THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Knot today

My mind feels like it’s been tied in a knot recently. There are a few things weighing heavily on me that change my thought patterns pretty drastically. I find it more difficult to concentrate when in this mindset. I’ve got to get back to compartmentalizing stuff.

I’ve grown better at doing that. I’ve managed to compartmentalize the job after decades of struggle to get a balance. And balance is what I need to get back to. That is the best way to help myself so I can help others.

Fit to be tied. Photo by Mike Hartley

So tomorrow I think I’ll clear my head and take some pictures. A good way to unwind.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Are you ever so happy for someone else that you’re giddy?
  • There are few better reactions than a pet and owner being together again after a few days apart.
  • I want to become a chef. But only cook for people that would appreciate it.
  • I’m searching for the photo I take that causes me to say, “that’s hard to top” but then get to work topping it again.
  • This is going to be a particularly successful year.

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Sundays are getting better

I used to dread Sunday evenings. It’s the start of the workweek for me and the stress I used to have was bad. The long drive and leaving home on a weekend signaled the start of not seeing much of my better half or friends or family. But a few years ago we went remote and my job became much more manageable.

Taking out two and a half hours of road time a day really made the job possible again. After driving to D.C. for over two decades and then having the ability to do my job from home, made the thought of going back to a job at an office out of the realm of possibility. Not that I wouldn’t have done what was needed at the time but at this stage, no thanks. Unless that office is within a few miles of the house and I’d still need a few work-from-home days.

Life is too precious to sit in traffic at this age unless I’m going to the beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

If I go part-time before I retire Sunday nights will probably be one of the nights I’ll drop first. Too many things happen on Sunday to sleep during the day and then having to stay up all night is a nasty start to the week. But I’ve managed to turn things around a bit on Sundays making them more productive than in the past. As a wise friend would say often, “make it work for you.”

This week is a special one with the start of spring. It’s also a very important birthday week and I hope to make it a good one for the best daughter a father could wish for. I could never reward her enough for the happiness she has given me. But I’ll give it a good shot this week.

Did you say treat? Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope you all have a wonderful start to the week.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Down to the last few games of the weekend. There is a good chance when I go to bed later tomorrow morning that I’ll be hearing a basketball bouncing and a ref’s whistle.
  • Pat on the back for a good cheesesteak sub this evening.
  • I think I’m behind on my charitable giving so I better get busy this week.
  • The Nikon comes out of its temporary retirement tomorrow.

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My days always begin with a lot of hope. As the day goes on some hopes fail, others are born, some come true and others are put on hold. So far one hope always has come true. That I make it through the day to see another one. As I’ve aged I find I have hopes I didn’t even dream about when I was younger. I didn’t act on many hopes at a younger age and now I’m finally getting started on some of those hopes.

I remember the hope I had when I finished walking through these doors. That I wouldn’t have to spend any more time, fighting cancer. Photo by Mike Hartley

I find most of my hopes and dreams are mainly with my children and grandchildren. For their health and happiness. They are the smiles and warm thoughts that fuel my love of life. They make us so happy.

Sometimes though hope is tested. Especially around the time of my semi-annual cancer screen. It’s like going to the casino and making a big bet I guess. The trouble is you don’t even get to choose red or black. But that is out of my control so on with the test and results.

The trick is to work and focus on those positive hopes. Every chance you get work on something that is important to you. Fill in those minutes between other obligations. Fill the time feeling positive about how good you feel now and take advantage of it.

I spent some time today loving some 4 legged friends. I love my son’s dogs when they visit. They are precious.

Helping a friend sleep. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hate when I pass on what I was sick with to my better half.
  • Felt good to get the printer going again.
  • When you go out expecting a dead battery and it turns over it’s like Christmas.
  • I’m so ready for an upset by Maryland over Alabama.
  • Tomorrow may be the last gasp of the winter season.

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Watching all these close college basketball games and upsets is draining. Or is it the 12 + hours of basketball each day that has been on for the last two? 32 games by the end of tonight. I love it. I’m also exhausted. And so is my partner today. She is going to skip the last 4 games of the evening and rest up for tomorrow.

I’ll stay up hoping for another nail-biter ending to one or more of the late games. Watching dreams come true and hearts broken in the same instant of time. This is reality TV. Not all that planned stuff.

Rest Photo by Mike Hartley

Yesterday was a beautiful day. One spent with best and oldest friends. Doing one of our annual traditions, March Madness. Many words of appreciation were shared. We worked like a well-oiled team in food and fun prep and execution. But at several toasts throughout the day, friends that had passed were remembered, family members were remembered, and appreciation for our time shared together was genuinely felt deeply by all of us.

Relationships in that room went back 4,5 and 6 decades. Those are special. So was the confusion with names. In the small group, we had 3 Marks, 2 Mikes, and 2 Kims.

All I can add is, what a party it was. And we begin again tomorrow – GO TERPS.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Finally tried the Popeyes spicy chicken sandwich. Pretty good.
  • As usual, I picked the wrong upsets in the basketball pool.
  • Whoever invented the heated recliner has my seal of approval.
  • It’s been a four-legged friend’s day today.

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You bet

I’m betting it’s going to be another great tournament. So much parity anyone can beat anyone. Drama, friends, food, fun, and then around 12:30 or 1 am when that last game of 16 on the first day comes to an end, I will sleep very sound and rise again for the next day’s Madness.

Also, I mean, that you bet like crazy this year on the Madness and some are going to lose their shirts. For me, it’s the time of year that I play an office pool. Maybe 10 or 20 dollars max. I see more is being bet legally this year than illegally. Or so says some news poll. How does anyone know what the illegal bet really is? I’m guessing what remains of organized crime isn’t really giving the Government its books just for comparison.

Go TERPS! Photo by Mike Hartley

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Writing on the wall

I write on the walls with pictures. Looking at the wall behind me I have probably over 100 images from a beloved building we worked in for decades that was sold and was to be torn down. In those last days, people took to writing on the walls, leaving messages that captured the meaning and times of the building and what was done there.

I wish I had taken the time to capture each one. I was just going around snapping a few memories of what once was a bustling place of thousands. And now it’s just a memory. But those pictures I have arranged to make into something else are ones of many writing on the walls. No longer dust in a landfill, they have life. Now if I can just decide on what I want to make with them.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve seen a lot of industries that have had writing on the walls and then they are gone. Like the Newseum below, gone from our collective history. I’m so glad I got a chance to go there before it closed.

Wall of front pages on 9/11/2001 at the now-closed Newseum. Photo by Mike Hartley

The writing on the wall is there for all of us eventually. But I’m still alive and kicking and I’ll keep cranking out what I can to fill my walls and others. This reminds me, I have to find a place with old office partitions for sale that I can use to display some of my work. I’m pretty sure I’m exceeding the usable wall space already.

That won’t stop me from printing. I just fired it up so let me get some production in progress. Be well all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m about to overdose on College Basketball this weekend.
  • Momentos make me smile.
  • Worry can be disabling emotion.
  • Time to eat well for a few days.

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Fingers crossed

Whenever I hear forecasts with very gusty winds predicted I worry about power. It has gone out a few times but so far so good tonight. So I figured I’d do a post now before my luck runs out.

Creative Maintenance – I’ve really got a significant number of things diagrammed because the ideas were flowing the last few days. Sometimes it’s good to just stop the work and sit back and imagine or relook at some old ideas and refine them or have them spur an entirely new thought.

Now, this is nice work. Photo by Mike Hartley

Office Maintenance – I Found 2, pen and ink illustrations of the San Francisco icons (the Golden Gate Bridge and a Streetcar). I believe my mother purchased these when visiting 5-6 decades ago. As I was ready to put some old sets of photos away I saw 2 sets of my framed photos of San Francisco from a visit I made in the mid-90s. So I hung them by the back door in a vertical alternating stack.

Organized my print area of inks and various papers and hung a gift my daughter got me a while back. I also have a goal of being able to see the wood on the desktop before the stroke of midnight.

Mental Maintenance – Despite an insane schedule, sleep is becoming a priority. Going for a minimum of 6 hours. And if I can sneak in a cat nap or two that would be great.

Looking for fun. Making time for fun. Not sacrificing fun time.

Body Maintenance – The next few weeks will be a call to arms. And legs and back and shoulders because it’s going to be spring and over an acre of property needs maintenance. It’s always a great workout for me against mother nature for a good 8-9 months of the year.

But first off to the dentist and doctors in the coming weeks.

Car Maintenance – It’s time for a little TLC for the go-cart. Always good to get it in peak mechanical condition before the cruising season. I took the cover off it with the prediction of some 50 mph wind gust today/tomorrow. It does tie down well but that is pretty stout winds and I don’t want tears in it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hats off to the power company linemen during these storms.
  • I have a fear of looking too organized.
  • The sound of strong winds is intimidating.
  • I love taking pictures but I just don’t understand selfies.

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Look inward

Looked outward today and saw grey. So I looked inward for some light and yellow it is. I love the yellows in a sunrise. I smile when I see the yellow school bus pick up the neighborhood kids. Even the yellow of the pollen, that covers everything in the spring is beautiful.

My spirit today is bright like yellow. Not the most productive day in my hobbies but some progress is better than none. The full-time job really gets in the way of things sometimes.

Crap, that title “Look inward” reminds me I’m off to the dentist next week and then the doctor’s in April. You would have thought with all the looking they have done already that I wouldn’t need anymore.

Yellow, how are you today? Photo by Mike Hartley

Home Improvements – A new porch light in front and back and a new ceiling fan in our family room. Life is good. Next some landscaping and trees down in the lower back removed. And then some minor masonry repairs. If it warms up this March I’ll paint the back doorframe and front porch.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Cold and windy, are two things I didn’t need to hear in the weather report.
  • I think birthdays come around faster as you age because you can’t remember the time in between as well.
  • There are so many topics I haven’t touched on yet.
  • Too bad people aren’t as good at expressing love with their eyes as animals are.
  • If you don’t think to yourself at least once a day, that there’s so much you don’t know, then you aren’t thinking.

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So what can I do to make this a successful week? I got a little bit of a start yesterday when I got a new set of brushes to see if I can paint. And I picked up a few pieces of wood for some carving experience. I didn’t get out to shoot this morning before it clouded up outside so maybe I’ll do a few studio setups.

Airplanes are no different than the highway. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today was also productive doing some prep in the workroom and some more prints made for my 15th Street project. I spent some time planning, which I hope shows some results in the future in helping a loved one plan for their senior years. Would I be better served spending time on my own, probably? Would I have been more refreshed if I relaxed or played instead of doing that, probably? But I must try and hopefully succeed because they are loved.

I’d love to plan a trip soon but that isn’t in the cards. We are booked solid for several weeks. But the time will come when we can break away for a day or two or three. Maybe one of these days we will have the time to board a plane and visit something a ways away from home. In the meantime, a local trip will do.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love seeing birds return in the spring.
  • Who reversed February and March on the calendar in regard to the weather?
  • It feels great to feel good.
  • I get so far behind on phone technology because I grew up using something till it gave out.
  • I see Mike Pence is trying to grow a pair by speaking up now. Too little and way too late.

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Sit back Saturday

Wow, to feel human again is a treat after a few weeks of less-than-good health. Last night I saw one of my best friends for the first time in a while. A very special evening ensued even though our home team didn’t pull off the victory it was a great time. Today I ventured out with my better half and did some shopping and had a meal out.

And in the opposite vein of that horror movie where the girl says “I see dead people” – I saw a bunch of live people. Yep, they were still out there. It feels damn good to be walking among them again.

Who said there isn’t light under a bridge? Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I’ve been reflecting on all the simple things I take for granted. And while I normally have a great appreciation for life it is good to reflect and feel lucky to be able to get back to my personal projects which suffered badly. I could barely get through the job that pays the bills let alone one thing more.

I feel my creative senses returning. I’m smiling again instead of coughing between typing each word. And while my energy levels are still down I’m pressing forward with some simple things and soon I’ll be up to speed again. But I need to be more than up to speed, I need to get a better health plan going so it doesn’t take so long to recover when I do pick up something.

Running away from the office. Photo by Mike Hartley

That has me thinking I need to make much better use of that piece of equipment next to my desk referred to as a treadmill. The two of us will become fast friends shortly and like this daily habit of posting, I will be putting some laps on that device.

