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


Sep 1 2010

you can't possibly eat all that!!! [day 97]

One of my favorite websites, and has been for many years, is toothpastefordinner.com.  A collection of funny little cartoons that are way to close to reality.  My subject today?  Leftovers.

For just about everyone, they either love them or hate them.  After spending many years in the restaurant business, I can safely say that much food goes wasted.  Leftovers at home are easy to deal with, as you just slap them in a container and throw them in the fridge.  In a restaurant, you have to actually carry them home.  And if you ordered something like shrimp pasta, you already ate all of the shrimp out of it, but probably have lots of pasta left.  Yes!  You know I’m talking to you!  I’m talking to all of us.  There’s no way we can eat everything that is served in a typical restaurant meal.  The bigger the portions, the more money they can charge and you feel all warm and good because you’re getting a lot of food for your money.

Whether or not you like leftovers, here’s a few things to consider.

  • Split a meal when going out. There’s plenty of food for two people, not to mention you can always order more if you’re still hungry.  I’ve never had to order more food.
  • Plan for leftovers. Go in knowing you will eat half of what you order and bring the rest home for lunch or dinner.  (yes, I’m saying to save a few of the shrimp for tomorrow)
  • Bring a container. Okay, this might appeal to about one person out there.  Leftovers usually travel home in a styrofoam container, inside a large plastic bag.  Bring a container with you.  Okay, I’m aware that guys would just look crazy doing this and women probably have no extra purse space.  I guess I’ll have to figure out how to make this a trendy, cool thing to do.
  • Give it away, give it away now… check out day 38.  Are you going somewhere after dinner?  Give the leftovers away.

Okay, I have to tell this little story.  I went out with a large group of people and few months ago.  I had my kids with me and they sat at the kids table.  I was sitting far away from them and I just let them order on their own.  I gave them no instruction, so they could have ordered a ton of food with ice cream for all, and I wouldn’t have known until the check came.  Well, the check came.  I looked puzzled and asked the waitress if it was correct.  I was charged for only one kids meal.  She looked at me and said, “Yes, it’s correct.  Your kids shared a meal.”   Yes!  :)


Jul 23 2010

craigslist greatness: 2 left shoes [day 57]

I found this listing under ‘free stuff’ on craigslist.org.  It made me smile.  This is a great example of being mindful about our resources.

Reply to: sale-qathe**********@craigslist.org

for some reason i own 2 blue fuzzy lined little boys crocs size 9. seemed reasonable until i noticed that they are both for the left foot. since our kids seem to have one right and one left foot these will not do us a whole lot of good. perhaps you have the matching right shoe, or you just really like fuzzy crocs, or you need them for anything…..?

also for free, a bag of plastic easter eggs. half have never been used. half had cereal in them for easter (kids dont eat candy) but are now empty and generally clean.

having a Hawaiian themed wedding and still need a Vail? boy are you in luck!

Now honestly, what would you have done with the 2 left shoes?  I would not have thrown them away, I would have given them to the thrift store.  When the thrift store found they were unmatched with ‘right’ shoes, more than likely, they would have pitched them in the trash.  Kudos to the lady that listed these!  Freecycle.org and craigslist.org are both great places to list stuff you don’t want or need anymore, and the people that do want it will come pick it up right from your house.  If you’re not comfortable with that, you could meet them somewhere public and complete your transaction.


Jul 19 2010

when do you leave? [day 53]

This is a photo story from an abandoned house I visited yesterday.  Yes, sadly, trash society includes houses.  I do love to take photos in abandoned houses, as all of them have an untold story.

It’s like reading a suspenseful book, but being right there in it.

When does it become a good idea to throw away your house?

Oh, the thrill of spotting a potentially abandoned house.  They mystery begins…

What do you leave behind?  Food?

Toys?

Trash?  They must have had some kids like mine.  The trash doesn’t go out until I’ve asked at least 23 times.

Paperwork?

Photos?  This is the most surprising to me.  I have been in many of these houses and the majority of them have family photos left behind.

It makes me happy that they didn’t leave any toilet paper.  :)

Is this the end?  It’s the end of this photo story, but is it the end of throwing away houses?  No.  Many of these houses are structurally sound and with a little work, could be livable.  How could we pair up the homeless population with abandoned houses, without locking them out and calling their habitation ‘squatting’?  I know, it’s a crazy dream, but don’t all dreams start that way?


Jul 4 2010

the challenge: day 38 [leftovers]

I was hanging out with some incredibly cool people last night and heard a wonderful story…

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and Steph went out to dinner to celebrate Mike’s new job.  They had an entire evening planned, dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and plans in the city afterwards.  As in most restaurants, the food portions are much larger than the average person can (or should) eat in one sitting, thus the invention of the “doggie bag”.  I’m not sure dogs ever get this leftover food, at least at my house they don’t.  Well, I don’t have a dog.  Anyway, they had a lot of leftover food.  What should they do with it?  They discussed their options and the conversation went something like this.

Mike: “Let’s ask for a to go box.”

Steph: “We can’t.  We have nowhere to put it.”

Mike: “Pack it up anyway.”

They packed up the food and took it with them.  I’m not sure what Steph was thinking at this point, but they took the bag of leftovers and headed out to their next evening adventure.  On the way there, they ran into a homeless man looking for food.  Mike gave him the bag of leftovers, reciting the contents of the bag as if he were a waiter in the restaurant, educating people on the specials for that evening.  What as awesome way to keep from being wasteful, and in the process, helping feed the hungry.

What do you do with your leftovers?  At a restaurant?  At home?

Moral of the story?  Be like Mike.