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Deedee passes by

Long ago I worked as a contractor for a government agency. It was tremendous fun. The business processes were super interesting, there was a bunch of premier league professionals to work with and my role was the most fun of all of them. For the first half-year or so I went to work bouncing of energy. Something was wrong in the organization, however.

No project actually got finished.

Well, our project would be different!
Grains of sand appeared in our machinery.
Ours would finish!
Marshes riddled with dragons appeared on our path.
We stepped into an organizational bear trap.
We really would be different!
Project members were discredited got magically replaced.

This is the modus operandi of many projects, so we were not fazed by any of this. However, something differing was going on here. The powers that be in the organization did want the project to exist, but they didn’t want the project to deliver.

It took some months before this dawned on me. During these months I often dealt with my frustration by going  out on my own during lunch breaks to walk. I would listen to new albums, and take pictures of stuff in the neighborhood.

This is one such a picture. You see that, despite the blazing sun, the subject is a bit gloomy. Black and grey. An infinite, but inaccessible tunnel. Unkempt weed on the ground. To my surprise, after releasing the shutter the picture had become a lot happier. A blond girl on a blue bike with the summer in her head had waltzed in like Deedee in Dexter’s lab. “Hi there! Look outside,” she appeared to say “the sun is shining. Enjoy life! Hey, what’s this button do?”

Not long after this I pushed the button. I left the agency for a job that did fulfill my urge to create. The project stopped a year later. Without having delivered anything.

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A wheelbarrow wheel

Wheel. Barrow. Wheel

I don’t know what the first application of the wheel might have been, but the wheelbarrow is definitely one of the candidates. Modern times might have made wheels perform better, the looks have not improved in all cases, evidence above picture.

I’m mystified by the suspension of this thing. Why are there two bolt holes? Is a bolt missing, or is only one hole supposed to be used?

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A post about knotting

An orange knot

An orange knot

Once I went sailing with a mountain climber. This was also the day I learned not all knots are created equally.

Sailing needs wind and water and that day provided us with lots of both. After a great, but very wet sailing experience the skipper asked the mountain climber to tie the ship to the shore. She jumped ashore and fastened the boat with a good knot. A knot with attitude.

Knots in mountaineering and sailing have basically the same goal: to fasten something. In sailing the additional requirement to knots should be easy to undo as well. In mountaineering your life depends on a knot holding out, so you very much do not want them to be undone easily.

After tying the boat up, my friend the mountain climber sped to the club house to warm up, leaving us with her knot. Which was hooked up to the wrong pole. The skipper jumped ashore to unfasten it. She stared at the knot. The knot stared back. She blinked. The knot kept staring.

Even when we had hauled our mountain climber from the warm club house, it took a long time in the pouring rain to execute the undo operation and hook the boat to the correct pole. With a sailor’s knot.

The knot in this picture is a sailing nor a mountaineering one. It’s just very… orange.

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Staring at nothing

The side of a sawing mill - black planks and shadows of support beams

Planks and shadows

As kids, puling a leg …
One of the silly games we loved to play as kids was to point at nothing in particular and in the middle of a crowd cry out “Look there!” A second kid (the accomplice-by-winking) would start looking in the same direction and utter affirming noises like “Yeah, I see it too!”, “Amazing!” and “Cool!” Soon the crowd of kids and teachers was staring. At nothing. The game was over when one of the initiators stopped being able to keep a straight face and group realized what they were staring at. The game teaches valuable lessons about marketing and journalism, but I won’t go there today.

Later in life, accidentally …
Often, when I’m farting people wonder what I’m looking at too. I once had a whole family staring up at a boring concrete pillar I just had taken a (crappy) picture of.

The little park surrounding the mill in the picture below is a popular place for walking the dog. So, when I was taking pictures there, I got the inevitable attention of one of the locals. We had a little small talk about how nice it was the mill was still kept operational, and how the weather was good for photographing and for walking dogs.

Overview of the mill and the park it surrounds

The kind of picture my friend the dog walker was probably expecting me to take

When I pointed my camera at the grayish planks and shadows, his eyes followed my lens, and his brows raised a little. He was still looking at what on earth I had snapped when I was already walking away and his dog was taking advantage of the occasion by doing a little farting of his own.

The mill in question is the Salamander sawmill in Leidschendam, The Netherlands (translation)

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I see a red door

The first walk I took in the German village of Rurberg was a very slow one. This was due to two circumstances:

  • each house looked peculiar (to me; where I come from latticed houses, houses made of wood and unruly courtyards don’t exist)
  • I had a brand new camera with me

As you might notice, it wasn’t even a sunny day. The Germans from number 13 nevertheless managed to have me put on sunglasses with the paint they used on their front door.

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IMG_1244 is in search of a title!

The image of an apartment building, reflected in a ditch, framed by a border of green foley.

A picture in search of a title

This picture has served as the wallpaper on my office laptop for some months last year (replacing the one from the big bolt story). Many colleagues wondered what the heck it portrayed, including a colleague who lives 500 yards from the apartment building in the reflection.

A few years back I would have thought of that as a good sign. The more estranging a picture, the better. At this moment I don’t care whether it is recognizable or not; the composition, colors and lighting should please me. And they do.

Content as I am with the picture, I have a difficult time coming up with a good title for it. The poor thing has been on file for some time as IMG_1244, which is due to my unimaginative camera. Alternatives I have considered include:

  • an arty-farty one:  Composition in Green, Gray and Orange,
  • Lying flat,
  • Rippling bricks,
  • an environmentally conscious one: City vs. Nature in three parts and
  • a factual one: Image of an apartment building in the evening sun, reflected in a ditch, framed by a border of green foley

But none of them really cut it. For now I will be keeping the current tag, which reads Picture in search of a title. Do you have a better one? Like one of the ones above? Leave a comment!

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The story of the Big Bolts

High school learned us to rely on knowledge so much we sometimes forgot to use our common sense. Our maths teacher’s way of dealing with this was to relate the story of the big bolts. Continue reading

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