The Annual Weekend of Turkey & Shopping

This is probably the most varied weekend we have all year.  Potentially anyway.  For many people it's a long weekend because they (or their employer) chooses to take Friday off in addition to the Thanksgiving holiday.  At the very least, I see it as a 3-part weekend: Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, and the standard 2-day weekend making up the 3rd part.

Part One:  Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving was kind of an uneventful day really.  I enjoyed hanging around the house in my robe during the morning with Suzie as usual, with the crackling woodstove providing ambiance.  Sarah texted me at one point--pretty pumped about the fact that she would be able be at my parents' house with all the rest of us for the entire time this year.  Usually she works and has to show up late.  This year she did work, but it was a morning shift so she got off an hour before our family feast was due to start.

The family dinner went well.  As I've blogged so many times before, you never know what my dad is going to blow up about or what his general mood will be.  I only stifled him one time this year, and a minute later it was like nothing even happened.  We had a medium crowd.  In addition to myself, my parents, and Sarah, all three of my local siblings showed up.  Actually, they usually do, but we were wondering this year about Denis and Kim because they had announced an impending marital split.  We were surprised (well, I was anyway--I never hear anything gossipy) to see them show up together.  That's good!  Daughter Cassady even made it over from the other side of the state where she's attending WSU, arriving with her boyfriend, Aaron.  Denise and son Jesse (daughter Emma was in North Carolina with her Army fiance' this year) were there.  As usual, Jesse's fiance', Amy, spent it with her family.  We see her seldom, and when she does show up I never see her interact with the family.  Shy maybe?  Jackie showed up alone this time.  Unfortunately, Gary's mom passed away the day before.  She was a neat lady--I met her several times.  Finishing up the gathered family members was Jackie's daughter, Janie and her husband Aaron.  We had some good eats, some good drinks, and some good conversation.  The usual Williams wackiness just made sporadic appearances.  For example, the pictured wines above.

Part Two:  Black Friday

Black Friday was different this year.  It actually started on Thursday night.  I had been watching the "advance ads" online for a certain item and had it pretty much narrowed down and knew where I was going to have to be to get it, but wasn't thrilled about having to be in a madhouse crowd at midnight.  After careful consideration (or a moment of clarity), I opted to pay an additional 5 bucks for shipping and shopped from my computer chair.  I actually did that Thanksgiving morning.  Suzie opted to stop by Walmart on her way home from JW Meeting and soon realized the error of her ways when she had to park two blocks away from the edge of their parking lot.  After walking in the rain and wind, dodging drivers with their Black Friday blinders on (in other words, ignoring pedestrians), she finally got to the store only to find no indication that the item she was after ever existed to begin with.  Overall, it was a bad experience and she came home Thursday night feeling a little anger toward the whole "midnight madness" aspect of Black Friday, and rightly so.  It's a no-win situation unless you're willing to brave insult, injury, inconvenience, and mayhem--all for the sake of saving a few bucks.  Sarah, on the other hand, was totally pumped about it.  She is a working girl now and proud of it.  She has always enjoyed the camaraderie of going Black Friday shopping with her mom and her moms friend, Noelle.  This is the first year that I noticed she had a different outlook.  She had control, confidence, and was calling some of her own shots.  She's a real shopper now!  I found her choice of words interesting (I think it was yesterday) when I got a text from her saying that she had 'picked up a shift' at work that enabled her to pay for all  her shopping.  Working girl lingo.

Friday afternoon Suzie and I did some front yard work (trimming the dead and removing leaves) while the weather was nice, then groomed ourselves for a night at Kevin and Shirley's house for a giant meal.  It was a blast.  When I compare that meal to the meal at my folks' house the day before, there was one major difference:  Children.  With none at my parents' house the element of chaos is missing.  Not so at Kevin and Shirley's house!  It was filled with noise and fun like any good family get-together should be.  I had a great time.

Part Three:  The rest of the weekend

Hmm... Hard to blog about the rest of the weekend when it's still underway isn't it?  Let me just say that we had a pleasantly lazy day yesterday.  I think we were expecting a nasty weather day and planned nothing accordingly.  Imagine our surprise when the day actually turned out not too bad.  That prompted us to at least go out and run a few errands but that's about it.  One of those errands was the giant pizza we picked up at Papa Murphy's, so pizza, a new (and good) movie called Super 8, and hot-tubbing rounded out our Saturday.

Let's see what today brings!


I find sleep to be very annoying.  I don't mean sleeping itself--I love sleep.  In fact, I treasure a good slumber immensely because I get one so seldom.  What I'm talking about is the fact that we need sleep.  My ability to get a good night's sleep is subject to so many things.

