THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Brain freeze

I was given some news today that worried me greatly, so I haven’t been my usual jovial self. But I must press onward because I remembered my mindset to make the most of every day. So instead of spiraling downwards I’m going to think positive.

You can spiral up or down. A lot of times its our own choice.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of brain freeze, it’s almost time for the local snowball stand to open. I can’t wait to get that painful vise like feeling between my eyes. Thankfully its fleeting and a good reminder for me to slow down and enjoy it.

Can’t wait till the real snowballs are dished out.
Photo by Mike Hartley

OK, I couldn’t resist. I know it doesn’t make sense. I know the odds are as long as can be. I know logic has been thrown out the window. But when I saw the possible match ups for the University of Maryland mens basketball team I couldn’t resist because it would be like a dream come true. They are in the east bracket and if they get past the first two games and make it to the Sweet 16 they would probably run into Michigan State. Would be nice to beat the Big 10 champ and prove who is the cream of the crop. And the next game would probably be against the #1 seed and Maryland nemesis DUKE. Boy that would take me back to the ACC days where we would enjoy very much beating a #1 Duke team. Next up would most likely be Gonzaga which has been a #1 team most of the season. Lets say we get lucky and knock off 2 #1 teams. We then could have a possible match up with North Carolina in a final.

Can you image that. Knocking off that run of teams for the National Championship. Just the thought of this possibility sealed the fate of the office pool entry I made today. But one can dream. And I believe in being a supportive fan. Maybe a delusional one, but devoted.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I believe and practice on treating people the same. Be they a janitor or executive.

I hate being so busy that I don’t even have time to download the previous days shooting. Look like I’ll double up tomorrow.

I wonder how long it will be before the mob gets to that guy who killed one of the bosses?

Now why would someone recommend reading the manifesto of the New Zealand masque shooter? Oh it was Kelly AC. That explains it.

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Preparation complete

Well I’ve watched my full of college basketball for this point. Of course this was just a tune up for the big dance. This is one wide open tournament about to take place. And I’ll join the masses later tonight or tomorrow in filling out my brackets. Ah, I can feel spring in the air and the song “One shining moment” in a few weeks. Go Terps

MD vs Duke maybe one more?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Back to reality of the work cycle beginning again. Certainly seems to come around much faster and more often than weekends do. If I could find out whom to speak to about this I’d give them a piece of my mind. Of course I better be careful, not much there to start with.

It can’t be Monday already
Photo by Mike Hartley

Anyway its going to be a great week for a number of reasons. I refuse to let this wonderful week ahead turn into the crapper. I’m going to get inspired. I already have done a few things to get started and feeling good about doing some planning ahead. Like scheduling a day of vacation to spend quality time with family.

Also got the batteries charged up for the cameras. Going to get the mop on the top of the head cut. Got to work on finding a barber. Yeah there are lots of them out there, but haven’t found one to replace the one I had for almost 3 decades that I like so far. But the main thing is my mind is charged even though sleep has been a little erratic.

I was glad to see the stepped up enforcement on Rt 29 in Howard County. Hope they keep it up and do so in the morning rush also. I think they got some new unmarked vehicles. For a change of pace I got downtown today with not one person cutting me off or tailgating me badly or running a red light or unable to stay in lane.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Dumplings, need I say more. OK, beef stew. Now is that good enough?

It’s easier to be at peace with the world when you’re at peace with yourself.

While I always hold out hope for people, some seem bent on making that a useless dream.

I’ve got to get reading about the important choices ahead of us so I can pull the right lever. Oh that’s right, they don’t use levers anymore.

I’d like to see if the job of “Mayhem” is open for those State Farm commercials when I retire from this gig.


Little and big treasures

It was family day and what a wonderful time. My better half took the mug that her parents had gotten us when we had our first child. Also a girl and filled it with flowers as they had and gave it to our daughter today. I think she was very touched. It was a grand time. We all got to hold the baby and have a relaxed lunch together at her home.

An old gift refreshed and passed on to the next generation.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It made my weekend to spend time with family and friends again. I make every opportunity I can available to the people I love. Sometimes its tough to concentrate on other things after a great weekend like this. I know when it nears its end it certainly doesn’t seem fair.

But work beckons and bills come and you know the routine. A kind of routine I was hoping to adjust as I age but with the way things are going I might just have to work a bit longer than I hoped for. That’s OK though, if it does positive things for those loved ones I’ll do it as long as the body and mind hold out.

For there is no sacrifice to great when the precious things in your life are concerned. I wished more people would look at their families and friends that way. And if you can’t, find someone you can, because it’s a wonderful thing.

Random Thoughts of the Day

So tomorrow is the wearing of the Green. Never really got into St Patrick’s day celebrations. Maybe it was that green beer I had as a youth that ruined it for me.

It felt good to do a little shooting and editing this weekend. Now if I can just keep picking up the camera each day, I’ll have more of a feeling of success.

I just made the executive decision to make this a short work week. Ain’t it great being in charge. Well at least having some vacation time stored up when you aren’t.

I love natural lighting.

Refreshing your surroundings can refresh your attitude.

If they are going to charge me more for gas it shouldn’t also take longer to pump.

I’ve been moving things on my to do list around. Not a healthy thing to do.

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Days that give pause

Today my heart was again paused with holding my grandchild. There are few things more innocent than a child a couple of days old. The essentials mater. Warmth, food and love is all that is needed. That is all there is really.

I’m reading on the carnage that was inflicted by hate this day and again I’m paused. I wonder how we all go on after these events. We go on because life goes on and we aren’t brave enough to step in and do something about it.

As I stepped outside to check the temp again today I was paused by the beauty of the though of putting on shorts for the second day in a row. A short stretch of beautiful weather has emboldened me to return to the great outdoors. Even though it’s on its way out, it gave me the foundation of hope that more will return soon.

The older I get the less inclined I am to fly.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Seems like there have been a lot of tough moments this week. The airline crash, the massacre, cheating, bomb storms and many other tragedies. But our family is trying to do its part by keeping a loving spirit going, focusing on life and love. Yeah its hard when people try to kill you on the road back and forth to spreading that love but we move on.

And even though I will spend my remaining days trying to love and respect, I worry that one day before I go I’ll be walking out the door each day strapped, just for protection. A sad thought to be leaving our next generation with. One that a majority doesn’t want. But then again the radicals on both ends are starting to account for a lot of weight.

I always will remember the feeling of pulling the bike out on the first warm days of the year. Man was that great. I settle for putting the top down on the car now but I will never forget the joys of riding. I’m thankful to be here after 3 decades of 2 wheel fun. For those of you still in the saddle, be careful.

Nice classic on a Friday afternoon.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

OK, I’ve done a proper warm up for next weeks beginning of March Madness. Now if I can just figure a way to sleep from the end of the selection show on Sunday night to the tip-off on Thursday at noon and then stay up for 4 days straight.

You could set a million dollars in front of me and I wouldn’t bend over to pick up a cent if I had my grand-daughter in my arms.

You know some games leave you nobody to cheer for. Example today’s Duke and North Carolina match up. Oh yeah I dislike both greatly, but I would never miss it. And it was again another college basketball classic.

I wonder if that big fire in Boston at a casket company is sending us all a message to go with cremation?

Well another day in the blogging books.

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A warm and coal Thursday

I was rudely woken early today by a friend today. Despite this transgression we decided to meet for lunch and it turned into a long event which was great for the fun side of me but the taskmaster side of me isn’t happy. So I promised to get some things done this evening despite wanting to hit the rack.

Can you smell what I am cooking?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Actually we did get an entertainment center moved from one level to another, which was something that I’ve had on the list for a while just waiting for another set of hands. Really I had a great day overall. Got to put the top down and enjoy some sunshine.

Had some great old bay wings and pizza at Ledo in Normandy. New menu. Went with the old standbys though which were very good.

But as I look at my to do list and realize I haven’t shot a frame I feel like a bit of a failure today. But really it did me and another friend of mine some good.

We met another friend and went tape delay on the Maryland game which killed the good vibe of the day. Yes they laid an egg. But such is life, live to play another day which they have in the real dance.

I’m glad I’m finally comfortable with myself to take a day and relax a bit and not beat myself up over it. And there is time still to knock out a few quick chores. So I’m finding the balance.

It was great to utilize the weather today. Bike riders, runners and people out in their yards. Lots of other convertibles with the tops back also. I’m sure the construction guys working on a few projects near me were loving life today.

I think I’ll challenge myself to really shoot tomorrow despite the sloppy weather prediction. It’s good to practice in all kinds of situations.

I’m cooking again. I got real slack on this over the past few months. I need to give my better half a break. So I’m on a mission to try new things this year and get that grill rolling again. Made some honey garlic boneless pork chops the other night. Going to see what I can whip up tonight.

Sea Food – Eat Food
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

Boy that Maryland loss was hard to watch. Bounce back young’ins. You can do it.

Thankful for the healthy feeling today.

The power to feel like you can change something should always be yours. Even if the only thing you can change is yourself.

I’m about to burst in anticipation of seeing my grandchild again.

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Lets Rock, it’s Hump Day

Despite the grey look outside now, I’m in much better spirits. Feeling better and about to get a period where I can work on some of my interest again. Think I’ll try for an early start on Thursday. Being I’ll be up all night tonight that shouldn’t be too hard to pull off, but the effort might only be a few hours till I crash for a bit.

I think I’ll surprise my better half with her favorite items from Dunkin Doughnuts in the morning. She has been a trooper lately.

I was going to go all Foghorn Leghorn on the Lamar Jackson video of him driving with a few issues, but then I remembered I was young once and liked speed in a car. But I always wore a seat-belt. Even before there were seat-belt laws. Just like I always wore a helmet even before there were helmet laws in Maryland when I road a motorcycle. And as far as I can remember when I was in triple digit speeds I had both hands on the wheel and I was paying attention to what I was doing and not filming. Of course there was no filming back when I was growing up.

Traffic, I’ve had it with it. Well let me correct myself. People behaving badly in traffic. I think I’m more accustomed to deal with the traffic like below.

Excuse me, coming through.
Photo by Mike Hartley

There are a couple of things I haven’t done in a great while that I have put off and put off. Well this might be the weekend to correct a few of them. I’ll let you know as I go.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I could never live in a city.

The river of goodwill is getting low.

Relationships are about adjustments.

There is nothing like working from home if you have the commute from HELL.

Just because I’m having a good time, does it have to go so fast?

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Tuesday – get spinning

March is National Kidney Month. I’m into kidney’s because I’m a kidney cancer survivor. I salute all those with kidney issues and hope you healthy ones take care of that part of the body. Its important.

The Madness has begun with the conference tournaments under way. This is a great time. Pressure and excitement is off the charts. Its game time and its unpredictable as its ever been. And next week I’ll be completing my bracket as usual. I participate in an office pool contest. Its great. I’ve become somewhat of an item in that I always pick Maryland to win it all.

Not as nice as yesterday but sunny so I won’t bash the weather to start with. So lets begin on a positive note. We are alive, I was going to say alive and kicking but not this kid. Today is a continuation of a good bit of discomfort. Trying to overcome it again without the meds. I feel like I’ve injured the back again. Certainly not the first time so I do have some experience with that feeling.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So a few days of work in the books so to speak. A few more ahead and then I can see my new grandchild again this weekend. But I’m going to start by spending a day outside. Thursday looks like the best candidate so far in terms of weather. I’m going to get some exercise – outdoors. I might work on the home by starting to pick up branches outdoors. Might take a ride and put the top down outdoors. I might take a walk outdoors. Get the theme here. I’m sure we all want to get outside when a good opportunity presents itself.

I’m a big believer that this connected generation has lost a little of its incentive to get up and get outside. To make real connections and friends. To experience real events together. Maybe the person standing next to your best friend, and your on your Facebook live and thinking those people might be your best friends.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Even when I’m not feeling that good, all I have to do it is talk to my friends and all of a sudden I’m feeling better. Usually because they are worse off than me.

My feet want to know why we haven’t walked in the sand in some time.

Historical revisionist are interesting people. Sick but interesting.

Driving to DC is about as frustrating as it gets. Brutal road conditions. And the people. Wow is about all I can say without cursing.

The proposed budget proves how this is not the people’s president.

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Monkeying around Monday

Hey come on, wake up, another great start to the week is upon us.  I’m still on cloud 9 about my first grandchild. But reality smacks me in the face with work gearing up. I’ve also gotten lazy with the blog and I’m going to do better this week. Even though I’ve been posting its older photos I’ve shot and my banter has been self focused.

Just been hanging around today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So its time to pick up the cameras (other than baby pictures). I find the more I shoot the better I feel. I start looking at life with a more open and attentive way. So I’m going to shoot tonight and tomorrow morning early to improve my attitude.

You know when you see the writing on the wall about the future of your profession, its unwise to ignore it if it isn’t the best.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Nice driving into work before the sun sets again.

I can’t listen to lie’s any longer.

Manual transmissions and Kickstart my Heart are a nice combination.

I feel that my will is being tested in getting things done while in pain at the same time.

I’m having grand-daughter withdraw. I’ll cure it soon.

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Special Sunday

Every day is special, but I’m starting to get interested in Sundays again. For instance next week is Selection Sunday. And this Sunday, the first in my grand daughters life. A day of rest for some. A day of worship for some. A recovery day for those hard chargers. There is Super Bowl Sunday. And of course Easter Sunday. It’s the day of the Sun.

There are Sunday Blue laws. And everyone’s favorite “The Sunday Newspaper”. Sorry I had to get a shameless plug in for the industry which I work. The ticking clock on the show 60 Minutes. A Sunday afternoon at the ballpark watching a day game on a sunny humid day in the great state of Maryland.

Or in the months I don’t go outside I’m watching some Sunday night football. You can watch the final round of a golf tournament or maybe a NASCAR race. Maybe a leisurely Sunday walk with your better half. Or those early morning Sunday rides on the back roads with the top down on a Sunny Day. Maybe U2 singing about Bloody Sunday.

And OMG, who can not get into Sunday Dinners. But of course Sundays can also be a day of labor. Like Sunday grass cutting during my warm weather seasons. And then the fun kind of labor like the Sunday car wash. Some go to Sunday school. Some work Sundays. Some sleep or slack off Sundays.

Some mentally prep on Sundays for the week ahead. Some pay respects on Sundays. Some play with their children. Some catch up on bills. Some go boating. Sunday is a day for returning from the trip or vacation. Sunday is also the day some leave to the new destination of the week. Oh, don’t forget the Sunday Buffet at some of the fine dining establishments.

I know I’m overdue on taking my better half to a Sunday movie. And today’s warm weather reminds me Sunday cookouts aren’t far off in the future. So it seems there is a lot to think about on Sundays.

Coasting into a Sunday morning.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I think I’m about to break down and purchase some photo editing software. I’m trying to resist. Trying to stay pure.

Time for a major purge in my office. I’m starting to feel the chaos it appears in.

Editing baby pictures is fun.

I forgot how tiring children can be.

I can’t believe I used OMG in a post.

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I get to practice something I haven’t done in years. Child and family photography. I’m going to have to do some research and study on how to do this well for my children. Now that my daughter has started the family expansion plan, I’m chomping to get her some images she will love for a lifetime. Especially when she is grown.

From the time children are first being held in your arms till they are packing the car to go to college is a blink of an eye. I thought I did an OK job along the way appreciating it, but I could have done better. It goes so fast, you’re so busy and tired that sometimes you forget to be thankful for that day. Especially the tough ones.

I need the Eastern Shore soon.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to try to help my kids document their children’s lives along the way. Because along my journey I realize should have shot a lot more images of them when they were young. But your too busy living the moments at times. That’s where I hope to fill in the gaps.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I used to enjoy driving in this area. Now the only hours its fun is between 3 and 5am.

I see so few companies giving that personal customer service that used to be standard.

Spending the last few days at Howard County General, I’ve noticed how pleasant it is there. You’re in the general public but all of a sudden people are exchanging greetings and holding doors and asking how people are and all sorts of things that used to happen outside hospitals.

There all of a sudden is a new normal. There all of a sudden is new concerns and worries. There all of a sudden before us, is a wonderful reward.

How can you not love College Basketball?

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Went to a college basketball game this evening thanks to a Xmas present from my son. We had a great time. I mean how many times on a final regular season game and senior night do you get to see someone surprise propose at half court. That kind of kicked off an exciting evening at the X Center. The game was a good one. It was Gold Rush night so every one of the students got gold tee shirts. Of course my son and I had our gold on.

I’ve spent some real quality time with my children the last few days. There is nothing like it. Well even though they are young adults they will always be our children.  I don’t know how I got so lucky but the word thankful would be an understatement. And I love the way our relationships are growing.

Gazebos, here I come.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I had something so special in my arms today for the first time. I won’t forget that moment or feeling.

I heard there was a recall on my car. But when I looked closer it was for the model with automatic transmissions. Serves you right for buying a Mazda Miata with and automatic transmission. Its sacrilege they are even made that way.

Went to Hard Times Cafe today. Forgot how much I liked their chilli. They also had some great boneless wings. I was taken back to the day when our company had a plant in College Park MD. We used to hit the HTC for lunch. I won’t make the time between visits so great next time.

OK, the end to the regular season of the College Basketball season. The tension just went up a few notices for these kids and schools.

Snow, can you believe it. Its March 8th and we get snow. Unacceptable but I did make it to the end of Friday before I complained about the weather this week.

If there were more time in this day, I would have written more, thankfully for you all there is a deadline and I must bid farewell for the day.


Days like today

Not much else mattered in the world today but one thing. Well two things really. For today the worries of the world left me. All I wanted was to know my daughter and her newborn were OK. And the answer to that is YES and we are grandparents today for the first time. There are a ton of you who probably know the wonders of those little eyes looking back at you for the first time. I experienced that for the first time and its touched me deeply.

