Storytime 6

beached stingray on wide tidal flat
There’s a story here, undoubtedly. I just don’t know what it is.

Here’s the backstory, though. A friend and I had traveled out to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station for an air show, but I had been disallowed to bring my cameras in by an overzealous recruit manning the gate (I was later to find out that a camera or two was fine, just not the bags – dipshit.) After the show, I followed his directions down to North Topsail Beach and the New River Inlet, the same spot as this previous entry and, much later on, we would be vacationing immediately south of. There, I did a lot of shooting which produced more than a few keepers, so at least I got that out of the day.

Way out across the sand, much farther from the water than I ever would have expected, we found a dead stingray, a big one, and its position with the curved tail seemed to express its attempt to regain the waters of the inlet, there in the distance – of course, I chose this angle both to include the water and to illustrate this distance. But I don’t know how or why it was way out there.

You see, initially I credited it to storm surge, the rise of sea level locally due to, for instance, a hurricane or tropical storm, mostly because I knew the regular tides did not flood the area. Except this was in May, well outside hurricane season (which is generally August to November.) I’m still leaning towards storm activity, but not ocean-based; instead, I suspect heavy inland storms might have raised river levels significantly from drainage, especially since there were small ponds of water not far from this spot that did not appear to be year-long in nature. This could also help explain the stranding of the ray, since the levels tend to fluctuate rapidly in such conditions.

Or, it simply could have been snagged by one of the many fisherman that frequent the area, then dragged out to this spot for dog-knows-what reason; this possibility is supported slightly by the nearby tire tracks. Except the area is always criss-crossed by tire tracks anyway because most fishermen require the support of their vehicle, not to haul back their voluminous catches, but to haul in their beer coolers, because fishing is that boring (I may be editorializing here.) Nonetheless, we should not rule out alcohol playing some part in this whole tableau.

Well, it’s a start

dewdrops underneath feather
We suddenly got a few days of perfect weather, and I managed an outing with the Itinerant Mr Bugg, in search of whatever we could find. I admit I wasn’t expecting much; it’s still winter, even if it’s possible to be out in shorts, and only a few days back we were routinely dropping below freezing at night, so spring isn’t here yet. We ended up hitting three different locations in search of subjects, and eventually brought home enough frames to make it seem like we’d actually been out shooting, but I certainly have very little to add to my stock. The feather picture above is probably my favorite, capturing the odd effects of dew hanging from the underside.

unidentified egg mass in shallow poolSome of the chorus frogs were already sounding off, but in a location where we couldn’t get very close, and all of the pics I shot from the greater distance lack critical sharpness, so I’m not even bothering with those. There were also several masses of eggs to be seen at two of the locations we visited, and I’m inclined to say, from the size of the masses, that they were bullfrog eggs, but I’m not even sure they were frogs. The smallest mass was a little smaller than your fist, while the largest would almost have filled a dinner plate. I may try to stop back and see what seems to develop – not even sure that would work, since I had enough trouble differentiating the tadpoles in my own pond.

American beaver Castor canadensis evidence well above ground level
Al Bugg standing under American beaver Castor canadensis damage on limb over his headAt the first location off of Jordan Lake, I espied some clear evidence of American beaver (Castor canadensis) activity, in the form of clipped off branches 3-4cm thick, showing the distinctive teeth marks. This is not at all uncommon in this region; what got me was where they were, which was 2.5 meters (8 ft) in the air on a sloping limb. Now, beavers can stand upright and even do some limited climbing, which extends their reach much more than the expected half-meter, but this was well outside of even these accomplishments, especially since the base of the trunk was much more vertical. Instead, I’m almost positive this was evidence of the huge difference in water levels from recent rains; I know I’d seen the lake levels much higher earlier, and this would give an indication they were at least two meters higher than what we were seeing the other day. Mr Bugg was kind enough to pose under the limb, and he stands about 180cm – you can just see the two light spots on top of that crossing trunk, directly above his head.

While at the lake, we’d been watching for whatever birds could be seen, but they were remarkably scarce – at best, we saw a handful of gulls and crows. It’s still a little early for the migratory birds to arrive, though perhaps not by much. After leaving the lake and going to the NC Botanical Garden, we started seeing some more songbird activity, which continued when we did a brief tour through the nature trails on the back side. Carolina wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) never really leave the area during the winter, but they certainly become a lot more active and vocal in the spring, and one in particular was kind enough to provide some nice poses. As songbirds go, they’re pretty mellow, often allowing a much closer approach than many other species, and will build their nests without concern over their proximity to human activity; under the eaves of a porch is a common location, and I’ve seen them actually raise young in a wreath on a front door. A few years back we put a little box under one corner of our porch roof to encourage their presence, and yesterday I watched one checking it out, so here’s hoping. Meanwhile, let’s take a gander at that cooperative one in the botanical garden.

