Suzie's reaction, but that's okay.  I've got 361 more tries to get it right.  I've only done an "artistic" shot one time so far, and that was my first post.

I felt so bad for Suzie yesterday.  Her portable greenhouse was blown over by the wind some time mid-morning.  The seedling tray was upside down and everything was messed up, but the seedlings seemed intact.  We got it picked back up and set it up a little better to keep the front legs (made from steel tubing) from sinking into the ground.  Around 7 o'clock in the evening we had a repeat.  Her frustration was apparent.  This time a few of them were damaged.  It's actually attached to the wall behind it now like we should have done to begin with.  The whole situation took me back to a time in my childhood when a similar thing happened:

I don't remember what grade of school I was in, but it was pretty early--Like maybe second grade.  Our class had all been carefully nurturing watermelon seeds in the classroom for several weeks.  They were all planted in cut-down pint milk cartons, all lined up on the window sill in class.  They were doing well, but as most kids would probably similarly recall, I'm sure mine was one of the best.  The anticipated date had arrived: Mother's Day.  I walked the 6 or 7 blocks back home that day, cradling it proudly in front of me.  I couldn't wait to see the look on my mom's face when I presented it to her!  I'm sure my mind was full of all kinds of thoughts of pride and anticipation.  I was only about 100 feet from home when I tripped and fell, spilling the perfect little seedling out of its little home and all over the ground.  I was devastated.  I went into the house, crying my eyes out.  Mom came out with me and lovingly gathered it all up from the ground where I had left it, doing her best to reassure me that it was okay.  If memory serves me, it did survive okay, but I just remember it as one of the worst memories of my childhood.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  From that experience, the memory flooded back to me again yesterday as Suzie and I scooped up her damaged plant babies.

Sarah and I spent the afternoon at my parents' house with the others of the Williams clan.  We had a good time and had plenty of good food.  I wandered around their back yard taking pictures at one point--Trying to capture some sort of their decorating quirkiness that I might be able to use on my 365 blog.  After I was done with the camera Sarah wandered around in their house with it.  She didn't bring hers, but was apparently wishing she had done so.  She expressed an interest in doing a 365 project of her own, but I cautioned her--Telling her that you practically have to think "picture" everywhere you go, and take your camera with you practically everywhere you go.  It's good to see her interest in it though.  Although she still has issues with camera settings, her pictures are much more appealing than mine are.

Back to work today, and most likely another overtime day.  Not so tomorrow though--I have an appointment at the Costco optometrist for an ocular upgrade.  It's long overdue.  My current glasses aren't very old, but the quality of them is horrible.  Lesson to anyone that has a Fred Meyer near you:  Don't buy glasses at Vista Optical.

Announcing: The New Blog

I'd like to announce my new blog: The Rix Pix 365 Photo Project.  Just what I needed--Another blog. (Sigh)

I don't know if this sort of thing is very new or not, but it's new to me.  It's recently come to my attention that there are quite a few people doing them.  What they are doing is taking a picture-a-day every day for a set amount of time--Usually a year.  They call them 365's, or 365 Projects, or 365-whatever.

Suzie recently joined up with a group of fellow Witnesses on Flickr that have the same focus, and their collective is called 365 Friends.  I have been helping her with interest as she wonders what to take a picture of each day, sometimes driving us somewhere specific to "see if it works" or not.  Sometimes it's almost bedtime and she utters a "Oh shoot, I don't have my picture-of-the-day yet."  Because of the way we are (photo geeks) there is almost always several pictures of something or another to draw from that were taken that day.  If not, out comes the camera and creativity takes over.

Well, I like blogging and I've done it for a while, so when the interest in doing a similar thing hit me (Call it copycat--Call it jealousy--I don't care) I immediately thought of hosting one within the Blogger website realm.  After all, Blogger is free, allows unlimited pictures, and full creativity.

You can find people's 365 sites anywhere.  Besides something basic like doing a web search of 365, you can search any photography site like Smugmug (our main pictures site), Flickr, or anything similar and you will find a plethora of hits.  Some are yawners, and some are eye-popping.

Some people that do 365's have rules and adhere to them, and some folks have an "anything goes" policy.  For example, some folks might not use any post-processing (cropping, brightening, etc), or might not allow this or that "type" of picture to me used.  I only have one rule:  The picture has to be taken that day.  Will I be able to stick to it?  I dunno.  Problems with that rule tend to arise when we might go somewhere on an awesome photo shoot and each of us takes a couple of hundred pictures.  Which one to use?  Inside you're screaming, "But I want to use more than just that one!"  Too bad--Post the rest on the regular pictures site.

My new site will be a photographic roller-coaster ride.  Some days will be boring and some days not.  Some days will be something moving and some days a still shot.  Some days might be a close-up macro, and others might be a far-off scenery shot.  You just never know.  Come to think of it--I don't either.  That's the fun and exciting aspect of it--I don't have 365 ideas tucked in my little pointy head.

So point your daily web visits to my new blog and follow along.  Don't forget to leave comments if you like or dislike.  I like reading them!