I’m at a loss for words, mainly because I forgot the pad I was writing on today at the hospital with my better half. But also because I’m in awe of the event and results. And I only got 2-3 hours sleep last night so I’m doing this with one eye but didn’t want to break my posting streak. And I had to say how wonderful I felt at the same time.

it’s reminded me again what is really important in life. The creation of life along with love can go a long way curing the world ill’s. But we get wrapped up in other things of much less importance and forget how precious and delicate life is.

Today is something that also helped me move on a little. We were at the hospital where my Mom came in with a bad stroke a few years back and passed some days later. Today I have a memory that will allow me to smile as I pass that hospital or enter it again. No I’ll never forget the memory of those days I’ve lost my last mother. But its going to be second now by far to the joyous day today was.

Best part of the day.
Photo by Mike Hartley

For it’s the dawn of a new day. Maybe the dawn of a new attitude. Certainly a dawn of a new member of the family tomorrow morning. I think I’ll get up and out around sunrise to think and reflect. To give thanks. To reset my priorities.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Worry, concern, anticipation.

and then:  Excitement, Joy, Happiness and Contentment


Madness and a Tranquil Day

Wow, its March 6th and this is my first reference to March Madness. No sense getting hyped to early. Lots of energy will be expended this month. We love the madness. Its only 14 days 18 hours and 22 minutes away by the Countdown to First Tip-off Clock I found online. Actually it was on a page I was looking at for the history of the tourney and it was in the upper right corner.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I caught the madness bug back in the mid 1960’s. When UCLA started its run. And then Lefty came to Maryland and swore to make the Terps the UCLA of the East. He gave it a great run. College ball is so much fun to watch. You don’t get the spirit and excitement at the pro game unless its playoffs and then its a bunch of rich people who don’t know how to get excited.

When you see student sections standing the whole game. You see them doing coordinated dances and songs. Wearing school colors by sections. And of course going totally ape s__t when they win. One thing that does bother me is all the big shots with the big money and the best seats aren’t using them often.

I was just thinking about how much more I write in the blog than I intended when I set out. Little did I know there was a writer caged inside this skull. And it is something I’ve come to enjoy. Of course on the other side of the coin by doing this I’ve exposed myself to the old adage of “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but I’m plugging away at it. And one day I’ll hopefully have a lot more wonderful images to go along with the random banter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

The word “Jeopardy” took on a whole new meaning today. Best of luck Alex.

I saw my sister for the first time in quite some time and it was good.

I’m seeing each day as an opportunity greater than the one before it.

(%@Y%@#$@*&  – Sorry I was just COLD.

It’s already been proven over and over, there are people above the law. And there is a good chance we will see this played out again. I don’t like it and it pisses me off.

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Fat Tuesday and other madness

I guess I’m getting a little long in tooth. I’m not celebrating Fat Tuesday today. Hell I’m barely making the obligations I do have like work and family/friends. One of these years I’ll have to venture to NarLin’s and watch the parades, eat like a king because they have some great food there and revel in the festivities.

I’ve never been one for a lot of travel. Mostly because I’ve never had the funds to go as we please. But we are also a bit of homebody. But I think the travel bug is started to enter both of our mindsets. Which reminds me, I need to get a passport for later this year when we go to Canada.

Stay warm this evening.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Funny how hostilities that have always have been under the surface for decades are now out in the open. Lots of us don’t agree on crap. We used to let that be secondary. Now its front and center. Ripping at families, friends and strangers. At one point I thought we could get back together. But the only direction appears to be further apart. To withdraw into our own camps and build more walls.

And those walls and moats are increasing in size. Pretty soon the next step is for those camps to step out and attack their enemies. I see people who have lots of tolerance. People of open minds. People with common sense. But once violence starts its hard to remain neutral. And we already see dire warning signs. Look at some of the people rounded up before they can take horrible actions.

I hope I am wrong but I saw this coming a number of years ago. I hope to do my part to avoid it. But I’m also smart enough to prepare for it. We are losing our ability to communicate. We are totally self focused. We have lost the ability to compromise. We refuse to put ourselves into what the other side see’s and trying to gain understanding and common ground.

I used to watch both conservative and liberal bases news to try to get a more complete view. Now I’m having trouble watching either. But I do and I’m very concerned about selective news. Well enough doom and gloom.

All I want to be thinking about is a deck party and sunset at Fagers Island this summer.

Give me a sunset from here any day of the week.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I slept 8 hours today. Miracles will never cease. It’s been so long since I rested that long, I was startled by the time on the clock.

My attitude will improve when I no longer have to drive to DC.

What a beautiful sunset today.

I’m at peace with myself for a change of pace.

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Keyboards and Cold

Started off today listening to some songs with strong keyboards. And amazing instrument. A cross between a lead guitarist and drummer, is what I think of when I think of the keyboards. Hell, what do I know about music. Other than I love listening, dancing and playing air instruments. Oh I like to sing also. But I don’t subject too many to that pain. Then again, I think I have a good voice.

Musician on Main St in Annapolis.
Photo by Mike Hartley

OK we have 5 days of cold weather to get through and then we can start breathing a little easier. I’m going to do my best not to rage about it between here and Saturday. As they say I’m going to man up against the elements. I’m putting this mental picture below in my mind for the week.

Select your direction wisely.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So what is up around the water fountain? Not really sure anymore. The influx of new bodies and the old ones disappearing each day. The age differences, the no history together, the different cultures. All have led to a very different idea of what I had winding down. I guess I should have suspected it, I was always one of the younger members myself of the old timers.

Flood in the lobby provided this nice reflection.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Gone is a lot of the laughter, the stories and characters behind them. The ruckus lunch breaks in our own cafeteria and building. Those are long gone also. We are in a bright new office building. Yeah we left the rats and roaches behind but they also gave it character. So with the combination of people change and shift work I’m no longer in the cooler loop.

I miss the laughter. I miss the personal connections where you would know family names and ages and what is going on in their lives. I miss the old days and they aren’t coming back. Well except when we meet outside the job.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Doesn’t your mind just open up when you sit and play with a very young child?

Doesn’t love move your heart differently when you hold a child close?

Doesn’t the reactions of a child just give you pause to try to think what they are thinking?

Doesn’t a smile from a child make you lean forward and smile back?

Doesn’t a cry from a child become your top concern no matter where and when?

Doesn’t a child both take years off and also add years of life to you at the same time?

Doesn’t a squeeze from a babies hand go so far to making your day and week complete at the same time?

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Keep trying to make them count

Each day seems to slip away before I can really make it count. You know, really get something accomplished. Maybe I’m just a bit lofty in my goals. Or maybe I’m not doing enough. Who knows, the trying part is the important thing. Not getting caught up in what was or wasn’t. Just forging ahead.

Summer, what summer?
Photo by Mike Hartley

You know the heating pad is a marvelous invention. I would spend the rest of the night on it but work is on the agenda. Another weekend come and gone. No problem, hope to continue some progress into the week and keep positive mindset moving forward into this sloppy Monday.

This is going to be a great month despite the snowy start. Some real good things happening. And its important for me to keep focused on the good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Going to shoot up a storm on Monday. Got to, I’m behind.

Oh yeah, I had better find my big coat again before Tuesday.

I figure if we could learn to communicate, we might have a few less issues to deal with.

Wondering what the hell hit me.


Power through

Was not the best start to the day and it didn’t improve physically, but we are forging ahead. Kind of using that logic about a lot of things and I find it working out, both in my personal and professional life. I feel like I’m now in charge. I didn’t have the right attitude for a long time. I was bouncing and letting life take me for the ride instead of riding the wave of my choosing.

Light me up.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s also helpful in staying focused during what used to take all motivation away. I’m very proud of getting things done during the most difficult times. Not using excuses to let the day slip by. Only looking forward to what I can do. Today was adding a few hundred images to my photo site and hope to do a few hundred more this evening. I’m also going to warm up that printer and do some 8×10’s. I had wanted to do so much more. I wanted to get out this morning. I wanted to get a few days blogs started. And a dozen more.

Honey, I think we’re going to need a wider lens.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The hardest part when not feeling well is concentration. My mind is all over the place. Constantly trying to refocus. By staying busy at something I enjoy, keeps time moving during difficult spots. Like tonight, I don’t think I’m going to spend hours fighting to find a comfortable position, I’ll just work through it and maybe catch some short naps.

I hope tomorrow is better, but the elements aren’t going to be cooperating. And cold just seems to aggravate any aches and pains that come along. I just thought of several things I’d like to accomplish so I better stop this and get up and to them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I think I’ll eat another slice of pizza.

Time to mentally prepare myself to help do taxes.

I wish we could have some peace here at home but I don’t see it coming anytime soon.

Hip Hip Horray pain in my hip.

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Goooood Day

An early start is a good thing if you’re doing what you like. I’m trying to do more things I like more often. Fitting them into every nook and cranny I can of each day. Each day is different and I’ve learned to go with the flow. The more I think, the better I do. For instance instead of flopping on the couch this morning on my day off, I said no to the TV and found an old image I half liked and said get moving.

Yep, its morning.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Was going to shoot some snow pictures but the body was not willing earlier and the mind was short on rest. But I felt the need to do something. Well feeling the need is the wrong way to put it. Having the desire would be better stated. So cranking up the creative engine as we speak.

Excuse me, did someone forget to send the memo that its MARCH and not December? So far this year I’ve done very well, in not complaining about the cold too much. Well a little. OK you might have gotten the drift that I HATE being COLD. And what do I see on the long-term forecast. COLD.

I’m like the bear in the cave. I know its time to get up and out, but its COLD. And now I’ve got an attitude issue. So I’m going to have to lie to my neighbors again about the sudden onset of Tourette syndrome to explain my cursing when I step outside.

Wind will move that sand also.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

Gearing up for grandchildren.

I don’t like it but I’m substituting the occasional bottle of water for a Coke now and then.

Hopefully justice will take its course.

The more I simplify things, the easier life becomes.

You know its interesting that I have no desire to drink water but an overwhelming desire to chug a 12 pack of Cokes.

I blew it again. I see its the National Day of Unplugging.

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I was able to relax with a good friend today. I believe he enjoyed the afternoon also. It’s not something we get to do often. And something that might get more difficult in the future. But we were living for today and made good use of it.

So time to do a thoughtful post is down to a few minutes because I went out the door to another one of my best friends for the Thursday Vigil. Going to throw the cameras in the car and try to catch some overnight snow shots in another few hours. I think its starting between 2-3am. Should be fun. Not many people out at that hour. So I better catch a quick nap.

Pond along Rt 99 near Waverly.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I was going to post some more treasures from the chest I opened yesterday. For I found a number of what be my father’s father WWI medals. One of them is a Purple Heart. I’m thinking it probably is his because in the same case is a bullet that looks to be that vintage. I’ll get those shots out tomorrow or later tonight.

Random Thoughts of the Day

It feels real good to do something to help someone else. Think I’ll try to do the same thing again tomorrow but a different person. Or maybe the animal shelter.

At times in my life I have to admit I haven’t made the best of my opportunities and that is a real waste. But working hard to remedy those failures now.

Do you ever wonder where all the good ideas are stored?

If someone would like to secretly write my name and my friends in on the next election ballot that might be good for everyone. For we get together every week and solve the worlds problems.

I’m going about my days tasks and joys. But my mind is on my expecting daughter.

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Treasure chest

Today I wanted to get an item out of an old chest that was stored at my parents home that I saved when they passed. I wanted to get my Fathers burial flag out because I’m going to get a display case for it. I’ve been shooting pictures at Arlington Cemetery for years now and I thought I’d put something together with a few of those shots, his flag and picture.

Held up well after 8 plus decades.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m just making my way through the treasures in here. Yeah it has been a long time. I can’t explain it. I just have trouble going through my Dads things. Losing him when I was young was probably the hardest thing I’ve experienced in life. Even 5+ decades later I have a number of feelings and emotions that are incredibly strong.

Until today, I never knew the history of this chest. Going through this scrapbook of my Fathers I discovered this picture of this chest sitting on his bed. And as his caption reads “a picture of my trunk my mother gave me before I went into the Navy.” I had a thought it might be his or an old trunk of my Mom’s but didn’t know it was my Fathers from his Mother.

Dated May of 1941.
Photo by James Hartley

Also in this scrapbook I found some shots of a trip he took to Niagara Falls in April of 1941. It’s the year the Niagara Falls bridge was being built. I believe it’s called the Rainbow International Bridge now. Now I’m going to have to buy a print scanner to get these and many other images I’ve found digitized and available to the family.


As I was going through a few envelopes of his military ribbons, I found this from Operation Highjump in 1946 that he went on. It seemed he took a good number of shots on this journey and at Little America. And these include a number of fellow servicemen with names in the photos. So maybe another family might enjoy some history also. Of course it would probably have to be sons and daughters. Not many surviving parents from that era left. As time goes on I’ll try to post some of those. Maybe I’ll set up a rig just to photograph them so it can be quicker and less wear and tear on these old items.

Operation Highjump ID’s and crossing record.

Operation Highjump ID’s and crossing record.

Random Thoughts of the Day

If you can’t appreciate a warm shower, you aren’t living.

So many interest, so little time.

Working really cuts into my idea and creative time.

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What I can

What I can. That is what I try to do each day. Some days that results in a lot of things getting done. Other not so much. The trick for me is not to get to high or low on what I do and don’t accomplish. I’ve learned to weigh the important things more. And this has led to a lot more satisfaction of life.

Pickets in the sky.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The key for me is thinking “What I can.” That gets me going. It helps build a list. It helps me dial that number. It helps me reach out. It meets my responsibilities and obligations. It also helps me organize in my head “What I can” really accomplish and put things like family and friends as priorities along with the responsibilities and obligations. But the secret “what I can” is the few minutes of the day that I can be selfish and maybe work on the blog or photography or carving.  And while it gets the short end of the stick, it’s what I can do.

Today I met my expecting daughter for dinner. I can’t help but smile from ear to ear of the thought of the family expanding. I so wish my parents were alive to see it. But I’ll be content in heart that they are also smiling along. Seems like each day I get a little more giddy about the event. I guess I should calm down. The real excitement begins when she joins us.

Boy I’m going to have to rack the attic files in my brain on taking care of little ones. Many decades have passed. Hope its like riding a bike. So much has changed. At least I have a bit before teaching them to brush.

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

Well being. Now that is a great goal.

Peoples idea of history has gotten far to short. And then there is the problem of people who won’t learn from history and therefore are doomed to repeat it. Could be the root of some problems we are facing.

Did you ever want to go knock on a door of a home you lived in and ask to walk around.

Don’t forget to sprinkle a little of the things you like in life to your day.

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It’s hard to notice those small changes as you age. You adapt, hide, minimize, change direction, institute routines to keep things at previous levels. It’s those noticing times where you pause. Maybe its taking off the glasses for a while and looking. Maybe its at a party where you finally give up the struggle of hearing everything and politely excuse yourself to get another drink. Maybe its making and old spin move that was easy and effortless and tripping over the ball on the way to the hoop.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s those moments that give you pauses you didn’t have previously in life. You are faced with the new reality. You are going to have to continue to adapt. I guess I’ve already been doing that for years in a number of ways professionally and personally, but these physical differences didn’t impact changing roles at the job or becoming a parent or going for a run.

But we should also not get too wrapped up in those things. There are a lot of friends who aren’t around to have those moments. There are others who would love to have such simple problems because they are really sick. There are others that would even love to have a hoop and shoot and play in their driveway and the energy and time available but don’t.

So today is a half and half day. I’m feeling very fortunate and thankful in many ways.  But I’m also looking for the knife that is stabbing me in the lower back and thinking I better put on my glasses before I stub my toes and go hoping around the house cursing.

Wind and water.
Photo by Mike Hartley

OK this is a nature observation. It’s frigging windy as hell. Sounds like a constant roar of trains going by. Driving was fun yesterday and this morning. Luckily I have a rather low profile ride, but its light. It was kind of like watching a NASCAR race this morning. We were 3 wide and the wind was moving everybody all over the track. There was riding on the apron. There was someone who got into the unsafer barrier. There was debris on the track. Everyone was loose, I guess the tires hadn’t gotten up to pressure.

Anyway it was interesting. I got out of some traffic at a few points because there seemed to be a lot of armatures on the course.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Take the time to get to know people. It can pay off.

Sometimes its good to keep plugging away no matter the futility that it may seem.

If you can find the reward in something does it matter if anyone else feels its worthy?

Think I’ll get the camera out of the bad and grab a few early morning shots.

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List and Time

There were a lot of things on my to do list today. I got to two of them. Pretty poor if you know what a lot of things mean. On a bad day I might knock out 5. But I’m fine with it. Because those two things were really the only priorities of the day. And as one of my best friends pointed out yesterday, time and how you spend it, is the most important thing.

Reflection 2
Photo by Mike Hartley

The time was well spent this weekend. I just wished I felt better going into the work part of the week. Troubling going into a full and busy week only feeling half. Maybe I’ll cut that to do list in half just on principle.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I would give anything for my better half to feel better.

There have been a lot of good starts to the Oscars, but tonight’s was up my alley.

There is only time. Don’t let it slip by without using it well.

I can’t tell you how happy I am with my children. And now we are adding grandchildren. How many blessings can one have.

I promise to do better with tomorrows post.

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Play ball

OK I’m over my cranky Friday. Just felt like complaining yesterday. Not really entitled to because life is treating me well, but I did anyway. Such is life. Today was great though. Time with a best friend, a Maryland basketball game and victory. An evening at home with my better half. What’s not to like. Plus its the kickoff of Spring Training.

