The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

September 26, 2012

Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 11:37 pm

Even though Labor Day is frequently regarded as the unofficial end of the Summer, the official end of Summer doesn’t come until roughly three weeks later with the Equinox.  Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to the trees, you’d think Autumn began back in the middle of August.  I think we all have a pretty good idea that the leaves on the trees are supposed to change colors and fall off somewhere around this time of year, but most people don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the process until they wake up one morning and suddenly everything is yellow and red, and a third of the trees are already bare of leaves.  At some point, you begin looking for the changes just so you don’t get caught completely off guard by the whole thing, but that mostly just serves to make you silently lament the passing of Summer into Fall.

On the other hand, as the seasons change, it seems inevitable that people start asking themselves if they really made effective use of the Summer while they had it.  I know I do this, even though I find it’s probably just best to not dwell on such things.  After all, unless you happen to have spent your entire summer inventing outlandish contraptions in the backyard every day while somehow avoiding getting busted by your parents for it, the chances are good that you are going to weigh your Summer in the balances and find it wanting.  Most responsible adults (I do find it necessary to impersonate one of these on occasion)  have jobs that do not afford them the luxury of being able to take the whole Summer off work, so you end up pretty much getting your Summer in where you can, which tends to be in relatively small chunks in the evenings and weekends, and maybe a week or two of vacation if you can get away.  This may not seem like a lot when you compare it to the vast expanse of Summer vacation that you got back when you were still in school, but if you use it judiciously you can still get plenty done… in theory at least.  Of course reality tends to ensue, and as a result we never seem to quite accomplish everything we wanted to during the Summer.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem for most people, but around here we live in a climate where we tend to get about 3 or 4 months of nice weather per year, 2 or 3 months of so-so weather and the remainder of the year filled up with the usual crud.  As a result of this, there always seems to be this nagging sense that even in late June when we’ve got practically the whole Summer in front of us that our Summer is being served to us in a glass with a slow leak in the bottom.  Sure we’ll eventually get a refill, but it’s quite a long way off.  At this particular point in the year I wouldn’t say that the glass is completely empty just yet (after all, we’ve managed to get a few surprisingly nice days out of this September) but we’re definitely down to the last few drops.  And even though I’ve never been a big fan of Autumn (especially the part where it starts getting dark by 5pm,) I do have to admit that the season does come with its own set of charms as well.  When you’re sweating through 90 degree weather in the middle of August the thought of settling down on the couch with a nice blanket and/or a significant other to snuggle up with never seems to come up for some reason, but give ita few months and it starts sounding like a great way to spend an evening.  And then, of course, there’s the Holiday season, which even though it kind of tends to get usurped by Winter in much the same way Memorial Day gets usurped by Summer even though there’s still close to a month of Spring left when it happens, really belongs a lot more to Autumn.  Then again, I suppose if we didn’t arbitrarily assign the Holidays to Winter then it would kind of turn the whole thing into three months of bleak disappointment.  Unless you’re a skier, then you’ve at least got an excuse to look forward to the Winter for something.

Unfortunately, short of pulling up stakes and heading for Florida for a few months during the Fall and Winter, there’s not a lot we can do to get away from it, so we might as well make the best of it while we have it.  Or at least’s that what we’d do if we had any idea how we’re supposed to actually do that…  Oh well, at least Summer is now less than nine months away, right?

October 22, 2008

The Autumn Leaves: A Study in Contrasts

Filed under: Nature — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 11:44 pm

I have to admit that out of four different seasons to choose from, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t choose Autumn as my favorite time of the year.  In a sense, the whole thing just seems to be one slow descent into winter, complete with the slow decline of temperatures until they reach the customary low-to-mid forties that’ll be sticking around for much of the next few months, the return of the seemingly omnipresent overcast and rain, and eventually the obligatory November windstorms that have an annoying tendency to make a big mess out of things.  That said, the Autumn does have its advantages as well. If you can manage to look over the huge pile of Halloween and/or Christmas paraphernalia sitting in the stores you can just now start to see Thanksgiving off in the distance, and of course, there are the colors of the leaves on the trees. 

