Friday, January 23, 2015

Random Phone Pictures, 2014

Flooded Forest, Bear Creek Park, Houston TX

One of the most archetypal double-edged swords of the information age is the ubiquitous cell phone camera[i]. It’s a fantastic tool for all those “I wish I had a camera” times. The darker side is that utter navel-gazing, life documentation obsession we’ve all developed[ii]. As much as I may mock the “Hey look at what I had for dinner” Instagram crowd, I know I am firmly and hypocritically entrenched in the shallower end of their pool. I often find myself taking a picture knowing in the back of my head that it’s going straight-to-blog[iii]. When in Rome….

 Winter Morning Rising, Rochester, NY

However, not every picture is part of a theme or can be easily grouped, so I’m usually left with a bunch of orphan shots or small groupings that range from the scenic to the surreal. I keep meaning to post them, but never seem to get around to it. So now you get the benefit of a full year’s worth of random photographic tomfoolery. I should note, my phone’s camera is laughably horrendous.

This was undeniably a nice port-a-potty, but I still think “pot o' gold” is overselling it a bit.  

 Random pictures from the Christmas Bird Count team I led on a really interesting private property with a lot of history. The top is an artificially created cypress lake, and the lower is a restored graveyard of the original settlers, dating to around the time of Texas' founding. 

It still blows my mind to see Palm trees covered in Christmas lights.

Zoltar did not grant my request to not be Big anymore.

Winter at Summerville/Charlotte Piers, Rochester, NY

My boss is from Wisconsin. One day at work we made fried cheese curds. Artery-clogging excellence.  

Bear Creek Park near my home is part of a large reservoir. It routinely floods, which creates temporary flooded forests. Sadly I did not have my real camera this day. 

This was in Toys R Us while I was shopping for Lydia. Original Jedi-esque packaging. I never wanted to not be an adult so hard. 

Offat's Bay, Galveston Island sunset

Sunlight on last leaves, Eagle Creek Reservoir, Indiana

One of the reservoirs near my house was built on land previously used for oil drilling, homesteads, etc. Some old oil tanks are still in it, rusting away. Feels very post-apocalyptic. 

 The point at which a road becomes dirt, and the adventure begins, on the Katy Prairie. 

 A big food truck court opened up right down the road from me. Unfortunately it closed soon after. It was decidedly out of place on a stretch of highwway near, but not near enough, major employment center, and not half hip enough to really make food trucks profitable. Sorry guys, this is TGIFridays-land.

 I was pretty sick for a while last year. I ended up having to make a Gantt chart of my symptoms to track what was going on. My physician was impressed. Sadly I think my notes were better than his. 

 Down the road from me is a huge stormwater detention/lake system. The dirt they excavated got piled into a huge mound which is pretty much the highest natural point in the area. it's also oddly often populated by a herd of goats kept by someone on the adjoiing highway. Climbing up on stormwater hill....I can see the City lights...

 Houston has a lot of food trucks. This Chicken and Waffles sandwich places is hands down the absolute best. 

One of my colleagues is a restaurant savant. He is constantly taking us to really great, authentic places. This is pure Tex mex with an emphasis on the Mex. 

When our inlaws came to visit this year, they brought upstate delicacies...two packs of Zweigles and a jar of Dinosaur BBQ sauce. Yum.

The more rural Texas counties have these great limestone/etc. courthouse buildings. I have photo'd several, this one was one of my favorites (Columbus, TX)

One of my colleagues, while we were talking about a seminar at a conference, asked why my hotel room carpet seemed to be of a woman twerking. I didn't see it at first. Now I can't stop seeing it. Rorschach!

Ferd's Bog is great, little known trail near Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks. It's a real bog habitat, with a trail made out of recycled plastics or styrofoam or something. 

We vacationed in the Adirondacks on Fourth Lake this year. 

Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge

Some of my colleagues decided we need to do a decidely unhealthy group lunch. Funyuns, potato salad, white bread with liverwurst sandwiches and Dr. pepper. I won't say it was white trash, but that refuse sure was light in color. 
 A bit of fall color, Bear Creek, Houston, TX

A very still marsh south of Conesus Lake, near Geneseo, NY. Not visible are the tow Bald Eagles standing sentinel in the distant pines. 

 This pile of ominous lookingbranches didn't seem to be random...there was open space underneath with a clear "door" seen in the center of the picture. I'm sure it was just some kids' clubhouse, but a lot of the branches were pretty big. It had a very Blair Witch feel to it. Seen on a hike in Pittsford, NY. 

I was manning a booth at a soil and water conservation  conference in Galveston, TX. The Cowboy hat-to-person ratio was pretty high that day. 

Storm over a beach in Galveston, TX


[i] Most people discovered this in the 90s. I finally got a “modern” smartphone in 2010. Amazingly enough, I don’t cry over all the plates of food I haven’t photographed in restaurants in the mean time.
[ii] The combination of cell cameras and social media is a positive feedback loop.
[iii] Though it does lead into a larger question about this camera-rich era. An exponentially larger base of photographers are taking an exponentially larger number of pictures, but only a fraction of them are getting printed like traditional film pictures. I remember looking through my parents film albums, and my own, but how often do we go back and look at our everyday pictures on hard drives?  It feels like we’re taking them more, but enjoying them less. As if the taking is the point, and the result is secondary. At least with the blog, as navel-gazing as it is, they are being put toward a purpose other than contributing to the massive digital “tail” we all accumulate and drag through our lives these days. 

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