My yard could use some support if you’re not busy.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I find the more I struggle with living not in the moment, the more difficult life becomes. When I start worrying about the past or future my mind gets off on the wrong track. I start worrying about events coming up. Work, bills, responsibilities and many more start clouding my mind. Or I start to rehash what has past. So today I just focused on having a good time. And a good time was had.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I had to get a new barber after 24 years with the same guy. Change is hard. I actually thought about letting my hair grow again. It is still somewhat appealing to me. Not to my better half though who hated my long hair. So off to the chopping block I went.

I saw someone yesterday and I wish I had stopped and asked if we knew each other because she smiled so when she passed and then I told my better half I wonder if I knew that woman who was sitting behind me and she said that she was smiling at her also. Missed opportunity. Won’t happen again.

I’d like to hear more from the school band at Maryland games and less of the techno music. But that is probably because I’m older.

One of my fears. That I will run into someone who was in my life at some time and I might not remember them or the events. And the older I get the more that panic sets in.

I’m contemplating eating right.

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Hard and Soft

Looking across at the new construction site of a new development near our neighborhood I saw some infrastructure ready to be installed. These massive slabs of concrete sit out and before being buried underground for a lifetime. So I’m guessing they didn’t mind the feel of that soft snow covering them on Wednesday.

Snow caps.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I should have spent some time with these but it was sleeting and I had been outside for a good while and that 18-300 zoom was reluctant to zoom given the temps. I’ll be better prepared next time. I like the fact that I’m thinking each time I go out now, what will work better, what can I do differently.

I’m back to doing my 360’s on walks. Sometimes it very advantageous to just spin and look at what is all around you. It can be dangerous if you’re not agile and if you’re doing it while moving. I guess I’m used to it, moving backwards or side to side or spinning that basketball teaches you. Sometimes what you just shot, now even looks better from another angle after walking away from it. Or your likely to see something entirely new.

Pour me a glass of milk.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But back to these objects. Again I will be forced to look at another development being shoehorned into every bit of free space this county has left. The sounds of heavy equipment. The dirt and mud on the road. Having to stop for flagmen as they pull big rigs in an unload and load dozer’s and materials. Some high-priced homes which will do nothing more than raise my property taxes and make it more difficult to live here in retirement.

I know I heard engines the last few days.
Photo by MIke Hartley

One day I might not be concerned with who I vote for in Howard County because I might be forced to leave it. You have been doing this to me for 57 years now and you have just about broke my spirit. Enough already with the GD development. You don’t have the infrastructure to support it. From 36K people in 1960 to 321K in 2017.

Woods disappearing again. Pretty soon you might have to change the name of Woodstock to just Stock.

Hard ladder to success.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh and this reminds me of something else that bothers me. The name of this new development these concrete structures are going into is in the sign below which I won’t repeat because it’s WRONG. This is WOODSTOCK. Good luck finding the Marriotts Ridge Post office. If you’re looking for the high school its 4 miles down the road. Why didn’t you pick Alpha Ridge, that is closer at 3 miles? And what is wrong with the town name your in?

New neighborhood coming.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

The U.S. is entering uncharted territory within. And I’m worried about the incredible danger involved.

I’m going to work with a piece of wood and let my thoughts go to just concentrating on what I’m doing.

Here is one benefit of age. I have a performance review at the job on Monday. At my age you know how you are doing and you don’t give a rats ass what someone else thinks. So it’s a worry free experience.

Making stuff is fun. When your making things for other people its even better.

A bad day for people with the initials RK (R Kelly and Robert Kraft)

The goal of getting proper rest doesn’t seem to be doing much for the body, but the mind is loving it.

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No assistance needed

Well, glad this white stuff will be melted soon and I can get back to having the rubber meet the road. As I walked to clean my better half’s SUV this morning I peered over at my ride. And instantly, my right foot coped an attitude and was highly insulted when this is what he saw. I asked what was wrong. He indicted he had no issues making those wheels spin and didn’t need any assistance from the white stuff.

These wheels turn without the aid of snow. So no sense taking it out today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I tried to settle him down but there was no calming it. He wanted an answer to what all that white crap was doing on his wheels. I tried to say 60+ degree temps on Sunday in a voice of temptation. That did get his attention but still didn’t take the scowl off his big toe. I promised him summer was coming, the frown started to flatten out. I then said I’d fill up the tank, wash the car and armor all the tires. So I see a corner tilt upward and then I laid out the clincher. I said remember that my best friends Corvette with the new supercharger wants to go to the track this summer and wants us to come along to play. That did the trick. A happy right foot again. But it did mumble “get that snow off my rims now.

Take, Take me HOME. Nice line in a song I like. Kind of a nice tune to finish out the work day to. I hope to incorporate a ton of music for my Thursday. Music tends to put me at ease and in a positive creative mood. Then again there have been points in my life where I used it to build anger and rage. But those days are over hopefully. Music to inspire is what I try to achieve now. That doesn’t mean I don’t listen to loud aggressive tunes, it’s how I interpret and use them now for inspiration. I like all tunes, well mostly the ones I grew up with. But I find new tunes all the time I also like.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Just saw a show called Carnival Eats. That is sick. And I want two of everything they showed.

The scale showed a number today that made me happy. Now if it can keep going that direction we will get along fine.

My idea of winter dress is a long sleeve tee-shirt, shorts, socks and shoes. Any weather outside that comfort zone is not needed.

Sometimes banks frustrate me more than anything.


White Wednesday and Drivers

Got my behind in gear today, went out and snapped a few images which felt great. But at the same time, It was cold, I hate cold. I could probably be heard cursing out and about the community today because of the cold. Hope I didn’t wake or offend anyone.

So today I WALKED. Yep, got the boots on and decided not to let anyone try to dent my better half’s new SUV by leaving it at home. Glad I did also because it was nice getting out and saying hello and waving to a few neighbors. Plus there are so many hidden gems right outside my front door. I also got to try out some new gloves to use with the cameras when its cold and they worked great.

All the ladies in my family were off of work today. I’m glad, the less chance on being injured by nuts on the road. Speaking of which I saw an article that Allstate had done a list of the worst in snow and rain by city. And good old Baltimore finished 1st and Washington finished 3rd. Talk about DOMINATION. I’d have to agree. Not the kind of thing an area should be proud of. Of course there are a ton of variables. For instance the safest city was Brownsville Texas. Lets look at Brownsville Texas. I go to Wikipedia and find this (On December 25, 2004, Brownsville recorded its first instance of measurable snow in 109 years with 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), and the first recorded White Christmas).

So no S**T Allstate. I imagine a place that NEVER see’s snow and has a population 200k wouldn’t have many fender benders. The Washington Metro area has what 6-7 million people.  Add another 2-3 million in the Baltimore area. We average 20 inches of snow a year roughly and 45 inches of rain in Baltimore and Washington is about 15 inches of snow a year.

So common sense says you put that number of people and small area and bad weather together it could be bad. What makes this area so dangerous is the number of people and trucks on the road in bad weather. This area doesn’t stop unless it’s a blizzard and then it just slows down a little. So what would you expect even without the final aspect of the puzzle.

People’s mentality in this area is final link to the madness. It’s the mixture of the volume of vehicles, bad conditions and people who either drive far to cautiously or panic and those that are completely reckless driving like it’s a dry track because they think they purchased a vehicle so expensive that it should go through anything or they are personally so entitled to get to their destination first. You know A-holes.

So maybe we should all look at ourselves. Do we really need to go out? Do we need to be in such a hurry? Do we have any experience or practice in bad weather and if not stay your behinds home? Do we prepare in advance?

There are enough people with real important work providing critical services that need to be out and about. Don’t complicate it for them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

The great thing about walks is you see something different each time. Just do a couple of 360’s at different points.

I didn’t make that snow angle I had wanted to. By the time I got back from the hike, I was afraid I might not get up.

I wish there was an early warning system for back spasms. I’d pay a lot for that device.

Next mission, force myself to use the tripod more in my photography.

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Tinkering Tuesday

Working from home today so I have a little extra time (no commute) to spend on my pursuits. Actually that is a good chunk of time. The best case commute for me is 2 hours. Most days it averages 3 hours. In the old days when I would work somewhat normal hours it was 4 hours or more sometimes.

This could easily be the view this morning going down Route 29 south towards Rt 108.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I once drove home from Tyson’s Corner and it took me over 6 hours in a snowstorm. Had several of those rides over the years. Hurricanes, snow storms, floods. This place doesn’t shut down. It just keeps cranking along. Not as many warriors making those sacrifices anymore. Hell I don’t do that anymore. I do my best and I make it there more than most even though I live a greater distance away.

Think I’ll get out in the morning and do some snow shots. Nothing like the slush shot above. Something undisturbed. Something unique. Well that is if I can stay up and awake. Maybe a short nap and then out mid morning. Sounds like its going to be a raining and slushy mess by mid afternoon.

Snow covered boats along Scott’s Cove.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m looking forward to the silence that a fresh snow provides. But it is quiet noisy when its falling through the trees if you’re near the woods. But it’s still a calming sound. One that seems peaceful. The view out on a blanket of snow is great. I love seeing a fox run across the tree line in the back in the snow. Sometimes I’ll look out and have a number of deer resting on the ground in the snow under spots that don’t get as much or any.

Back yard in snow.
Photo by MIke Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I like truth and facts.

You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometime you find, You get what you need. So says Mick.

Spent time helping someone feel better today.

Worry is when the ones you love are under the weather.

Nice road win for the Terps hoop team.

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Free the Feet

As I was standing in the shower I found myself looking down at my feet. I could see they were smiling. They, like me hate this time of year so to be out and showering in the warm water was a treat. For this time of year they are covered with socks and shoes and boots and blankets and slippers. They rarely see the light of day.

As I see the Spring training videos of temps in the 80’s and sunny in Florida my feet struggle to escape the confines of socks and shoes. It won’t be long now till we are wandering around in bare feet again. The way I like it. Sometimes we get dressed up and put some flip-flops on. Like when the sand is too hot. But otherwise I’m so looking forward to this barefoot season.

Flip and Flop
Photo by Mike Hartley

Thankfully today is the last long day of the work week. The next few should be normal. Then again there is no normal when you work holidays and weekends and nights. The only normal is abnormal. But I adapt well.

Looks like I didn’t miss out on the seasons snow pictures completely. I got a chance this Wednesday to grab a few frames. But first I have a Tuesday to power through. Looks like were going to cut sleep short a bit this week.

Actually sleep has been one of my successes this year. I’m staying in bed for 6 hours each night. That’s another hour or two a night I’m getting some good rest. I feel better mentally, my attitude more positive.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m so sick of the chaos this country of mine is in.

I wish my better half was feeling better.

I can’t stop thinking about our family expanding.

Time to crank up the grill this weekend.

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Make it happen

I may seem motivated. But I’m lazy. Might not appear that way to the outside world with being gainfully employed, raised a family, keeping the bills paid, but I’m a bit lazy. But today I’m not going to be. That’s a start to overcoming it. .So I started the day getting back to work on my photo site. Uploaded about a hundred images and hope to do hundred more each day till I’ve got that library completed.

Waiting its turn.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel like I’m finally building on something this year. Each week I’m trying to do more in all phases of my life. Still a ton of room for improvement but I don’t feel like I’m treading water in the same place. I don’t even feel like I’m in water anymore. Some days like today I wake and realize I have no Nobel Prize winning thoughts to share. That used to panic me and stunt effort and creativity.

I would beat myself up for using an old photo. But I’m content with myself finally. Took some decades but better late than never. So while today I could have accomplished more, I maintained a balance between all the important things in life.

Well, time to go do some fresh images. Have a good week ahead everyone.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Today was the Daytona 500. I used to be entranced by this sport. Watched it for decades but having trouble hanging onto all the new names and the fact my favorite driver has retired. I was encouraged to see all the fans out today. Maybe it is poised for a comeback.

I have a strong feeling its going to be a good week. Well except for the sloppy weather on Wednesday.

The NBA All Star game is an interesting exhibition. But isn’t that what the skills competition is?

I worry about some friends who work so hard. In some ways it keeps them alive and sharp. In other ways I worry it’s shortening their lives.

I’ve got a few old work friends I need to touch base with this week.

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Road trip

My better half and I took a road trip today. One of our friends is moving and mentioned to us that we should look where they are going to be headed. So I thought that might be a nice drive on an afternoon where we had a few minutes. I haven’t thought about moving. I’m really happy where we are at right now. Its HOME.

Ducks in a row.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But as our friends talk about and some do move, it’s something that crosses our minds every so often. Really though, we are perfectly situated right now between where both of our children live so there is no reason to go anywhere as they are the number 1 priority still. Probably always will be.

But back to our road trip. Our friends have decided to head West. Not much but a jaunt of about 30 minutes from our home now. Not enough to cause us any issues on getting together, but the 3 minute trip that it used to be was sweet. They like us are partially making the move to be closer to family. No I’m not moving, just the closer to family part is like us.

Making the turn
Photo by Mike Hartley

I mean where would my Son and Grand Dog run if I moved? Where would I put my hammock? I could never say goodbye to two pets. And my man cave. Well its a basement and my office, but its mine. And where will my Grandchildren play if we moved? I’ve felt home from the time I walked up the driveway the first time to view the house for sale.

I love Howard County MD. It’s where I grew up. I’ve worked in the county for a few decades and have had my own home here the last 35 years. But its a different place than I used to enjoy. Far too crowded for me now. Also a far different community. I guess it was easier to know people back then. Not the huge numbers and it was tighter knit. Now people come and go so fast there is no continuity. And therefore a fractured community.

Days of people living next door for decades seem to be another thing moving into the past. And then there is the fact that its going to be more expensive to stay here as time goes on. No problem, I’ll power through most of it till I can’t take it. The beach is a powerful draw for me. But it will never equal the power of family and friends.

Random Thoughts of the Day

If you can make simple pleasures great ones each day, then you’re enjoying life. I pretended the cheese steak I was eating at lunch was the best one I ever had. It was pretty satisfying even though it wasn’t the best.

Getting older is powering through the days you don’t feel well and having a good time anyway.

Some nights you really look forward to sleep. Tonight is one of those.

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A bit of spring in winter

Every once in a while, you get on of those days in the middle of winter that feel like a spring day, and today was one of those. I didn’t spend as much time outside as I should have but I did put the top down on the convertible and enjoyed a few rays of sun on the way home from lunch.

Cherry blossoms and Jefferson Memorial..
Photo by Mike Hartley

In a few short weeks we will turn that wonderful corner and be done with the Hawk. But it looks like we have a few cool weeks ahead to navigate through first. It’s funny today I looked up at this rim (no snow on it today) and thought about getting the ball out. If I wasn’t in a hurry I might have grabbed it and threw up a few shots. Remember doing that as a kid. Grabbing the ball and using every free minute to imitate the favorite NBA stars move.

The cold of winter is about to be scorched by March Madness.
Photo by Mike Hartley

We used to play a lot of ball when we were younger. Did for a lot of decades. Some of my friends played fairly competitive ball into their 40’s. Those were some great times no matter if it was in someones driveway or back yard or at the outdoor courts at the school or indoor at any gym, it was fun. It was in your face but with a thousand laughs.

I was always surprised that there weren’t more altercations with how hard and serious we played against each other. Even if there was one it was usually all over after the game. A lot of those guys are still around and close friends today. Some aren’t though. Some of the strongest and best ones in fact, which is kind of ironic. What a cast of characters now that I remember back.

A lot of us coached as we got older. Some very successfully in a number of sports.

Well, being its such a pleasant memory maybe I ought to pick up the ball a little more often this year and lose about 20 pounds. Sounds like a plan. That and the yard work might just do it.

Time to run and go set up my make shift studio.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m finally under 100 unopened pieces of mail in my inbox. The goals this week is to keep it that way. Well that is at least with my main email account, the other 3 accounts, I can’t promise anything.

My life will always be a success if my kids think of me as a good father.

I guess I’m going to have to serious up again, now that I’m going to be a grandfather. Nah what fun would that be.

Giving an honest days effort is a struggle when it isn’t appreciated.

The more you can think about various points in your life and say those were the best of times, the more relaxed you will feel. And if you can’t find many, get busy making some.

Its going to take a little time, but I’m making some good progress on my photo site.

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A Thinking Thursday

I’ve given much thought to this. As it deserves much thought and contemplation. Well really it was an idea as I was rolling out of the sack. How can I accomplish more today? Well the first step was to get an early start. Done I was up at noon. Next I did far too much reading and comments on blogs but it felt good.

Oh and its Valentines Day. I hope everyone finds that right path and love. I did a long time ago and every day is Valentines day. Except when I mess up. Which does take a significant number of days away. Well we won’t pursue my failings any longer. I’m in a good mood. So get out and celebrate this weekend with your loved one. Everything today is overpriced and too crowded.

Love can overcome any seas.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Got a start on this puppy early today because the evening is booked. Get that, me planning. Miracles will never cease. I guess you can teach an old dog a few tricks.

Thank you.
Photo by Mike Hartley

You know, I do have to write something about this day. Because I feel like the guy on the beach above. The luckiest guy in the world. I’ve been blessed with a partner of a lifetime. A wonderful person who looks beyond my failings. Loves me still and always. That is a great feeling. One I didn’t always appreciate. Thank you.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Here’s to a lot more sunrises together.

Random Thoughts of the Day

After today’s news on Diet drinks I’m glad I’ve only sipped one and rejected the concept from that point on. Here’s to the original COKE.

Lets go Terps and kick some Michigan behind. Damn I love college basketball.

Its been far too long since I’ve made a snow angle.

My friends idea of light beer is only drinking 10 of the 12 pack of GOOD REAL BEER.

I hope I never lose the ability to look at things like a child. But the older I get the more difficult it becomes.