Eating better will be a tougher challenge but the mindset for health is more focused now. I even got the mixed veggies today while we were out as one of my sides.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m heading out at daybreak tomorrow despite the loss of an hour’s of sleep tonight. I need to see if the shutters still work on the cameras.
  • Hat’s off to the inventor of flannel sheets.
  • I haven’t begun to watch basketball yet this month. The Conference tournaments are just a tune-up for the real thing. And I’ve watched so much already that when I turn the TV off at the end of the evening there is still a basketball bouncing on the screen.
  • We don’t do chain restaurants often because we like supporting the local places but we did Outback in Long Gate today and it was great. Plus if memory serves me right I think I remember them helping out Ellicott City after the floods with food for people so I’m granting ourselves an exemption.

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The Madness

I enjoy college basketball, my favorite sport, and my favorite team in all of sports. But March is what makes it unique along with a short season. Regular season games have more importance along the way. The tournament is a win-a-game and advance, or go home, so there is a much more heightened drama and importance of each contest.

It’s played by young people roughly the same age and experience levels. Fans are more into it than pro sports. There is more parity in these contests than in pro sports. The coverage of the month of March is incredible and catches the pure emotion of the players, coaches, and fans.

One of the highlights of attending the U of MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s also a time of year my best friends gather and we put on some grand spreads together with day/night long parties. So to all those watching all the Conference Tournaments this week and getting ready for the Big Dance, it’s time to turn it up.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The good thing about grandchildren is you remember the fun you had with old toys when playing with them.
  • Everything is good with my headphones on and my favorite tunes rocking me out. It makes it easier to forget the unpleasant crap.
  • I should have taken up drums.
  • I pleased one person today and that was my granddaughter so that is all that matters.
  • I’m a big fan of what the Baltimore Banner is doing so far. Might give them a hand when I retire.
  • Things don’t always work out for the best and that is just life.

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I spend a fair amount of time on the computer because that is my job. So I do a bit of prusing the airwaves when I take a break and find out what is happening in my community and the world. Thank goodness my real life experience with people is a lot more positive than what I see online.

The hostilitiy level and intolerance for each other seems to be going in one direction and that is down. I used to enjoy debating with people but that is out the window anymore, to the point where I avoid it and keep my beliefs to myself or only those closest to me.

Find your happy spot. Photo by Mike Hartley

So most days I’m just looking to finding that happy spot. From simple things like keeping off the main roads when possible and not traveling at peak times and just being as nice as I can and avoiding negative encounters when out of the vehicle. Listening and not engaging people who share a drastically different opinion or view. And in some cases just avoiding some people who I know have wildly differnt views of reality.

At this age I have all the friends I need and my family continues to grow and be very close. So those sweet spots with them and at home are all I need. Well the occasional trip to the beach of course and my life is complete.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel like this has been a lost week of opportunities.
  • I consider myself one of the luckiest parents and grandparents alive.
  • I like being committed to things. Then again some think I should be committed.
  • Way to go Maryland TERPS. Onto the next round.

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I see it’s International Womens Day so I’ll start off honoring my Mother, my Wife, my Daughter and Daughter in law, my Sister, and my Granddaughter. All very special women who face many challenges and still come out on top. And of course the great number of Women who are also friends and those I’ve worked with over the years.

I can never thank my Mom enough.

It’s kind of interesting that for probably about half of my career I’ve had women bosses in a very male-dominated business. I can clearly say that I’ve had much more support from women managers than from male ones, not all but a majority.

I’ve seen women experience many things men don’t have to deal with at the job. Which even increases my respect for them even more. Because most have risen above it.

Wouldn’t it be a great day when we are judged as individuals instead of by gender, race, or ethnicity?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Trapped between a rock in a hard place. That’s ok, I’m familiar with a jackhammer.
  • Soon comes the day when I stop marching to others’ expectations.
  • If we took proper care of ourselves we wouldn’t need a pill for everything.
  • And just a suggestion, before you take a pill for something it might be a good idea to see if the side effects are worse than what you are trying to cure.
  • I’m starting to feel human again so maybe some new shots are on the way.

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The light

The fog in my head is starting to clear. I can see the light again. It’s a bit away but I’m going in the right direction. Speaking of light I’m supposed to avoid sunlight exposure due to some of the meds I’m on. But you know when you are under the weather and have been inside for a bit that cabin fever starts working and the desire to get outside is overwhelming.

Thankfully it’s a bit cool outside the rest of the week so covering up won’t be an issue.

Catching the morning rays. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is also a really nice light out this evening with a full moon present. One of my favorite things to look at on warm summer nights.

I saw a thread about people complaining about all the trash on our local highways/roads. As usual lots of people blamed the government. Well, it’s not the government throwing the trash out of the car/truck windows, is it? It’s the ones who don’t give a crap and are lazy and entitled, arrogant and selfish a-holes who should have their asses kicked.

OK maybe that is a little harsh for the first offense, so maybe see how they should spend a day or their weekends picking it up. But the increasing entitlement of people is out of control.

We don’t have enough police to do the important part of that job and there is no way they should be doing litter police unless it’s happening in front of them. It’s up to us to correct this and many other problems our society faces. I love the videos of people caught dumping trash and then someone picks it up and returns it to them through their car window. Of course with so many people armed I wouldn’t encourage that. But yes it is Karma.

Maybe instead of everyone doing dozens of selfies a day maybe point the camera at the offenders and let’s start to shame these people publically. Then again the entitlement they have they have no shame but it does get it on the record for the law to act or not.

I think I’ll get out and help with the cleanup effort when it warms up. Maybe I can catch a few offenders on video myself.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The trick this week is to progress slowly and not land flat on my back again.
  • Happy birthday to a very special loved one.
  • Tomorrow I pick up the cameras again if I have the strength.
  • Just because you have all the money in the world doesn’t mean you can’t be a twit and asshole rolled into one. And just to be clear a twit is a foolish or annoying person. Have a great day E.M.
  • And while we’re on the subject of a-holes, how could I bypass Tucker and Kevin? For the love of money and power, they do their bidding.

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The passing of Gary Rossington gave me great pause last night. Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of my favorite bands of all time. And the memories it gave me with my close friends during the 70s came flooding back. With all the original members now deceased it’s very strange.

For those of you not familiar with the group and having trouble with the band’s name they made it clear on their first album – (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)

Gone but won’t be forgotten by many. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s reminding me of how old we have gotten and how precious all those past days were and how important all future days are. As I’ve sat here listening to some of my favorites Simple Man, Freebird, and Working for MCA it makes the hair on my neck stand up still. This is a band of stories. Experienced and observed ones sang with passion and played with their hearts.

I loved their cover of J.J. Cale song Call Me the Breeze. I remember the live album, On More From the Road coming out and becoming our group marching music. I still throw this one in the car cd player on my trips to the beach when I go alone.

Everyone has those times when they can remember the exact moment when news of tragedies hit their idols. I was working my first newspaper job when the news came of the plane crash in 77, I can almost relive that crushed feeling I had that night. I saw them before the crash but was never interested in the redone lineup. It just wasn’t the same without those important members who perished.

They are all playing again in Hell House. Kind of fitting it’s just about a full moon tonight. They are shining bright in the sky as always. Thank you to all the members who gave me an important soundtrack for life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is better with friends.
  • March Madness is upon us. My favorite sports month of the year. Well, that and the final four in early April.
  • The Revenge tour is underway I see from the film at CPAC. I thought the President was supposed to represent all US Citizens, not to make war against more than half the population. He and Putin have a lot in common. No wonder they like each other so much.
  • Things change because time changes

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Which Direction

I’m not sure what direction I want to go. My head is starting to clear a bit from the fog of being sick. I feel the urge to get the creative juices flowing again so when I’m 100% I’ll have a few things started. I did a little video work yesterday. I’ve been drawing with my granddaughter and while very rusty I’m starting to enjoy that again. I think I’ll get the pastels out instead of the crayons and markers and see what I can do.

Which Direction to choose today? Photo by Mike Hartley

My tolerance level is decreasing by the day with the increasing number of idiots on the road. Almost got hit head-on today by someone crossing the center line on a two-lane road with no shoulders. We might as well start calling it Deathrace 2023.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We have not learned from history. Greed and arrogance and selfishness are killing the U.S.
  • I’ve reduced my screen time again on that smartphone. And life gets better.
  • I feel this week is going to be far more productive.
  • I hate it when my cough kicks it up a few notches. I sense a sore chest tomorrow.
  • The prediction of those strong gusty winds was overblown this weekend.
  • I was looking for a break but apparently, March doesn’t have one.

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I’m trying to keep up. Professional and personal obligations while feeling well less than 100%. And for the most part, I do but it’s taking a toll and I think I’m going to need to take a break from both for a bit and just concentrate on my health for a change of pace.

I know lots of people that prioritize many other things over health and I may be one of them but at this age, it’s not a wise move and I need to change my mindset before it causes more issues. I’ve lost count of the number of days I’ve worked sick in my lifetime, it’s well into the hundreds.

Round and round we go. Photo by Mike Hartley

And by sick, I’m not talking about minor issues but working with real full-blown issues. I put in two days this past week that I should have taken sick time but I was working alone so there was no backup. Yeah, I know, that isn’t my problem but I’ve had this strange dedication to the job that is a bit warped.

So if I’m not better this week I’m going to take a day or two. I need to kick this infection or whatever is that has me very weak. Sort of like the empty ferris wheel above. It might go round and round but it lacking something. People enjoying it are missing and while I’m going round and round I’m not able to enjoy it as much as if I had my health.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A child’s joy is infectious.
  • Those predicted winds were a lot less in reality. And I have no problem with that.
  • Sleep is good for healing. Now if I can just sleep for more than a few hours at a time I might get better.
  • The more I see and hear things associated with pro sports the less interested in them I am. Especially the gambling links now where money has overridden ethics.

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Bending but not breaking

I feel a little like this garage today, I’m not breaking, just bending. I couldn’t keep up with a four-year-old. I feel like I could pass out as soon as I get horizontal.

There was a breeze today but that wasn’t what bent those walls. Photo by Mike Hartley

Political crap in this section.

The Gov of Florida wants bloggers in his state to register if they write about the Government. It’s entertaining watching DeSantos and Trump trying to out-dumb each other.

I really enjoy seeing Trump and his cronies fighting with Fox News now. I read a headline and article about Steve Bannon declaring war on Fox. I mean come on, what did they expect? Apparently, you not only have to kiss Trump’s feet but lick between the toes. I find it funny as hell.

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Mother Nature is ready to give us a blow in the next few days. Far less than the destructive ones that are hitting other parts of the nation. I see the local power company has tagged a few trees for trimming in the back that is too near a pole and transformer. I believe that is the incoming power for most of the neighborhood. I hope these winds don’t beat them to it. I’m not in the mood to lose power.

Going for a spin this weekend. Photo by Mike Hartley

Seems like we are living on an increasingly extreme planet. Might have to be one of my priorities in the future. I have two beautiful oaks out front that are fairly close to the house. But as I hear more and more trees snap over time I get more nervous about those out front.

On the other hand, it will kill me to have those taken out. They are so beautiful and shady during the summer months. And where would I be without slipping on my behind once a year from all the acorns they drop? And I can’t image the revolt among the squirrels.

Breeze in the treeze. Photo by Mike Hartley

Trees can really make a property. They can also cause a lot of destruction when they come down. Kind of has me thinking maybe I’ll prepare a few posts tomorrow morning just in case we have a long outage.

I’m far from 100% but what the hell, got to make the best of every day. It’s transition day when I change from that nocturnal beast into Joe normal again. Always a tough day like Sunday into Monday where I’m up for 24+ hours usually. So it’s time to catch up on some shut-eye to make up for lost hours.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When I get my strength back that treadmill and I are going to become daily friends.
  • I hope my neighbor’s son makes the O’s again this year. It’s got to be very special playing MLB in your hometown.
  • Aging is interesting. The longer you age the more interesting it gets.
  • It’s going to feel good when I feel good again.

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One more

Last day of the workweek. Do you ever have those weeks where you see the finish line and you can barely fall through the tape? Pretty sure we all have lots of them. It’s interesting though what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it regardless of what else swirls around you.

Am I, the shadow or the one that cast it? Photo by Mike Hartley

I was going to say I’m riding strong again but in reality, I’m just getting up in the saddle again. But that is okay also because I hope we are on the upswing.

Yankees Rule. Photo by Mike Hartley

I watched the Nats and the Yankees play today and the speed of the game was impressive and different. Used to be I could walk away from a ballgame and sometimes only miss a half-inning or a full one. Today I walked away and missed 3 in the blink of an eye. I believe these rule changes are good for watching games on TV.

