Friday, October 29, 2010

A Day In The Life...................

"The hammer banged reveille on the rail outside camp HQ at five o'clock as always. Time to get up."

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

And your off....... Welcome to the rat race. There are many who probably can relate to Solzhenitsn's protagonist Ivan Denisovich Shukhov in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Up at 5 a.m. On the road by six. God willing, there are no accidents on I-95 or a delay at a VRE station, or on the tracks; and you are at your desk by eight....ish. Then the mind numbing routine of the day begins. Where process is everything and outcomes are not. Mired in office bureaucracy and politics. Yet no matter how bad or boring one's day may be there are always moments to be savored. Even for a prisoner in Stalin's Gulags. "Shukhov went to sleep fully content. He'd had many strokes of luck that day."

Thankfully I am not part of the pack fighting their way up the interstate with a small cubicle awaiting you at the end of the trip. I do feel for those people and take this opportunity to provide what I hope is a moment to be savored. A glimpse into my day and some more pics from the road less traveled.............................

The Day Begins
Around 7am. Not the bumper to bumper interstate traffic but a drive down Hanover Street towards downtown. Not to an office but for my first and only coffee of the day and to catch-up on the comings and goings of Fredericksburg. An hour for coffee and back to the office by eight. Did you get that boss? And today we are off to Orange.
Time for a Morning Cup of Joe.
OK while you are spilling your coffee either on yourself or on the person next to you as you slam on the brakes and veer right to keep from hitting that (expletive deleted) who just cut into your lane while at the same time getting an earful on your Bluetooth and the finger from the person driving in the lane next to you who you almost hit; I'm strolling down this picturesque sidewalk in downtown Fredericksburg for my morning coffee at Hyperion.
The Inner Sanctum....
My office...well not really as I share the room with my wife. Which brings into question the whole inner sanctum thing. I've been told that Bogart has to go as its encroaching on my wife's space. Hey, see if you can find the 1916 Lee-Enfield rifle. There is also a piece of the deck of the HMS Iron Duke, Britain's flagship at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 somewhere in here along with a bronze crucifix from the time of the First Crusade! Not the typical corporate America office. One of the advantages of working from your home. Does beat a 6' x 6' cubical with temporary walls.
It's Lunchtime in the Burg.
Olde Town Grille in downtown Fredericksburg. I always sit at the counter and marvel as Shawn (pictured) and Dan the owner (one of my wife's former students) whip through multiple orders at one time. Today it's a bacon cheeseburger with jalapenos and chipotle sauce with potato chips made on the premises. No desert..watching those calories. I did get a shot of the burger but I thought this picture was more artsy. So you'll have to go in an order one yourself to see it.
Hey Matt What the Hell is This?????
Brock Road in Spotsylvania County is what it is. We are getting off Rt. 3 and taking a short cut on our way to the town of Orange. And yes its a rather ordinary..almost boring, why in the hell did you take it, shot. What may seem ordinary today may not have been so ordinary at some other time. In this case 1864. After the bloodbath of the Battle of the Wilderness the Union Army was heading east to this point. Turn left was to retreat. To continue on ( in 1864 the road continued across somewhere near the mailbox in the background) was to head south and advance. When the army continued down the Brock Road Union Soldiers began to cheer. Union General Grant was heading south and the Confederacy's days were numbered.
Take Me Home Country Roads to the Place I Belong.............
Frankly I never was much of a John Denver fan. Hey, quick fun fact! Did you know he wrote the lyrics to I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane made famous by Peter, Paul & Mary? OK I'm both off track and dating myself. If you haven't figured it out we are heading south on Rt-20 in Orange County. Lots O' old Farms heading down this road. I've posted a number of photos of the sites on Rt. 20 and there are still a lot of photos to take.
We Have Arrived!!!
Today's destination is the Town of Orange. This is the courthouse downtown. And as with every small town in Virginia it has the statue in front honoring the sons of Orange who fought for the Confederacy. This is a rather unique looking courthouse. At some point I'll have to spend some time doing a little research........Not during working hours of course. Right now I've got to head down a block or two and inspect some water damage to a dining room ceiling.
Going Back Home by Way of the Road Less Traveled....
The bridge over the Wilderness Creek driving through the Wilderness Battlefield. Especially in the fall its nice to get off the main roads and a drive through the battlefield parks. You would have to agree its quite a view this time of year. And it only gets better as fall progresses. Beats the hell out of the view from I-95 and Rt. 3 around 4pm!
What Does This Have to Do With Work You May Ask?
Simple answer--it doesn't. As I could probably lose a pound or two...or three+ I have taken to skipping a lunch or two to document the pedigree of this Model 1841 cast-iron, smooth-bore six pounder sitting in front of our fire station. It is either one of thirty-six imported guns from Sweden or was cast at the West Point Foundry (1817-1911) in New York. In arrived in Fredericksburg by way of a request to the governor by the City Council in February 1850. In June of 1851 the governor authorized the state Adjatant General to send a six-pounder cannon to the city. Only time it was fired was on the 4th of July and Washington's birthday. Now trying to document how and when the gun was turned over the the great Commonwealth of Virginia. HEY! Wake-up!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Pulled A Pooh