First of all let me address the biggest problem:  The clock.  I don't think clocks are good for humans at all.  I'm not one that has a problem with clocks--I'm always conscious of the time and I'm very seldom late for anything.  Come to think of it, that may be the whole problem:  Too much subconscious worrying about what time it is.  Anyway, to me an optimal situation for humans would be if we slept whenever we were tired and awoke when we were finished recharging.  See, everybody is unique.  Some people may need to sleep 3 times during the day in the form of "cat naps" and others may need one serious, long, uninterrupted sleep.  Not everybody can sleep to a schedule but that's too bad--we have to.  If we weren't slaves to a clock we wouldn't need coffee to wake us up every morning would we?  It's all very annoying.  There are only so many hours in a day, and if you lose some of them that are allotted for sleep it will affect the rest of your day.

I don't sleep too well because I tend to be a light sleeper.  The slightest things wake me up sometimes. If something suddenly wakes me up I won't be able to get back to sleep.  Why?  Because I don't know what woke me up.  I lie there pondering it.  Was it a car?  A gunshot?  Did a tree fall on the house?  It can literally take me an hour to get back to sleep if that happens, and that's if I get back to sleep at all.  In most cases I'm awake until it's time for the stupid alarm to go off and tell me, "What are you doing already awake, stupid?  That's my job!"

I sleep with earplugs in most cases.  Why?  To minimize the chance I might be woke up by some sort of noise of course.  Because I go to bed at 9pm and Suzie wanders in at nearly midnight every night it minimizes the chance that she'll wake me up with some stupid little sound of some kind.  I hate sleeping with earplugs because I can't hear anything when I think I should be hearing things, and that doesn't help.  Sort of a catch-22.  If I wake up I want to know if it's raining, or the wind is blowing, or someone's house is on fire, or someone is trying to break into my car.  When I'm wearing earplugs and I wake up in the middle of the night I experience more confusion then I should because some of my sensory input is missing or skewed.  With earplugs my breathing even sounds different and is almost enhanced sometimes.

To add to my sleeping annoyance I go to sleep with a small bedroom lamp on.  No, I'm not afraid of the dark.  It's just that I have found it to be a lot less of a disturbance when Sue comes to bed if she turns the lamp off after she gets ready for bed than if she turns it on to get ready for bed.  It doesn't shine directly on me but does illuminate the room a little.  Would I rather go to sleep in the dark?  Of course.  When I do go to bed I'm usually plenty tired and have no trouble going to sleep.  There have been many times when I would wake up, open my eyes, wonder what woke me up, look at the clock and see it's just after midnight, assume it was Sue getting in bed that woke me up, then try to get back to sleep (yes, I know that's way to many commas for one sentence).  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.  There have been many nights when I only got 2-3 hours of sleep.

Obviously, I get my best sleep when I'm alone in my own bed, and in a dark, quiet room.  That's not exactly the way most people live though is it?  People might hear dogs barking, cars driving by, sirens, snoring, TVs blaring, neighbors partying, or any number of things, plus we are subject to bed movements our sleep partners make throughout the night.  There is really no way that I know of that I can increase my sleep hours without resorting to drugs to help me, and I don't like that idea.

I think--all combined--I may have gotten almost 5 hours of sleep last night, so it was one of my better nights.

It was a windy night (I'm assuming all night because that's what the weather report said, and it was starting to kick up a little before bed).  I woke up and would almost get back to sleep multiple times.  Each time I was almost there something would wake me back up.  I would keep seeing outside yard lights come on (motion sensors:  Love 'em or hate 'em), and each time they did I would lie there and wonder what turned them on.  It was about 2:30 this morning when I heard a thud against the house.  I was already awake so there was no mistaking that there was a sound.  I pulled out my earplugs and lay there listening and pondering.  It sounded like a bang of the gate slamming shut but I didn't hear much wind.  After a few minutes with it eating at me, it was apparent that I was not going back to sleep.  I got up at 3 and went outside to investigate.  It was warm outside and the wind was blowing, but not too bad.  It would rise and fall--sometimes blowing hard way up at the tallest treetops, and other times swirling down at yard level.  The bushes were what was turning the motion-sensor lights off and on every 10 minutes because they were being whipped by the wind.  I saw a good-sized branch hanging off the edge of the roof and figured that must have been the bang I heard.

By this time it was 3:15, and I usually get up at 3:30.  With a sigh, I figured I'd better go ahead and get my coffee and lunch sandwich made before the power goes out.

Sleep:  I love it when it works... but I hate it because I need it.

Seeing Scents

Sometimes I wonder about the strangest stuff.  This time I'm going to wonder about what we see.  Or could possibly see.

Take our olfactory senses for example.

Isn't it funny how our sense of smell works?  There must be billions of different smells that our brain interprets, but we can't see the interesting scents, uncomfortable odors, delicious smells, or sensual fragrances.  We know that they exist though because we can smell them.  Wait... What?  What are we actually smelling?

