Thursday, October 27, 2011

Odd Bits - The Hurry Sundown Edition

I’m not up to tackling anything in depth today, so let me whip out some short and partially formed bits I’ve had running around in my head this week.  But first, let me apologize for not posting on Tuesday.  My department at work had a happy hour on Tuesday and I didn’t get home until right before the Penguins game was to start.  Not feeling capable of getting anything coherent down in such a limited timeframe (with my beer-induced limited brain power), I gave it a pass.

We had the happy hour at a Turkish place downtown and while the seating proved inconvenient for a tall person such as me, (low, overly soft ottomans around low tables) they had a neat decoration scheme.
Multi-colored lanterns hung from the skylight.

I wish I had gotten a shot of the giant hookah.  It looked like you had to kick start it. 

Subway Tales
You may “Eat Fresh” in a Subway, but that doesn’t mean people smell fresh in there.  I recently had two almost vomitous incidents while riding the subway to work.

I always look for the empty seat when I get on the train.  One rainy day last week when I got on to go in to work, I spotted an empty seat near the back of the car.  Behind the empty seat sat an obviously homeless woman, with her head down on her chest and her parka flopped over the seatback in front of her.

I figured I’d just leave her coat alone and sit on the end.  She wasn’t hurting anyone and people sleep on the subway a lot.  It’s a warm, dry place when one doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

As soon as I sat down, I realize my mistake.  The woman reeked to high heaven.  I’m not sure if it was the filthy coat beside me, the B.O. behind me, or the funky bare feet under my seat, but the cumulative effect was nausea.

Normally when somebody smells bad, I wait it out, because one’s nose only registers the funk for a short time before becoming immune to it.  But I swear, every time I moved my head the slightest bit, I’d get a fresh whiff.  It was so bad; it almost made me feel sick.  It was like I could feel the fungus growing on my lungs. 

I’ve never gotten up out of a seat and moved before because of someone nearby, becaue I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but it was either move or hurl.  About halfway through the trip, I got up to stand by the doorway.  Thankfully there was enough fresh air coming in when the door would open, to dilute the funkiness.  But I swear, the rest of the day, I could still catch a faint glimmer of funk still on my clothes.

So now flip to a couple days later… I get on the train again and sit next to an Asian guy who was reading something with Asian characters on his Kindle.  I thought I’d be safe enough buuuuuuut… no.  I don’t know what the dude ate that morning but he had an overpowering odor of strong pepperoni and sour milk.

I didn’t move this time, but I basically turned out read my paper facing the aisle.

I was like, “Why me?  What the hell did I do to draw Grim Reeker to me AGAIN?

I guess I’ll have to change my ways.

Nein Nein Nein
You may have noticed a marked lack of political material posted here lately.  I just had to check and I found that I’ve only done two political pieces since the beginning of August.  One was a letter to the editor about gay marriage and one was a quick video post with a comment on the reaction to the President’s jobs speech, in September.

The reason for this is that nothing has changed.  I have absolutely nothing to say that I haven’t said already.  I will not keep grinding the same gears over and over; not until there are some new gears to grind.

The gridlock in Congress is practically set in stone and the art of compromise is ridiculed as weakness.  Whatever is in the middle is being pulled apart by the lunatics on both edges of the fringe.

The Republicans are still voting down anything that might help the economy unless it’s a stand-alone tax cut.  They ensure that nothing gets done and then blame the President because he hadn’t fixed the economy yet.  This has been going on since the day he took office and went into overdrive since the 2010 elections.

Common people are trying to make their points by gathering in cities across the country (and world) but they continue to be marginalized and misrepresented by the media, who if they can’t boil the issue down to ten-second sound bytes, tend to create their own.

To me, there’s only one way to get any changes done for the middle class and that’s to vote for Democratic candidates.  If any of the people that are participating in the Occupy movements either didn’t vote or voted Republican, all I can say is that you got what you voted for.  Happy?

I know there is fault to go around on both sides, but you cannot deny that there is one party that is 100% bought and paid for by big business and big banks and that is the Republicans.  Look how feverishly they fight to eliminate the regulations that were enacted specifically to prevent more financial collapse due to financial risk-taking and malfeasance.  Look how they cling to keeping the lowest tax rates in history for the highest earners in history.  Big business has the leashes and the Republican Congressmen and Senators are the dogs. 

I’ve made these points before and I’m mad at myself for even bringing them up again.  I’ll be back on the topic should anything new transpire.

The Frustrated Photographer
As you may know, I love to take nature pictures.  Bright fall foliage is my favorite, but it’s tricky here in the Mid-Atlantic.  There is a very small window to get good colorful leaf pictures because A) The trees don’t seem to turn at the same times and B) once they do, the leaves fall soon after.