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit. "No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."

Winnie the Pooh

Most of us are sensible people. We travel the shortest distance between two points as quickly as possible. We are task oriented and play by the rules. Being sensible is ingrained in us and to do otherwise we believe is to lose focus and waste valuable time that could be better spent doing more sensible things. We also fear that straying from the sensible course will bring about chaos and uncertainty.........Or maybe not?

This week I was off to attend the annual company conference . I put the address into my GPS, not bothering to confirm it of course (It's a guy thing), and the most direct route was calculated (the shortest distance thing) and off I went ........ It was about an hour into the trip when I started to feel a bit uneasy(that ingrained sensibility thing) . My surroundings were not as I remembered then from previous years. The sensible thing to do was to check in to confirm where I was going. In this case the sensible course of action lost out to a desire to play fast and loose with the rules and continue exploring my new surroundings.

When I was about seven miles from my, "destination," I finally called in and learned that I had punched in the wrong resort into my GPS. Where I was supposed to be was about 60 miles north or where I was. The sensible thing to do at that point would be to become highly agitate (the whole shortest distance/time wasting thing again) and question my GPS's parentage while throwing it across the road--It gave me the wrong directions didn't it?

Fear not my GPS is still firmly attached to my windshield. I decided to accept, "...that something just happened along the way," and realized I now had another hour of exploring to enjoy. The moral of the story is that happiness is tied to more than just straight lines, time management, and other sensible things. And that a little uncertainty and chaos can also be fun. And now for your viewing pleasure.....................

The Road Warrior
Yours truly embarking on another road trip into the unknown. With me are the essentials. My trusty Garmin GPS to make sure I don't following the most direct routes. My Fuzzy dice to insure I can find my car in mall parking lots. You would be amazed of the number of 2010 Ford Fusions are on the road today. Also can't really tell the difference between a Focus and a Fusion. But I digress. My pine tree shaped air freshener that smells like vanilla (I can't explain it either) to cover the smells of stale coffee, burgers and fries, and smoke from the fire loss I just left. My hand carver German Rosary given to me by my son. Yes, God is my co-pilot. I need all the help I can get. And finally no car is complete without a bobble head. In my case a Stu bobble head from the movie The Hangover. When the bobble head moves it recites three lines from the movie. Needless to say I now have them all memorized and they are now getting a little irritating. Hey, I just noticed in the picture the button for my hazzard lights. Go thing to know.
To Boldly Go Where No Sensible Person Would Consider Going
Star date 100610. While our GPS system says we are on course I am feeling a bit uneasy as my surroundings seem foreign and unfamiliar. Every fiber of my being is telling me to do the sensible thing and call in for directions. Yet....something else which I cannot put my finger on has just decked my sensible side with a right cross. We continue on into the unknown.

