I don’t have much time to post here these days so I thought I’d just dump a series of photos from my phone to give people an idea. Check the captions for descriptions.
Last weekend Jennifer and I went to Oklahoma to participate in a Warrior Dash. My mom ran one two years ago and insisted that we join them this year. I have wanted to do a course like this for quite some time so it was a no-brainer. The whole thing is a bit over-hyped and really anyone can make it through the course, but whatever. We’ll call it a warm-up on my way to running a Tough Mudder. (My guess is that will turn out to be over-hyped as well, but we’ll see.) It was fun hitting the obstacles and getting muddy. Primary lesson learned: my running is shite. The course, a 5k, was front loaded with about two kilometers of pure cross-country running and it SUCKED. So there’s a focal point for my future fitness. Anyway… here are some pictures from that day.
I recently had my photo taken in service dress as part of a minor award I was… uh… awarded. I had a few hard copies printed, but the digital photo was lost shortly thereafter. So here’s a scanned copy of the photo. All of the speckles and dust you see in the image are from the scanner. As a matter of fact, I’m going to have this photo redone. So for the time being, if you’d like the higher resolution version for your own printing purposes, let me know. Or let me know that you’d like one when I get it redone. Whatever.
Jennifer and I recently drove an hour and a half to the Trinity Site, the spot where man first
exploded detonated a thermonuclear weapon in 1945. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), there wasn’t much to see there. At ground zero there is a monument of lava rocks cemented together with a dark mortar with a plaque affixed to it commemorating the event that took place there. And that was it. I basically knew what to expect before heading there, but I was somewhat underwhelmed. Due to its location within the confines of White Sands Missile Range, the site is off-limits for most of the year. They only open it twice a year so there was a sizable collection of people who had made the trip and I think that is what spoiled it for me. The mystique was gone. So I didn’t take many pictures. I did capture two that I found interesting, though. White balance, mild split toning for an older ’40s/’50s feel and other minor tweaks.
Taken from one of the beaches across the street from the hotel. Jennifer and I spent some time getting affiliated with the local area the day we arrived. Note to everyone… don’t travel to Hawaii in the middle of the night. Takeoff from the west coast of the US mainland after sunrise and arrive in Oahu midday. Much better timing than arriving there at 6AM.
After a few bottles of wine and some shots at the campsite, Drew, Christa, Jennifer and I all agreed that we needed to do some sort of hiking before the sun went down. If you don’t hike, why the hell did you bother camping in the first place? You could have just sat in your backyard and accomplished the same thing. So hike we did. There was a nearby hill that promised to offer a pretty good view if we could get to the top so we set out to reach the top of it and we weren’t going to fuck about. So we went direct… straight up the side of hill.
This is a picture of a friend of mine in Iraq not long before the two of us departed the country about six months before the final departure of all American troops from the country. That entire melodrama was one of the most divisive subjects in American politics and in the American population at large for almost a decade. More than 4,000 American troops, over 16,000 Iraq police and security forces, and over 1,000 government contractors died. An accurate accounting of civilian deaths is impossible in any practical sense, but most sources agree that it was at least 100,000. Depressing. And for what? Overthrowing Saddam Hussein? Establishing a democratic foothold in the Middle East? Oil? Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons? I doubt anyone can provide an actual answer other than a blanket “yes”. This isn’t to imply that we accomplished nothing aside from death and destruction. No, there are definitely pockets of positive effects… a functional (though contentious) representative government, improved infrastructure here and there, Mesopotamian marshland restoration… but, ultimately, we undertook a task we were not prepared for and are now paying for it with a diminished global reputation, a humbled economy and a reduction in our personal liberties. Let’s hope American involvement in Afghanistan comes to a swift end so we can put this entire chapter of our history behind us and rebuild America… stronger, unified and on a solid moral foundation. We can do better… and we will.
I recently did some camping at Mount Charleston. Not exactly roughing it, but it did afford the opportunity to capture this image. No tripod, no remote shutter release, 15-second exposure, mild post-processing. If this is what you can get 30 miles from my house, imagine what is visible at Great Basin National Park. I need to make that happen.
The take away: every single one of those dots is a giant ball of gas similar to our own sun. You already know that. Eventually most of those stars will explode spewing heavy atoms such as carbon, iron, selenium, gold, silver… and so on… into the universe from which other things can be made. That is everything up to and including planets and even you. You may already have your head wrapped around that or this may seem absolutely incredible. It’s not. It’s the truth. This universe was not designed with us in mind, we are not special. We are merely “a speck on a speck orbiting a speck” and it is in this limited, miniscule, insignificant environment that our brains evolved. Yes, the brain functions extremely well in this environment, but it is also completely throttled by that environment. We are specialized to survive on Earth and it is this specialization that has narrowed our minds and made us think that we are special. Again, we are not.
We must escape the infancy of our existence if we hope to survive. We must learn to look further than the confines of this Earth, beyond the confines of our individual existences and finally come together in our shared humanity if we are ever to become a great race. If we don’t, we will meet extinction like so many creatures before us and so many more creatures after us.
(I feel like there is something of a thesis here… not a unique one, mind you, but a thesis nonetheless. Sadly I don’t have the time nor the literary skill set to do it justice. Maybe one day.)
On May 31st I had the opportunity to get back into an airplane. A friend of mine rents a Piper Cherokee from another pilot we know and he needed a few landings before heading off to Alabama for a few months. So he, Jennifer and I went flying. This image was taken by Jennifer from the backseat as I was circling my house at about 1,500′ AGL.