Mar 31 2011

urban explorers [day 308]

I love exploring abandoned houses and buildings.  A friend sent me a link to an article about “urban explorers” on howstuffworks.com.  This explained my attraction to these old, and sometimes dangerous places.  I learned a few things from this article, but mostly, it explained a lot.

“Urban exploration purists advocate only trespassing — not breaking and entering.  This forces explorers to get creative when finding an entry point into a structure.”

This is true, I have been creative on ‘entering’ some of these places.  If they’re locked up tight, then I enjoy the outside.  If the no trespassing signs are visible and well posted, I leave it alone.

“It should be said that UE is an extremely dangerous and illegal pastime. By nature, old abandoned buildings are unsafe.”

This is true, as I’ve fallen through several rotted floors.  Being careful is good, but being aware and preparing for a UE trip are necessary.

“Some appreciate the old architecture and ancient machinery. For other people, it’s the thrill of just standing still in a silent, untraveled place. Others find beauty in the type of decay that can be found only in neglected buildings.”

I do find beauty, but I’m also fascinated by the personal effects people leave behind.  I’ve found many things in abandoned houses, everything from photographs to electronics.  One house had the whole backside blown out by a storm, the closet full of clothes and the vacuum cleaner from 20+ years prior, sitting there as if the people ran out quickly, never looking back.  I can’t help but wonder why people leave stuff behind, what situation made them leave and how they determined what they did take.

“Whatever his or her motive, an urban explorer finds adventure in these abandoned sites. There’s a peacefulness in these empty, concrete caves that isn’t like the solitude found in the woods. It’s an experience opposite of nature; instead of finding reassurance in the renewal of the seasons, the urban explorer finds kinship with the past.”

This is so true, it’s a peacefulness, but very different than what’s found in nature.  It’s a serene feeling, laden with curiosity and wonder.

“These explorers usually take photos of the places they visit.”

Here’s some photographs I’ve taken in abandoned places, mostly houses.  I photograph these as a hobby, but I just can’t get past the fact that people throw away buildings, houses and cars as if they have no value.  Some of these places are structurally good and it just makes no sense that they’re thrown away.  Continue reading


Nov 20 2010

made in china [day 176]

I heard something interesting on the radio yesterday morning.  It was on KRLD news talk radio, and I’ve looked for it online, but I couldn’t find it.  I did find something similar, but the radio version must have been the recap.

Basically, they were blaming the failing global economy, single-handedly, on China.  Now let me just say right now that I do not know a lot about global economics.  President Obama did say he has an opposition to China’s currency manipulation yesterday, although I don’t know exactly what he meant by it.  From the articles I have been reading, China’s economy is doing very well.  My question, based off the news I heard, is this.  If China is somehow responsible for the failing global economy, wouldn’t that make us responsible too? A large percentage of the stuff in our retail stores was made in China.

Here’s an excerpt from engineeringamerica.org.  “Consider all the “made in china” stickers you see.  The products wearing those labels and all the jobs that went into their manufacturing were out-sourced to China because it was most economical to do so.  America produced the entrepreneurs to design the products, and China produced the cheap labor.  If the educational trends hold, China will house the innovators, and America will be thrown the scraps from their powerful economy.” We do outsource a lot to China and do we expect them to always be the cheapest option?  Do we expect them not to build their economy off their hard earned dollars?    Continue reading


Nov 17 2010

get out of the trees [day 173]

My video is finally done and available!  Click here to watch it. :)

This stop motion video project was created for a contest that AT&T is doing through zooppa.com.  Here’s the concept, as posted on AT&T’s site.

The AT&T Simplify Your Life video contest is a chance for you to make your own video about AT&T’s Online Services, such as Paperless Billing, Account Management, AutoPay, and Online Support. Each of these services can help to make life simpler.

The concept is to stay out of the trees, meaning the phone trees and paper trees, and to use the AT&T online services.  To see a blog post on how it was made, check out digitalfondue.org.