I’m not so sure if it’s good for the live fan experience. Yeah, you can get home earlier but that isn’t your concern when going to a ballgame regardless of your work the next day. You go for the experience and that is a relaxed experience. This is going to require a change of attention.

Well here they are, the MLB Rule Changes for 2023

And yes the Yankees had a walk-off home run with 2 out and 2 strikes.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Relief is when that pounding headache went away.
  • It’s a gift to be able to look forward to tomorrow.
  • Somehow I feel obliged to put at least 4 random thoughts. I have no idea why.
  • I just put the camera on the tripod, lets’s get shooting.
  • Challenging myself more is tiring at this age. But my hope is it keeps me sharp.
  • I have an open Thursday. Imagine the possibilities.

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This forest is how I feel today. All fogged in, at least my head is. So I made it a day of rest. Not often done but I realized I needed to or feeling worse would soon follow.

Can you see the forest through the trees? NO Photo by Mike Hartley

So a minimal post today about life. I belong to a group affected by cancer and a person in the group just lost a friend after a long battle today. Just the day before another person talked about their surgery and recovery and chemo treatments and how things looked very good and he was upbeat as well as the rest of the group with congrats. And those are the two extremes we live with, life and death. A list of percentages along the way. Good visits, difficult ones.

Sometimes the news of someone passing hits me and sometimes not. They all give me pause but occasionally some freak me out and I get scared. It’s not like we all don’t face mortality, just with cancer and some others it’s in your face a little more often.

So tomorrow I hope I’m feeling better and can get on with some of life’s wonderful opportunities and not spend it horizontally.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I am proud to have made it to the greying of America.
  • It’s time to throw out my Daily Dilbert calendar.
  • Ah retirement, that moving target.
  • Goodbye February, it was a good time.

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Do you ever feel lacking the proper motivation? I certainly experience that some days. And by motivated, I mean that excited feeling about life. The anticipation of some fun things to experience or accomplish. The joy of spending time with loved ones. The challenges conquered at the job.

Sometimes even with those positive things I feel like I’m lacking the real energy I have on other days that make them so special. I guess that is part of the natural balance. You can’t be on top of the world every day of the year.

A little cold a grey yesterday. Photo by Mike Hartley

I no longer want to be lacking effort though. I made up my mind when I’ve been ill a few times to not let anything stop me. And yes as time passed I got lazy and slipped back into some unproductive ways. But when you get up each day and think if this were your last day what would you like to accomplish? That is a nice motivator and helps you set priorities right. That is why I tell people close to me that I love them each day.

It’s the reason I’m trying to spend as much time as reasonable on my hobbies. I got this real itch to do all the things I had in mind in my teens and 20s.

No wonder why parking is so tight in Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

To spend my time creating each day what strikes me, what gives me joy, and that sense of accomplishment. Especially when the creation is for someone special.

Any town with Submarine parking is good with me. Photo by Mike Hartley

But there are still those days you don’t feel close to 100% physically, like today and while it’s still fun to do this post and I’ll probably still work tonight and accomplish a lot there, it will be a struggle. I think burning that candle at both ends recently is taking a toll.

Reflecting. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I was editing some shots of Baltimore Maryland that I hadn’t used here and got thinking about that town. I really like Baltimore, always have but it’s a place I’m almost scared to go to much anymore. Maybe a ballgame at Candem Yards but that is about it. And I feel that is wrong without trying to do something about it. More thoughts on that later.

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love to look at the menu’s before I go to a restaurant so I can narrow the list down. When I see too many things I like my mind goes to mush.
  • I hope to become one of these late-in-life avid readers.
  • One normal night’s rest does not fix tiredness.
  • Won’t be stepping outside tonight. Those rains sound pretty steady.

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All Strung Out

Had a nice time with my son, his wife, and my grandson early today. I’m so glad I had that because I’m pretty strung out with a lack of sleep. Many pressing things this week and very little time for rest or fun. Other things are on my mind so not the most productive day here I had hoped for but at least I’m here.

I said the other day it’s not possible to be on top of the world all the time so I guess it’s time to start clawing my way back up the hill.

Strung out. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope I don’t stay tied up all week long. I’d like to get out and do some fresh shooting and many other things. Someone should really question this working-for-a-lifetime thing.

Well, let me try to end this short post on a positive note. Find something in life that puts love and joy back into your heart. For me, it has been the grandchildren and their reminders of how special it was with my own children. And just always be there for your family keeping them happy and supported.

May tomorrow be a good day for all of us.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I just realized I didn’t incorporate as much music into my weekend as I needed.
  • I’m tired, you’re tired, we’re all tired.
  • Worry is an interesting emotion.
  • I didn’t get to that reading I wanted to this weekend.
  • Saw an interesting article that said people who look at the weekend as a vacation enjoy it more. When you think about it the approach makes a lot of sense. I could see the yard getting very high though if I do that every weekend.
  • Might just be one of the more enjoyable seasons I’ve seen from the Terps Men’s basketball team in a long while.

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Stretching out

Mornings are always good for stretching out. And that is what I’m doing in many ways. I’m finding great joy in working on my hobbies and stretching my creative wings. For this morning I was trying to fill some holes in my portfolio and ran across a few images of the National Harbor on a morning we were there in late fall celebrating an anniversary several years ago.

I ran by them in the first edit I did and upon reflection, they aren’t perfect but I felt like doing a morning post and hadn’t shot anything yet today so I thought I’d share them and throw in some words. Then again, maybe they should be on the cutting room floor.

Sunrises can warm even the coldest mornings. Photo by Mike Hartley

I figured the first shot was appropriate for this morning. I’m hoping for a nice sunrise before it clouds up completely today. I love getting up early when I’m not working for the job that pays the bills. I can see that I won’t be sleeping in when retirement rolls around.

Ah, the golden hours. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stretching out physically is very important. One of my best friends has emphasized the benefits of this and we suffer from some of the same back issues. And when I’m finished with this I’m going to follow his advice and spend some time stretching.

Life is a Capital wheel of emotions. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stretching is also important in relationships. We change over time and it’s important to adapt and move forward. We are moving forward in many ways. Sometimes families fracture along the way in life. It’s nice to see parts left still value each other and make an effort to gather regularly and enjoy each other’s company and our shared history. And this is part of our weekend.

And while you’re at it why not do a little mental stretching? I’m going to do a little reading and research. I’ve got a few tutorials on photography and woodworking I’m sure would help me.

Kick back. Photo by Mike Hartley

But after you have a full day of being stretched in many directions, don’t feel bad about getting in your favorite chair and putting your feet in the sand.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How early is early?
  • I wonder if I can find the time to post twice a day.
  • Oh crap, I better get a coat on and put the cover on the car before it snows.
  • The thought of taking a long nap this afternoon sounds inviting but I’d kick myself if I wasted some creative time.
  • Cutting back on TV viewing time is leading to happier days.
  • Why does my neck sound like a truck going over a gravel road when I roll it around in the mornings?
  • Can you feel it? March Madness is almost upon us.

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Crank it up

It feels good to get productive again. Yesterday was a day of enjoyment and relaxation for the most part. Something that is needed after a tough work week. But accomplishing things feels better. And I was on a roll during the work week which isn’t always the case.

Mother Nature eats our shores and we keep rebuilding them. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve been on a tear uploading images to my photo site most of the week and now I hope to really get moving this weekend. Tomorrow a few hours in the morning will be spent carving some wood. There will be a few photo opportunities in the afternoon with some possible snow coming and then some writing in the evening.

I’m sorry, yesterday reminded me of the beach so I had to include a shot of our eastern shore. Photo by Mike Hartley

But tonight we have an open schedule after watching our granddaughter today. I drew a quick portrait of her today. I’m still proficient in crayons and markers. Always the observant one and completely honest my little bundle of joy said my office is a mess and I need to pick it up. Well, those sound like marching orders to me.

I’ve been wanting to experiment with some different portrait lighting so I hope to get to that this evening also. Then again I’d like to finish reading The Photographers Playbook this weekend. It’s good to have lots of goals and get to as many as possible. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired as hell.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thank goodness my desire for ice cream isn’t dampened by cold temperatures.
  • The innocence of children is so heartwarming.
  • I’m sorry but the nicest thing I can say about one of my neighbors is nothing.

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No time for computers

With a beautiful day outside like today, I feel guilty spending even a few moments at the keyboard. So I took a ride out to some of my favorite local country roads and didn’t even stop the car to take pictures because it was so beautiful out and I hadn’t cruised comfortably with the top down in months.

But I got to feeling guilty so I held the old camera up a few times and captured a few shots in the northwest part of the county.

Along Rt 99, Rt 144, Woodstock Road, and maybe one on Homewood Road. Photos by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The sun on my skin felt great today. So did the wind in my face.
  • I can’t wait to see the smiling face of my granddaughter tomorrow.
  • Eat well says a wise man. But don’t forget to help those that are hungry.
  • Time to create some sawdust tomorrow.
  • I hope we don’t have to wait too long to get some more days like today’s weather.
  • Some days when I cruise I enjoy the music or remember a bad driver or the fun of the car handling through a sharp corner. Today was a slow cruise to just soak in the beauty and sights of a warm day in February.

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Waves in the sand

I love walking in the sand. Seeing windblown waves or lines drawn from grasses blowing back and forth in the wind or animal prints as they strole by. Or our own footprints. The feel of fine sand and the sound of waves hitting and retreating from the shore help me have a few weeks of peace each year.

Nature leaves its mark in the sand. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s hard to think about progress with all the chaos in the world and in each of our individual lives. You try to be positive and enjoy life. To share it with special people and do special things. You work hard to improve your loved ones’ lives and help others when possible.

Which is smoother? Photo by Mike Hartley

Progress is being made in an individual and collective way. It may not seem like it at times. And that is what I try to avoid looking at. I just have to keep focused on finding what I can do to improve things. To try to do something for someone or many each day. When the waves take down your ramp, rebuild.

I think were missing a few stairs after last night. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s really difficult to sleep during the day.
  • If you own a convertible tomorrow is a mandatory top-down day.
  • When you feel productive, take advantage of the feeling.
  • I need to do some reading but it’s dangerous when I’m this tired.

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The sky, land, and sea have a lot in common. All can look wonderful and inviting. But all can turn on you in an instant and threaten our existence. I’m feeling as smooth as the sky below this morning. I also feel as cloudy as it is being I’ve been lacking sleep the last few mornings. Let’s hope tomorrow’s rest works out better.

The sky has a different story each day for us. Photo by Mike Hartley

I never posted the first image (above) here but it’s part of the same sky as the two below which I have used before. I really wanted to get out today and do some shooting but having trouble powering through. Feeling if I do I might make things worse. In your youth, it’s easy to ignore those signals. In your senior years, there is a price for not listening. So the stubborn slightly old guy is listening and staying in.

Love our Eastern Shore here in the great state of Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have a series of object shots to finish processing for an appraisal for someone. Then back to making some prints. And there is always some reading or studying for enlightenment. Both of which I hope to make a few minutes for.

One of nature’s many paintings. Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh crap, I forgot it was Fat Tuesday. Here is a shot (below) I took last week. Looks like they are prepared for the event. I wonder if a crowd will be on that balcony.

Along Main Street in Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m not into gusty winds.
  • I was going to do what the Doobie Brothers’ song I was listening to earlier suggested and go “Rocken Down the Highway”. So I ran to get into the shower only to come out to clouds and a downpour. Glad I didn’t take the cover off the car before the shower.
  • I wonder what Ron D would do if Mardi Gras were in the state of Florida? Ban it?
  • The fewer conversations I have with my body the happier we are.

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Standout in your field

I like starting a new post right after I finish one lately. Even if I don’t put a title, but just with my first thoughts like this line. I’m trying to get an earlier start on every activity and use time wisely. I’m prioritizing better. For example, my screen time was down 25% last week on that phone.

And today is the beginning of our effort to minimize TV viewing time. Not tracking actual time but for instance. Instead of turning it on when I get up, I’m leaving it off for the first several hours of the day. I’m tired of it getting in the way of more meaningful and productive efforts. Because you can’t be a standout with a mediocre effort.

Are you a standout in your field? Photo by Mike Hartley

I would never rate myself as a standout in my field. I’ve met too many brilliant and talented people to know that. I do have a lot of strong qualities though. And you don’t need to be a standout to be really valuable and have a lot of the same skills and talents as those who do.