Imagine if we actually could see smells.  What would they look like?  I have thought about that several times over the years.  My perception is as if every scent had its own hue.  Like we existed in a swirling, kaleidoscopic, multicolored overdose of flowing color.  No wait--not swirling... more like flowing.  Kind of like the picture on the right (click it for a full-sized overdose).  Imagine... You look over at the food cooking on the stove and see hues of various colors emanating from the pots there.  Maybe the smell of asparagus has a dark, earthy tone.  Maybe the kettle of homemade soup has a multitude of colors leaking out from beneath the lid, each showing a hint of the ingredients within.  Maybe there is a light blue wafting from the oven where a pie is baking.

Imagine being able to spot a bad smell before it presented a danger to your nose!  You might see the noxious cloud of yellows and reds that suddenly began spewing forth from that train car parked along that siding near the highway.  No danger of being surprised by something that would make you sick if you breathed its vapors.  Nobody would ever again wonder who passed gas in that crowded room or elevator because the flow of color would be a dead giveaway.

Some people can actually smell color, see smells, and various intertwining of sensory input.  They're the people with a condition (talent?) called synesthesia.  I think to spend a day with something like this would be fascinating.

I wonder sometimes about fruit flies.  I think they have a talent like I'm describing.  It's almost as if they can see a certain color of something from all the way across a room, at which time they come flying over to where you're sitting and trying to eat your sandwich in peace and quiet.

I know there is no way we will ever be able to perceive such a thing.  Only the free thinkers of the world can "see" things that are intangible like this, and when they do everybody else just rolls their eyes (which you may have done already while you are reading this).  Most people dismiss anything they can't see, feel, taste, or touch as non-existent.  We're used to "seeing" air that is transparent.

What if we awoke one morning to find that our eyes had suddenly become sensitive to the infrared light spectrum?  We would be able to see things portrayed as various colors depending on their levels of hot and cold.  Imagine:  Everything would have a different color depending on its temperature.

You know what I think?  I think these things that I have described do exist.  They may exist in another species, be it insect, mammal, bird, or reptile.  Chances are we will never know.  We have no way to see through another creature's eyes and interpret what their brain interprets.


If you ask me, I don't think we humans could handle such a sensory input as infrared light perception or visible scent waves.  Our brains are too primitive.  Sure, we think we're smart, but we are barely able to handle the limited inputs we already have.

Still, it's fun to think about.

Grumbling about Crumbling

Every now and then I lapse into a crotchety old man line of thinking that goes something like, "I can't believe how much things have changed in my lifetime.  At the rate we're going our country is going to be history." Well, it occurred to me recently that really--a lot has already changed in our country in a short amount of time.  I was trying to think of different times of our past when something important in our history was taking place.  Then I decided that all of our country's history had things that were important taking place in it.  Our country seems to be in a constant state of flux--continually trying to "find" itself.  Or change itself.  Or reinvent some facet of itself.  We're never satisfied.

As odd as it sounds when I type it, I have already been alive for a pretty good chunk of time (percentage-wise) of the total of the age of the U.S.  For example, I've been alive during terms of 11 of our presidents.  Another interesting way of looking at things is if you break the country into 50-year blocks.  Imagine how much change has taken place in any single one of those 50-year blocks.  Maybe things changed a lot slower early on in the history of our country--maybe not--but it seems that the more people, industry, technology, media--the more anything you add into the mix--the faster the rate of acceleration of change.  Basically, the more ammo we have, the greater the chance that we're going to use it to affect our lives.  Or shoot ourselves in the foot.

When did people start to grow concerned with how fast things were growing and changing in their new country?  50 years into it?  100 years? 150 years?  Given that practically everyone that came to this country came from places much worse off they may not have felt that way at all--who knows.  I wonder sometimes.  I'm sure there must have been some kind of roller-coaster ride going on ever since we founded (stole?) this country in the first place.  You know--good times, bad times, growth times, war times.  Partying & prosperity, drought and famine.  I think we're just more connected with everything that is going on nowadays.

That may or may not be a good thing.

I get the impression now that our country has changed too fast and it has contributed to an increased amount of unrest.  People seem to have stopped trying to figure out what they need to do to grow as a person or what they need to do to succeed in life.  People seem to be focusing less and less on personal growth and more and more on holding their hands out.  Our priorities seem to have shifted a lot.  Do people really need to pay upwards of $100 a month for a phone?  Of course, they're not phones any more--now they're complete portable lifestyle assistants.  Still, society has seemingly forced that expense onto people that can't necessarily afford it.  They can't afford them and yet they still have them.  People that can't afford cars and yet they still have them.  They can't afford insurance for their cars and yet they still drive them.  They can't afford the cable bills they pay every month for their television and movies, but yet they can't live without them. It's a 'keeping up with the Joneses' kind of thing.  These days it's not about what you've accomplished in life--It's about how good you look while you're alive.  Borrow money you can't pay back so you can put that $3000 set of wheels on your already-financed car.  You'll look good.  If you can't pay for all of it just declare bankruptcy and start over.