I decided to do this contest because I liked the theme, simplify your life.  In trash society world, that means be green, have less stuff and utilize our resources.  It was easy to make a video about that!  And I’ve always wanted to use my old phones in a stop motion video.  No new paper was harmed in the making of this video.  As for the junk mail…

Rethink possible.  :)


Nov 2 2010

a college degree in zombies and lady gaga? [day 159]

Zombies 101: Okay, this is for real.   The University of Baltimore is offering a new class, a class on zombies.  The class will study America’s fascination with zombie movies and pop culture.  The class will watch 16 classic zombie films, read zombie comics and their final project is to create their ideal zombie flick.

The University of Baltimore is not the first to have this type of class.  A college in Illinois and one in Iowa did something similar.  I’m all about studying pop culture, as I do it, I just don’t have a college credit for it.

Lady Gaga Intermediate: Yep, she’s now the focal point of a college course at the University of South Carolina.  The only point.  A class fully dedicated to the study of Lady Gaga.  The professor starting this wants to explore what makes a person famous and what superstardom means in today’s culture.  Here’s the course description: “The central objective is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga.”

Again, it’s good to study pop culture, and I’m not opposed to the study of specific people or groups, but I think we should expand our realm of analyzation.  Instead of one case study, why not look at 5 or 6 of them?  Make it more of a pop culture class versus studying one situation.  That would be like ditching psychology classes and having a class only on Pavlov or Phineas Gage.  There’s a lot to be learned from them, but a whole semester?

Cultural Issues Class: Now this is a class where all of this could fall under a logical heading and allow the study of culture.  Some say we are still in the post modern era but I think it’s time for a new era.  I have no idea what to call it or how to even identify all of the details of what that might look like.  The closest I can come is a word I made up.

Excessable: [ex-ses-uh-buhl]  The materialism excess in our current culture and how readily accessible it is. [see the art collection excessable]

Finding and Photographing Creepy Dolls: Yes, I’m starting my own class.  It is the study of our cultural obsession with plastic, lifeless beings that we love as children and abandon as grown ups.  We will concentrate on where these dolls live, how to find them, strange displays and how to photograph them in their own abandoned environments.  Here are some of the photographs we will look at and analyze.  Classes will begin in December and you must have your own camera and transportation.

Jody Wissing is a professor of doll and mannequin creepology in the Dallas area and has extensive experience locating and photographing these plastic inanimate creations.

Continue reading


Aug 22 2010

at the mall??!!? [day 88]

I went to the mall… yeah, but it was to eat lunch with a friend.  We ate at Potbelly’s, which is really good!  It made me happy because they recycle there.  I must have a thing for trash since we chose to sit next to the trash area…

There’s separate bins for plastic bottles and cans.  They have my business!

When we were walking out, my friend Ryan thought it would be funny to take my photo looking in the window at the Armani store.  I’m sure he was just tired of listening to me gripe about malls.  LOL

I’m quite sure this was my first time looking in, and being in, an Armani store.

Continue reading


Aug 21 2010

jody & jodie [day 86]

On our way to the campsite in Oklahoma, we passed this little store…

I had to stop.  Her name is Jodie?  I have the boy spelling of the name, so I figured this had to be a woman.  Uncommon shoppe?  Yes, this is too ironic not to stop in and see what’s it about, and meet Jodie.

Jodie, who is a very cute older lady, along with her husband Joe, both work there.  Outside, there were decorative rocks, tables full of them.  Inside, the place was filled with antique glassware, kitchen decor, and house decor pieces with trinkets and small toys sprinkled in.  Oh, and it smelled heavily of moth balls.

I didn’t need anything there, nor have a desire to buy anything, but it was nice to stop in and meet another uncommon Jodie.  I love small towns, as the people are always very interesting… or maybe we’re all interesting, but living in a small town highlights people in ways a big city or suburb can’t?