I’ve been very happy being a behind-the-scenes type for most of my career. But in my artistic pursuits, I do hope to stand out at some point. In some ways, I already have. There are a few photographers that follow along and send some likes and I admire their work so much that it’s flattering that they look at my blog regularly.

But I would really like to accomplish a number of things. I’d like to work more on combining some of the various mediums. I’d like to first create and make things that I hear myself say wow. I’d like to see things I create to make someone else happy. I’d like to have a body of work that my kids look back on and say thank you for leaving us a vision of your life. I’d like to do things that would give back to those less fortunate. I’d like to make things that would bring people’s emotions to the forefront.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love basketball and I’m sorry to say this but the NBA All-Star game isn’t what it was once. At some point, they completely removed defense from it and didn’t tell the fans. More of an exhibition now than a contest.
  • Sometimes being flexible doesn’t pay off. But sometimes it really does and that is cool when it’s reciprocated.
  • One of the next crises. We are going to run out of people who want to be police and are good at it.
  • I don’t care how much they advertise it, I’m not watching any other football than the NFL or College.
  • Used to be I’d never miss a Daytona 500. Now I have very little interest.

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Make it

Life is what you make of it. And today I’m trying to make something out of nothing. Yep, I’m working on that becoming an artist illusion again. It’s one of those things that you never know if it’s a waste of time or if it connects with someone or many. Hey, it’s the path I’m choosing so that is all I need.

Started on an idea for a project called Beauty & The Beast. In a bizarre set of coincidences the last two floods in Ellicott City (2016 and 2018), I spent the day before each one and the morning of one taking a few pictures in town. And then witnessing the devastation after each and having some of those photos I thought I would combine some for a contrast of a town that has taken some serious blows. I also got some B&W images that I took of Hurricane Agnes flooding in 1972 that I might mix in.

It’s a shame those floods were a lot of our own making with the over-development and combined with two freak storms caused so much heartache for so many.

A sunrise even in cooler weather is still warming. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have several projects going which have really excited me. It feels so good to be learning and expanding by doing. But I’m also cracking some books/docs also. So we have maximum motivation going into the week ahead. I just hope work doesn’t step on it too heavily.

I kind of wish I had the holiday off tomorrow but what the hell, it’s not one that everyone else is off for.

We had a great surf and turf special at Shannon’s on Saturday night. Oh and I shouldn’t forget the chocolate mouse cake we split for dessert. We enjoy it there and have for decades. Always very good food and service in a comfortable spot. Parking is a pain in the backside sometimes but it’s a popular strip mall. And the best part was the company of my better half.

The week before we had another good meal at Facci’s in Turf Valley with some longtime friends.

Food is such a great part of life I think I’ll start rambling about positive experiences we have in dining being we make it out every so often.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We should get out of the house more. The longer we are in it, the more we see what needs to be done.
  • The more you know yourself the better off you are. And if you find you don’t like some parts, change them.
  • Music can take you places if you just go with it.
  • A bow of respect to Mr. Jimmy Carter for a life lived in public service.

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Kick up your heels

I have no idea what lies in state for me the rest of the weekend but I hope to make the best of it. I think the only actual obligation I have is to say happy birthday to a brother inlaw but that is about it. There is the fact I have to pick up the basement from that whirlwind called a grandchild, no small task but accomplishable. And as always work on the relationship to keep that humming along smoothly and some phone calls to relatives and friends are needed. Geez, work is less than 24 hours away. And no holiday for this kid on Monday either.

Regardless my heels are in the air.

Kick up dem heels. Photo by Mike Hartley in Annapolis Maryland

I’ve already selected my next piece of wood for the next carving and am about to make the first cuts on that. Also just ordered another batch of ink for the printing press which I hope to have humming tonight. So lots of personal goals to accomplish this weekend.

But there is always a little time to kick up our heels on the weekends. Even if it isn’t a full blowout party, there is fun time included in the weekends now. Sometimes not a lot but always a little. It’s something I’ve been trying to incorporate into the weekdays more and more. And the more I do the better I feel.

In the last couple of years, my life is finally coming into what could be called a rude balance. Most observers would still say insanity but it’s controlled insanity. And once I jettison this overnight schedule and get back to some regular sleep patterns I’m expecting a lot more energy and a clearer head.

But there is a ton of life to kick my heels up about. One of the greatest gifts I think I’ve received besides my own children is getting to be a big part of their children’s lives. Watching them for a few years before they start school is a time that flies by so fast but it’s been so magical so far. And I’m imagining there are a few years after that where we can still go see their concerts or young league sports before they get into high school where I’m assuming grandparents aren’t cool, except at graduation.

Reflecting gets more distorted with time. Photo by Mike Hartley in Annapolis Maryland

And from experience, that time is upon you before you blink your eyes twice. So I savor each visit. Each Papa can I have this, each leap into my arms, each make me this or that request, each color with me or play with me ask. And now with another infant, the cycle repeats of smiling if they spit up on you or laughing each one of the hundred times, they will pull my glasses off my face. Because my role now is to make their life happy and enjoyable and a fun learning experience. I’ve always had a dream of doing comedy and this young audience is easy pickings and gives me great joy to make them laugh, even though I’d still like to try my hand at the old crowd too.

That coupled with my professional focus shift from IT work to the Arts has me about as happy as I’ve been in a long time. I wish I had found a way to incorporate both into my life as I do now but everything has its own time.

The demise of the manual transmission. With the coming EV revolution and fewer and fewer sports cars, even those mostly converted to high-tech automatic transmissions I have a sense of dread. For someone who had driven a stick all his life but a few years the thought of driving without a clutch and stick is repulsive, worrisome, horrifying, and downright depressing.

To think my grandchildren will never know the pleasure of glancing at that tachometer and then catching a second or third gear and feeling the tires break loose again brings me great sadness. To know they might be denied the privilege of downshifting through a corner and hitting the gas coming out of it leaves me shaking my head. I might just have to keep that Miata running to show them the love driving becomes with a stick.

I taught both of my children to drive on a stick. But they didn’t “stick” with it and drive automatics. I can see why the stick they had was in a small car. I had the privilege of a V8 and Hurst 4 speed shifter which I guess I fell in love with from Day 1.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Find yourself, no matter what age you are.
  • I’ve been wearing a broken set of reading glasses for a while now. Time to replace.
  • Keepsakes are very important to me. The kind of things I’d like to detail for my children so they aren’t quickly trashed.
  • Life is a lot more enjoyable when you take it off autopilot.
  • If I knew spending so much time with doctors was part of being old I would have become one so I could figure out what they are talking about.
  • Life is fun when covered in sawdust.
  • Sometimes when I’m writing I find myself typing to the tempo of the music.
  • Felt great to hang some more prints today.

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A sloppy day outside but a beautiful one in. Played with my granddaughter and made her an elephant out of wood. I was really proud till she said it needed to be blue. Well, I scrambled and found some old watercolor paint and went to work. Mission accomplished.

Tonight I’m going to tinker with some prints for my next project working on displaying the Towns of Maryland. A good way to see what I have and what I need to shoot again or for the first time.

Home by the Sea by Genesis. Well, that was the song that was playing when it was time to write this caption so what the hell. Photo by Mike Hartley

It felt good today to learn some things about working with wood. I had some new bits I hadn’t worked with before so it was good to get some practice. I think I’ll try to create a few more pieces this week. Who knows, maybe I’ve found another calling. I do know I have to get a setup outside so I’m not filling the basement with sawdust.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A child’s innocence is only exceeded by their curiosity.
  • A couple of major home issues were corrected today. We’re off to a good start.
  • I wonder what number grandchild it will be when they come running at me and I bend and catch them and lift them skyward with my back and arms outstretched that my back says OK, you are done with that activity. That will be a tough day because there are few feelings better than lifting a child skyward both physically and mentally.
  • Last night was a great night with my two best friends. We pulled a late one which isn’t our norm on worknights but it was the next morning when we finished. Who says we’re not young at heart?

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No blue sky today

That walk yesterday felt great. And that wonderful blue sky was a shade I could paint all day with. But today is another day and one that is cloud-filled and steady rains. But my spirits remain high and the forecast doesn’t determine the outcome of the weekend.

Adding a little color to the grey of winter. Photo by Mike Hartley

So the options tonight are foul weather night shots or creations of my own making indoors. Whichever the choice I think I’ll make a late night of it and get some real progress made.

I love the use of stone in this town. Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling that urgent need to accomplish several things. And it’s not good to ignore feelings. That is why I tell my better half and children and good friends that I love them as often as I can.

And the kick is GOOD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Squeezing a few extra minutes out of each day.
  • Feels good to have nice things said about your work, leadership, and knowledge. Of course, that was at the job that pays the bills. I got a lot of work to do here but I will impress when my focus shifts full-time here.
  • Keeping an inspirational edge regardless of outside influences is a key to productivity.
  • I got my swagger on today. I hope it carries over to the Maryland Men’s basketball team tonight. Fear the Turtle.

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Different spot

I was going to go down to the Patapsco River by my home but decided to walk Ellicott City instead of the train tracks and woods. I will do that later this week. It was an amazing day for mid-February, sunny and with some high clouds. Sometimes I just pause on the streets of this town and think back to many decades ago.

Like standing across the street looking at what used to be Stromberg Publications (The Times Papers) now Su Casa Furniture and La Palapa restaurant. And as I walk across the street and look back and see Talbott lumber yard and store and now the Phoenix restaurant. The same thing happens to me all up and down the street. Ellicott City never gets old for me even though they call it Old Ellicott City.

And as always it was friendly as ever. You can tell the tourist, they don’t always respond but residents, merchants, and locals always are cheery and will look you in the eye and smile with their greetings. A lot will stop and talk. I’m one of them because I want everyone there to feel welcome. It’s a great little town that keeps changing and evolving. Not always in harmony but it certainly is resilient and a survivor.

Everyone in town seemed to be paired off today but me. As promised yesterday I did get another shot of the Patapsco River. I have some more to share but it’s supposed to rain the next few days so maybe I’ll sprinkle in one or two of those.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I’m back on track shooting every day again now and hope to keep pace with my blogging effort which has been daily for a while. I feel so much better when I get new images.

I forgot to wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day yesterday. My better half and I really don’t make much of it anymore. Buying overpriced candy or flowers seemed a waste so we stopped the exchange many years ago. It was fun when we were young but practical needs seemed to be a better use of our funds.

If you share the love throughout the year. If you give flowers randomly throughout the year. If you cook once in a while throughout the year. And don’t forget to throw in several “I love you’s” throughout each day. Those and other efforts are far more important than a bunch of chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day once a year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My performance review is tonight. Will be interesting to see if I’m up for another one next year.
  • Important people are never gone from your life at any time.
  • Walking is the first step. Well, maybe the second and third also.
  • I’m sure I walk by many better photos than I bring back.


Worth a thousand words

That is the old saying, right? A picture is worth a thousand words. And I’ve been using too many words and not enough new pictures so it’s time to start changing that equation. And while I didn’t get anything close to that thousand-word shot today I did get out with the Nikon and did a few minutes between the emissions test for the old Chevy and a trip to the hardware for supplies.

And the more I shoot maybe one day I’ll find that picture worth a thousand words and more.

Daniels Dam. Photo by Mike Hartle

Well, it’s a start and there are even a few hours left in today and tomorrow is another day and opportunity to raise that viewfinder to my eye. Maybe it’s the warm weather or just feeling a little better but it felt good to get outside again today and walk a bit. I think I’ll walk down another stretch of the Patapsco River near my home tomorrow by Woodstock Road.

Above Daniels Dam. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m more of a summer person but in the winter months before foliage appears you get the size of trees and the depth and density of woods much clearer.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you’re not being paid, that is when sports are being played.
  • I feel the need to make each day more special in some way.
  • Guns are a plague of our own making. Shoot with a camera.
  • The goal, more time and effort into my priorities tomorrow.

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Change of plans

I started to sit down and write a few lines about how I thought I had a lot of time this past weekend to create and practice skills but how it all so quickly evaporated into other things. But then a call from my sister about her home being robbed. Just more bad news for someone who has had far more than her fair share. It’s left her shaken and despondent.

Things can be replaced, but personal items can’t. Nor can the feeling of your residence being violated. At least she is safe but I’m sure she is feeling far from it right now. She has a ring camera and secure doors, but they were determined and successful.

As I was sitting back contemplating crime and its impact. How most of us try to maintain a healthy life by focusing on positive and enjoyable aspects of life. At the same time having to acknowledge there is an evil out there that preys on other people and the randomness is totally out of your control.