In going through past files of fall pictures, I’ve narrowed down the optimum time for shooting to the last week in October.  The trick is to have a sunny day coincide with my opportunity to go out and get the pictures.  It was perfect on Tuesday, but in looking at the forecast for the rest of the week and weekend, I saw that it was expected to be cloudy and rainy throughout.  So even though I’d have Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday off, the weather was not going to cooperate.

So I made an executive decision to try to get out to the park on Tuesday evening after work.  I left a work a couple minutes early, knowing that I’d be in a race against the setting sun.  Actual sunset may be after 7:00, but I needed to get there before the sun went below the tree line.

I hauled ass home, quickly changed out of my work clothes and headed back out to our closes park.  There were two ways I could go.  One was a more heavily traveled route with 4 to 6-lane roads and stoplights.  I figured that way would be choked with rush hour traffic so I opted to take a back way, via twisting, turning 2-lane roads.  I got about halfway there before I came to a dead stop.  And stayed there.  The traffic was bumper to bumper and all I could do was idle forward and stop.  Idle forward and stop.  This continued as I watched the sun slowly sink lower and lower.  I felt like Jack Bauer trying to get someplace to stop a bomb from going off.

After about 15 minutes, I managed to creep up to the intersection where the problem was.  This problem was called a “stoplight.”  It seemed that whenever someone needed to make a left, they’d wait at the beginning of the intersection so that no one else could get past.

Fucking Baltimore drivers.  No one matters but themselves.

Anyway, I got to the park by 6:00, just in time to see the sun lighting only the upper edge of the colored trees.  A helpful park ranger said that the park was closing in 15 minutes and they’d be locking the gates in 30.  I took about 25 shots in 10 minutes and I managed to get a couple decent ones before the light faded into duskiness.
Roland Lake in Robert E. Lee Park, Baltimore MD.

Same target, different vantage point.

180 degrees around from the last shot; the sun sets over the top of the dam.

Ironically, this is probably my favorite of the lot.

Maybe I’ll catch a break and find some moments of sunlight on Monday.  But I can live with these if I have to.

Fletch Lives
One final word…  I ask you to send your best thoughts and wishes to Bluz Sister Annie, who on Tuesday had to have her beloved white-socked tabby Fletcher put down.  He was 11 and was suffering from kidney problems.  He’s lost a good bit of weight and was having trouble with balance and continence.  That it was the right thing to do under the circumstances does not make it any easier, as I’m sure many of you know.

Fletcher was a good puss, friendly to all and fiercely loyal to my sister and her husband.  He’s been with them for about as long as they’ve been together.  He was my sister’s constant companion; always there to listen, lay nearby, and amuse.

He is survived by auxiliary, backup cat, Gracie.

Fletch, I hope you finally can get those squirrels.
 Bluz and Fletch, from 2010.

DVD Director’s Commentary: Today’s title is based on a song by the southern rock group, The Outlaws.  Kudos to any good redneck that caught the reference before reading this far.


Gina said...

I didn't get shit for fall photos this year. I don't know about down there, but up here, we seemed to miss out of the pinks and magentas that we usually get. I don't know why, but I was bummed. And I'm sorry to hear about Fletcher - that's never easy.

Mary Ann said...

Beautiful foliage. Angles of light look truly magical.
Our Friend, Fletcher, lives in these pictures.
Once,during an early visit to the vet, Fletcher wanted down from her arms to explore the new place. He wiggled but she held on. Finally he turned and smacked her across the jaw with his paw. She loved him as we do.

bluzdude said...

Every fall, I miss the time I spent in Albany NY. The fall colors were unbelievable up there.

Mary Ann,
Yes, angles of light plus copious amounts for photoshopping can work wonders!

Jessica R. said...

There is a lady here I've seen at Walmart a few times who has a giant, natted bee hive hair do whose smell will leave you running for the toilet. I wonder if they smell that bad how they don't smell themselves? Are their noses broken?

And those photos are beautiful! Our trees don't turn down south until around Thanksgiving, though I did see one rebelious tree turn bright yellow this morning!

bluzdude said...

I think that's because one can rarely smell ones self. (Or else we'd never be on the can for more than a minute or so. Or notice when we have on way too much perfume or cologne.)

I would hate to miss fall colors, although I'd gladly do without winter.

Anonymous said...

Condolences to Annie. I can't even bring myself to think about losing our dog some day. They are a big part of any joy you have in your life.

I hear you about the politics. It all builds up in me and then it's like a) what haven't I said already, and b) what does it matter? Truth is, both parties are 100% bought and paid for. They both sing and dance for their bases and then they go behind closed doors and drink with their buddies from Goldman Sachs. The 1% remains the 1%, no matter who's in power.