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Wobbly Wednesday

Today is a good test. Powering through despite feeling far less than 100%. So I had to provide myself some incentive. Figured I’d start the day with a nice bacon and cheese sandwich. Well that at least made me feel better while I was eating it. While I was sitting at my desk chowing on that I thought back on how often I’ve worked sick.

You want to talk HOT.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I left one job with over 150 days of sick time accumulated that I lost in moving on. I rarely have used all my sick time over my career. Only twice for cancer surgeries did I come close. A lot of people work sick. Some have no choice. Most don’t in fact. The pressure to perform in a lot of positions is unrelenting. And it seems some of the most pressure is put on the lowest level jobs not to be out sick.

Those who are self-employed I’m sure have a lot of experience working under the weather. I’ve worked through being sick for a number of reason. Some jobs have made it known that you had better be on your death-bed or in an ambulance on your way to the hospital is you even have a thought of calling in sick.

I’ve ordered extra fluids to help me feel better. 
Photo by Mike Hartley

Other jobs I’ve wanted to show my own dedication. Some jobs respect it and realize its a part of life. Some even encourage you to stay home at times instead of infecting the few in the office that haven’t picked up what is going around. You can always find extremes examples of both sides.

Best story I heard is about a company calling someone about a problem while they were in the emergency room and the boss calling knew where he was and called about work anyway.

I once went to work not feeling well in a big snowstorm. I get there and the owner calls from Aruba and wants to know how things are going because he heard of the snow storms. I wanted to pull him through the line but the operator cut me off and said the distance was to great.

Well I’ve wised up in my old age. I’m working today for the job that pays the bills but I’m doing it from home.

I’ve had a very good season to this point as far as avoiding any bugs or colds. (as I knock on the closest piece of wood). So I’ll fight this off quickly and be ready to roll again full speed soon.

Time marches on. In some ways it’s good for the soul. In some ways it’s difficult. Anniversaries of loved ones passing is one of those that are difficult. Each year the memories get more distant. The voices become whispers. The laughter and smile fade except in photos or videos. Today is the 5th anniversary of one of our best friends passing.

We remember him every time we gather. He is honored with a toast often. He is missed. Dan may you be resting comfortably with a beer in hand and grin on your face. We miss you brother.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m really working on my posture sitting but its a war keeping it right after years of pretzel poses.

Its time to replace some pictures on my walls with new ones.

Right up there, is an idea I’m trying to catch.

I know why I’m sick, I ate some fresh cooked spinach my better half made me the other day. I put a lot of butter and some Parmesan cheese on it but that healthy gene was still in there and my system didn’t know what to do with it.

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Tranquil Tuesday

I woke to a strange roar this day. And as soon as I peeled back the blanket I knew what was up. The house was cold and that only means one thing. The power was out. Yep, peered over at the clock and it wasn’t tick tocking. Well I guess they don’t do that anymore but you know what I mean, no digital display.

And that roar was neighbors generators. Some of them have installed some nice ones that kick on when the power goes off automatically. Some big ones also. Hell, you know me, I never had one before a few years ago and its a small one but its going to do the job in longer outages. I can handle a few minutes and hours if need be without one. I don’t like power outages at all, but I can handle it.

Not surprising with all the icing overnight. But in a few hours BG&E had it back on. Thank you for your work in crap conditions.

Along Woodstock Road
Photo by Mike Hartley

I do know I have a ton of branches down in my yard and just looking at them all made my back hurt. Such is life, its good to have the health to get outdoors and do some yard work still.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, time to ride off into the sunset of another day. As I look back at this year so far, I find myself making improvements to each day and loving life more. Beats the alternative doesn’t it?

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m glad my kids have a lot more confidence in themselves than I did in myself as I was growing up.

It will be nice to see the sun again tomorrow for a change of pace.

I think the guy who came up with the term Headache, probably never had one.

Glad to see the Terps (U of MD) basketball teams doing so well.

I’m in love with the children’s book my daughter got me as a gift. Its called Grandpa’s wish list. I can’t wait to read it over and over to her little one when that day comes.

I let myself down today in how little I accomplished. I didn’t make good use of that 3 hour power outage we had.

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Stormy Monday

Had to listen to that Almond Brother Band tune Stormy Monday this morning. Seemed appropriate for the day itself here in Mary-Land. Not so merry on the roads though today. Did some slipping and sliding on the way home this morning. Well most of the trip was fine till I got on the back roads to my home which hadn’t been touched.

And another night of slip sliding away for this evening. Be safe out there you nuts.

Snow at Railroad Museum
Photo by Mike Hartley

Yeah I cheated, this is an older shot of snow in downtown. I should get out this morning early and see if I can get some weather related shots. Hell, I’ll get to the door and see the frozen tundra and will probably high tail it back inside.

Snow melting on barn roof.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Plus I’ll be whipped from a long nights work. I’ve been busier than usual on the job that pays the bills. That in turn wears me out mentally more than it used to. Not in so much a bad way. I don’t get negative about it. The energy just seems to be sapped out of me when I get excited about doing some of my own work.

It’s also harder to think creatively for me when I’m worn out. Like today, I didn’t think I could find much interesting to write about and I was right because I was wiped from yesterday. At least I’m blessed not to have to work two jobs to make ends meet. Those days are over, at least I hope so.

I think if I work to get ahead and plan better I wouldn’t run into these situations so here’s to working ahead a few days starting tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

When so many little things aren’t addressed it’s a big thing.

The more honest I am with myself the better strides I make.

I’m starting to hear stories of tax issues, lower refunds, more people owing money. That’s not going to make the troops happy.

I’m becoming a pistachio nut nut.

Isn’t it nice. Pick something. If you can’t find something, change some things in your life.

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Sunday tribulations

Not the best start to the day. Wasn’t feeling that well physically. My partner at work has called in sick and its supposed to snow and ice overnight which means an ugly morning ride. And were just a few minutes past noon so I wonder what else is in store?

But then my Son called and all was right with the world again. Funny how much hearing my kids voices make me relax and stop sweating the small stuff. And then the bonus of scheduling some time together was had.

Looking inland waiting for me to return.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So here is to looking at warm carefree days this summer. And I hope to have many of them. Last summer I was slack on day trips to the beach. Those are something else. Some of the most relaxing days of the year. Yeah its a fairly long drive for some, but hell, I do 100 miles back and forth to work most days so 300 miles isn’t a stretch at all.

I can imagine my first trip with the top down and warm summer sun coming up over the Bay Bridge as I cross going EAST. The day spent on the beach and cruising to one favorite spot after another. Breakfast at my favorite pancake joint, time in the sand. Hit a local deli for lunch, time in the sand and water. Hit the boardwalk for a late afternoon snack and people watching. Cruise the ocean highway or explore new back roads. Sunset at Fagers Island after a meal. Cruise a bit at night and then head home.

Well that is a ways off but I can dream.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I don’t know why I came downtown in this weather tonight. Won’t happen again.

I take pride in doing this blog each day. Shows I can commit to more than one thing. Now I just have to start exercising each day.

I think I came to the realization that I’m going to be working longer than I had planned. And no I don’t call this work. Not in the traditional sense at least.

This year I’m going to do something special. Besides becoming a grandfather. Of course that is special enough for one year.

Snow is beautiful if you don’t have a 50 mile trip in front of you.

Ice is never beautiful unless it’s in a glass.


Rocking a Saturday

What a day. Some early morning design ideas, working on carving and some writing. Then out the door early and the feels like temp was 10 degrees so don’t say I’m not dedicated. Got to warm up with some old friends over breakfast and laughs. Then a relaxing afternoon which was needed. Worked on some shots in the home studio. What a good start to a Saturday.

So today is national pizza day. OK I’ll go with my local favorite and the best topping in the world. BACON.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Chopping away at some wood today. Both this guy in the photo, and me. I’m trying to discover the techniques and touch needed for bit 106 on my Dremel tool. Also working on a surprise for a family member.

I’m back to working with wood.

So beautiful is the grain. So wonderful the knots.

So strong the oak. So soft the balsa.

Such depth in sculpture. Such comfort to rest on.

So dusty. So rough.

So smooth. So polished and stained.

So rich in texture. Even in death it gives life.

OK, only another day off and then the madness begins again. Looks like the weather could complicate matters again on Monday and Tuesday. Such is the season. For some reason I’m not going into this coming week like the last with energy and positive spirits. Will see if I can turn that around in the next 24 hours.

I can’t figure out why some work weeks start to stress me out more than others. Probably just the way I’m looking at them. So maybe I should just chill out like the weather.

Random Thoughts of the Day 

The older I get the more I try to think back through the eyes of a child.

I’m overdue for a dump run.

I’m glad I was raised so there are pictures of my parents displayed around my home. I hope my kids do the same someday.

Too laugh is to live. So says me.

Timing in life is as important as timing is to a comic.

Its been a long time since I’ve made long term goals.

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Keepsakes, time for some to go

I was looking through some keepsakes that are important to me. Some old family things that probably don’t mean much to anyone else. We all have them, we all love them. And then I thought about people who lose all those things in floods or storms or fires. How devastating that must be.  Because while homes and cars and property can be replaced, keepsakes can’t be.

I’ve got to sort through my keepsakes because I probably do have a few more than I need, especially from my parents home, and so off I went today. The first few boxes were off-limits, my parents letters to each other during his years in the service. Family pictures going back a century now. I tried to sort through some old pictures in frames and couldn’t think about getting rid of one of them. Then I lifted a box of some old dolls that my mother had kept through the years. I’ve gone through the family and a few have been kept, but there are more that need a new home besides sitting in a large Tupperware type bin.

A couple of these dolls are very old, so to the antique and appraiser places I will go. A new experience for me. Kind of funny that I’ve held onto them so long. I’m certainly not into dolls. But I know some were my Mom’s and I believe one of the old porcelain ones was her Mothers. I don’t know for sure but that seems like something my Mom would have kept.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Hell they might not be worth much of anything, but my gut tells me differently. They are in very good condition though and old so we will see. This is one of those things that would have gotten chucked out in most homes where a parent is passed. They were in an old broken down chest that smelled of moth balls. Actually that was the chest under it but the smell had gotten into the one sitting on it.

But as usual they were tightly wrapped and placed in this chest with care. I wish I had gone through them with her when she was alive so I could know the story behind them.

But now these dolls will either make a collector happy and I’ll use some of the money towards the animal shelter and towards a new doll for each of my children when the day comes for our grandchildren.

Or I could finally make use of the Ebay account I set up a while back and see what they would do online. One of the porcelain dolls looks like it could be in the hundreds of dollars given some prices on the size and age of the one I looked up. But I think I’ll start local first and see what they say about them. So get ready Howard County Antique stores, here I come.

This will also serve the dual purpose of making my better half happy about more space in the basement. I really need to go through the attic also but we will concentrate on one area at a time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I got to have and unexpected dinner with my daughter and better half. What a way to finish out a day. Another good meal at Shannon’s.

I’m Jones’ing because there is no Maryland basketball on this weekend.

Today I felt like a very lucky and fortunate person. Nothing specific just good to be alive and healthy.

It was also a nice restful day for the most part. With the exception of one work email that set me off this morning. I had a post started about it and was three paragraphs into it when I said nope, not worth it. So you’re stuck with this crappy post about dolls. How low I sink when at a loss for time.

Figures I’d schedule the coldest morning to go out and do some shooting. I should have had my behind out today.

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The Best Crabcakes

The Best Crabcakes – All of them. No really, I setting out this year (2019) on the hunt for best crabcakes. For I’m blessed to live in the great state of Maryland and if this state gets anything right, its crabs. The tastiest critters and the best spices in the WORLD. OK I might be biased a bit there, but I’d run it up the flagpole against anything, if food orgasms are the measure.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I love those tasty crustaceans, prepared in many ways, but the crabcake is something that’s special. Yeah I like to pick crabs. Yeah I like stuffed shrimp and crab imperial. I love crushed crabcake over rockfish.

Actually in all truth, this is a post I started last year and found in my drafts folder. We will call that background effort to this years event. I did do some extensive research and it paid off handsomely. THEY TASTED GREAT. I learned of some new and serious contenders. I sampled some old favorites. I just got lost in eating them. My apologies. This year I’ll do better.

Really few things will get Marylander’s riled up like arguing about the best crabcake. Hell just look at the confusion the word itself creates. Is it spelled “Crabcake” or “Crab Cake” or Crab-Cake”. Or maybe with the Eastern shore drawl  “CwabcAke”. Or if you’re at a fancy restaurant where eating a crabcake isn’t as comfortable because you’re in cloths you wear once or twice a year. And the waiter says you can get one crabcake if preferred in for the crabcake dinner and it takes all your strength not to get up and slap him silly and say “do I look like someone who eats only one crabcake, do I?”

The Wonderful thing about THE Best Crabcake is that they can be found in so many places. Part of that is personal preferences of the consumer. Some like fried, others broiled. Some like a little moist and some a bit dry. Some get mad at any filler to speak of, some prefer a plumper cake like. Some have to have a HUGE crabcake and others the more traditional size.

Some crabcakes just taste better looking out over the waters of the bay. Some are best with that lump backfin you brought home from the beach to make your “SPECIAL” crabcakes for your better half. Some are best while sitting on wooden tables and benches at some local joint that is a hidden secret. Some of course can be found in your finer dining establishments but are never as fun to eat there because I don’t feel comfortable uttering even in a low voice “this is the best F’ing crabcake in the world” so those places will never get my number one vote.

I’m going to enlist a few friends also in this adventure. I will make note at the time of year and as much positive things I can find to say about them. I’ll also be adding evaluations of Cream of Crab soup which is a long time favorite of mine and anything else they throw in. Please NOTE. these friends are “Professionals” Lifelong Maryland residents and some raised crabbing on the bay at their parents home. The kind of place you walked into that had multiple steamer pots, BIG ones. Multiple cages for caught crabs tied to their docs. They know Crabs. Ah the old days.

For those of you not from the Maryland/Virginia area, Old Bay is a seasoning that we love to put on crabs and other seafood dishes.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’ll provide a review as I eat through the state this year and do a wrap in the end. Don’t hesitate to suggest a spot.

Random Thoughts of the Day 

There are few better feelings, then when the weekend starts. Except all the feelings your having going through the weekend.

A lot of things seem to be missing heart.

Some decisions make sense over time.

Go Terps – back on track after last nights victory.

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On a roll

Made bu-cu progress yesterday. Good thing because the body is not cooperating so far today. No problem, I’m following the lead of one of my best friends “Full Bore” and I’m like a running back behind his massive lineman frame. Sometimes you need friends to power through life. And if your lucky you can have an offensive line of best friends that can take you far in life.

And yes I’m a lucky man. And so off to the days short rant. And it’s about working together. So much more is accomplished when everyone is pulling the same way. Its fun and enjoyable. It’s no drama and less stress. So why do we have such a problem doing it. Seems like only in crisis can we pull this off.

Love the orange reflection under the wing.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m starting with myself. To make sure me, myself and I are all on the same page. This isn’t and hasn’t always been the case. I have a number of characters inside fighting for control and direction. After 6 decades we seem to be more on the same track than ever before. Some people are slow learners and I could be one of them.

When I’m doing something now I’m invested in it more and leaving a half ass attitude behind. I’m taking less detours into Excuse City. I find life more rewarding. And really I’m the only one I can count on for being on the same page and why would anyone else follow or join with me when they see me going different directions.

So here’s to a focused future with much fun and accomplishment.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Feels like it rains on my days off quiet a bit. Who do I contact to complain?

Asking questions as you go through life should never stop because you can never know it all.

I need to get out more. Sounds like a good goal once it’s humanly warm enough to step outside in shorts.

I’m going to do two things this weekend I’ve been putting off far to long.

A couple of us were discussing how our doctors suggested we lose some weight. We had this discussion over brownies with ice cream.

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Warmth, Sadness,

As I stepped out the front door today the snow shovel sitting to my left against the house looked entirely out-of-place. Felt like 70 degrees. Felt like LIFE. Felt so good the body said aahhhhh. All the mental images of looking out to green instead of the grey. Fantasies of the top down on the way to the beach. And then reality hit and I remembered its February 5th.

Kind of a teaser of those spring days on the docks in Annapolis like this couple. Probably have a bit more of winter to get through but I can see the light.

Missing legs?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Kind of Sad – You know some people just don’t communicate well. Some do and choose just not to or are very selective about whom or when they do it with. This is very troubling when it’s in a professional scene. It causes all kind of issues and resentment. What’s worse is when this is tolerated by management.

You know what else is sad. The sense of entitlement the masses seem to have acquired. Everybody for themselves. I wonder if we could ever pull together again like they did back in WW2?  Yes there are a lot of good and selfless people out there. But the margin is constantly shrinking I feel.

It’s sad that those who are very fortunate are spending time being very depressed.

It’s sad to see such young people grieving at gravesites at Arlington. Politicians shouldn’t be able to send young men to war unless they have been in one or their children are in the service.

It gives me pause to see people’s belongings along a curb.

I find it sad to see such little interaction in real life and so much digitally.

Kicking it to sunrise
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well enough on sad for one day. Had to turn it around with a more positive photo.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m on a roll with feeling good days. It’s not something to be taken for granted.

There is a world of difference in working your ass of and hating it, and working your ass off and enjoying it.

Doing a blog is like making a stop at the local coffee shop each day. But then again, I don’t drink coffee so let me think of something else.

I’m in the mood for a nice doughnut or two first thing tomorrow morning.

Kind of ironic that Trump had all these illegal’s working at his golf courses for him. Maybe someone should do a background check on his cabinet. Oh that’s right, they are.

And to finish the day with one of my inspirations in life – John “Bluto” Blutarsky: Oh no! Seven years of college down the drain!