For some reason, we seem to think of the Fall as being something where the leaves go from green to some color of their choosing, then the leaves all fall off in a big pile on the ground.  When you live somewhere that has an abundance of trees in many different varieties, you soon find out that it doesn’t really work out that way.  I suppose if there was one appointed time where all of the trees simultaneously shed their leaves it would be a lot more noticeable (and various cultures would probably base some sort of elaborate observance on the designated Time of the Leaf-Dropping, be it festive, religious or superstitious.)  In reality, the whole process is a lot slower and more drawn-out than that.  There’s nothing particularly subtle about having all the leaves on your trees out in the yard turn bright orange and yellow, but when I went out for a short walk to take advantage of the surprisingly clear (and very nearly even warm) weather yesterday, I was surprised to see just how much green actually remains on some of the trees out there.  I have to admit that my knowledge of the various trees doesn’t extend much past the point of  the ones with the pointy needles being pine trees so I couldn’t tell you much info about the different types of trees here, but someone more familiar with the subject can feel free to contribute that info if they like.  After the jump, a few photos of some of the trees near my workplace, and the contrasts between different trees at this time of year.

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September 27, 2008

Are You Looking For Some Hot Stuff?

Filed under: Random Stuff, shopping — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:56 am

These days, it’s not particulary unusual to see Halloween stuff on the shelves at most stores by now, and  it’s not particularly unusual anymore to see it show up before August comes to a close (that’s another post though, which will come eventually.)  At the same time, Christmas merchandise is starting to sneak onto whatever unguarded bit of seasonal aisle shelf space it can manage to sneak into.  Eventually, the stuff is going to practically take over the whole store, but for the time being, it seems content to lay low and wait for Halloween to pass, after which it’ll march in unopposed and stake its claim for the next couple of months, ruling over the toy aisles with an iron fist of holiday glee.  There was a time when the Christmas stuff didn’t show up in the stores until after Thanksgiving, but these days we’re used to spending four whole months out of the year navigating through a maze of brightly lit trees and giant inflatable animatronic reindeer (of Doom) when we head out for our weekly shopping run.  Needless to say, the holidays don’t exactly sneak up on us.

The seasons, on the other hand, generally don’t come and go with a whole lot of fanfare.  Sure, each of the individual seasons comes with its own set of trappings and accessories, but for the most part, these come and go without making too much noise.  That is why it can be just a bit jarring to take a trip to Costco to grab a couple of things to restock the pantry and wandering into a whole aisle full of this stuff:

Sure, we can see the signs of Fall advancing upon the landscape.  The yellowing leaves on the trees and the ground are a bit hard to miss, and the strange equilibrium point in between seasons where you end up using the heater and the air conditioning in your car on the same day has now passed, with the heater more often than not winning out over the AC.  Even so, it can still be just a bit jarring to wander into a random aisle of the store and encounter pallet loads of big fluffy blankets, space heaters and not-so-convincing fake fireplaces.  Yeah, I get the point.  It’s going to get freakin’ cold around here in a couple of months, just like it has for, oh, the last few thousand millenia or so.  It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were still getting highs in the eighties, and even today the weather managed to make a reasonable attempt at reaching the mid seventies in the afternoon.   Right now, it’s still occasionally warm enough to get away with wearing shorts outside, and if you don’t mind, I’ll cling on to the last few crumbling fragments of summer for just a bit longer, OK? 

Actually, I don’t really mind this time of year much.  Sure, the temperatures are going down, the darkness comes sooner, and the typical weather patterns around here have reverted to the usual default of rainy and overcast, but these three things I can deal with.  In general, I find that there are a lot more options available to deal with being too cold than there are for being too hot.  I think my internal temperature might run just a bit on the warm anyway, which makes me a bit more tolerant of colder weather than some people (and on the flip side, a bit more uncomfortable in hot weather.)  Even the earlier darkness doesn’t bug me all that much, since I’ve always been something of a night owl anyway (as the usual timestamps on my Blog posts demonstrate.)  Just don’t ask me what I think of the whole thing when the middle of January rolls around, the temperatures are hovering just north of freezing and Spring is still two months away.  I’ll deal with that part later, although I think it might not be a bad idea to start stockpiling my monthly weather complaint post allowance, just in case.

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