This is the only kind of stealing we should be seeing. Photo by Mike Hartley

So do you spend your time behind locked doors with an arsenal of weapons and wait with a crazed smile on your face or do you go on hoping and living life with kindness, compassion, and love? I guess most of us shoot for that comfortable balance.

Things like locks on doors and windows and everyone with money enough for security systems are now a bare minimum. Going out in groups and avoiding more troubled areas. Being more aware of your surroundings and those around you.

50-60 years ago most of the people in my neighborhood never locked their homes unless they were going on vacation and even then a lot left them open for neighbors to watch their pets.

Not that there wasn’t an occasional theft but it was usually someone’s kid in the neighborhood and nothing substantial. Theft is big business now. From your online accounts to your catalytic converter or your whole car. Of course, there is the up close and personal version of armed robbery.

The balance over time has shifted where some of us now aren’t that comfortable leaving our homes vacant for any period or even comfortable going out in public. From the grocery store parking lot to the community mall. Even our jobs and public events we attend for enjoyment are targets of crazed individuals.

Now the latest rage of people targeting our utilities and infrastructure. Is it any surprise people want to walk around armed now? I don’t choose to but I feel more naked than ever knowing I’m not and a lot of people are and not all of them are good ones. I’ve owned a gun since my early 20s so for over 4 decades. Only in the last two years has it ever been without a trigger lock. So I guess somewhere in my internal clock I said I need to be prepared faster.

So far I haven’t changed my position on the need to be strapped when I go out. And I hope events don’t push me toward that day but things are going in the wrong direction. It’s going to take a major effort from all aspects of society (not just courts and police) to correct the direction and all of our efforts over a long period of time to change it.

Crime is a complex problem and may need many different ways to correct it.

I look at how times changed from the time I grew up and now in neighborhoods. We are less connected than in the past. I’ve lived in this home for almost 4 decades. I know the other long-term neighbors around me but new ones are mysteries for the most part. So I think I’ll start reaching out a little more. Maybe a few more walks and taking the time for a few introductions. You got to start someplace.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more appreciation for all that I have the less I feel the need to want for more.
  • It’s about this time of year I get to really Jonesing for sand between my toes and the sound of waves on the shore.
  • Some mistakes I make in life seem to take me a long time to learn from.
  • Now sounds like a good time to start a new project. Or maybe finish one?

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Stupor Bowl Sunday

I would say enjoy the game but that might not be possible for some of you. I think I heard there are 800 possible bets you can place on the game. And given the explosion of legalized online gambling in this state and many others many people will be cheering for their bets instead of one of the two teams.

They may say they have a favorite but that is probably based on the bet. I love sports but I found when I gambled I didn’t enjoy it as much. Luckily this lesson was learned early in life. I won’t be one of the people signing up for these sports betting apps. But I worry about the masses that will get in trouble with it.

I have a rather addictive personality and I don’t want a gambling problem. I’m guessing this is going to be a major issue in very short order. The huge sums that are spent on advertising and shows by these companies are going to come out of someone’s pockets and that could be yours. Actually, the odds are good it will be yours.

Photo by Mike Hartley

We all fear there is a significant part of the population that will get in deep trouble with this. I don’t disagree it’s fun and that a lot of intelligent people have a lot of fun doing it and not too much detriment. But just like booze and drugs, some people will lose control, some very bad and crash and burn in tragic ways.

After doing some brief searches about the amounts gambled in the US each year it’s staggering. And I’m not going to list numbers because I doubt anyone knows the actual number of legal and illegal gambling. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we put that to better use? I mean whose well-being do you want to contribute to, some fat cat casino executive and his team or filthy rich cronies or maybe people in your own neighborhood who could use a meal?

It’s funny also how the major league sports flipped on their statements to never be involved with organized gambling. Now they are in bed together full tilt. And if you think all these humungous sums of money won’t affect the future of some events you’re living in la la land.

Think about this, who is going to expose someone who is caught cheating? If the league catches someone are they going to make it public? If they do every game and bet is going to become suspect and that means people won’t bet if they think it’s fixed and the leagues and betting organizations can’t allow that because they will both lose HUGE sums of money.

Maybe another angle to look at is you might not be able to touch these guys in the majors making millions who do really enjoy playing the game and would never consider cash for poor play, but the officials who don’t make those millions or not enough not to require a second full-time job. Is someone going to reach out to them? And is there some regulation these officials can’t bet?

Oh, by the way, you might want to call the Baseball Hall of Fame and have them give Pete Rose a call and say “Come on Down”. And what the hell, let the steroid guys in if were making up the rules as we go along.

This is about money and lots of it. Integrity or ethics or principles are all being bent.

I’m wise enough to know that gambling has a long history. It’s always been one of the great vices. So we got to ask ourselves knowing this is going to ruin and probably end some people’s lives and greatly affect others who are in families with these people or at least alter their possible futures do we go full speed ahead? Well, sorry for that, cats out of the bag, and those fine print disclaimers and the gambling 800 number won’t be able to help a lot of people. Now we just have to wait to see how deep the problem gets and think about solutions.

You know I can’t find much difference between the pharmaceutical executives who flooded our society with Oxy and other drugs knowingly killing many for just vast sums of money and the gambling and sports executives now planning to get rich off of another segment of society.

Greed is ugly. I’m sorry if I’ve been on this rant before but it’s worrisome to me.

I’m not looking for a big win. I’m just looking to spend some time on a bike at the beach a few weeks a year. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Dogs can look into your heart.
  • The king of all snack days is upon us. I’m trying to moderate.
  • Yep, this is definitely the last Super Bowl I work, even if I’m still employed next year. Time to remember how the vast majority lives.
  • Any week I get to make my grandchildren laugh is a great week for me.

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Trying to figure out navigating into our senior years. Just like any other phase in life, it’s nice to have friends along the way to help. Tonight we had two longtime friends laughing at some of the discoveries of aging and talked about future challenges. It’s always a bit of the unknown even though we watch our parents and older friends age.

Each stage of life has its own hurdles but as always it’s your outlook that determines a lot of how it’s going to go. I think a lot about future hurdles and how I might adapt or have to change. And that is one of the keys, being able to adapt.

Interesting style. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve changed course several times now in the last decade and I’ll probably continue to make course adjustments as new information and thoughts come in. One of those thoughts this evening was retiring earlier than planned. One that I don’t give much thought to because I’m always erroring on the side of caution and that is kind of like throwing caution to the wind.

Not normally my style but that ringing phrase in my ear of there is no guarantee of the expiration date. Has to be given some serious consideration. I’ve made a few wrong moves in my lifetime and I don’t like kicking myself in the ass. And working too long might be the most painful kick in the ass I could imagine if time were shorter than I would hope for.

If there is someone on their deathbed who ever uttered the words I wish I could have lived another day working hard for someone else to make them rich, I’m unaware of these spoken words. So now our friends have planted that seed, both being recently retired and very close and in one case our age. It’s a huge life decision.

One thing about it doesn’t scare me at all. I don’t know any retired people that are unhappy about it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thanks to one of my best friends I was able to attend a Maryland basketball game today and an excellent time was had.
  • I almost didn’t meet my deadline today.
  • 3 Brothers makes a mean cheesesteak.
  • Remembering an old friend passing a year ago who inspired me to live each day to its fullest.

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I think I might have figured something out. Having children makes you old before your time. Having grandchildren reverses it and makes you young again. Well, that is the theory I’m going with today.

But unlike my younger family, I have a finite amount of energy. Don’t like admitting that and I don’t acknowledge it as much as possible. But one thing I do know is every ounce of energy will be loving and participating in their lives for as long as possible.

We made our movie today and she baked a cake. Life is good when you keep it simple. Learning and laughter are good combinations.

The one that levitates my week. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was getting a little concerned talking to a friend about the state of the world we are leaving our children. I’m not happy with it and was frustrated at my remaining ability to make a significant change. And I’ve decided to try to just do as many small things each day. But also keep my eye on that thing that might present a larger opportunity.

I mean with some of the sketchy characters who have been elected, my past isn’t looking too bad. Not that I aspire to politics with the way that mess is. And we count on the government to make the change when really we all are in charge of making it better. So I think I’ll work from the outside in trying to do my part.

Wouldn’t it set a great example nationwide if we could turn Baltimore around? Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I used to think pharmaceuticals, insurance, and energy were the big players in the advertising game. But gambling is making them all look like also-rans. And that is a bit scary.
  • There is only our self-control that keeps us from destroying each other. This is also scary.
  • You know this might be the last Super Bowl that I have to work. The operative word is, might.
  • Got the video camera active again.
  • Each footstep in February is very important. If you’re a basketball fan hoping for your team to be included in March Madness.

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Opportunity knocked

An open day, well minus a few errands. I almost got giddy thinking about what to do with the time. The biggest pitfall is to kick back and relax a bit; before you know it, there is another opportunity wasted. But not this evening. I gather with friends usually on Thursday evenings but travel and illness have intervened on their part. So onto some creative endeavors.

Going up isn’t always a straight line. Photo by Mike Hartley

But before I did that I got a chance to try to catch up with some people that have been hurting badly. I can’t think of a better use of time than to try to make someone’s day a bit better who really needs it. I think I’ll continue that work tomorrow because one didn’t answer.

I just finished putting up over a hundred shots on the wall of my office to sort through and into words. I hope to arrange that into a picture collage in the shape of the letters to the title of the project. Now I’ve got to go find some cardboard for backing material.

I also have to finish prep for a video tomorrow. My granddaughter liked learning how to take pictures a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I’m going to show her the video camera works. Already printed out some sign cards for her to go through with a nice message for her mother.

I like a productive start to the weekend.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Machines may have artificial intelligence. People have artful intelligence.
  • I sense a cheesesteak sub in the near future.
  • If the guy who plays “Mayhem” on the Allstate commercials retires I might just come out of retirement for that role. Given it feels like I’ve been on the receiving end for some time I’d like to know how the other half feels.
  • The longer I live the more appreciation I have.

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Oil that squeaky wheel

Found this old oil can from my Mom’s old sewing machine in my workroom. Good thing I get to clean out every few years. One of the traits I got from her is the ability to speak my mind. Yeah, it’s landed me in trouble a few times. Yes, sometimes I can be rather blunt. Yes, I’ll say some difficult things to hear sometime. But it’s always with the intention of making things better.

Holy crap, people are selling this for between $15-$40. I wonder if it’s worth more with the original oil still in it? Photo by Mike Hartley

But hey, sometimes people don’t want to hear others’ thoughts, observations, or ideas. They could feel challenged by it. They might want to wait and make it their own idea. They might not agree and do it in a way that will stifle more thoughts. Whatever it be the squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the oil. You will encounter a lot of things professionally. So bring your own oil.

A different angle from yesterday’s shot. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I find myself consumed with concern about someone close.
  • Sites like Facebook and Nextdoor always remind me there are a lot of good people in the world but also a lot of angry and mean ones also. And it’s easy to ignore them online. It’s all a matter of who you run into that day while out and about. Maybe that is why they say life is a game of chance.
  • Progress feels good. Completion feels better. Starting anew again feels best.
  • I’m having trouble keeping up with all the needs going on. Good thing I’m healthy again.

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Symphony of Clouds

I miss looking up as often as I did earlier in life. Been a very long time since I laid on the hood of the car and just watched the clouds or stars roll through the sky.

Over The Bay (is there any other Bay?) Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t make much use of my hammock the last two years also. Now that is something that I can correct. As far as cars, you don’t want to be on any part of that molded plastic and thin metal of today’s production models.

(Describe your most ideal day from beginning to end) is the WordPress writing prompt for the day. So here we go.

Waking rested before sunrise in my better half’s arms and feeling young. A walk on the beach watching the sunrise. Back for bacon and eggs, watching my children and their children wake with joy and laughter. All out to the beach for a few hours and then the pool for a few hours. Watching the sunset during family dinner overlooking the bay eating the best crabcake in Maryland, a petite fillet, and maybe a lobster tail. A walk on the beach with the family after dinner. Late-night cruise on the warm summer night with the top down. Pull into the local ice cream/soda fountain and discover my best friends are there. We cruise and then just hang outside by a firepit raising hell and laughing till 3 or 4 am.