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New energy

New energy. Don’t know where it came from. Don’t care where it came from. I just hope to make use of it today. Actually I do know where it came from and I do care, but I don’t often express this. This weekend I had thoughts of being old and time getting short. I don’t like to think that way but if it spurs more action, so be it.

I managed to get a good nights rest and squeeze off a few frames to start the day. Observed this guy hunting in my back yard today. So I stepped outside in my socks into some not yet melted snow and froze for a minute or two.

You take a right at the next bend in the woods.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So a fairly boring Super Bowl I hear. And that few minutes I heard of the halftime show was worthless. Did go back and check out the commercials but they were even a bit disappointing. I really did like the NFL commercial though. I see the company I work for ran a commercial also. It was well done and I liked it. I’ll reserve how I feel about spending millions of dollars on it till I no longer work here.

I smell something dead.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m feeling good about starting the week off in a spirited way. Looking forward to getting a few more minutes to shoot on Tuesday. I don’t have to make the long commute to DC so that should give me an extra few hours to appreciate life. I’m getting so burned out on the ride. I’m so tired of all the near misses.

And I’m not in the mood to have another accident like the last one I had coming home from work when a truck hit me at 60 mph from behind while I was stopped in traffic. I rarely take Interstate 95 for that reason anymore. But the other roads aren’t safe either. I’m really disappointed people have become so selfish and emboldened to endanger others lives so.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’ve been concentrating on myself too much to start the year. Got to get back to helping others first.

Isn’t it amazing what you can do when in good spirits and how nothing gets done when your down?

I keep forgetting music is such an uplifting art till I take the time to listen.

Love is something never to be taken for granted. Do you know how much some would give for it. Take time to share it.

Working nights is a dark experience.

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Is it me?

Well its Stupor Bowl Sunday again. I guess I have changed and its certain the Super Bowl itself has changed in the years since its beginning. Somehow its much different to me then in the past. Not because of the teams. Not because of the my loss of my like for the game. Not because I’m much older. There is so much hype and pregame stretching weeks now it’s a bit overwhelming even for football fans. I like to think it’s still a game. I usually enjoy the game unless its a blowout.

Seasoned Lobster

I also like the commercials. Yeah some of them are clunkers also. But most are well done. But back to the game. I guess last weeks of January and into early February would be pretty boring if it weren’t for this 3 weeks of NFL time filler. From food orgies and parties. From betting pools and commercial exploitation.

I’m always glad when the game finally starts. Must be a strange time for players. This is where I’m guessing experience can be a big edge.

But for some reason this game just doesn’t have the draw for me that it used to. Even when the game is played it changed from the regular season. The halftime show is a huge time segment. And the extra commercials really must change the pace of the game for the players.

Well being I didn’t get a chance to party this evening, I think I’ll have my celebration later this week.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Felt good to do some editing of photos today. And it was extra enjoyable because it was family.

I’m working another Super Bowl. Oh I will enjoy retirement when the day comes. Little things like this will be appreciated much more.

Looking forward shooting some this coming morning.

I think businesses have forgotten about good communications.

I’m still reflecting on the baby shower we had for our daughter. What a wonderful time. She got me a wonderful gift also. I’m blessed to have such wonderful children.

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Party and TET

This house was rocking today. A baby shower for my Daughter. I’ve discovered that woman are much more conversant than men. Anyway it was a great day filled with family and friends. One that I hope my daughter can remember and cherish for a long time. I know its one that will always be special to me.

Don’t get punched.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t hang for long. I was in charge of doing some photos and then making myself scarce. I loved decorating the house for her.

Traumatic Event Training – Our company just gave us some good training on Traumatic events and how to handle them. It was a good start. And the presenter did say our company was more proactive and had many safety features already in place. Funny how this has changed over the years. I started off in a group of small to mid size community newspapers. Hell we never even locked the building, let alone had security.

Every once in a great while there would be minor drama. Someone who didn’t like a photo, someone who didn’t like this or that article. Someone who thought the coverage was biased, someone pissed that their paper was 2 feet off the driveway, someone pissed their photo didn’t get in the paper of them winning this or that award.

But these were mainly just a phone call or sometimes a personal visit. Usually it was a writer or photographer in the field hearing about it first hand if they were recognized. Usually it would just be a person expressing their side. And then the representative or receptionist or writer defusing the situation and everyone going away calm again and us vowing to do better if possible.

As time passed I noticed things escalating a bit. Both from internal and external threats. Disgruntled employees, or a reader so pissed they would call a bomb threat back in the 90’s. I have no facts or information about what we face now but I believe its very substantial. Otherwise why would we be going through this. And you would have to be a complete idiot to ignore the reality that we are public target of our current president.

I know they aren’t going to tell us about all the threats. I really don’t want to know about all of them. But I hate having to think that someone is going to try to hurt us badly. I didn’t feel like that in my first 4 decades. Now its no longer that way. I believe that there are those out there that want to hurt us. And I believe they are closer to action then they ever have been.

Think about that. I’m not a police officer. I’m not a soldier. I’m not a correctional officer. I don’t work in a psyche ward. I’m not an air Marshall. I don’t get to be armed. I don’t have backup at my disposal. I don’t have a protective vest. I have to think about being self-sufficient in a very dangerous situation. Well I’m thinking that way and getting prepared now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Yankees and RedSox in 21 days. Lets get ready to RUMBLE, in my best Michael Buffer impression.

I’m slipping again. Not enough sleep. So easy to slip back into old habits.

How can it be Saturday night already?

When you hear something so positive said about your children, its one of the greatest moments in life.

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February and Friday, what could be finer?

Welcome to February all. January flew by even though it’s a longer month. But I consider that the hump month of winter. Yeah February can be cold and with snow. And your never out of the woods in March but that is the home stretch to my prime time of year (April-October). So here is to a quick February and onto some comfortable weather.

Winds and Sand
Photo by Mike Hartley

Read a post titled “Shoot one photo a day” which I try to do but rarely pull off. He made a really good point that there isn’t an excuse not to do some “on the fly” photography each day. Hell, that is about the only photography I get to pull off. At the end he had a phrase I loved in regards to taking an image a day. “My visual push up of the day.” What a great line.

I had to work 2 of the 2 holidays this past month. Working holidays SUCKS. Luckily there is only one this month to work through. I’m more through with the commute each day I drive it. It’s also performance review time. And of course there are a thousand and one initiatives going on to stress everyone out. Good thing I have control and can limit the drama.

I still get a charge out of the work but it nothing like it used to be to me. And that is OK. In some ways I’m kind of glad it changed a bit. Putting in those long hours and on-call work was getting very old.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Worry is an interesting practice.

The best way to honor people is to always remember them.

Tomorrow is about making people happy.

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A blast from the Past

I was digging through some old work papers and found a few items/keepsakes that brought back a lot of memories. When I look at our youth today I wonder if they will have the same opportunities to develop the long-term relationships that seemed so prevalent in my line of work.

Guns a the ready Capt.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I went for a walk a week or two ago with a friend I started with over 4 decades ago. We gather for lunch or breakfast in various groups quite often. One of my best friends is from a job we worked at almost 2 decades together I see all the time. I’m blessed to have dozens of friends through my time in newspapers.

Some come and go for periods of time but it’s just like yesterday when we reconnect. All I know is friendships have been very important to me. Its kept me balanced at some very bad times. Its kept me inspired at times. It always keeps me laughing because that is something I share with all of them.

No idea where I was headed with this and its late again so here’s to a fine start to tomorrow and some late night work. I know why I have no idea where that was headed because I had to take a pain pill earlier so my focus has been out of focus today. Here’s to a clear tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

The cold is great in one way. I don’t feel guilty sitting inside at the computer and missing a nice day outside.

Finding and listening to good leaders in life is something that every person should have the opportunity for.

The interesting thing about the band “The Who” is that they all played lead. 3 lead instruments and a lead vocalist. Moon and Entwistle were like a thundering herd on drums and bass. Ah the days of seeing this band live takes me back to some tremendous time and some times filled with turmoil. Sorry about the flashback. But it did remind me to go down and see a friend I used to attend some of these concerts with.

I like decorating with signs and cray paper for parties. Seems to make people smile. Maybe they are just being kind.

If you notice in sports – it’s usually the best TEAMS that win. Funny how the same thing works out in business also.

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A grilled cheese kind of day

Feeling fine as wine. Woke in good spirits, even though I could have used a few more hours of sleep. The mind is free and wandering here and there. I’ve written my family and friends. I’ve got some music on and spent a few minutes in the workroom with the Dremel tool. Finally making some use of that. Hope practice makes perfect, or at least creates something that others like.

Grill’in and Chill’in.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Working from home from time to time is a huge benefit. Like tonight when its going to be TOO COLD for man nor beast outside. I was chilled as soon as I got out of bed today. So I was seeking comfort food. And lo and behold the thought of the grilled cheese was born.

I was impatient and didn’t cook some bacon to have the grilled cheese, bacon and tomato sandwich. That sandwich is good year round. You don’t get the nice juicy tomato’s this time of year though.

Who knows, it’s another cold one out tomorrow and there is bacon in the fridge. And I will be celebrating tomorrow because I’ll be finished with the job that pays the bills and free to pursue my own fun. And that always puts a smile on my face.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Yep, that’s it, I’m hibernating till Saturday.

The more over their heads some people get, the more they fight to hold the illusion.

I might have to go try throwing that boiling water in the air to see if its cold here as it is some other spots.

Watch your pipes.

I’m going to do something I normally wouldn’t. I’m going to give away my first rock etching. I know it will be appreciated.


When you have nothing

Hit a creative drought today. Got a late start and nothing popped in my head like it usually does. No time to shoot today so no new images to inspire a train of rambling thought. I did get wound up earlier when I saw that the intelligence chiefs and our commander and chief are on totally two separate pages which causes me more concern than tax cuts or a wall or anything else that has happened.

Hey where did the driveway go?
Photo by Mike Hartley

But I don’t want to talk politics today either. I’m in a rut. I’ll escape it tomorrow. My mind isn’t right today. Can’t get past some people who I’m missing. First I was wishing my parents were alive to see their first great-grandchild come into the world. Then I saw a picture of a friend who’s passing anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. It will be 5 years now for that one.

Gone but hardly forgotten. He is remembered each time we gather. I was going to say it took us a great amount of time to recover from that, but that wouldn’t be accurate. You don’t recover from special people exiting your life. It changes dynamics. It changes events. It changes so much that recovery isn’t possible. Its how you move on in the new world without them.

We all move on in different ways. We all remember in different ways. We all grieve in different ways. To me there is no right or wrong. Its how people can handle it best themselves and at the same time respecting others differences in the process.

For instance I’ve been to my mother and fathers grave more in the last 7 years than I was to my father’s grave in the previous 40. I was mad at him leaving me so early. I was mad because of the hardship it put on my mom. As I got older and the anger went away, but it became too traumatic heading there. I learned when I tried a few times to go there. It wasn’t till my Mom was buried that it was an experience that made me feel OK sometimes.

Having hindsight and wisdom and time, doesn’t heal it, but makes it manageable sometimes. So I’ll get my act together and wake up refreshed hopefully. And if not I’ll step outside tomorrow around the time it’s getting into the single digits and I’m sure that will kick-start me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

My better half says I have cold hands. I think she is just warm.

The pressure is always on for this part of the blog. It says random “thoughts” plural. You know that means I must have more than one.

I’m not a hoarder, I’m just sloppy.

Well it took all day and doing this blog and getting it done just before deadline to make me feel better.

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Storm prep

Lets see, we got some winter precipitation coming. Guess I should consult my check list. Fridge full of Cokes=check. Fuel for the furnace=check. Food=check. Working from home Tuesday=check. Check on elderly in-laws=check. OK the essentials are taken care of.

Now its time to decide if I want to go out and watch people try to drive in this. Or if I want to go out and see how bitter cold really feels. Or if I want to shovel the drive and walk. The answer to all of those is no but I probably will.

Snow covered hey roll.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going to try to talk my better half into staying home from work or at least coming home early before it gets bad=still to be negotiated.

Horse heading to the barn.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m thinking of the quiet that snow provides outdoors.

It felt good to leave the TV off for a while today. And then I made the mistake of turning it on.

I find my mind wandering each day about holding a new-born grandchild.

Today I didn’t do so well in making the best use of time. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get another chance.

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Chipping away and Tinkering around

Noticed a few friends out back today chipping away at a few of my trees. Maybe they are trying to save me getting the chainsaw out. I’ve got to get outside more and shoot more nature. It’s a never-ending palette of color and action.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

Was just tinkering around the house today. Overslept so I missed the day’s sun at daybreak because clouds rolled in early this morning here in the great state of Maryland. I’m sorry I brag about where I live. I just find it to be a wonderful and beautiful area of the country. I believe that is one of the things I’ll concentrate more on this year. Documenting some of the states wonderful areas.

Oh, before I move on I made the statement about oversleeping. I slept about 7 hours last night. Might be the longest I’ve slept in some time. I’m really working on getting some proper rest which has been a very bad problem for decades for me. I finally realized that the negatives of lack of sleep outweigh the benefits. Those negatives can easily be hidden in our youthful years but are brutal when approaching those senior years.

That goal of better rest while trying to do more here seem in conflict but I’m hoping the improved mental state will overcome the loss of time. I feel that the writing part is easier when I’ve had proper rest. Trouble is that loss of time cost me the best shooting time outside available this morning. Well I’ll have to compromise and find something else to shoot.

And a usual I was running out of time being the work week is starting soon. So I grabbed a few shots of flowers I got my better half.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I really like the show on CBS called Sunday morning. Watched it for decades. Tape it when I’m busy, to watch later. A wonderful balance of sights, sounds and words. A lot of uplifting stories. Always a nature segment at the end with just nature as the narrator. Some really fine interviews.

Usually the first words I write on this blog are “blah blah blah”. That’s kind of a space holder for the topic of the day. Then I throw out the first of many random thoughts of the day. Then I go back and start my theme but the “blah blah blah” reminds me not to be boring. I know I don’t always succeed but I try.

I see much courage in two very close friends, who work with incredible pain very often. They give me great strength to deal with my own.

Oh no, its Super Bowl hype week. Boring.


Take the time, if its important to you

Take the time, if its important to you. A few months back I made myself the commitment to do this each day and I’ve stuck to it. It was a goal when I started this blog 5 years ago but didn’t stick to. But for the last 4 months I’ve been able to do it. Now I’m going to try to increase the quality of the content along with keeping the daily routine. I know I’m going to either have to find a way to work more effectively and or just work longer at it.

I also hope to reach out to a few friends whose skills I admire greatly for some guidance. I’m going to invest some time learning the tools of WP and find a graphics generator to balance the gray copy out.

Baltimore Inner Harbor.
Photo by Mike Hartley

When I found today’s image I thought for a few minutes about a bridge from one spot to the next. I thought about what I set out to do and what I’ve been able to do. I’m proud in a lot of ways of what I’ve accomplished. I’ve learned some about myself in this process. I’ve also found my dreams and ideas far outweigh my time, abilities and desire at times. Well, I’ve made a change in my desire. I’m making the time change, even though that may be in spurts to start till I can juggle some things. So now it comes down to ability. I’m going to give it a go and do my best, because what I’ve been able to do so far is far from my best.

FOOD – Food – food – Lunch at Facci in Turf Valley today. We have been there a few times before and I’ve got to say the food is very good. Service is also wonderful and the environment is nice. Plus its close to home. I guess my only issue would be with the Pepsi. I had to get ice tea. I’m sorry, I’m not a wine drinker. But anyway if you got a hunger, this place can solve that.

The bread is so good you have to be careful not to fill up on it. We had bruschetta and a meatball appetizers, which were both wonderful. I had a Cesar salad which had a generous amount of fresh Parmesan cheese. Croutons were great, greens were very fresh. Could have had a touch more dressing but I’m always a little heavy on that so it would be fine for most people. I could have asked for it I’m sure. For the main course I had the Seafood Marebellla which was great. A fettuccine pasta in a cream sauce with scallops, shrimp and crab on top. I really liked it.

We didn’t do a desert there because we had a few cakes at home to celebrate a birthday. Oh yeah, Carvel makes the best ice cream cakes.

Random Thoughts of the Day 

Where does the weekend go to? Seems like it’s always in a hurry to run off. I’m going to have to follow it one of these days.

If you ever get close to describing a job as a paycheck more often than a job, it might be time for a change.

I’m a blessed father.

Despite the two recent losses I’m still a believer in the Terps basketball team this year. And why does spell check want to replace Terps with perps?

Its been to long since I’ve seen my sister.

Every time I go see a doctor, for some reason I have to go to a pharmacy also. I’m glad I can afford both so I won’t complain. It’s just interesting how they have become linked each time when they used to be pretty infrequent partners.

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Make each day special

If your working towards making things happen in a good way your going to be too busy to worry about negatives. You learn they are just detours to your mission of making each day special. That is one of the regrets I have in life. I lived in a negative way for a while. It took the enjoyment out of things I worked hard on professionally. I let it affect my personal life. It affected day-to-day interactions.

Part of the change I made was to look at things from a different perspective. I started that thought process before I got sick, but that just reinforced it and moved it forward a bit faster. I was taking for granted the gift of time. That is no longer the case and now that my health is better I’m loving life in a way I never have before.

Seemed like a good photo for a Friday night.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Time is the most precious gift we have, so it shouldn’t be squandered. Today I made very good use of time and spent the day with my better half for her birthday. The gift of time goes a long way. Of course the right gift and meal help.

Oh, in regards to today’s photo. I was at the mall waiting for my better half and I looked up and saw the word BARS through the railings. And being its Friday Bars may be a very popular option. Or all the people watching politics might be thinking there is another one who might be seeing some bars.

Me, I just looked up and saw the railing and word and turned on the camera.

