Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Over And Out

Left It Like I Found It

Kathy & I finished up and walked away from work this past Friday.  After 40 years – banking for me and accounting for her – we decided that our time was more valuable than making more money and that we were ready to move on.

I keep waiting for that “OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE?” moment, but so far I’m amazed at how right it feels.  Of course we’ve just come off what would ordinarily have been a 3-day weekend, so maybe it will seem more “real” today.  But then we leave for Italy in just 4 days so there won’t be a lot of time to sit around and think about it.  Perhaps when we return home.

Living The So-Called Dream

Sunrise over Swans Cove Pool, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Assateague Island, Virginia

There was a recent post on The Online Photographer titled “How to be a Professional Photographer” where Mike Johnston commented about how difficult it was to make a living as a professional photographer.  There were a number of comments both in support of his post as well as lamenting the difficulty of the profession.  There were also a few humorous comments.

The joke that I’ve always loved about being a professional photographer goes something like this: An amateur photographer is someone who has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs.  A professional photographer is someone whose spouse has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs.  Somehow that’s never worked for me – I couldn’t get the spousal support I needed to pursue my passion.  I’m kidding, of course!

Kirk Tuck chimed into the conversation with a thoughtful comment and a post on his own blog.  Most of Kirk’s post was his usual well-reasoned commentary.  He is a professional photographer with a lot to be proud of.  He has seemingly mastered the business side of the business while staying current with technology and changes in the marketplace.  His is a voice to pay attention to when it comes to operating a photography studio as a business.  The statement that got a little under my skin, however – probably because it is a bit of a sore subject for me – was when he said that “retirement is only for people who didn’t like their careers.”

Of course the publishing world is full of people writing about how everyone should be pursuing their passion/finding their North Star/determining the color of their parachute, etc., and that if they aren’t living their dream they need to (after buying the author’s particular book, of course) set off on their own path of self-discovery and do their own wonderful passion-inducing thing.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?  In my opinion, very few folks are fortunate enough to even figure out what they are passionate about, let alone have all the skills and (to a certain extent) good luck required to actually make a living from their work.  And that assumes they figure out what they are passionate about early enough in their life to actually do something about it!

The rest of us get jobs.  Even if it is banking or insurance or hospitality or something that isn’t terribly glamorous, hopefully our jobs provide enough of whatever kind of satisfaction we are looking for, pay enough to cover the rent and save with a little left over to spend on something fun.  If we’re really fortunate we are able to keep our jobs long enough to call it a career while saving and investing responsibly so that at some point we can walk away from work and do something – anything – else.  Not that our work sucks or that our careers have been a failure, it’s just that instead of “pursuing our passion” we found a good enough job that we were able to do long enough to finally be able to walk away.  That’s not failure, it’s a different kind of success!

Retirement is a subject I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and preparing for.  I’ve had a great career and am proud of what I’ve accomplished over 40 years in banking.  Even though I haven’t been “pursuing my passion” by someone’s arbitrary standards, I’m very happy with the direction things have taken and am looking forward to being able to explore the world with the person I love without the constraints and distractions of work.  And that is something I’m very passionate about!

Last day at work – for both me and Kathy – is May 25! 🙂

Means of Expression

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

It always interests me to see how people tend to refer to their equipment in more specific terms the newer or more expensive it is. I was reading a recent blog post that was commenting on the age-old (at least 10 years!) argument about whether phones were “real” cameras. Never mind the argument (which I think is silly), but the writer stated that “there are significant differences between my iPhone 8’s camera and my OM-D E-M5 Mark II, not to mention some newer full-frame cameras.” Well, no sheet, Sherlock!

The thought that went through my mind when I read that sentence was that, if he were shooting with a 3-generations old Android phone (like me) or a hopelessly obsolete mirrorless camera (like me) he might not have been so quick to mention his gear. Is that what is referred to as “humblebrag? As in, “I had a hard time finding a suitable parking place for my Porsche?” Anyway, my weird thought twists on this Saturday morning.

I hope everyone has enjoyable holiday week/weekend, whichever holiday (if any) they choose to be observing.

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

Cultural Awareness (or Lack Thereof)

Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina

One of the many advantages of not being a television watcher is that I don’t have to put up with all the commercials and mindless programming, including the so-called news.  One of the disadvantages of not being a television watcher is that I miss out on a lot of the sayings and expressions that come from both the commercials and the programs themselves.

Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina

Case in point – last week I sent an email to a co-worker about something good that had happened, and he replied, “dilly dilly.”  I was puzzled but figured if he wasn’t making some obscure reference to my name that it was probably something I missed from television.  I get pretty good at recognizing things like that. 😉

Charlotte Transit Lynx Light Rail at the Seventh Street Station in Charlotte, North Carolina

Just today I came across an article about a guy with Charlotte roots who had found recent fame by being the “dilly dilly” guy, and it turns out he is the actor that plays the king in a series of Budweiser commercials where he replies “dilly dilly” whenever someone brings him beer.  Little did I know, but “dilly dilly” is this year’s version of “WHASSSUP?” 🙂

The things I miss.  Sigh….

Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina

The photos – by the way – are more from 2012.  I took this during an outing with a digital point & shoot class I was teaching.  Although it appears I “cheated” and was using my then-new Canon 5D Mark III. 😉

Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina

Snow Day

Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door….

