Sunday, September 30, 2012

More abandoned places.

     I would have posted this sooner (on time), but after my recent trip to Braddock, PA and back to the carey blast furnace with my friend Dana I had about 400 photos to go through and edit before I could post them up here.  For those of you who don't know, Braddock is an all but abandoned ex-steel town about 10 miles outside of Pittsburgh.  At it's peak Braddock had a population of over 20,000 residents, but since the decline of the steel industry in the area the population has dropped to under 2,000 today.  The mayor is currently working hard to revitalize the area, but for now it remains a public exhibition of what becomes of a piece of the world when the people who claimed it step aside.  

Exploring the area, we found more houses abandoned than inhabited.  Some were holding up  reasonably well, some were in major disrepair, and some; although obviously neglected since the owners left; showed signs of not being so abandoned presently. I love places like this!  But I've told you all that before.  For now just take a look at these photos I came up with.  This is definitely somewhere I'm going to be visiting again soon.

Have an explorative day.

P.S.  If you didn't already click the link above, check out Dana's blog here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A flash in the pan.

I wrote this a while ago as a preface to an essay that was never finished.  It was about living your life backwards by pondering what you would do if you knew you had one second to live.  Who would you be with? Where? Doing what?  Then doing the same for a minute, an hour, a day, a week... all the way up to a century.  By doing this you discover what's really important to you and what you want to accomplish with your life.  So, since I never finished the essay, I thought I'd share this portion of it with all of you.  
       It's been said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die.  The sum of all of your experiences in this world drifts through your consciousness to be reflected upon one last time before your passing into whatever lies beyond this life. I personally have never had a near death experience, but this idea seems plausible.  Everyone hopes they amount to something in this lifetime and it seems only logical that ones last thoughts would be on what impact they've made on the world and the people around them.  The part of this phrase that really provoked my thoughts however is not the idea of this stream of events pouring through your mind before you die, but the timing involved in the process, because who's to say how long a 'flash' is?  Is it a second? A minute? Five?  Maybe it's about seventy eight and a half years for the average person in the United States.  That's right, the entirety of your life is the flash.  It's interesting to look at life in this way, because then this 'flash' becomes not only your own reflection on your life, but a series of chances to change its course toward better reflections in the future.  This only works, however, if we have the foresight to look forward to looking back
If everyone was given an expiration date, a definite time and date when they knew they were going to die, most people would be more prudent with their time, using it productively to work towards an ultimate objective.  Unfortunately, we are not afforded this blessing (or curse) in our lifetime, and we consequently go on idly through our lives usually forgetting, and sometimes distracting ourselves from our eventual fate.  This is not to say that we should spend our entire lives fretting over the conclusion, but to ignore it is equally illogical and unproductive.  In any endeavor there is a goal towards which all other actions contribute, and life, being the ultimate endeavor, should be no different.  

George Carlin had the same idea a while ago, but he presented it a bit more comically:

I want to live my next life backwards:
You start out dead and get that out of the way.
Then you wake up in a nursing home
feeling better every day.
Then you get kicked out for being too healthy.
Enjoy your retirement and collect your pension.
Then when you start work,
you get a gold watch on your first day.
You work 40 years
until you're too young to work.
You get ready for High School: drink alcohol, party, and you're generally promiscuous.
Then you go to primary school,
you become a kid,
you play,
and you have no responsibilities.
Then you become a baby, and then...
You spend your last 9 months
floating peacefully in luxury, in spa-like conditions
- central heating, room service on tap,
and then...
You finish off as an orgasm.

Have a backwards day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The sky is falling!

     Run for the hills!  Natural disasters are rampant, terrorists are running loose, the economy's collapsing and the end of the world is just around the corner.  Even if those darn Maya were wrong in their apocalyptic calendar predictions, we'll all be living in a third world police state within a years time.  It seems there's nothing but bad news everywhere you look anymore.  At least that's the world presented to us on television, radio, and the other media outlets we're surrounded by today.  But what about in your world?  Open up the front door... no terrorists here.  Look out the window... I don't see any volcanos in my back yard.  The truth is, some of these things may be happening in the world, but for the most part it's not nearly as bad as the media makes it out to be.  It used to be that there were about 30-60 minutes each evening dedicated to the news of the day and that was sufficient to keep us all relatively informed, but now with multiple 24 hour news networks competing for our advertising dollars there's just too much time to fill up with 'news', and if a story on one station isn't as sensational as the one on the next, then the audience will simply change the channel and take those dollars with them.  In today's world police look like soldiers, their cars like tanks.  They used to be our friends, remember?  "To serve and protect", I believe it was.  Even the weather doesn't tell us how beautiful it's gonna be outside anymore, it tells us how likely a severe storm or natural disaster is.  Fear is a terrible way to live, but only when you let it take over.  So, next time someone calls for doom in the forecast, take a moment and look outside.

     The sky isn't falling at all!  And even if it was, worrying about it isn't gonna help.  If you're really that worried then get off your butt and do something about it.

Have a fearless day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Nature's gonna win.

       I love the outdoors, and I love nature, so you might think I would be a bit of an environmentalist, but the truth is I don't really care much for environmental causes. Maybe care isn't the right word.  I do care very much about the environment, but I don't worry about it.  Who are we to step in and 'fix' nature when we see something going 'wrong'?  For instance, is it any better to save a species that's meant for extinction than to kill off one that's time hasn't come yet?  I don't know, but I do know that we are one of nature's youngest experiments, and we treat her like a child because we think we know what's good for her.  The truth is, she's been around far longer than us, and I'm pretty sure she's got more knowledge and experience than we could ever know and she doesn't need our help to stay afloat.  That's not to say that we aren't hurting the environment all the time, and nor do I mean to say we shouldn't stop it, but I know that if we don't stop, nature's not going to be the loser, we are.  There's a balance in nature; we might be able to tilt it for a short time, but if we continue for too long, then she'll be sure to stop us.  Even if we put all our efforts toward depleting natural resources, and paving the earth flat, we'd be dead ourselves from the consequences of our actions long before we ever completed the task.  So, I try my best to treat the environment well, and encourage others to do the same, but I don't worry for her when people aren't so conscientious.  I know that in the end they're really not hurting her, just hurting us.  

I undertook a short expedition to photograph an abandoned steel mill just outside of Pittsburgh a while ago, and was amazed and uplifted by how quickly nature had reclaimed what we thought was ours.  The mill was only abandoned in the late 80's, but now paved roads were covered by plants; small animals and birds had moved back into the area; and trees had taken root directly on some of the crumbling structures.  This place wasn't ever really ours, and neither is anything else; it's all just on loan, and nature will take it back soon enough.  She always wins.  

  Have a green day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And in record time...

    The Hilton Head Island video is done.  This is a first cut of the footage, so I may be piecing together a few other edits using the same clips.  Who knows!  I sure don't.  I hope you all enjoy it.  Let me know what you think.  I'll be camping this weekend and filming for the next addition to my video collection.  This one should top all the rest if all goes to plan.

Have a pleasant day.