Random Thoughts of the Day

It’s a good feeling when you can make someone else happy. Going to try to repeat it tomorrow.

If I don’t get a hundred fresh frames tomorrow I’m going to kick my ass.

Hopefully some really good people on both sides of government can get together and work out a really good solution to immigration and security and the best way to spend the money, excuse me, our money. Something a majority of the country could get behind. Something that so many people on both sides of the aisle said to hell with the extreme ends and here is a good solution that is going through regardless. Well I can dream, can’t I?

I have some desk drawers that could use some cleaning out.

You ever look at a picture of yourself from 40 years ago and say, hey that was yesterday wasn’t it?

Another day, another arrest.

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Windy, Wet, Wonderful

What a wicked follow-up to a Wednesday. Winds that will whisk you off your wingtips. Waterfalls falling from the sky. But what the hell, it’s the first day of my weekend, so on with the festivities. Thought I’d supply a better picture, than the day provided us.

Love our Eastern Shore.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes to get through the winter I scan through my photos of summertime. Like this one. Sunset over the bay with a warm summer breeze on the balcony. It almost takes me back to the moment. Like hearing an old song and remembering a car full of your friends at 16 singing along.

Moments of sound, smell, visual that trigger those flashbacks that almost overwhelm you or at least give you pause. From a smile to the hair standing up on your neck. From a warm feeling of contentment to deeply emotional thought to a time gone by that might stick in your head for a whole day. Ain’t life great.

Of course not every memory triggered is a good one. I used to spend a lot of time asking why to some of these events. Sort of like the gritting of teeth but in the brain. And then one day the answer came. It’s so you can appreciate the good, special and meaningful moments and hopefully stack up more of them than bad.

Random Thoughts of the Day

My sister in-law does wonderful work for nothing other that making a better life for cats. I love that she is all action in saving many feline lives. My hat is off to her.

Wishing a wonderful father in-law a Happy Birthday. And also one of my best friends wife who we affectionately call the “1st Lady”. It’s interesting how people around me get older each year and I stay the same age.

If those in power don’t have compassion, then they should not be in power.

Working on a care package for a good friend feels good.

I was a young man in the 1960’s. Now I’m in my 60’s and not much has changed and everything has changed.

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Clawing my way

Scraping together a post today. I’m spent, I’m hurting, I’m in a creative drought the last few hours. The job that pays the bills has been very busy. Lots of personal chores and task. You know, life stuff that has you running so you don’t know what is up. So now as I sit here contemplating putting my head on the desk, I try to find something new to share. And then I remember I forgot to pick up a prescription and put another one in. Well that gives me something to do very early Thursday morning.

Going through past photo folders. Running short on time, I pick an architectural shot. I like architecture. I’m amazed at what engineers and designers create. Buildings are boring to some. Not to me. Then again most things aren’t boring to me. Guess its all how you look at things. I think photography has helped open my eyes over the years.

Downtown Indianapolis.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I know when I have my camera out, my head is on a pivot looking for the next interesting shot or angle. And tomorrow I promise I’ll get out and collect some fresh images. I can’t wait till the roles are reversed at retirement when I can work a part-time gig that pays the bills and full-time on this and photography and arts.

Till then I’ll do my best. And today that doesn’t look like much. But there is tomorrow to hopefully do better.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’ve switched to the large bag of Smarties candies but they still don’t seem to be helping.

Cherish your parents. Well if they did right by you its automatic.

I wonder if Trump eat Whoppers? He certainly tells some.

Two special birthdays ahead tomorrow. Going to be a lot of singing.

I had a very important typo that I caught before today’s post went out. “Ransom Thoughts of the Day”  Not the kind of attention I’d be looking for with that header.

Another mass shooting today. Boy if I could figure out how to put the Jeanie back in the bottle to cure that problem, I’d be happy man.


Tuesday anniversary

First the photo below. I selected this as the header photo (I think it’s called that) when I first started this blog. I’ve kept it there because I like the photo I took and many others on this trip to the ocean. Not crazy on having it cropped for that purpose. But in time it grew on me and I haven’t changed it in 5 years.

Now that I’ve managed to live several decades I’m experiencing some significant anniversaries. Last year I had my second 20 year anniversary at a job. Next year I’ll have a very impressive wedding anniversary of multiple decades. But today is a milestone also. One that I’m proud of. The number of 5 years isn’t that impressive. The work I’ve done so far hasn’t been that impressive. The amount of interest from the public with the exception of some friends, family and a few new friends (love you all and thank you) wouldn’t be impressive to most.

But blogging for the last 5 years has turned into a very rewarding thing for me personally. I think it’s helped me to become a better person and think more before I act. I’ve met some wonderful people who I didn’t know before this effort. I’ve seen and read many wonderful pieces I wouldn’t have seen if I didn’t start myself.

I’ve learned to be more disciplined. I’ve learned to try to live up to my original commitment of doing it each day. Some days I look at an image or topic or random thought I’ve created and be pleased and content with myself. I love that it has gotten me thinking again. And by that I mean in a challenged way. In a way that I have more control over. In a way that has led me to question my own opinions and logic.

I try not to get hung up on stats, yes I do look. But that isn’t the measure of my success or failure. The comments have been wonderful and I think that is a positive part of this blogging community. Lately I’ve run across some very enjoyable blogs that make me really think. I’ve enjoyed sharing my comments there and will most likely continue even more on that and other blogs in the future.

I guess I’ve made this another priority in my life of many competing priorities. And why not, if I feel that it has helped me grow as a person, has lead to more enjoyment and fulfillment in life, has widened my circle of friends, has left something for my children to reflect on, has been the springboard I hoped it would be to get me moving towards the arts that I so enjoyed as a very young man and dropped for decades, why not have it as a priority.

As I said in the first post I did for this site, and it still holds true for me today –  “I’ll expose my creative talent or lack there of for the world to see and either admire or laugh at. I don’t really care if it’s the later. For the images and video I take and share, the words I’ll string together in my books and my artwork will be first to make me happy. Second it if brings joy or thought or reflection or emotion from someone then I’ve shared something special. “

Thanks to all that have stopped by over the first 5 years. I’d like to see if I could add this blog to the list of things I’m doing in life to the 20+ year club.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Had a physical today. I don’t know what has happened to my veins but they must be getting more difficult to find as I age. I’m going to have to start to keep track of the number of times they have to stick me to get blood. Today it was 3.

This blog is living proof that evolution is slow.

I have recently thought of a few new good things to start doing. But as I checked them in with my brain it reminded me that no good deed goes unpunished.

A doctor is just a body mechanic.

The more I get done every day the more that plate of to do’s in front of me gets higher. Good thing I like to eat.

I’ve discovered that if I have a big smile as I’m trying to stretch out my neck it for some reason makes it easier some days and if not it fools those around you that you’re not in pain.

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And it begins again

And it begins again. Another work week. Isn’t it great? I know I’m starting to look at it in a more positive light. For instance as soon as it begins I’m closer to it ending. Well that wasn’t a very positive statement to begin this but it’s the truth from my experience in the last few years.

Sir, behind you, RUN.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I always wondered how some organizations seemed to kill the spirit of people. Now that I’ve seen that happen to others I can certainly understand their reasoning and logic. Not that I’m buying into that. I take a lot of pride in what I do because I respect myself. I don’t care what any company I’ve worked or will work for that matter does. Its my own pride and respect that keeps me going.

Plus I’ve found that returning to some of my root interest provides a nice balance. Most of the work I do that pays the bills is rather technical. Though not totally without creativity it’s not art or writing or photography. Its funny now in the 5 years I’ve been doing this blog is about the same time where my focus in work and enjoyment has changed.

Some of it is coincidence. Some of it by design on both parties part. And I think its working out for both of us fine.

What you can, when you can. I didn’t have a chance to go outside for that blood moon last night and I knew today was booked so I took a quick snap on the way home. The shake is because it was COLD. Found that piece of farming in the foreground. I should have gotten down on the ground and taken the moon through that. But it was COLD.

Moon this morning around 6:40am just before sunrise.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’ve read some inspiring and great words today. I’ve read some disappointing and hateful words today. I worry about the lack of tolerance and listening. I’m also worrying the non violent message is getting lost.

There are few better feelings than being able to help your children.

We haven’t even gotten into prime season and I’m already cursing potholes.

I used to disagree with the phrase you can’t fix stupid. But I think once you pass a certain age it becomes true.

Tomorrow is a special day for me. I’ll write about it if I get or make a few minutes to share.

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Be ready to pivot

Had to alter plans today. It’s always good to be ready to pivot. Don’t let a set schedule imply inflexibility. Everything is flexible. Well most everything. I’m finding the more flexible that I am, the happier I am. So today I adjusted plans a few times. Yeah I got less done than I hoped for but Sunday is a day of rest isn’t it?

Be ready to pivot.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Was just playing around shooting a few frames of my tripods and I might not get out to shoot that beautiful moon this evening so these will have to do for the day’s post. Maybe I’ll get the chance to shoot some in the morning.

But have a firm base to pivot from.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Just finished watching football. I’m not encouraged to even watch the Super Bowl this year. But I’ll probably pivot from that decision also.

Swivel when you can.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

Life is a hell of a lot easier when you know some people love you.

I wish I could find the perfect gift for my better half each day.

If you want to know what cold is. There is a good example right outside your front door.

Today is a good day for layers.

Hope everyone has a good holiday. And to those of us who work holidays. Have the best day possible.

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What should I focus on this week? Actually a lot of the week is booked. Celebrate my better half’s birthday and my father in-laws birthday. There is also a trip to the doctors for a physical thrown in for good measure and of course a full week of work. That stuff takes focus. Like having to fast for 12 hours before the physical and drink lots of water. I’m good at neither of those things, so the physical is already a pain.

Lets Focus
Photo by Mike Hartley

So lets see what else I can focus on. Well the Terps play Monday for the Big 10 conference lead. I could focus on staying warm the next few days with real feel temps near 0. I could focus on personal grooming. I have to buy a new beard trimmer being the old one finally died and I could use a haircut.

Well that is the regular stuff, what can I focus on this week to further this artistic endeavor. I think I’ll take that gift card from Xmas to Clarks and get some new Dremel bits tomorrow. Monday I’ll try to capture some images that say “COLD”. I’m going to read a few more chapters of the book I started last week. I hear there is a blood moon on Sunday night, maybe I’ll try to grab a shot or two.

I’m going to take a different subject or image each day and just do a series of shots and see if I can pull something fresh together. Like tonight, I’m just messing around in the basement shooting 3 different tripods I have. I’ll try to post that tomorrow. This has a two-fold purpose. Now that I’ve pulled them out its time to make use of them. I’m what you call a lazy photographer and I hope to change that. Plus this old body complains if I hold that heavy Nikon and zoom up for extended periods. But it doesn’t remind me till it’s too late.

I’ve got to start building my stock images of things so I can illustrate more what I’m rambling on about. I’m sitting here going back and forth setting up shots and finishing this piece. So I better stop this so I can try to do at least one right.

Random Thoughts of the Day

My handy-dandy tool man son in-law saved me much pain and aggravation replacing the kitchen faucet today. Many thanks.

I’m of the mind to. Whoops there goes another great idea.

I believe as I get older, that if I work harder and try to stay sharp that I’ll enjoy my senior years more, when I get there of course.

To laugh or not to laugh. That’s not even a question.

A wise man once said “make it work for you.”  That was some wise advice.


The little things

The little things. Yeah, that’s what’s special to me. The little things. An old photograph of my wife. Simple memento’s from the beach like a few shells, one for each member of the family. Maybe the rock on my desk that my son painted in kindergarten. Or the engraved napkin my daughter gave me on her wedding day with a beautiful message.

My favorite rock.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe a few shell casings reminding me of target shooting with my son and the meals at the Corner Stable afterwards. Maybe the small scarf of my mothers that I keep sealed in a zip-lock bag because it still has her smell. Maybe the little post it notes my kids wrote me thanking me for a vacation or they hoped work wasn’t too bad for me.

The ticket stubs from games with my children or concerts I went to as a youth. An old patch for the first Newspapers I worked for. A diploma and wrist bands from hospital stays and radiation treatments. A patch from my father for Operation Deep Freeze Task Force 43 and his medical kit from WWII.

The help wanted newspaper ad from the Washington Post that landed me a job there over 20 years ago. The first cover of the newspaper my friends and I started publishing. The various business cards of different titles I’ve had in 40+ years. My first camera. A chrome lug bolt from my first set of Crager Mags.

My dad’s old pocket watch. The Lefty (U of MD) tie. Pictures of the guys grilling up the catch of the day. The Animal House poster in my office.

I could go on because I do have a lot of objects in the home like this. Worthless to almost all. Priceless to me. But these objects would also be worthless if it weren’t for the people attached to those memories of these small objects.

I had a few freeloaders in the back today. Being the snow was preventing grazing they decided to take a nap. I’d say a group of 6-7. I hope they find a warm spot for Monday.

Deer taking a break.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I listened to a lot of old Beatles music today. Took me back. Hard to pick a favorite from their vast collection. So I had to listen to it all. I am the Egg Man, I am the Egg Man, I am the Walrus co coo cacho.

Having fun is so easy, you just have to let yourself go once in a while. Or in my case as often as possible.

On the down side today, I took down the artificial tree and lights in the basement.

What a special weekend its turning into.

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Sliding in under deadline

Nothing like taking advantage of the last few minutes of the day to slide in the daily post. Feels like cheating. I’ll make up for it and stay up and work a bit longer. I promise.

I hate using photos I’ve used before in my blog. But I don’t mind putting up older photos I haven’t published yet. And being the Thursday time-frame is very tight I’m going to use an older one I haven’t posted before. I normally try to keep it fairly fresh. Getting on a daily posting schedule and the need for visuals to break up the grey matter that comes out of my mind has left me in a bind some days.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The solution is I just need to shoot more again which is really a great thing. I need to get that viewfinder up to my eyes. There is some winter precipitation this evening so I’m going to throw the cameras and a tripod in the car and do some late night shooting.

The early scouting report was very light snow not sticking to much. I’ll head back out later and see what I can find.

Light snow, light foot.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

Loved having dinner with my expecting daughter last night. I’m not sure I like the traditional names like grandpa or pop pop. I’ve got to come up with something else and unique for the grand daughter to call me. Maybe (fuzzy) for my beard? Or maybe (coke coke), being I usually have one in my hand. This requires more thought.

Lots of decisions to make in the near future. The pressure is on. But isn’t that always the case. Life and each day is a series of decisions. You just call them big and small but the reality is they are all important.

To say some friends are priceless is an understatement for a few of mine.

The toughest years of my career have also been the most rewarding. Well in most cases. As in everything there are exceptions.

This day has been fun but not as productive as I would have liked. Yeah FUN.

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I was thinking as I got up today about the pace of life. Because things really accelerate when you get up and from the start, realize there aren’t enough hours in the day to even think about accomplishing all you would like. Now that is a nice thing to have in front of you, don’t get me wrong.

Out for a jog and a stroller.
Photo by Mike Hartley

At one point in my life I would let that be a negative and slow or stop my production at times because of feeling overwhelmed. But now having a full plate means I’m living. I’m trying my best. I’m refining the list and priorities all the time. The more I get done, the better I feel and what I don’t just gets evaluated again and either scrapped, re-prioritized and maybe put back on the list.

I’ve also learned being more flexible with myself, has led to more happiness. For instance if I get lost in a few blogs because of the beauty or ideas or trains of thought being discussed and I spend some time commenting and then remember I’ve got to pull together a daily post that it doesn’t freak me out. Yeah I might cut the thoughts or images in my own blog short, but I still get it done. And the next day I try to do better. Kind of simple really.

It’s a lot about confidence. Being OK with the thousands of decisions you make each day. Not beating yourself off the ones you got wrong. Not taking too much joy or getting overconfident because of the successes. Weighing how you feel about yourself more than letting others determine your feelings or worth.

All I know is I’m finally getting more comfortable in my skin and more proud than discouraged about what I can and can’t get done. Wish I had wisdom when I was younger.

Well its time I get cooking again. I’ve fallen out of the habit of helping with that. Being able to grill in nice weather or even the fall or spring is when I’m doing much better. Winter is seldom seen grilling time. So I better head into a kitchen somewhere and see what I can whip up. I actually enjoy cooking. I didn’t say I was a wiz at it, but I haven’t killed myself or anyone else yet and all seemed pleased.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I think I’ll surprise my better half this weekend and fix a few meals. Time to surf the recipes. And time to find a new meat market being our old favorite in Laurel closed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Looking forward to a little unwinding time. Some days I feel like an old clock.

Don’t you just yearn to hear the voices of those important in your life that have passed.

You know even when I look at very old pictures of my better half and I, even before we were married, we look in love.

I’ve got to spend some more time with my mother and father in-law. Because it would make them happy.

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Only a day

We go through our lives thinking it was “only a day.” But few days are only a day. For instance yesterday I found out a friend’s wife is suffering with cancer. A day will never be only a day to her again. When you have your health its easy to take days for granted. When you have a roof over your head and a meal in your stomach its easy to take life for granted.

The longer we have our health and food shelter and a job, the more the little crap that doesn’t matter creeps in. I rarely now step outside and don’t remember to appreciate it because I have the health to do it. I find joy in whatever I’m eating because I’ve gone hungry before. And every day I go downtown and see homeless people I’m thankful for a roof over my head.

No matter how much it seems like only a day to you there is a gem in every one of them if you allow and look for them.

At Ease Sailboat
Photo by Mike Hartley

So untie yourself from the dock, hoist that sail and enjoy the breeze called life. Is hoist the right word to use? I’m not a sailor.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Even though it’s not healthy to live through your children its wonderful to live for your children.

I’m learning to become more of a hard ass in negotiations, especially if I feel others are going to try to take advantage.