Above is my selfish ideal day. If I were to have an ideal day it would be the world was finally at peace, and all the defense money could be spent on curing cancer and heart disease, and many other nasty illnesses. That people weren’t hungry. That there were no killings of any type. That our intellect was put towards solving issues of sustaining this earth, food, and water supplies. That living without anger or prejudice was possible. – Hell, what am I thinking? We’ve had our chances, and we blew them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you still work and lose track of what day it is your working too hard. When you are retired and lose track of what day it is you’re not busy enough.
  • Neighbors can make or break a neighborhood.
  • If you run into limitations early in life, sometimes later in life new ones are easier to deal with.
  • Having a productive day feels good.

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Mix it up

I’m thinking about mixing my week up a little bit. I’ve been working on a photo project called 15th and L Street. Well, it turned into a project. I didn’t think I had much and was going to do a small combination of shots on the last few days at the building I spent many years in.

Yes, it was an old building but it had character and rats. It also had a bevy of characters inside that made it special. But the last few days were interesting. Because the building was going to be torn down many were inspired to leave a few messages on the walls and everything else, that in a few months would be rubble.

But some of those words were special. I wish I had captured them all but I only got a small spattering. I think my favorite was “How lucky we were to have been here”. And I echo that because I’m still partial to the old building even after 8 years in the new one.

The sky to himself at sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

But tomorrow I transition to shooting images and woodworking. The latter is a project for my granddaughter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I need more days in my life when I’m in control of the schedule.
  • The only one stopping me is myself.
  • Any day you get a meaningful hug is a good one.
  • It’s easier to be in sync with a proper night’s rest. Guess that is why I’m out of sync on most days.

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Starting Line

I’ve talked a bit this past year or so about retirement wishes. With so many things in flux, I haven’t really picked a date to give up the full-time grind. I have some rough idea of when I want to, sometime next year but I’m starting to feel if I don’t pick a date I might be tempted to just keep pushing it back.

I don’t think the job that pays the bills would mind me sticking around longer. There has to be an extremely small pool of people that would want these hours and have the skill set. I’ve thought about exploring the idea of part-time with them in future years. Could serve us both well.

Picking a time to kick back. Photo by Mike Hartley

Notice I choose the title starting line. I did that because I figure my retirement would be a new start. One to a life of my choosing along with my better half of course but not marching all week to someone else’s priorities. Getting some proper rest, eating better, and having time for proper exercise. I’ve started all those things at various points but find it impossible to keep going with this schedule.

So it’s time to get things in order, look at the future and plans, see how well they are merging at this point, and set that target date with my better half.

But first, another week of work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m returning to the world of being a student again. It’s never too late to learn.
  • Confidence is gained by doing.
  • Trying the unknown this week. I hope to go to my first meeting with fellow Miata owners this week.
  • I like working with wood. And where I live I got a nice supply to practice on.
  • Nice ESPN 30 for 30 special on the Ravens.

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Day dreaming

I was just thinking about a warm summer day and coming upon a patio where they were serving iced tea and lemonade. Taking a break under an umbrella and sitting half in the sun and half in the shade.

Photo by Mike Hartley

A day where thoughts of contentment and happiness just flow like a stream. Where there is no rush to be anywhere at any time. The cool refreshments add to the relaxed muscles as the tension in the neck dissipates.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Just time to lean back, listen to the birds sing and ponder what might tempt the pallet for dinner.

Do you think I’m dreaming about summer too early in the year?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The less selfish I am, the happier I am.
  • Any morning you start with the live version of Woodstock by CSN while living in the town of Woodstock there is only one way to listen to it. Full VOLUME. The 94-live version is pretty sweet.
  • Don’t look for a pill to fix everything in life.
  • Nothing shaves the years of life off like listening to the music of my youth.

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Almost perfect

Just the type of Friday I needed. One filled with laughter and love from a little one. She was into making me cards today. We made a couple of lincoln log homes and she also did some baking. We did some coloring and she really liked a picture of a turtle I drew with colored markers. I found some sea shells she liked and a few strands of embroidery thread she had to have. Oh, and a picture of her mom when she was a little girl with her first pet in her room. She couldn’t wait to show her when she came to pick her up.

Now there is a creative way to get a child to use a toothbrush. Photo by Mike Hartley

Young ones can really bring you back to what life is about. Just the simple joy of living, learning, and exploring. So truthful and blunt in sharing opinions but without any inference of hurt. So unafraid to ask any question because learning is the most important thing. They are knowledge sponges. They take everything in and then their interpretation of it.

Of course, she was tired of me by mid-afternoon and Gamma was the main person of interest for her today so I’m not as exhausted as I am at the end of most Fridays. I can’t say that about my better half though who will probably be down for the count early this evening.

Today I found a postcard from my father. As a matter of fact, the first line in it is “Mike, this is your first postcard – I love you” It was from early 1958. He was in NY Naval hospital recovering from TB and surgeries. I wasn’t even a year old yet. It’s kind of special because the only other card I had was badly faded. I’ve wondered all my life how things might have been different if he had lived longer. How not knowing him bothers me to this day. Now I have two items that say “I love you” from him.

Young and old are touched by this. Photo by Mike Hartley

Many things aren’t perfect in life. Many can identify with childhoods cut short. Many are faced with the difficult realities of life at an early age. So each day I can contribute to making my children’s and their children’s lives great day after day, I realize that it’s a wonderful opportunity that they won’t forget if I do it right.

I’m glad it’s a cold evening and Saturday ahead. The temporary hibernation will give me a chance to catch up other’s blogs. I’ve had precious little time to do the normal reading and add new people to follow. So I think I’ll do some digging and reviews and spread some encouragement here and there.

A few quick hours of sleep and then an early morning filled with music and arts. Could be a lot of fun.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A haircut – is one of the simple pleasures of life.
  • I find it very strange what some accept as the truth.
  • In a blink of an eye. 3 days in February have passed. And I feel like I’ve made good use of each one.
  • The more I do the more confidence I have.

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The Real Me

I wonder if those closest to me have any idea of what music meant to me and still does in life. It’s one of my greatest joys. It’s brought me back from the greatest depths. It’s inspired me and sometimes fueled my rage. It’s relaxed and calmed me. It’s generated creativity and deep feelings. Be it at home or in the car or just listening to someone else’s boom box at the beach.

Like right now, sitting here listening to Baba O’Reilly from The Who, live from the 70s. Still with Keith Moon the drummer so it had to be pre 78. I saw them several times throughout the decade of the 70s. One of my many musical influences.

But the title and lyrics always made me feel how few, if any, knows The Real Me. Only we know ourselves and learning about that is a long evolving journey for most. We are all filled with multiple personalities. Well I’ll speak for myself at least.

They change very easily sometimes. A sudden health crisis or loss of a loved one affects personalities deeply. Some lose a job and lose their identity.

The real me, is many different people. That is why I tinker away here, hoping to recognize a few positive ones that pop out from time to time to keep the negative ones at bay.

Musician on Main St in Annapolis. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I used music to get back on track. I was feeling a bit out of the loop but being supportive is a great way to get back into it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more anger I see the less I’m inclined to go out and deal with it.
  • I’m shivering thinking about the coming cold.
  • Taking a break is a wise thing once in a while. Change your perspective.
  • Water, the next major commodity.

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Regroup and blast off

A rough start to the new year but one that is in the rearview now. As I turned the wall calendar to February and took a moment to acknowledge how fast the last month went by. To reflect that some goals went by the wayside but other accomplishments stepped in at times.

Untie me because I’m ready to Rocket into this month. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m already rolling on a new photo project and hope to get a wall covered tonight to sort through the combinations I want to use. Tomorrow I hope to do some woodworking and pick up the cameras again. And I’m thinking about a day or two at the beach before spring actually gets here in full force so it’s time to look at the calendar.

Time moves so fast that it scares me. I saw something that reminded me of a friend who passed almost a year ago and was shocked that time has gone by. I like reading his emails that we traded while he was fighting one of the worst cancers. His bravery and focus on living each day, stick with me today.

We worked together for a little over a decade if I remember correctly. But hadn’t touched base in a few decades. He noted how easy it was to reconnect and that it was just like yesterday when we spoke instead of decades ago. He was one of those people and I hope and try to be someone like that myself. Someone who shared good times and good memories with. Someone you feel that connection to. Someone who is there for you.

So I’m going to think of him watching over me now and saying get up and get busy with your passions. And I’ll smile and appreciate the time I’ve been given.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do the simple things for people, it is appreciated.
  • College basketball is my favorite sport and the tension is building early this year for March Madness.
  • I looked in the mirror and started to see the makings of a hippie, time for a haircut and beard trim.
  • When I make a mistake, I haven’t taken the proper time to learn from it.
  • My next best picture is the next print coming out of the printer. And then again, the one after that could be the best. Funny how that process repeats itself. Isn’t it great?



Today’s Bloganuary prompt asks “Where is the best place to watch a sunset near you?” My favorite place to watch the sunset is from the deck or dock at Fagers Island in Ocean City looking out over the Isle of Wight Bay. They play the 1812 Overture and time it so exactly as the sun sets it comes to the climax of the song. A very close second is my best friend’s porch looking out over the Chesapeake Bay across to Annapolis Maryland.

Sunset on the bay in Ocean City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Usually, I’m doing the first one with my family and the second one with the boys on a long weekend. The sunset from my front porch is also nice but doesn’t have that water that I enjoy so.

But regardless of where I’m at and what day it is I always appreciate a sunset. I really don’t like grey and cloudy days where normal beauty is obscured.

I’m sure I look at sunsets and sunrises a bit differently than some of you. Sometimes the sunset is the beginning of my work day. Actually, most days are like that. I long for the day that I can look at the sunrise as the beginning and the sunset as the end.

Not my cup of tea – that’s right it’s getting cold again. After a cold December, we were treated to a grey but very mild January. It appears we are about to flip back to the cold to begin February.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My problem today is I’m overwhelmed with random thoughts.

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Always one

Before I get to the Bloganuary prompt of the day, there is “Always One” day in January when the sun comes out and the temp hits 60 degrees. And on that day I pull the cover off, put the top down, and go for a ride to remind me there is hope that spring and summer are on their way.

Along Folly Quarter road on a sunny afternoon. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is “What would you title the chapters of your autobiography?” My life has pretty neatly fallen into decades for each chapter.

  • Before Dad passed
  • Wonderful and wasted teens
  • Found my love and growing up
  • Another step forward – children and career.
  • The risk and rebound.
  • Cancer, crashes, closeness, closure
  • Return to my youth – Contentment, grandchild, and my crafts

I never thought of doing an autobiography till this exercise. Still probably won’t but it’s interesting the thoughts this exercise brought around and the various stages of my life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling lucky today.
  • Feeling a little better today.
  • Feeling the wind again.
  • Feeling the shutter button under my finger again.
  • Feeling a bit more creative than yesterday.

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“What is something you learned recently” was the Bloganuary question this morning. I’ve learned it’s extremely difficult to write when physically under the weather and mentally in a bad place. And that sitting and staring at the screen doesn’t help. I also learned the number of drivers that don’t give a damn about your life and will take it in a heartbeat to get a car ahead or get to the next light right in front of you.

Sorry, didn’t mean to start out on a negative note. Just been a difficult weekend. Tonight I’m going to learn how to turn things around again. Never stop learning. Even difficult lessons mean a lot.

Dad showed me the proper grip on a football. A month later he was gone. Photo by Shirley Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thank goodness by the time it’s time for me to hang up the car keys, my last memory of driving won’t be in an EV. Long live the sound and feel of an internal combustion engine and a manual transmission.
  • This a message to all sports leagues. When poor officiating starts determining the outcome of games instead of the players, people stop watching. Right now I believe it’s just poor officiating. But with the huge gambling money in sports and officials paid so little I’m certain we are going to hear about something in the future. Fix sports, get good officials at every level and pay them right.
  • If you would like a good meal I recommend the Corner Stable on York Road.
  • For a while, I had hoped that society wouldn’t collapse. Too late, it’s gone.

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Cake and stuff

Describe your perfect birthday cake as the Bloganuary prompt of the day request. Another softball question. Mine is made by my better half with yellow cake and chocolate icing. And sharing it with family is the way I like to eat it. It’s funny how birthdays change over time. I really don’t care for mine much anymore and I’ll leave it at that.

Sugar Bakers in Catonsville is very good also. My better half got me this one a while back. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not off to the best start this year. Lots happening and lots not happening. Funny, as time goes by I find myself withdrawing more and more. And that process seems to be accelerating quickly. But as long as I have that spark inside that keeps me happy, I’m good.