In some cases, the companies have priced us into our corner of spending our money on things we don't need.  Buy "eliminating support" for a tried & true technology or product, they force people to have to upgrade to continue using the product.  Remember analog?  All cell phones used to be analog.  But if we wanted to continue using our cell phones (which itself was a massive money spree) we had to dump our perfectly-operating phones and upgrade to digital versions.  Same with televisions.  All television signals used to be analog, but they forced us to upgrade our televisions even though they worked fine.  Don't get me wrong--all of these things came with new features and things, but to force the whole country to upgrade was ridiculous.  Lots of people couldn't afford those upgrades but had to do them if they wanted to stay in the mainstream.

Lots of our recent behavioral changes are a direct result of the computers we have all adopted.  You hardly ever see anyone physically look for a job any more.  If there's not one listed on the computer, it's not there.  No job exists.  Considering that hardly 25 years ago you had to actually convince someone that a computer was a useful item to own.

So I wonder about our direction.  Are we on a path of self-destruction?

Finding Washington... One Scenic Drive at a Time

Who knew?  I have lived here pretty much my whole life, and still I find out things about this state that I didn't know.  Things I have never seen before, places I have never been, and stuff I didn't know existed.

Saturday Suzie and I hit the road in the fabulously-worn (but intrepid) Neon for yet another session in weekend photography.  It was a beautiful day.  Sunny for the most part, with blue skies and fluffy clouds.  This time our destination was the lower left corner of our state.

Who knew there was actually a covered bridge in our state?  Well there is, and we found it.  There might be more than one covered bridge (I'm not sure about that), but apparently there is only one you can actually drive through.  In other words, maybe it's the only one still standing.

It wasn't much to look at.  On the outside it was stark and bland-looking, and the inside looked like it was just built, but hey--it's a covered bridge and it's new to us.

We found ourselves at two lighthouses we had previously never visited, both of which you could walk right up to: Cape Disappointment, and North Head.  The two of them were conveniently only a few miles from each other too.  The first one (Cape Disappointment) was about a half mile hike from the parking area.

As we cruised the parking area we were assailed by signs we had seen many times before at other places we've stopped at during our excursions:  Signs that portrayed the evil possibility of a $99 fine for people that failed to display a Discover Pass in their car window.  In the past we had just parked outside the parking lots like so many other people, but at this one that was not really an option.  We opted to buy the pass this time.  We planned on just springing for a $10 one-day pass, but opted to go ahead and buy the year-long one for $30 instead.  I hate submitting to the rules of the governing bodies, but I have to admit--it makes you more relaxed (almost cocky?) doing it this way.  Anyway, back to the lighthouses.

The Cape Disappointment lighthouse was in very nice shape.  It was your perfect, stereotypical lighthouse that you see everywhere in books and magazines, complete with thick paint, worn concrete, and streaks of rust.  There were several others out on this beautiful day enjoying it too.  After all, it was a nice view of the ocean from up there!  On our way back to the parking lot we detoured down a different path--one that took us to the fancy-looking building we could see from the lighthouse (it was on a different bluff), called the Interpretive Center.  After we gave it a quick once over (it was closed so we couldn't go in) we noticed come old concrete structure low and behind it.  Our investigation revealed that we had walked right into the ruins of Fort Canby!  As close as it was to the Interpretive Center, I thought it was just more of the same building--like a basement.  It was very cool and I'm glad we didn't miss it.

After leaving the parking lot we headed down the road to find a beach spot to catch the sunset.  We had pretty much stopped thinking about lighthouses already when we came upon a small sign that said North Head Lighthouse on it.  Naturally, I took the hard left up the road, and again we found the signs reading Discovery Pass required.  Ha, we were covered!  No back-tracking to the nearby store to buy one this time.  The North Head lighthouse was almost the spitting image of the other one, but was perched in a much more interesting spot in my opinion.  It had that remote, lofty, lighthouse-look to it.  We were surprised to see a lady from our age group sitting on a bench above it playing a guitar too.  Photo op!  Alas, I didn't get a good one of her though.  The light was waning fast, so we got some nice, warm tones.  Good light for shooting lighthouses.

We made it to the beach in the little town of Seaview barely in time to catch the sun as it dipped below the horizon.  We had our Subway sandwich dinners while we watched the waves and seagulls from our car before hitting the road for our long return trip.  We did manage to snag some real nice, moody shots of sunset reflected off the surrounding swampy lands as we drove on.  It was a great finish to a day of exploration.