Some days I work on my people skills by avoiding them.

Why do some not honor commitments?

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I don’t like asparagus and I don’t like today

Not often that I start a post, work on it a while and say no, not today. Even less frequent is starting a second post and getting half way there and saying no this isn’t it. This is the third attempt for the day and the struggle feels less. I didn’t have or make the time to shoot early today. The job that pays the bills runneth over again.

I don’t like asparagus and I don’t like today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I was on a rage about a few things and started one post on emotions, which mine were running high today. I was all over the place with it. One of my rambling manifestos. So I’ll try to break that down someday into a sensible post or two.

My second try was the a start of my thoughts on taking images and not using the tools of the day to make them better. In my case its a few simple issues. The time in post processing vs the time being able to shoot more. There is also this ethical thing I worry about. I have no problem with people creating beautiful pieces of artwork. I enjoy them very much.

But I come from a more photojournalist approach I guess. And then there is the cost of the software. Now that is less relevant than it used to be but it’s still another thing to deal with. For the last few decades I’ve just been using the simple tools that have come with the camera. Crop and exposure adjustments.

It’s not that I’m intimidated by these tools. I used the first few versions of Photoshop early in its history. I can learn it again or other software. In some ways I know it would improve my images but at what cost in time of getting more images. Anyway that is a discussion for another day or night.

So today is asparagus day. My apologies to you who like that. Maybe it was a better day for you. Just hasn’t been my day so far.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Sometimes I forget there are a lot of bad people on this earth.

I’m much happier when I remember I’m in charge of most of my happiness.

It’s a pleasure to give a reference in someone you believe in.

I’m going to make better use of Tuesday than I have of this Monday.

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Yeah Snow, way to go with the timing

No heroic actions by this guy trying to get to work in this mess. I’ve had so many white knuckle drives in my lifetime I think some of that transferred to my lightening hair color. Plus the county hasn’t seen fit to plow my street yet so I’m hunkered down and working from home today.

Back is kind of sore from shoveling earlier. Felt good while I was out doing it. And even afterwords it felt good to have the circulatory system in action again. But that back is the weak link. I’ve got to work on strengthening the CORE.

Photo by Mike Hartley.

And that is a good theme for this year. Strengthen the core. And do that in every aspect of life. So lets see what can I do to get started? Crunches? Nah, too advanced to start with. Maybe just some aerobic exercises. Think I’ll add that this week to the walking I’ve been doing.

I’d also like to get a hold of my core emotions this year. Not in having them but how I react and respond to them. I’d also like to think about my core beliefs again. The more I know where I’m going, the easier it is to get there.

Random Thoughts of the Day

My new snow shovel works just like the old one. I was hoping for improvement.

I’m much less stressed when I miss the news.

Its UGLY car season. Salt mixed with whatever color it was before that.

Some people, that about says it all.

This is about the best spirits I’ve been in on a Sunday in some time.

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Sweet Saturday

I pick titles for the stupidest reasons some days. And today could be one of them. I saw an open bag of mini chocolate chips my better half had used in baking and I started off my day by nibbling on them about 5 minutes after I got out of bed. Yeah I know, not the breakfast of champions. But its kind of how my life goes. I have no meals that traditionally people call breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Photo by Mike Hartley

With shift work it kind of depends on the day of the week. Because the hours kept each day are so different. Like today I was up by 8am. Other days of the week I’m going to bed at 8am. The only way to survive this kind of madness is don’t think of it like madness but to each day in itself. A meal is a meal. I can eat pizza or a steak for breakfast just as easily as I can have a bowl of Cheerios for dinner.

There are days of the week I’m having what my wife calls dinner and to her it is the last meal of the day. To me its breakfast. I don’t care, we usually eat dinner type meals. I enjoy the hell out of it because she is a wonderful cook. Sometimes I cook but she does the bulk.

I can also sleep at any time of day or night. I can enjoy night or day and the beauty each provides. I think sometimes my friends and family have more trouble keeping up with my changes than I do at times. And then there are times I’m asking what day it is, myself. I’ve read a lot of negative things about older people doing late shifts, overnight or mid shifts. I try to stay healthy in mind at least. Physically I need to better.

I think it’s an area I’ll delve into a bit deeper this year. I’m sure a lot of people do it because I see a lot of nocturnal creatures stirring at night also. It has great benefits and great drawbacks. So just like any other job why not try to maximize the good and minimize the bad.

If I’m going to do it, I had better be smart about it. Mentally I think I’ve made a ton of adjustments. I’ve been concentrating on getting 5-6 good hours of sleep a day. Might not seem like much to some but for me its pretty good to maintain that. I’m trying to eat wiser. Notice I didn’t say less. Starting off with smart snacks. More nuts and fruits.

I’m going into each week without dread and breaking it down into smaller chunks. I’m trying to mix some pleasure during the week instead of just work. I’m planning better and I’ve noticed my follow through on work for myself, seems to be improving. I’m trying on several fronts to make it better. I hope to get an answer on a very important piece soon.

Would have been nice to end the day like this on the water with the sun getting lower in the afternoon instead of those snow showers I saw falling. I had to go find a picture like this because my friends and I started to discuss the spring Rockfish season and a date to go out. Well first it would be wise to check with our charter captain I guess. I’ll have to put that on the agenda tomorrow as inspiration after I finish shoveling the driveway.

Maybe this spring
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’ve spent too much of my random thought time today, gritting my teeth with back pain. Kind of breaks the pleasant trains of thought.

Participate in something. Its catching.

I did feel great today, when I heard my Son in-law offered to help me install a new kitchen faucet. I also felt great talking to my Son on the phone and discussing our favorite topics and teams.

I have a good friend with a very sick habit when he clears his driveway with his snow-blower. Lets just say he adds incentive points along the way. I’ve got to get a picture of this someday.

The day started off great basking in the Maryland Terps victory over Indiana. And its ending great as I watch the snowflakes fall. I think I’ll step outside and enjoy that special kind of quiet that a snowstorms bring. The only sound is the gentle snowflakes hitting the trees or ground. It’s almost like that last foot or two of a wave as it slowly sinks into the sand on the beach.

Everybody’s day starts and ends at the same time. And everybody’s day starts and ends at a different time also.

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Shivering and That time again

Well I said I was going to get out in the cold and photograph. I got out in the cold today but it wasn’t to photograph. Today was filled with sales people. We had some returns from the holidays to take care of. Cloths for me that didn’t fit which means I had to pick out something new. Because when I say didn’t fit my better half laughed like I hadn’t seen her in some time so it must have looked horrible. And its hard for me to make a sweat suit look horrible. Except if you get me something FORM fitting. Yeah I got form, just not the kind I used to.

I’m working on that but I quickly found a color and size and brand I liked pretty quickly. Another return for something my better half got at the other end of the mall. Then to the big box hardware for a new faucet for the kitchen and some other gear including a new snow shovel because a nasty crack was discovered in one of the two I have. I have two shovels because if anyone wants to help me shovel, I’ll always take help.

And then we went car shopping. Wow, how that process has changed over the years. We will probably finish up this exercise tomorrow and I’m thinking it can be detailed and ready to pick up next Monday. I’ll write more about this process tomorrow but the priority of the day has changed. Its time to cheer and go nuts for my local sports team. The University of Maryland Mens basketball team.

Photo by Mike Hartley

You see one of my lifelong additions is following the ups and downs of this team every year. It has been for over 5 decades now. Its one of few teams I follow passionately and go to some games each year. I love the spirit of college basketball. Anyway I’m going to be late for pregame activities if I don’t move from this box. So off I go.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I know I shouldn’t order the cheese steak sub. I know I shouldn’t order the cheese steak sub with bacon. I know I shouldn’t have ordered the cheese steak sub with bacon and mayo and tomato. But I did. And I’m glad I did.

I wonder what people think of me when we first meet?

I’m hoping to see my children soon, my tank is getting low.

You know, well then I won’t bore you by telling you again.

Its funny the difference in feeling when the Christmas tree is first brought in and put in the sand before lights and decorations, kind of giddy excitement. And then the same exact tree and look once lights and decorations have been removed sitting there waiting to be taken outside and made into mulch is such a sad thought.

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On the brighter side

Starting the day feeling good and the outlook is fine — But I’ll never look as good as what is on this vine.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So as some of my best friends say, let’s get this party started. I didn’t want to start the day off with one of those cold weather shots. Barron trees, people bundled up in huge winter coats, frozen tundra, no ice scraping windows. no burst water pipes, no billowing car exhaust, no chattering teeth or chapped lips, no frozen mustaches.

I started with some spring colors instead. At least we can think ahead for a few seconds before reality and that cold smack you in the face or grabs for your lower regions. Its only 68 days till spring. That is a lot of shivering time but we can do it.

That feels like temp of 20 degrees hit me this afternoon and I snapped. I tried not to curse. I tried not to tense up. I leaned forward into the wind. And then I came to my senses and came back inside and cursed till I was warm again.

Mill at EC.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So winter is making its presence felt. Yeah I knew it was coming but it seemed like a fairly mild December. I even had the top down one afternoon last month. With a light snow predicted it might just be the time to get out and grab some shots Saturday night into Sunday morning?

Random Thoughts of the Day

Its interesting watching some of the older comics perform decades ago and how much is or isn’t relevant today. A lot of George Carlin’s stuff transcends many decades.

I’m getting more comfortable with taking time to relax and not wasting it by giving myself a hard time over it.

Sometimes when I roll my neck, it makes sounds that give me the creeps.

I wonder if waves sound differently in the winter?

Is a nap a nap if you don’t declare it before nodding off?

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Winter weekend mix ahead & Windy Wednesday

I was telling my better half earlier today, that I would take the Xmas tree out this weekend. I did that a few years ago and this happened that day. And now that I look at the weekend forecast I see a possibility of a dusting to several inches of snow. You rarely know what you’re going to get here in the great state of Maryland. Weather like medicine isn’t an exact science.

So I might get a repeat photo-op this weekend of the above scene. I hope so. I always feel a bit like that child just wants to hop out of me and run outside in it. That is one thing that I remember as a youth just now, I can see the spot I used to lay in the back yard making a chorus of snow angles side by side. And then I could look out the kitchen window and see the impressions for days.

I remember the quiet and stillness at night when I would do it. A very interesting feeling indeed. And a good one.

Sat here shortly after midnight Wednesday morning listening to the wind howling outside my office door. The temps really dropped this evening also. I really don’t like wind especially when it’s coupled with cold. I had hoped to get out and do some weather related images but never made it.

Been in this down type attitude all day. Letting a few things get to me which I shouldn’t so going to try to turn around the attitude this evening. I’ll have lots of time to try wind/weather photos tomorrow again. Guess I should charge the camera batteries, cold weather takes a toll on them.

So here’s to being in better spirits tomorrow and getting my backside out of this comfortable house.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I managed to resist the urge to Taco Bell.

I must have one of those nasty conversations tomorrow where a vendor has screwed up again. I guess they didn’t hear the first salvo. I’ll use the MEGAPHONE tomorrow. And I’ll have to make sure they understand the word termination if they choose not to listen tomorrow.

It takes me a bit to recover from setbacks. But far less time than it used to.

The more time I spend away from family and friends the cranky’er I get.

Reading is to time-consuming, but enlightening.

I envy those with the ability to relax well.

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Every once in a while

Every once in a while I struggle coming up with a title of a post. Sometimes I change them a few times depending on what I start writing about. On occasion though the title inspires me to a topic, like today. It usually is the first thing I do – title a post that is.

2 for Tuesday
Photo by Mike Hartley

I could have gone with something simple like (2 for Tuesday.) Or maybe a political theme like (Tantrum Tuesday.) I could have gone with a more serious theme with (Temperance Tuesday) hoping we all get along more.

I should have gone with the title (Battery in the Basement) because I’ve been neglect on getting the battery out of the mower and in the basement on the trickle charger.

A great title would have been (Back in Bed) because that is what I’ve felt like doing from the time I got up. Yeah I’m running out of steam today. Too many irons in the fire. Of course back in bed could have a negative connotation. A lot of people use that when they are sick again. So I think I’ll be careful in ever using that title.

I could go with a title and rant about having a daily calendar again and called it (Daily Diversion) because that is what it is for a few minutes of each day. The trouble is I’m having trouble getting back in the habit to look at the daily Dilbert cartoon on it and laugh. I’ll get it together it will only take me another week to incorporate into the daily routine.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I could have gone with (Fading Away) in regards to how quickly the Baltimore Ravens season faded away. It was a nice run by a team that always seems to have a good attitude and a loving fan base. I’m very sorry to see Joe Flacco go. He was a good asset for that team for a long time. I wish him luck where ever he lands.

I thought about a title called (Someday Sex). That would be about a day that when someday sex didn’t matter in making announcements. What triggered this thought was today in Howard County (where I live) the first female Chief of Police was appointed. A month earlier the first female Fire Chief was appointed. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime, but one day I hope it won’t matter what sex you won’t matter and your abilities and history will be the focus, not your sex, and these women seem to have very strong backgrounds. Congrats to both women on their new post and best of luck.

Now that I realized I’ve rambled on again I guess I could have titled this post (Full of It) because I was just full of ideas today.

I think I’ll keep it simple and do something weather related tomorrow. It’s supposed to be a very windy day so what better title than (Windy Wednesday). It will get me outside and think about taking some shots to illustrate Wind.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I can’t decide which Coke of the day I like the best. But I do know they are better when its hot outside.

I can’t explain it but I have this desire to go to Taco Bell. I know its bad and I know it’s by far from the best Mexican food but I got this craving. Maybe tomorrow.

I’m laughing more. I’m reading more. I’m listening to more music. I’m loving more. I’m communicating more. Ain’t life great when you know what you need.

I have a real problem with lying pieces of crap. I think I’ll watch sports tonight.

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One of these mornings

Will I have time?

Time to think about my grandchild, Time to love my wife, Time to call my children, Time to laugh with friends, Time to get to work, Time to listen to my favorite songs, Time to eat where I want to this evening, Time to create a post, Time to snap a few fresh frames, Time to smile at a stranger, Time to maybe catch a second gear, Time to bring the trash can in, Time to enjoy a minute of relaxation, Time to catch a few winks of sleep, Time to take a nice long hot shower, Time to say hello to a neighbor.

When is it time to fly.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well being I’m working into this Monday I know I have some time today because I’m alive now. And I hope to be later to do some of those things. I hope so because I’m not taking things for granted. Each day I’m working to make each day special in some way. To prioritize the things that are really important.

Don’t know why I started that train of thought today except when I started it, I was listing to Moby with Patti Labelle sing “One of these Mornings”. Because as she belts out, “one of these morning, they will look for me, and I’ll be gone.” But here is hoping it’s not today or any day soon but nobody knows.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Yeah were back at it. Running back and forth to work again. I used to look at work much differently in many ways. In its most basic sense if your work/career spans a length of time. Then my time is in the final years.

That seems like a long time to some of you Young’ins but believe me its the blink of an eye. I’m finishing out my career differently than I had imagined but at least I’m still employed in an industry that has scaled back quite a bit.

But its a young mans game now here. I do think they forget that a lot of us old timers have seen and been through and adapted to many changes and new technology before they came to being. But such is life.

All I know is the weeks seem to go by faster. People seem more in a hurry. I see less a feeling of family and relationships on the job. Probably because so many people change jobs so frequently now.

I’m glad I didn’t spend my career job hopping. I’ve had more than enough challenges and opportunities at the few spots I’ve worked. And that is nice and probably why I’ve stayed so long.

I’ve thought recently about change but when you’re over 60 change can be dangerous. Then again thinking your safe when you’re over 60 is a delusion also. I’m wondering if the

I wish I had the stones to go out on my own again. Maybe someday in the future.

Random Thoughts of the Day

A leaking faucet can ruin your day.

It looks like football is joining baseball as a game of inches.

You ever hurt so bad that it almost makes you physically ill?

I wish I was smart enough to leave my children with some wise insights to life.

The next person I catch backing up in an exit ramp because they took the wrong turn is likely to be in need of an ambulance.

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Things that make me go WHAT?

Ax Throwing Bars – WHAT?

Meeting someone who read an entire insurance policy, besides the lawyers who work for the insurance companies. – WHAT?

The senseless violence and hate of the human race. – What?

The President said – WHAT?

When your paycheck comes and it isn’t correct – WHAT

Finding a contractor who will tell you he won’t finish the job on time – WHAT

I love spending time looking at nature. A lot of the reason I enjoy living where I do. There are woods behind our home which gives a nice display of wildlife from time to time. This guy though is so aware. I can never get outside without him bolting. If he hears a window being lowered he’s off.

Using my back yard for morning hunt.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I actually opened my back door one night to get some fresh summer air and he was sitting about 5 feet from me overlooking the back yard before the woods. I think I startled him so he paused a second before high tailing it back to the woods. I try to live in harmony with it but big snakes do bother me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I’ve let work affect my attitude before even starting this week. I’ve got to work harder on making that a non issue in life.

If you want to know what the word extortion means, look at your credit card interest rate.

Did you know there is a guy at the factory that builds personal printers that just sits there and puts in random expiration dates (Broken Beyond Repair) on each one. Trouble is his calendar only goes from 3 months to 2 years in advance.

Does anyone besides a carpenter, artist and elementary students, use a pencil anymore?

I don’t know why they call you a patient when you go to the hospital. Patience is about the last thing you have when you’re sick.

Shift work is not for older people. Even though it seems there are lots of us doing it.

I hope my better half is on the mend.