Going to treat myself to a small rack tomorrow with my son. I’m overdue for those Corner Stable ribs and fries. Maybe a little football and then the work week begins again. Seems impossible but it’s on the doorstep and not to be ignored. It’s getting harder and harder to get up for it mentally as time grows nearer to the day I won’t have to. But it’s hard to focus on that reward for all these decades when the daily grind is still front and center in your face.

In some ways, it’s my own fault for making work such a central focus in my life at times and not prioritizing the other parts of life more than I have. And I’d have to admit I’m bitter about it. Not like I’m trying to get even or back at anything, just disappointed I didn’t know better before so late in life.

I always envisioned my later years on the job much differently. Most of my many good friends either retired or have moved on as our company went through many changes. Many took very lucrative buyouts years ago. Of course, those days are long gone. I’ll share a few hugs and handshakes with some oldtimers and current teammates, but they will be few. Hell, maybe they will be gone before me also.

I’ve already moved on mentally a bit. A few years ago I stopped looking at the job as my challenge and motivator. I have my own now. JB probably wouldn’t like to hear that but so be it. I still give 100% but no more. As some wise old men said many times working there, “make it work for you.”

Time to get busy with that thought tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You know when your mind is someplace else, it gets hard to refocus.
  • I’m going to try to begin my day with some of my favorite music much more often.
  • I started some woodworking yesterday. A piece for my granddaughter. I’m doing it to build confidence, for that little girl loves anything Papa makes her.
  • We haven’t had a drop of snow here and I’m still tired of winter.



What are the pros and cons of procrastination, today’s Bloganuary ask? Well, one of the pros is there has always been a tomorrow so far. The only other pro I could consider is that maybe the next day you realize that the priority you thought you had yesterday isn’t really one at all and the put-off item can be trashed altogether.

The cons are so many to list because if you keep in mind that there might not be a tomorrow. And once you realize that you will start living each day to the fullest. I try to think about what contribution I might make that could make a difference if never done. Or the creative thought and execution of a piece of art for a family member or friend. Or the words and actions of support for a friend.

Hi. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve been a procrastinator for longer than I’d like to admit. I’m trying a bit now to make up for the lost time. But I’ve also told myself to be happy and just get on with each day now instead of beating myself up for past laziness. I can’t say it doesn’t eat at me because it does but as they say, better late than never so I’m trying to be those things I’ve always wanted now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who do the job right and disdain for those who don’t.
  • One thing I always enjoyed about working nights when I would get off at 3 or 4 am in the morning. Streets were empty and you could see and experience some of the real design and beauty of the roads in this area without a gazillion idiots that want to ruin the experience.
  • We have to remember that just because the world looks littered with very bad people that a vast majority are really good people.
  • I think the cover comes off the car tomorrow and I’ll get out in some of those 50-degree temps before winter returns next week.
  • The older you get the less you take feeling good for granted.

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The question from Bloganuary today was “What Language do you wish you could speak” it made me think more about communication in general because no matter what language you speak it’s important to communicate respectfully. I thought about learning another language in retirement to keep sharp and broaden my knowledge. Only time will tell but I would probably start with Spanish.

Some will probably tell me I should work on perfecting my English first but none of us are perfect so I won’t let that impede me. Like a lot of Americans, I haven’t taken the time nor had the need growing up to learn another language. When I went to school I think it was called an elective. I went more in the art direction instead of language.

If you know how to smile you can cross a lot of language barriers.

Are you talking to ME? Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you do your best while not feeling your best you will be pleasantly satisfied when you do feel better.
  • Today’s cold and wind reminded me of why it’s my least favorite season.
  • I had a great meal today with my better half. Which reminds me to make another donation to the Maryland Food Bank.
  • It seems like a lot of people close to me are hurting badly now. Time to step up support efforts again.
  • Tomorrow a video of inhumanity is scheduled to air here in the states. Just one of many that occur each and every day. If each of us does our part we can change this and make it the exception instead of the rule.

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Speaks to me

What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why? This is today’s Bloganuary thought to ponder. I’m going with songs because music has spoken to me all my life. It’s one of the few things that gave me confidence as a youth. And one of the bands I’ve loved all my life has been The Who.

Their music spoke to the energy of my youth and discontentment. The power of the group’s instruments and Daltrey’s voice and what has been described as the best scream ever in R&R history on the song “Won’t get fooled again filled me with confidence to face the next day.

The music produced by this early team inspires me to this day. And the last line of the song “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is an adage that has been true all my life. And it supported my belief that power corrupts.

I read where Pete Townsend goes on to explain that the song was simply “meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the center of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause.” 

And I feel the same way. So many attempt to take control of our lives, every day of them, in many different ways. From our governments to our jobs and those who control the financial purse strings. And here are both of my middle fingers to all of that.

This reminds me, my message to the youth of today is to get your damn faces out of that small screen and look up. Life is right in front of you, not in that little box on social media. Live and experience life, it’s a gazillion times better than any app.

And also a tip when you’re at a concert. PUT THE F’ing PHONE AWAY and clap your hands, pump your arms in the air, sing along, do your windmill guitar impression or play along with the drummer. Whatever is it don’t worry about filming the band, live in the moment!

I’m having trouble stringing my guitar. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is one song that touches my heart deeply. It’s by Lynyrd Skynyrd and called “Simple Man.” They are some really good words to live by.

Mama told me when I was young
“Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it’ll help you
Some sunny day”
Oh, yeah

Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman, yeah, and you’ll find love
And don’t forget son there is someone up above

And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son, if you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh, baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son, if you can?
Oh, yes, I will

Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh, baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son, if you can?

Baby, be a simple, be a simple man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Taking time is the only way he knows.
  • The first day I’ve felt half-human in the last week. The operative word being HALF. So I’ll look at the glass as half full.
  • Summer seems so long away. I’m jonesing for some warm weather and bright SUN. But instead, we get cold and very windy tomorrow.
  • My battery life is about 2%. I don’t have a recharger for it besides sleep so that is what I’m going for.

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Show it

How do you show love was the question of the day for Bloganuary. Love is often best shown in actions. Love is shown through patience, trust, and appreciation. Love is shown threw the eyes. It is heard through the ears and felt through the touch. All those things and more make the words “I love you” mean something. And I try to say those words every day.

Love can be watching a sunrise together in silence. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if I should search my home for classified documents. I used to work in DC
  • It’s different when you hear the news about more layoffs and you know someone who has been affected by them.
  • Instead of Congress worrying about who or who can’t get Taylor Swift tickets from Ticketmaster maybe they could see if they could maybe work on preventing the coming hundreds of mass shooting events this year. I think one is a bit more of a priority than the other.
  • Tomorrow is always another day till it isn’t. And given the doomsday clock is moving in the direction where there might just not be another one, I’ll really appreciate tomorrow.

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Being truthful with yourself

Today’s Bloganuary question was “What’s a lie you tell yourself?” That is an easy one today. I’ve told myself I’m fine to work the last few days when I’m sick as a dog. I’ve told myself that lie for years and sometimes I pay a higher price. I often just power through it and come out fine on the other end. But I’m in my mid-60s now and this isn’t intelligent any longer.

So I’m thinking of putting myself on the bench for the next couple of days and see if I can get rid of this nasty cough and the elephant sitting on my chest.

Take a seat till summer returns. Photo by Mike Hartley

My apologies for such a short answer. I probably tell myself a few more lies than that one but time is short and I wanted to finish a post today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We are a short distance away from turning this whole country back into the days of the Wild Wild West.
  • Seeing my grandchildren should restore the smile to my face.
  • Unless you’re working for yourself you’re working to make someone or many others rich besides yourself.
  • And there are very few of those people who give a rats behind about you.
  • There are a few exceptions to the previous two statements before this one but they are very few and far between.
  • Sorry, I get a bit negative when not feeling my best.

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Dream job

What was your dream job as a child? This is an interesting question that makes me reflect on long ago. Early on I really loved the arts. Around 12, I got my first camera and fell in love. Being a photographer is what I thought my dream job would be. But as was typical in my youth I didn’t have that much follow-through. Lots of bad habits and poor drive in the right direction pretty much took that away.

Luckily I got a job out of high school in Photo Reproduction for printing. But eventually, my career turned more to IT after several years, and while I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures I never pursued my dream job.

But now I’m pursuing my dream as a photographer, not my dream job but my dream passion. And really you should be passionate about the job you do.

Another photog at work with family shots. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My random thoughts are being blocked by a constant cough.
  • You will never find anything written by AI on this site.
  • Starting the day out beat, before you even get vertical isn’t a good start.
  • Where did my weekend go?

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Who is your favorite author and why? The question posed by Bloganuary today is a tough one. It’s tough because I’m not much of a pleasure reader. I read a lot of stuff but I’m not what you would consider well-read as far as literature. So I won’t pretend to pick someone and explain why when there isn’t a good reason behind it.

So I’ll take the chance to say that I’m aspiring to be an author someday in the future. I’ve been trying to use this blog to help me get in the habit of writing daily and develop some basic skills in the area. I just added up the several years I’ve been blogging and it says 831,000 words over the years. I know, you might say I haven’t picked up much in all that time. But if I’ve got nothing else from it than the confidence to try to write a boot it’s been worth every minute.

I’ve got several ideas for books and upon retirement, I’ll get busy with that aspect of my hobbies.

I hope to write a few books before the sun sets on me. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’d like to write a book about those of us who live nocturnal lives. The first one though will be for my children and grandchildren about life. After those, I was thinking about my life in the newspaper industry for almost 5 decades and the many wonderful people, characters, and huge changes the industry has gone through. And maybe one about the place I’ve lived most of my life.

I just hope I get the chance to exercise those desires and aspirations. And why wait, I need to get back to those ideas and rough drafts I started a while back.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I read that creativity goes down with age according to lots of experts. I hope to make them evaluate that again.
  • Health is everything. Something that isn’t remembered till yours wanes.
  • I don’t like hearing gunshots late at night. If I hear one more I’m loading myself. No need to call the police, we got one up the street and I’m sure he heard it also.
  • Concentration is hard when not feeling the best.



Today Bloganuary topic is “what irritates you about the home you live in?” Well, that is pretty easy, absolutely nothing. Yeah, it’s an older home that needs regular maintenance. Yes, it’s not a big home and sometimes felt crowded with 4 people. Does the hardwood floor creak a bit, yes? Do I need some more attic insulation, yep?

And I could go on if I looked at my list but I won’t because I love my home. From the first time, I laid eyes on it. And now after almost 4 decades it’s filled with so many wonderful memories, nothing irritates me about it. When stuff comes up it’s all small stuff given the rewards it’s hosted.

The front porch. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love that family and friends feel so comfortable here. With Covid the past few years the home has grown on me even more. I’m very happy at home.

Home sweet home. Photo by Mike Hartley

Now there are some neighbor’s homes that irritate me like the ones who purchased a huge home next to me and turned it into an S hole. Or the one at the end of the street that some home flippers purchased and then tore half of it down and then left for a few years. Good thing the woods hide it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My typing speed and accuracy are out the window when I’m under the weather.
  • I wish I had my priorities in better order earlier in life.
  • Today is a day I really appreciate my favorite pillow.
  • A smile of a 3-year-old is good medicine when ill.
  • When you get to feeling bad it really makes you appreciate when you’re feeling good.

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Color and me

What color describes your personality and why, is today’s Bloganuary topic to ponder upon? So when I get something I’m not that familiar with like today’s topic I Google and see that one of the many rocks I’ve been living under has left me void of all the work that people seem to have done in this area with colors and personality.

The more charts and different colors I looked at just got me confused. Partially because I saw personality traits I believe I have under almost every color.

Color. Photo by Mike Hartley

First off I didn’t see my favorite color (maroon) in a lot of those charts. So I went and looked up Maroon and what personality traits are associated with that. Google said – The maroon color is often used to represent intense and passionate things like; confidence, creative thoughts, excitement, power, risk, passion, love, ambition, courage, strength, warmth, and beauty.

Well, that works for me. Maybe add compassion into the mix and that works.

Then again, I’m a bit under the weather and feeling the need to go be horizontal again and so this could be interpreted as a cop-out but it’s the best I got for today.

I do know I enjoy color tremendously. But there is a day I’d like to see color not so important. And I was thinking about that after all the news about Maryland having its first black governor. I see a man, not black or white, but one who has carried himself well through life, that served his country, that is smart and well-spoken and a family man. One that has goals for everyone in the state.