That's why Occupy is so important. (And why it is doomed.) Now I need a drink, and it's only 3:30.

bluzdude said...

Yeah, I know that both parties are bought and paid for. So all things being equal, I throw in with the ones that are at least trying to do things that I want done and refraining from doing what I don't. One party is trying to regulate, the other is trying to dismantle regulations.

We know what happens when big business is left to their own devices. See: Economy, 2007. See: Safety standards. See: The neutering of the EPA.

Marie Nicole said...

Those lamps are pretty cool! And being in the West Coast - I so miss the red leaves in the fall, and going apple picking with my nieces... Not sure if I'd give up my West Coast life for the red leaves and the sugaring off in Spring, but seeing the pics was nice.

Marie Nicole said...

oh and...
p.s. being a non-citizen I don't get to vote. So I do stay away from the topic because people love to remind me my opinion doesn't count. But I DO hate it when I hear anything bad about Obama. This country obviously does not know they have the BEST president ever!

bluzdude said...

Just because people aren't from here doesn't mean they don't have eyes, ears and values. So I appreciate your non-participatory support.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

Wow, you are a nicer person than I am when it comes to stank on the subway. I don't want to embarrass anyone, either, but there is not a chance I would've stayed in those seats. I really have fears that smells are clinging to me, even when I'm just in a bathroom for three minutes.

Pretty lanterns, though.

bluzdude said...

I didn't feel too badly about when I got up because the lady seemed to be out cold. But even so, I didn't want to come off as prissy. But geez, I didn't wanna hurl either.

injaynesworld said...

My condolences on your loss of Fletcher. No matter how long we have them, it's never long enough.

No, nothing has changed on the political front, but OWS has at least started to change the conversation and they're staying power has forced the media to deal with them a little more seriously. I'm heartsick over the Iraq vet who was brutalized by Oakland police. Kent State is still burned in my memory. Videos of Oakland could be transposed w/the streets of Syria and no one would know the difference.

Your photos are beautiful. Love the purple colors you captured.

I wouldn't mind public transportation except for the public. I also wouldn't mind the beach except for the sand. ;)

bluzdude said...

I hope that Oakland is an isolated incident. They're starting to make noises here in B'more about clearing the protest spot by banning camping out over night. Could get ugly here too. Of course if they did so during a Ravens game, I bet no one would notice.

Burgh Baby said...

Sorry to hear about Fletcher. Losing a pet sucks. :-(

I missed the leaves pretty much completely this year. The weather just didn't cooperate on teh right days.

Workingdan said...

So I'm new here and it didn't take long to see that your are a Steelers fan. I think it was all those Lombardi tophies that tipped me off.

I'm a Colts fan myself and I really dislike the Steelers but I'll follow anyway because I haven't encountered too many football fans on here.

Sorry about Fletcher. Pets are like family and it's never good to see them go. I just did a post on my pet. You should check it out!

bluzdude said...

Michelle (Burgh Baby),
Yeah, it's really easy to miss the window of opportunity. Last year I didn't get a single fall picture either... was never sunny on a day I had off while the leaves were in color. Got lucky this year.

Welcome aboard. We may not like the same teams but surely we can unite against a common enemy: The Patriots!

I'll check out your site.

Judie said...

I have a very sensitive nose, and would have sat in the bus driver's lap before sitting next to someone who smelled bad. I once walked out of a drawing class because the instructor smelled so bad that I could not concentrate!

Subway may be "fresh" but just check the sodium content of one of their subs. It's more than the law allows!

As always, Bluz, your photos are fabulous! I hope you will include them in the next calendar!

Poor Fletch! Cats very frequently succumb to kidney issues. My granddaughter's cat just died from it. Very traumatic!!!

bluzdude said...

Yeah, I've got at least 2 of those shots pegged for the 2012 calendar.

Our beloved Siamese, Amos, also succumbed to kidney failure at 17. Seems to be a major point of weakness in kitties.

Deb K said...

Condolences. We're dog people because I'm horribly allergic to cats. "Pet" is such an inadequate noun to describe the significance of our four legged family members.

In my ideal world where I make all the rules, left turns would be banned during rush hour.

I love your photos.

So awkward when you choose a less than optimal seat on public transportation and you want to move. But I would choose awkwardness over publicly barfing any day.

bluzdude said...

Deb K
Agreed… anyone that’s had a family pet can see that they become much more than animals to us.

I will allow the left turn, as long as they move up when possible so to not jam everyone up behind them. Just pull into the intersection!

Thank you!

It’s truly a no-win situation. At least the homeless woman wasn’t looking.

Mrs. Bachelor Girl said...

Good LORD! Autumn is gorgeous where you live!

bluzdude said...

What, they cancelled Autumn in Louisiana? Freakin' budget cuts...