I can't tell you what county I was in, or the road I was on, when I took this photos. I was just enjoying the view.
See, If I was Sensible I Would Have Missed This.
Somewhere on Rt 340 about 40 miles from where I was supposed to be. OK, how many times do you get to see the laundry hung out to dry on the porch of an 19th century home that needs some serious work? By the way, this is my yard in about another month or two if I can't get my son Joshua back on the dating circuit. Keep those pictures and resumes coming!
For You Sensible Folks Out There
Wintergreen Resort. A view from the resort where I had rejoined all the sensible folks at the annual conference. Don't want you to think that there aren't opportunities for the sensible among us to look up and enjoy the view.
Thank God For Digital Cameras........... And A Pop Quiz!
A quick stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway. You cannot travel more than a few feet on this parkway without wanting to pull over and break out the camera. At that rate the cost in 35mm film and developing costs would probably cover my mortgage for a month. With my digital camera I point, shoot, crop, sharpen, highlight, etc., and finally post. Save a lot of money at the cost of a few hours sleep. And now for your quiz.........Virginia has I believe 34 National parks, trails, historic sites and parkways. There is one state in the Union that has zero, the big goose egg, nada, zip, zilch, no National parks, trails, historic sites, etc.....Which state is it. Some hints: The current Superintendent of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Battlefield Parks calls this state home. One of the state's more famous mascots is a sexual frustrated chicken.
"I Wanna Know What Love Is. I Want You to Show Me..."
Oakwood Cemetery, Orange County. I do believe Lou Gramm of Foreigner has gotten his answer. In addition to everything else note the solar panels on the roof that keep the lights on 24/7. In a recent story in the local paper a mother was told by another local cemetery that she had to remove all the mementos around her daughter's grave because they violated cemetery rules. Don't think Oakwood has any rules.
Don't Rush Me Dear I'm putting My Face On.........
Fredericksburg, VA. A few weekends ago our local arts community hosted a street art event called Via Colori. The event can be traced back to 16th century Italy were itinerant artist used to draw pictures on the ground, usually based on the Madonna, in front of cathedrals hoping to get some loose change thrown their way. Unfortunately, it rained Sunday and most of the works at this event were not completed. Even unfinished this effort it quite impressive.
Another Opportunity to Ignore the Sensible Approach
Westmoreland Co. I spend a short period of my misbegotten youth in Westmoreland County. Back then after partying with friends you stayed off the main roads on the way home to avoid the local constabulary. Looking back now after 30+ years I would have to say it was pretty stupid to drive on unlit narrow winding roads after a six-pack or two. You were too intent on staying on the road and it was too dark to see anything. Being a bit nostalgic recently I decided to ignore the, "continue 5 miles and turn left on Rt. 3 west," coming from the Garmin (the sensible thing to do) and took a quick left onto Rt 624 which had been well traveled in my youth. But today I had the opportunity to see what I had missed all those years ago.
This Can't be Stafford County?
Stafford County is part of the fastest growing region in Virginia located on the I-95 corridor. Considered a suburb of Washington, D. C it is expected to double its population in the next 20 or so years. How to handle this growth is a hot topic in the county at the moment. This little single lane gravel track is called Leeland Road. Just up the road a piece it does widen a bit and is paved. Not too far from here is a major commuter parking lot. Crossing over this section of the "road", and Potomac Creek to the right, is an old railroad bridge. Will have to come back here in 20 years to see which side won the growth debate.
An Eminently Sensible Fence
A back road in King George, VA--A pallet fence. Amazing what can be done with a bunch of discarded wooden pallets and a few metal stakes. Cost effective and functional. I see a cover story in Southern Living. This fence truly is eminently sensible. Anyone care to guess what type of house this fence surrounds?