10/03/2010

When A Couple Works From Home

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left is my home office space, a place where I spend up to 10 hours per day in my role as an online instructor. The area might seem a bit cluttered to the casual observer, suggesting the need for a comprehensive document management system, but I find the space to be perfect.

Interestingly, my wife also started working from home this semester, and there has been a bit of an adjustment period for the two of us. We have always worked well together, so that is not the issue, but rather we are trying to get used to working on opposite sides of a 12'x12' room. I suspect that one day we might have to create separate office spaces, but for the moment we manage to share the space with little difficulty.

The most challenging times have been when we are both trying to conduct business over the phone or via a live chat with students, as the space is too small for multiple simultaneous conversations.

9/22/2010

Chief Wawatam

(Mackinaw City, MI) Pictured on your left is a wood carving of Wawatam, an Ojibwa chief whose base was at Michilimackinac. Unlike many tourist attractions, this carving possessed a decided lack of campiness, and I think the artist managed to create a work of art devoid of the sort of kitsch I normally associate with Native American representations.

Still, the chief looks like he could have benefited from learning how to treat eczema, or at least the finished product makes Wawatam look a bit scaly. Maybe the constant exposure to sun, wind, and water have resulted in a skin tone on the carved figure, but Wawatam looks like a thousand miles of bad road here.

Parasailor Landing on a Ship

(Mackinac Island, MI) If you look closely in the photograph on your left you will see what appears to be a parasailor landing on a passenger ferry in the Straits of Mackinac. I would like to say that I had the presence of mind to have intended to take this picture, but this was really a happy accident: I was simply snapping away with the automatic settings when the boat and the parasailing aficionado happened to occupy the same frame.

I suspect that the parasailor - enthralled at the heights to which he ascended - was spending little of his airborne time pondering the best sources of supplement reviews. Then again, that parasailor might just have been thus engaged in thought.

Rocky Pier

(Mackinaw City, MI) I recently took the accompanying photograph from the bridge of a Coast Guard cutter near the Mackinac Bridge. I was struck by the way the water to the right of the pier was quite choppy, while the water to the left remained still, almost glass-like in appearance.

One might be tempted to compare the contrasting waters with the gastrointestinal results derived after sampling the products recommended in colon cleanser reviews. This might not be applauded in polite company, but let's face facts: at times everyone needs to engage in bowel cleansing of one sort or another.

Buskers in the Sun

(Montreal, QC) I came across the following musicians near the near the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal recently. The young men were engaged in the time-honored moneymaking tradition of busking, and the pair drew quite a crowd on the sunny Sunday afternoon.

None of the songs they crooned contained references to diet pill reviews, but admittedly my spoken French is quite poor. For all I know the men were singing tunes about Daffy Duck or King Leopold I, but it was the music that entranced me, not the lyrics.

Montreal Graffiti

(Montreal, QC) I came across the following graffiti on a recent trip to Montreal. The graffiti artist chose a wall on an abandoned building near the Jean-Talon Market for the development of this mural-like work.

The artist seems to be making a statement about environmental pollution related to rail lines, but I do not know enough about local politics to make more than a passing guess as to the true intent of the artist. I suspect that it is safe to say that weight loss pills Australia – were among the items not on the artist's primary concerns, but even this product could be in the realm of possibilities.

Teddy Bear Sunflower

(Toledo, OH) This has been something of a banner year in my yard for the variety of sunflower known as the Teddy bear sunflower. I planted two packets of these seeds, perhaps totalling three dozen seeds in all, and the propagation rate was quite high: I suspect that 80 to 90 percent of these seeds germinated.

The delicate flowers of the Teddy bear sunflower are quite elegant, almost looking as though they would be appropriate for a formal occasion, like being worn on prom dresses. The flowers are also quite hardy, and they grow well in full sun to partial shade conditions.

These sunflowers, moreover, attract quite a variety of pollinating insects, and I saw quite a few interesting butterflies and moths lighting on the blossoms.

9/12/2010

Helianthus Occidentalis Redux

(Perrysburg, OH) Pictured are some yellow wildflowers near a quarry along Interstate 75 in Northwest Ohio. The scientific name for the plants is Helianthus occidentalis, though most folks know them as the Western sunflower.

You likely will not find many of these flowers in tropical regions, as they are typically found only in the most northern Florida counties. Rather, the Western sunflower is a staple of the Midwest and Upper South, the sort of traditional flower that has physical and historical roots in the middle of the North American continent.

9/01/2010

Red Sunflower, Blue Sky

(Toledo, OH) I was snapping a bunch of pictures of flowers and plants in my yard today, and most of the images I captured were quite dull. However, my eyes gravitated toward the image of the red sunflower on your left, which seemed to glow with an almost surreal quality.

I especially liked the ring of yellow hues right around the center of the flower, which served as a sort of halo effect. There are some imperfections on the flower, but they are not enough to detract from the overall aesthetics of the image.

Despite the bright mid-afternoon sun, I think the flash may have gone off during this image. This might account for some of the brilliance of the foreground image, especially the way the yellow tinges on the flower's petal seem to jump out at you.

8/16/2010

Mackinac Bridge

(St. Ignace, MI) I took the photograph on your left while sailing on a schooner in the Straits of Mackinac last weekend. The view is from the near northwest side of the bridge, perhaps two miles from the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula.

The schooner excursion was one of the most pleasant ways to spend a few hours on a summer evening that I can recall. My wife and I traveled with my brother, my sister, and their spouses (along with a handful of other guests), and these hours on the water were among the most peaceful in my entire life.

I vow to spend more time away from work and enjoying the company of my family.

8/04/2010

Female Goldfinch

(Toledo, OH) There has been a flurry of activity among the American goldfinches that take up residence near my house. The female goldfinch pictured on your left is eating a piece of a sunflower head in a stand of sunflowers I have growing in my yard.

This has been a banner year for goldfinches, perhaps in no small part due to the quantity of sunflowers I planted. I think there are a dozen nesting pairs within 100 yards of my house, at least based on the traffic my sunflowers are attracting (I could provide greater accuracy in the count if there were avian accounting equivalents of POS systems). If I continue to provide thistle seed in the bird feeders this winter, they might stick around all year (they tend to migrate by November or so).

8/03/2010

Honey Bee With Pollen Baskets

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left is a honey bee visiting one of my sunflowers, and this particular bee is laden with a considerable amount of pollen in its pollen baskets. At first glance I thought this was some unusual variety of honey bee, but after I magnified the image I noticed that this was simply a bee with a very full load to bring back to the hive.

No thinking involved here: just work, work, and work.