Back in mid-January of 2014, Cindy and I made a mad dash for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to see a rare irruption of snowy owls all the way down on Ocracoke Island. While we were successful in that venture, we saw other things of note there as well – including a rare Chesapeake Bay skipjack, the Wilma Lee. You can read all about Chesapeake skipjacks here, but most of the remaining examples of them are on static displays at museums – not actually floating in the water or even able to sail anymore.
Within a few weeks after I had published my image on my old blog, I received a commercial use inquiry from an Annapolis-based sailing publication, Spinsheet. We negotiated terms, came to an agreement, and within a month my photo was used as the title image for their article on the Wilma Lee – which was being used at the time as a tourboat for visitors and as a floating classroom for school children. The Wilma Lee was severely damaged by Hurricane Arthur some six months after I took my photo of her, and she has since changed hands again and is now berthed at the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park in Maryland.
Photo info: The Chesapeake skipjack, Wilma Lee Ocracoke docks Ocracoke Island, North Carolina January 2014 Apple iPhone 5S
People like to trash federal government workers all the time as being underworked and overpaid, undeserving of even the smallest things… like basic office supplies, clean and healthy working conditions, safe drinking water, a living wage, and many other aspects that we all take for granted in an office-based work environment. But they have no idea just how difficult some of those federal government agencies are to work in, like my former employer.
This is the basement hallway in the 60-year old building where my cubicle was located for the last six years of my career before I retired. If the image looks dark, that’s because it was; budget cuts at the time were so extreme that only two lights illuminated the entire length, from one end of the long building to the other. Many of the offices on this hallway – most of which were crammed to four times (or more) of their designed capacity with cubicles – had similar levels of illumination in them; i.e., almost nothing. Of course there were no windows.
Sound levels were so loud that they were just below the OSHA levels for required ear protection. The plumbing broke at least once or twice per year, flooding most of the hallway and offices with raw sewage, which required the replacement of everything that it touched. The drinking fountains were unusable for months at a time; sometimes because high levels of lead were discovered in them, sometimes because they were saturated with other contaminants.
We didn’t have a break room, and had no place where we could wash dishes or utensils if we brought our own lunch. Trash – even food waste – was only collected twice per week, which got rank and attracted vermin. The janitorial service was laughable.
I could go on and on. I only continued working in such bad conditions because I was so close to retirement.
Photo info: Basement hallway where I worked Gaithersburg, Maryland April 2013 Apple iPhone 4S
This is the stunning view we had during our recent stay in Montana. From our vantage point, we could – on a clear day – see all the way down the valley into Idaho, some 65 miles away. A beautiful, beautiful place.
Photo info: The Madison Range Madison Valley Ennis, Montana May 2021 Apple iPhone 12 Pro