Today we’re having a pretty rare occurrence here in NC – a snow day!  I won’t get into all the hyperbole about how we’re a bunch of weather wimps that don’t know how to drive in the snow, because everyone else has that covered.  For me, I’m just glad I have a job  that allows me to stay home and watch it out the window.  There are few things more frustrating than having to make a decision about going to work.  Although one of them would be being at work and having to make a decision about when to leave!  Fortunately, Kathy & I both have computers that allow us to work from just about anywhere, and managers that are willing to let us.  We have about 5 inches of snow on the ground here, and although the road in front of our house was plowed earlier, it’s going to be dicey going for a few days.

I seldom feel inclined to get out and take pictures in the snow, although once it is finished and the sun comes back out, I might decide to get out for a walk.  I’ll admit to being a wimp when it comes to snow…why freeze my a$$ when I don’t have to! 🙂

To Be Like a Leaf

Fall colors along a trail in the Deep Creek area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City, North Carolina

One of my favorite things is to sit by a mountain stream, especially in the fall, and watch the leaves falling from the trees overhead then being swept downstream by the current.  Some leaves travel straight down the middle of the steam, tossed gently by the movement of the water.  Many more leaves get caught up in the pools and eddies on the side of the streams, staying there until the current changes then moves them along to the next obstacle.  Occasionally the leaves are swept over rocks and sometimes even swamped by a cascade.  The courses of these leaves are a metaphor for our own lives and represent how little control we have over whether we stick to the center of the stream or get caught up along the sides.  Mostly, I think they reflect how pointless it is to stress and obsess over things that we can’t do anything about and remind us to go with the flow.  One of the many reasons I love to spend time in nature.

Fall colors along a trail in the Deep Creek area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City, North Carolina
Fall colors along a trail in the Deep Creek area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City, North Carolina
Fall colors along a trail in the Deep Creek area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City, North Carolina
Juneywhank Falls in the Deep Creek area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City, North Carolina

Discretionary Spending

Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I just read an article talking about how a well-known shoe retailer missed analysts’ earnings estimates, blamed in part on a “slowdown in processing of tax refunds.”  I’m admittedly naive about how people choose to spend their money, but it seems to me that a tax refund shouldn’t have that much of an impact on shoe sales.  And if it does, would it be possible that people are spending too much money on shoes?

Revisiting some previously unprocessed photos from a year ago, just for fun.  Enjoy, and happy Friday.  TGIF! 🙂

Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Quitting LinkedIn

“If a LinkedIn account gets deleted in the forest and no one is around to see it, does anyone really care?”  with apologies to George Berkeley

Shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

I recently decided to close out my LinkedIn account.  Like I suspect a lot of folks did, I started on LinkedIn because it was supposed to be a professional networking site.  While it certainly has its devotees and I’m certain that for many people it is a critical part of their business day, I just never found it to be all that useful.  I was getting connection requests from people I don’t know who were just trying to sell me stuff, recommendations from people for skills that I probably have but don’t really care about promoting, and even after shutting off all the notifications, it was just something else I had to do.  And now, since I tend to be trying to minimize my distractions and obligations, it just seemed to be time.  I had planned to close it before the recent change in their terms of service and had already deleted most of my connections, but that email was the catalyst I needed to shut it down.

Light fixtures aboard Norwegian Epic

So I’m still on Facebook, although I rarely look at it and don’t share anything other than my blog posts.  I’m on Instagram but don’t post much and don’t have many followers or follow many people (by design).  I have a Twitter account but have never tweeted, although I think I might have liked or shared a thing or two.  Most importantly, the people who need to reach me know how. and those who matter the most to me are probably reading this blog.  Maybe all the way to the end! 😉

Norwegian Epic in Tortola, BVI

Computer Update

Sunset at the Yacht Basin – Southport, NC

This past weekend I took the final steps on my transition from OSX to Windows that I wrote about in my last post.  I had kept my two external hard drives in OSX format until I was certain that everything was working properly in Windows.  After a couple of weeks of confirmation I made the commitment, purchased the full version of GoodSync, and copied all my files to the newly-formatted-for-Windows external hard drives.

Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, NC

The computer transition came off without a hitch.  The machine is working well, actually better than it was before.  I hadn’t realized it, but my video card had not been working with Lightroom.  Now it is, and everything else seems to be happy and the machine is just plugging along.  Other than the obvious changes in menu choices and settings, it’s not been too hard of a change.

Norfolk Southern Maintenance Shop Building – New Bern, NC

The only problem I’ve had is not related to the computer.  I mentioned in my last post that my printer had not been working with my “Hackintosh” and that I was counting on the move to Windows to resolve that.  In fact, the switch did resolve the issue.  My computer loaded the drivers, found the printer and runs just fine.  My problem now is that the printer – which was already starting to run low on ink (at $900 a set!) – is now demanding a new print head, a $430 investment.  The printer has two such print heads and I replaced the other one about 2 years ago.  So I’ve decided that investing another $1,300+ in a printer that is 10+ years old and way too large for my current needs is not a wise use of funds.  I ordered a brand-new, smaller Canon printer from B&H for less than the cost of the print head  – before a $200 rebate – and will attempt to responsibly dispose of the old hulk.

Southport, NC

If anyone is interested in a “free” Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100 let me know, but act fast, this offer ends soon! 😉

Helen, Georgia