Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Cheaper Than Moving to Arizona

Sunset on the beach, Palmetto Dunes Oceanside Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Here in the southeast US, winter takes two forms.  The first is “the leaves are gone and it’s cold,” and the second is “OH !@#$%.” This coming weekend appears to be “OH !@#$%” and it isn’t even officially winter yet!  The forecast is calling for 8-12″ of snow and low temperatures in the 20s.  We’ll see, but it looks like the confidence is pretty high.  Yikes.

One of the things that Kathy & I have been talking about for this winter is what temperature to set the thermostat at.  Now that we’re home every day we don’t want to leave it set at 65 degrees like we did when we worked.  But we don’t want to keep it set too high, as we’d like to keep from blowing the gas bill out of the proverbial water.  So ‘what to do’ has been the question.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I have found myself somewhat more sensitive to the cold this year (yes, I know that it hasn’t gotten cold yet!).  While my philosophy has always been to make sure I am wearing adequate clothing before turning up the heat, I’ve been finding it necessary to resist turning it too high this year.

At one point I told Kathy – jokingly – that maybe we should think about moving to Arizona.  But at some point yesterday we decided that even if the gas bill doubled – which it won’t – it would still be cheaper than moving to Arizona!  Although I will admit to looking at cruises leaving this weekend to see if we could escape to the Caribbean!  But we opted to tough it out here at home, and turn up the thermostat if we need to.

Flooding in Venice

St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy

I was just corresponding with a friend about the recent flooding in Venice, Italy.  There had been some flooding in the spring but of course it was gone before we got there.  They had put up temporary elevated walkways in the spring but even those are under water now.  Glad we didn’t need to deal with that then!

I’ve attached a photo I pulled from the news and combined it with one of mine.  You can see the tops of the trash cans in the flood photo, but the tables and chairs are under water (assuming they didn’t take them in).

Word of the Day

John Hippley gardens and public park in Columbiana, Ohio

I was looking at the National Hurricane Center website this morning and saw a tropical disturbance in the gulf referred to as a “gyre.”  I’d not seen that term before so I had to look it up:

“In oceanography, a gyre is any large system of circulating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, determine the circulation patterns from the wind stress curl.”

Wow…science and vocabulary in one lesson!

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State Archives of Siena in the Piccolomini Palace in Siena, Italy

UPDATE 9/3/18: I either didn’t spell it out well enough or people aren’t reading what I wrote, but you actually have to sign up to get emails!  The link is on the left hand side of the page if you are on a computer or at the bottom of the page if you are on a mobile device.  A comment doesn’t do it.  I didn’t think it was that hard! 😉

As I’ve mentioned previously, stopped posting my blog to Facebook.  I’ve had several people who used to follow my blog from Facebook ask me how to be notified of new posts.  Many people use Feedly, The Old Reader or some other service, but many do not or don’t know how.  I finally got around to doing something about it and have added a “GET NOTIFIED OF NEW POSTS” section to the left side menu of my blog, just below the lists of My Links and My Photo Friends.

I won’t use your email for any nefarious purposes, but if you are interested in being notified of new posts instead of remembering to check, this is another way to do it!

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! 🙂