But unfortunately color is an issue in a negative way. I’m sure there are some Marylanders who are pissed we have a black governor. Ones where white might be the only color they want or can see. So I hope for the day that all colors can be appreciated equally and that color is looked at and described in beauty and nothing else.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The list of people who know what’s best for you is endless.
  • Been a long time since I’ve had a runny nose. I guess it decided to make up for the lost time. Buy Kleenex stock.
  • Way to go Maryland Basketball. Nice way to show that blowout in Michigan was a fluke.
  • If you want to see the strength in people you don’t go to the gym. Go to a hospital and see real strength.
  • If you want to see courage, treat those that need it the most, service members, fire and rescue, and police with kindness because they already see enough ugliness and don’t get paid crap to deal with it.


Favorite meal

The Bloganuary prompt today is “What is your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?” There is only one correct answer if you’re from the state of Maryland. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs is a Maryland food group. Be it freshly steamed or a crabcake sandwich. I love fresh shrimp or flounder stuffed with crabmeat. And dozens of other combinations But crab is the ingredient.

Photos by Mike Hartley

My favorite meal to cook is anything on the grill.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think one day I’ll just make the entire post a bunch of random thoughts. Oh, that’s probably what you thought I was doing anyway.
  • I would like to thank the outgoing Governor of the State of Maryland for a good job over the past 8 years and welcome the new Governor and hope he can keep the progress moving and even make us even better.
  • I regret being so tense and on edge when my kids were young.
  • Speaking without thinking is much easier to spot when someone else is doing it.

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The writing prompt for Bloganuary today is “Describe the happiest day of your life”, thankfully there is an excellent selection to choose from. I never try to place one above the other regarding my children. So the day they each were born was the happiest day in my life.

My daughter was born 1st and that experience changed my life. And also the shape of my body as my better half would grab various parts of it for her extended period of labor. But the feeling of being truly happy was seeing her laying on my wife’s chest with her eyes open shortly after her delivery, and every moment since. We didn’t know the sex of either child before birth. So our second, our son was a great surprise and a repeat of that wonderful day my daughter was born.

That day you want to jump out of your skin with excitement and joy but there is such calmness and contentment at the same time you just can’t stop smiling. You will never look deeper into your spouse’s eyes with appreciation. And that new set of eyes looking back at you goes directly to your heart on a path you didn’t know was there.

Life is a roller coaster. Enjoy it. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is such a different happiness than others it’s hard to put into words or find a comparison. Probably because there isn’t one. Nothing else in my life touches the two days my children came into the world. I guess my grandchildren would be a close second but again that is happiness again for both of them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I marvel at the strength and consistency people display, in the face of great odds.
  • Life is good when you don’t have to remind yourself to laugh a lot each day and it just comes naturally.
  • Technology is quickly escaping our grasp.
  • Just when you think you have life by the tail, you realize it’s a tiger.

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“Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell” is the Bloganuary topic of the day? Of course, I do and the first that popped into my head was the smell of a newspaper (Newsprint and Ink). It’s been a large portion of my life. It’s a smell my children and their children will be lost in their generations.

From the first day almost 5 decades ago, I walked into the building it was present and enveloped me. It permeates plants with presses. I don’t know what it is, but the printing of a newspaper is something I’m going to miss someday. In my younger days, we were recruited out of the engraving area to help unload trucks of newsprint, the main ingredient in this process.

A bumper sticker I can Support. Photo by Mike Hartley

But running it through that press, adding ink, and cutting the paper as it comes through the folder. There, is the smell I’m talking about. It’s carried to doorsteps around the world each day. It’s what you hold in your hands with your arms outstretched. The smell is there as you read. It’s there when you crumple a few pieces up to get a fire started, or put them in the recycle bin. Or if you’re from Maryland, to put it in the trash can after you have feasted on a few dozen crabs on top of them.

Another smell that triggers a memory is Thrasher’s French Fries on the boardwalk in Ocean City Maryland. On my first visit to OC, I remember hitting the inlet parking lot and the smell of those fries and vinegar and salt floated on the breeze from the waves to my nose. And anything that had a constant line of 10-100 people at a time must be good. So it’s become a tradition each year, I don’t get the big bucket anymore but I still have to satisfy that urge the smell triggers.

Thrashers, I took this shot because it’s the first time I saw a line shorter than 10 people. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is one more smell that triggered a memory this past year again. The smell of my son’s newborn son. It took me back to when he and his sister were born.

I saw a story on CBS Sunday morning on AI (artificial intelligence) to create art. It will never be as original as the human mind. Nor will the person who typed words to let the computer make something know the enjoyment of creating something themselves as an artist. That isn’t being arrogant, it’s just a fact. The imperfections in each of us make each piece unique.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m looking forward to the day when I get up and question what day it is like people who are no longer working do.
  • Football is winding down. No teams left to support. Bring on March Madness.
  • I wish I had more energy. Night shifts seem to exact a higher toll on the mind and body.
  • I haven’t shot a frame yet today but there is still time to trip that shutter.

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Fear overcome

“What fear have you conquered?” is the writing prompt of Bloganuary today. Well, I’ll go with my latest fear here that I conquered and that is the fear of being without a job. Never happened to me before and the threat of coming layoffs sent me spinning for a few days. I got upset being kind of close to when I wanted to retire and I didn’t want anything disrupting that plan for another 12-18 months.

The thought of having to interview for another job at this point being in my mid-60s wasn’t something I was looking forward to.

I not so quickly realized I have no control over the selection process other than my work so I’ll continue to plug away till I hear otherwise. And being I’m kind of reactionary by nature I didn’t think of my other options and some aren’t too bad. So even if the worst does happen which I’m thinking now isn’t in their plans for me, I’m not going to fall to pieces.

Now some of you might be saying what’s the big deal, people change jobs all the time. Well, not this kid. I’m less than a handful of months away from 25 years there. There was another job before that for 21 years. So you see I kind of found a couple of places to hang my shingle that I was comfortable in.

I’m not so sure I could have overcome news like that a decade ago. I had just finished dealing with my first cancer a few years before and was about to have a second one discovered.

The debate then was about how long did I have. Another fear I conquered a while back. Not that it didn’t take some years. Anyway, the fear of being unemployed is again the fear of the unknown. But I looked over that edge and it’s not as threatening as it once was.

Soaring above the fray. Mike Hartley

I am turning back to my nocturnal self this evening as the workweek begins again. But unlike last week I plan to get out each day and do some fresh shooting.

Random Thoughts of the Day (again)

  • There is a limited set of options. So said someone else.
  • It must be January, I’m fantasizing about the beach.
  • When you get older you don’t want to tempt fate by bragging about feeling good.
  • I’m glad I don’t have any Top Secret docs.
  • Tomorrow I feel like I’m going to be smarter than today.

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Mode of Travel

Today’s writing prompt for Bloganuary is “What is your preferred mode of Travel?” Sometimes questions like this leave you between 2 or 3 choices. Not me, there is only one way I prefer to travel now and that is driving in my convertible Miata. Be it longer trips or A to B. That is my love now. 30-40 years ago the answer would have been by motorcycle but the comfort of a car and a convertible and a sporty feel makes it a clear favorite.

Driving puts you in control of the schedule and route to get to your destination. If you don’t want to go at peak travel times you don’t have to. Stops along the way are your choice and you get to meet people from different areas. Driving allows you to see the land. Take in the smells of different regions, and feel the different temperatures as you change elevations. It’s hard to make out what is what at 30,000 feet.

When it’s clean. Photo by Mike Hartley

When I’m traveling I’m most comfortable when I’m in control of the vehicle. Anytime I relinquish that it’s a level of discomfort.

I didn’t like riding a bus when I went to school and that dislike continues to this day. Oh, I can ride a bus from a hotel to a church or reception but not travel travel.

It’s not that I don’t fly we do. It does get you there very fast (well at least my personal interaction with airlines) and it’s safer, but when you factor in parking, travel to the terminal, lines for baggage, and security and boarding. Oh and deplaning and baggage pickup and rent a car and off again. And then there is the part I’m not thrilled with like leaving the ground and returning to the ground and that time in between.

I’ll never be the cruise ship type. Even before the pandemic, I shuttered at the thought of being on one of those many cruises where tons of people are locked away in closet-sized cabins having severe stomach distress for days and paying thousands of $$ for the pleasure. And even if that doesn’t transpire you have mother nature. Repeat after me, hurricanes, rogue waves, your in a boat in the middle of nowhere.

There is one mode of travel that I thought about expanding upon in the future though and that is train travel. We took a train to Philly for a wedding last year and that went great. I’m looking forward to riding the Scenic Railway out in Western Maryland this year. I’m also thinking of taking the train (because the thought of driving in NYC doesn’t appeal to me) to New York City to see the 9/11 memorial and some other sights. I also see there are some wonderful scenic trains out west.

So there it is my fears and phobias about modes of travel and my preferred mode of travel that really gets me excited. And this thought about travel has got me more excited about the coming year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A better mental start to the day was made, which is always a big difference. A good night’s rest for a change was probably the catalyst.
  • It’s a bacon morning.
  • That cold wind this morning didn’t have that usual crisp and clean feel to it, almost like an angry feeling.
  • You know it’s going to be a good day when you get a picture of your son asleep and his dog asleep by his head and sitting a foot is his infant son who is sitting up wide awake and happy smiling at mom while she’s snapping the picture.

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The Bloganuary prompt today is “If you had a billion US dollars how would you spend it?” No idea, never had much to spend nor the time to do it. In some ways, I don’t even want to start down this path. First I’d buy an extra large bottle of Tylenol because having a billion dollars to spend could be a real headache.

The more money you are spending and have to spend, the more people will be after you. And with that sum, it would be a very long line. Plus money does very strange things to people. I’m afraid my priorities would get out of line. I would make sure family and friends would be set of course.

Photos by Mike Hartley

An idea just hit me. I would certainly want to donate a substantial part of it. And I would probably donate some the traditional way through established organizations. But my idea is to do some at a personal level but in an anonymous way. The mystery donor. In honor of the rich businessman who plays Secret Santa giving away cash during the holidays to those in need through other intermediaries but also staying hidden.

Spending my days just hitting up places in need in disguise and making as many people’s lives better as I could. Sounds like fun to me. They say money can’t buy time or happiness. But if you spend your money changing other’s lives for the better I guess that is a pretty good use of time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you ever wonder how some days are filled with such joy and such disappointment on the same day?
  • I’m tired, but not in the way you would first think.
  • Sports is now a business about making money and sometimes greed. But it’s just a game.
  • Do you ever feel like you don’t count? And better yet did you ever know you don’t?

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Challenging Chores

Today’s Bloganurary topic of the day is “What Chore do you find the most challenging to do?” Well, a topic right up my alley. I’m used to chores from a young age. Given this body has some miles on it some chores are far more challenging than they used to be.

I’m going to say the most challenging chore I have is doing battle with Mother Nature. Taking care of the yard and home is something that is finally getting beyond me in some ways. That 28-foot ladder, that barely reaches the gutters in the back of the house. That push mower for the lower hill (mountain), swinging an axe, or shoveling snow to name a few.

My yard could use some support if you guys aren’t busy. Photo by Mike Hartley

Mother Nature is a very formidable opponent and I used to be able to battle to a draw most years. No more, I submitted long ago to her superiority. I got an 80-foot tree down in my backyard from a storm that is going to need chainsaw work and moving. I might try it, I might even make it through it. Or the back could seize up halfway through.

Last year my better half hired someone to cut the back hill because I had fallen a few times cutting it with the push mower. It’s a steep hill and lots of people would fall. It was a wise move but I don’t like admitting that age is changing my physical abilities. I can still climb that big ladder but do I feel comfortable or stable as I used to? Nope.

I shovel snow like a plow now. If we are expecting a deep one I go out and do it periodically instead of all that heavy lifting after its finished. And one year I’m going to find a local youngin to do it. I enjoy some of the physical work and I always like being outside so in some ways it’s not a chore. But it is the most challenging by far.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A day and night filled with friends. That is a good day.
  • The chance for real sleep is ahead. Will I be able to?
  • They say opportunities don’t come around every day. I have to find their schedule.
  • Everyone has a limit. And it seems there is a large group dedicated to finding out everyones.
  • It’s a good feeling to be able to do a favor for a friend.

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Today’s Bloganuary question was “How do you define success?” My first thought was being happy for the right reasons. And by this, I mean happy in relationships with family and friends. Happy in your profession/work and not just in money but in satisfaction and accomplishment. And happy with how my time is spent in the pursuits and experiences I aspire to.

I mean what is success without happiness?