Power – Better personal choices – Random

Happy New Year from BG&E. That is our local power utility. And here you thought I might be talking about power of spirit. I’ll get to that later because I woke this morning to no power. It was a fairly short outage, just over an hour. But it reminded me to go look at last years record now that I receive text when my power goes out and comes back on. In 2018 we had only 7 incidents. Notice I didn’t CAPITALIZE the word ONLY because restraint keeps me from biting the hand that feeds me power. But I will nibble at it once in a while.

Some were just an hour. Some were several hours. We did have one 3 day outage from 5:50am on March 2nd that lasted to 9:39am March 5th. Really I’m not going to complain about last year. With the trouble other parts of this country had this was minor in inconvenience. I have had years with weeks without power so its been worse. It has improved over time with fewer outages. I think it’s still the number of lines and trees in this area.

BG&E on the job.
Photo by Mike Hartley

In my mind these guys working the lines are almost like our first responders. Dangerous and difficult working environment and conditions. Much respect to their hard work. And as always my thanks for restoring my power this morning. If I were to give them a suggestion on the longer outages it would be more helpful to provide estimates of restored service.

But my point here is to be more self-sufficient. We never know when a natural disaster can hit. We never know if someone or people are going to disrupt the flow of goods or energy. I’m not a survivalist or anything close, but this year I’m taking more steps. I think we might keep a little more food on hand. And I’m going to put that oil I got last month and fire up that new generator and figure what I can power off it. My next project will be getting a safe but larger fuel supply so I could go a few weeks without power.

Of course I’ve made a lot of stupid choices in my life. But as I get control over the ones I make, the happier I become. I’ve so often forgot I’m in charge. Yeah I know, that might be a delusional thought but really we are in charge of a lot of things. And those were not in charge of we can change if the desire and mindset is there.

But my thoughts are in the simple things I used to get wound up about and do sometimes now till I remember I’m in charge. Like the final round of leaves that fell in my pool area. They are still laying there and that would have drove me nuts and I would have spent lots of time and effort doing that and some other outdoor chores. Hell, I got the best looking yard in the neighborhood most of the year so a few weeks in an area nobody but us can see isn’t of concern any longer.

The battle with Mother Nature is over. I don’t try to win anymore. I just adapt and respond when I can and I’m happy with that. My battle with my job is over. They are going to do what they do and I’ll adapt and respond as best possible and I’m happy with that. I’ve already adapted to the health issues and I respond to overcome them when they pop up and I’m happy with that.

The battle with self-doubt and fear of producing garbage is over. Yeah I might produce some crap, but I hope to produce something special once in a while. And unless I try to free myself from the lack of confidence, something special might not happen. And even if it doesn’t the journey will still be something that I can reflect on and say I gave it a shot. And you never know when you might hit the eye of the storm.

It’s all in the eyes.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

Sometimes the more you do, the easier it gets to do.

I like a change in tempo in both my music and my life.

Strength is keeping focus through pain.

The more I accomplish in some areas, the more some areas that used to be bothersome fade away.

This whole problem of the wall being paid for would be over if Trump were President of Mexico.


Early Saturday Start

Feeling the juice this morning. Decided to stay up late and tinker around with crafts and maybe a photo or two. I don’t have a studio but that isn’t going to stop me. Its time to challenge myself a bit.

Actually I was moving a box of shells to a smaller box and getting some out to use with some stones I’m etching on. I don’t have a huge collection but there are a few nice ones in there. I was starting to sort them when I just started laying a few out on paper. I guess I got a bit tired and started playing with designs using shells.

Well I played around with that for a few minutes and took a couple shots of the few designs I came up with.

An idea is born.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Should have worked on my lighting more. And also set them up on the floor instead of the table.

Star fish – Sea Horse Tree.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But it was late and I was lazy. At least I got some thoughts out on paper so to speak.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I wonder what my sister in-law would think of my floral designs?

Photo by Mike Hartley

She would probably say more color.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Well maybe next attempt.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Not the best combination below.

Photo by Mike Hartley

OK last one. I knew you were saying Uncle.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Early Morning

I always get a bit loopy when I’m tired late at night. As opposed the nut that I am during the day.

Nothing like a little music to cheer you up. Well at least it works for me.

Option 1 – try to go to bed and struggle finding a comfortable position for hours. Option 2 – Stay up and try to find a comfortable position while working for a few more hours.


Very lucky and other stuff

Don’t know why I lead with this photo. This was a draft I started sometime ago with just a title and picture. I scrapped the title but left the photo. Maybe I feel like my harvest is coming in. Maybe its just wanting to clear out my drafts folder and going with it instead of starting another post I didn’t finish. I think I have about 200 drafts. I hope to have about half that by the end of the evening. Plus I haven’t downloaded images from the camera yet.

Natures conveyor belt.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Appreciating time spent. What a better way to live. Spent some time with best friends last night. We ate some great home grilled burgers, laughed a ton, shared memories and just had a great relaxed time. Even the dogs were chill last night. Occasionally playing but just hanging out with us boys. We remembered an old friend who passed a few years back.

Now that I think about it, that is about as deeply we as we discussed those few days in such detail in the few years since his passing. It gave us pause several times. The Captain will always be part of our gatherings. We discussed the length of our very close friendships which stretch 4-5 decades. Something that is very special to all of us. But we also talked a bit of what we meant to each other.

OK, that might seem normal to most, but these things while always known between us, always felt deeply by each of us. Always present in our actions and being there for each other. Exhibited in our respect for each other. Always there in the firmness in our handshakes or hugs, of emphasis in our high fives and fist bumps. But it was rarely spoken. All of us are pretty private.

So it was nice to hear and express some of these things together. I wish our Southern brother was with us. He would have enjoyed it being he is part of this close-knit group. I guess as we have grown older we realized how special of a ride its been and continues to be.

Tonight is a print party. I hope to go through the remaining stock of photo paper and prepare some gifts. Its one of the things I’d like to start this year to just see if it brings the joy it gave me. For instance, I think I’ll start with my neighbors who have a garden out front. At first when I saw this large garden I wasn’t thrilled. But in addition to the fruits and vegetables they were growing were some flowers and sunflowers added. I look forward to seeing the butterfly’s and other birds around. The colors of the various flowers that pop up.

Sunflowers in rain
Photo by Mike Hartley

I look over every day during the growing season. It gives me a smile so I thought I’d try to return the favor with a couple of prints of some photos I’ve taken of it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

I could spend more time reading great blogs. It’s so easy to do. But I feel compelled to attempt to create one myself.

The tripod is out. Going to practice my lighting skills or lack there of. Always good to learn. And I learn best by doing.

I’m glad football is on this weekend as a diversion to the madness going on.

I believe I’m going to get more into cooking this year. I wanted to take a picture of those chocolate chip/walnut pancakes I just made but my hunger instinct took over and I devoured them.

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Hiding out

I’m lying low to start the day. Keeping my head up but not exposing my neck like the shot below. I’ve stuck my neck out a lot in my life. I’m a bit outspoken at the job. Not as much personally but I do have strong opinions. But as I age the risk reward has shifted. So I comment less, share less and fight less. I think a wise man said pick your battles.

Hunting grounds.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Some battles just aren’t worth fighting. Some never need to be started. Took a long time to learn that one. I’ve stop trying to change some things.

Random Thoughts of the Day

What is it about car chases?

I’m going work late tonight. But on my own work. Even though it pays a lot less, its rewards make up for it.

Steve Gaines could really play some guitar.

Never have so many smart people been so dysfunctional. Or maybe they just aren’t that smart?

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I guess we are all searching for ourselves. I know I am. It’s when I stop searching for myself that I feel like I’m regressing or static, stuck in place so to speak. I’m always searching for a new image or words and thoughts to share. I’m searching for enjoyment and peace of mind and heart.

The ideas are flowing
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m searching for a better way. I’m searching for that next fun corner on the road on a sunny day with the top down. I’m searching for the perfect balance of sun sand and sounds of waves hitting the shore.

I used to search for love but I found it and it keeps finding me over and over now. I search to understand different points of view. I search for laughter. I search for a relief from pain.

I used to search for great friends. My cup runs over there so now I just search for ways to be a great friend to them. I search for words between tears when I speak to my parents grave.

I search for ways to sneak in more time for my creative efforts. I search for matching socks. I search for something to eat. I search for ways to please people.

I search for the eyes of loving pets when you find the perfect spot they want scratched. I search for respect. I search for hearing those notes of music that make the hair on my neck stand up.

I’m searching for reasons why some good people leave this earth early. I’m searching for ways to help my children. I search for that smile that I’m not displaying when I should be.

I search for memories that are fading. I search for the lane without pot holes. I search for seeing birds soar and butterfly’s flutter. I search for another spot on my walls to hang photos.

I search site stats but not for validation. I search for the second wind needed to make it through the work day. I search for a way to shed a few pounds.

I search for design ideas. I search for my battery charger. I search for logic but that is in short supply for some. I search for reliable people. I search for new blogs. I search for song lyrics. I search for seafood recipes.

I search for a paper clip.

Random Thoughts of the Day

“Play it pretty for Atlanta” and then some wonderful piano playing.

I thought I was getting sick but then I thought better of it.

I wonder if the music today will stand the test of time?

The treadmill is starting to look like an adversary.

Sometimes I have some good ideas.

I’m pumped for the MD basketball team. Big win over ranked opponent for the first time in a few years.

I heard my daughters voice today. What a special treat.

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A New Year, A New Start

I’m on a mission to make every day count this year. So why not get this one-off to a good start. And it did have a pretty good start. The two best drives home from DC are on Christmas morning and New Years mornings. So as I pulled out before daybreak I snapped a shot of the firehouse next to our building.

DC Fire and EMS station on 13th street NW.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope we never have the need to call these guys. They all seem friendly and we wave and exchange greetings when its warmer out and they are outside. My garage entrance is about 20 ft from the open door on the left here. I’m going to have to go over when it warms up one day and ask if I can do some shooting around the firehouse.

But back to those two best drive mornings of the year. The roads were wet this morning but Xmas morning was smooth sailing. Both days are special because of very limited traffic. Yeah there are a few, very few out early on those two days. And those who are out are courteous. Such a contrast to the rest of the year. Even tonight which is New Years Day people have reverted back to normal and are doing crazy things on the road.

We have some beautiful highways in this area. But when they are clogged and or being used as personal racetracks it gets a bit dicey out there. But for two mornings a year. There is peace on the roads. The crosswalks are clear. You’re not driving 3 and 4 wide. There is no road rage. There is no tailgating. There is no horns and fingers flying. There is just a very relaxed A to B journey.

Guess I have a long wait till the next ones.

So I’ve managed to post each day for the last 3 months straight. It was a goal when I started this blog. I think I’m on track to keep it up but I’ve got to get a few post ahead and be ready when conflicts arise. I’m also working on a goal to have fresh photos each day. Even if it’s a crappy one like above.

That will get me shooting regularly again. I don’t want to run too many embarrassing photos. Tomorrow I might start trying to design a page that looks better.

Random Thoughts of the Day

One day I look forward to not working holidays. As Rush says “they call me the working man”

You know the interest in watching bowl games isn’t what it used to be at all.

My most pressing thought today is for my better half to feel better.

I’m trying to find something to laugh about each day. Actually its pretty easy if you just let it come to you.

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No party, just work

No party, just work is the reality of the day. Despite that, I feel great. It feels like a special day. It started with one of my best friends texting our small group thanking us for the good times this year. I sent back a similar sentiment and greeting. I’m feeling good and strong about the coming year.

Talk about raising your glasses.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Especially with my family. It will be expanding and that is a wonderful thing. I’m hoping the year is filled with good health and joy, which I’m sure it will be. I feel challenged this year more than the last several. I’m going into the year with good spirits and health. Maybe this is the year I get all facets of life in harmony.

I’ve started my physical routine before the New Year even starts. I’m going to fit work into a compartmental space. I’m going to try to leave negatives behind. This year is about big progress. This year is about doing. Less to do list, more production.

Random Thoughts of the Day

It must take dedication to go out and stand in the cold and rain on New Years eve this year. I don’t have it.

Despite all the chaos of 2018 my year went by very fast. I must have had a good time.

If you’re lucky enough to be with the one you love. Make sure to appreciate that kiss at midnight.

If you made it to the end of the year, be thankful your not part of a memorandum.

I’m going to make a dent this coming year. A big one.


Satisfying Sunday

Nothing like getting a jump on a new plan. So why wait for the New Year to kick it off. I got my behind busy today with a 2 hour hike around the hills of Ellicott City and some treadmill work this afternoon. I might even do a little more this evening. I’m trying to take the daily mindset I have with the blog to exercise daily also.

A sad sight. The back of what used to be the Caplans building.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I love taking the path less traveled at times. Ducked down an alley today and my friend and I were amazed looking at the back of this store. How it still stands is beyond my comprehension. As you walk around Ellicott City you realize how many streams converge on this town.

As the sun started to come out on Sucker Branch along Sylvan Lane.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Seems like it’s still going to be a long time for this town to recover again. Just the infrastructure work needed and going on seems huge.

The gap in Ellicott Mills Drive.
Photo by Mike Hatley

Maybe when this house is returned to its Main Street address it will make things a little more normal again.

The log cabin is aloft.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Went to a wedding last night. Thought about marriage and life as I watched a beautiful bride and groom, the daughter of some great friends of ours. I got a very good feeling from these two. I hope that have a wonderful life together. When I look at young couples I try to think about what is ahead for them. Will it be a lifelong commitment that goes by in the wink of an eye because it’s filled with love, fun and new family. Or will it be like an old rocket launch, beautiful at first with bright flames but fizzles out quickly and separation happens with not so good memories that are carried for a lifetime.

I’m not saying that in some cases its wrong to divorce, on the contrary some were never meant to be. Many end for many different reasons and some are very valid. But others are usually because one or both don’t have that commitment over a long period of time. I’ve been married a long time. I’m sure my better half has been unhappy enough with me as I have with her that you could say things might have been on the ropes.

But even with that it wasn’t something either of us would even consider with having children already. That bond of having a family unit was always one thing we both believed in strongly. When a family is started both parents assume a support role. It may have held us together at some rough points. But deep down also there was always love.

It was kind of funny that this morning while I was walking with a very close friend who has also been married a long time about how both of us who have had rough stretches about how in the last decade or so, its been so wonderful and so glad that we are able to enjoy our later years together. That its fun, its time that is appreciated and cherished, instead of sometime neglected, ignored or indifferent about. It’s a great time in our lives.

Enjoyed last nights wedding very much.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

Just because someone says something doesn’t really make it so.

I’m feeling good about this coming year. Hope it works out well for everyone.

When someone loves you, people always wonder what you’re smiling about.

Get ready legs, daily walks are now part of the routine.

I hope a good nights rest is ahead. I’d hate to end the year cranky.

Confidence is very important. Comfort with yourself is a good place to start.

Felt good to make strides on several fronts today.

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Why do I always feel like I should have accomplished more during the holiday season? Not that I’m unhappy how I spent my time. I just hoped to get more shooting in.

Why did I get on a scale today? Totally unplanned, a spur of the moment decision. Why, is what I yelled when the number was displayed.

Why was I not surprised at the tightness of my dress shirt when I did it up. Because of the why before this.

Why didn’t I allot more time for today’s post?

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve had a beard most of my life. I keep it fairly short so I trim it once or twice a week. What I’m disappointed in is the lack of life beard trimmers seem to have. I’ve purchased ones that cost triple digits and I’ve got some for $20. They all die quickly it seems. Who knows, maybe I have barbed wire for hair or something but these devices are certainly almost as long-lasting as disposable razors.

Maybe I just haven’t stumbled across the right one yet. At least I get another shot at it because the last one just gave up the ghost. Why don’t they build these things better?

Random Thoughts of the Day

I don’t like being rushed. And I’m rushing this.

Only two more days in December to enjoy. I hope to make the best of both in a good way.

I figured being I rambled on yesterday too long, I’d keep this short and sweet.



Made a mistake at the start of the day today. Yep I turned on the news. It’s the same old contentious crap I’ve been listening to for 2 years and I’ve had it. And this is where the thought and discussion on that topic ends today because I don’t feel like raising my blood pressure in that way.

So much ground, nothing to graze on.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to try to avoid mistakes the rest of the day. At least big ones. Because I make mistakes every day. From simple stuff like walking past a clean basket of cloths that need to come upstairs to big one like being negative and not enjoying and making the most of a day.

So today I’m going to try to make the most of it. I’ve already got a good start here having a few ideas and some of the post finished before noon. And that isn’t too common. Also taking my better half to lunch this afternoon was a good start. She enjoyed it. I did also except for them screwing up my order. Chili is not a substitute for Cream of Crab soup especially without telling me up front. Then telling me they gave me an old daily special menu and that today’s soup de jour was chili and I guess thinking that would make a difference in me keeping it.

Oh and note to menu staff – CHILI is not a SOUP. Now my better half is going to read this and think I’m still upset. I remember the smiles and talk and her eyes and running outside in the rain together and opening her car door for her. Yeah it could have been better but any time together is great. And usually this place is excellent, so I’m not going to bash them in public unless they chose to make these kind of mistake next time.

I was reading a post about Seasonal Affective Disorder from Ashleyleia and thought for a second that I think I might have a touch of this. Well then after a second or two more of thought, I definitely have this. I’d say mine is limited to two seasons. It starts in the fall when the leaves fall and the nights cool. And it gets in hyper-drive when winter sets in.

Floating Fall
Photo by Mike Hartley

Then hope is restored and the first day of spring which is also a special birthday in this family rolls around and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. But it does depress me at many points in between.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the holiday season. I enjoy a snowfall where I don’t have to go to work. I don’t even mind the shoveling. My back does but that is a physical issue, not mental. But I find myself in short supply of patience. I hate to be cold and also dislike wearing lots of cloths to stay warm. I work some nights and when I do it’s depressing not to have the sunlight of the long summer days.