Carolina wren Thryothorus ludovicianus watching suspiciously
I was creeping closer after this one had chosen its perch and was sounding off vibrantly, and it stopped to peer at me directly. It would be easy to believe it was suspicious of my presence, and might have been, but they’re cooler than that, because in a few seconds…

Carolina wren Thryothorus ludovicianus singing unconcernedly
… it ignored me to continue its territorial calls, which are quite distinctive and pleasant. There’s also another call, which sounds irritated and harsh, but from observation I tend to think it’s more of a courtship thing; it seems to be used most often to draw attention to a likely nesting spot. I’ll see if I can get some audio examples sometime soon.

Carolina wren Thryothorus ludovicianus showing its best side
And as I shifted position slightly, I got a nice profile shot too. This is the Canon 100-300 L, cropped a bit tighter, but the bird was only a handful of meters away regardless – like I said, humans don’t bother them too much. Looking at these now, however, I regret that I didn’t get more typical poses from them, since Carolina wrens have a distinctive body shape and perching behavior that really isn’t shown here. This post has a hint of it, but it still fails to show the cocked-tail position that’s so evocative of the species.

On the nature trails, we saw a trio of downy woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) in an agitated game of tag way up in the branches over our heads, and managed a few useful frames. I include this view of two of them just for the novelty.

A pair of downy woodpeckers Picoides pubescens in motion
There was a little bit of chattering going on, and I suspect this was courtship behavior, with another male intruding temporarily, but they were far enough away that I couldn’t identify gender until looking at the photos afterward. One soon left the area, but the remaining two flitted about in a relatively small space in very close proximity to one another, and I eventually determined that they were male and female. Generally, when it comes to territory, there is more of a squabble, sometimes with direct contact, but usually with one chasing another off for a notable distance, rather than just dodging around trunks within easy sight of one another.

downy woodpeckers Picoides pubescens in probable courtship
This image was sharper (again, pretty good distance directly overhead,) but doesn’t show one detail as clearly as it should, which is the lack of the red patch on the head of the left bird, indicating it’s a female – only the males have that red. So, yeah, pretty sure this was a first date, or at least flirting.

Unfortunately, most of the birds we saw were determined to be at the wrong light angle, or in very cluttered framing, so it remained hard to get really captivating photos, though the area we were in showed more than passing activity. A red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) gave me only a few moments in profile against the sky, but on the shadowy side of the trunk of course. And talk about a cluttered frame.

red-bellied woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus not being cooperative
I did slightly better with a male eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis,) who at least got into halfway decent light. The woodpeckers are often seen here year-round, but the bluebirds are definitely migratory, so they’re apparently making their first appearances here. This one perched and marked territory in the wonderfully understated manner of bluebirds, muttering softly as if humming to itself – it often takes sharp ears to pick out their calls, even when you’re looking directly at them.

estern bluebird Sialia sialis marking territory
Yesterday, at the same time that the wren was checking out our porch, a pair of bluebirds was trying to see if the nest box in the front yard was available, but I’m almost positive a flying squirrel had overwintered in it and was probably still in residence, at least if their behavior was any indication. The female had hovered directly outside the box opening for a few seconds without touching down, before the male obtained a perch very close to the opening and sat peering at it for no small amount of time, perhaps trying to embarrass the squirrel into leaving. It didn’t work.

It remains possible, by the way, that the squirrel will raise a brood in that box this spring, and I’m more in favor of that than of the bluebirds doing the same – I’ve got photos of nesting bluebirds. We’ll just have to see what transpires, won’t we?

BIAB: Undercover of the Night

For this installment of the ‘Because it’s a blog,’ topic, I’m not only introducing a song that I like, I’m attempting to figure out why I like it in the first place. If it accomplishes nothing else, it may illustrate why I pay almost no attention to reviews of music and films and such, because of the huge amount of subjectivity within; my perspective is not very likely to be shared at all.

The song is ‘Undercover of the Night,’ a release by The Rolling Stones from the album of the same name; one of those songs that gained a decent level of popularity at the time, but then vanished from play soon afterward. Older readers might remark, “Oh, hell, I haven’t heard that song in years,” while younger ones will likely have never heard it at all. It was released in 1983; news about brutal regimes and civil unrest in various Central and South American countries was fairly common, but the US’ focus was more on the Middle East and Soviet Union, with a lot of meaningless posturing by Reagan – the shitstorm about the Iran-Contra deals, where we were covertly selling weapons to Iran (we had supposedly cut ties after the hostage crisis) and using that money to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, was still a few years from breaking, but the players were all well-known. There has been no point in recent history where world politics has been particularly stable, but in 1983 it was routinely in the news at least.

Personally, I had quit school the year before and was struggling to find decent work in an economically-stagnant region of central New York, in the efforts to get the hell out. My folks were separated, I had no friends in the area save for my brother-in-law, and I was still a bit aimless and bitter following the unexpected death of my brother in 1981. Plenty of the music that I was following was upbeat – as earlier entries might have hinted at, I was delighted that disco had been abandoned in favor of new wave – but there was an underlying cynical aspect of my personality, this suspicion that shit was about to get worse, at least partially inspired by a saber-rattling president that seemed enamored of getting into another war.

‘Undercover of the Night’ played right into that mood in a very curious way. The song breaks with a staccato drum riff, a rattle reminiscent of automatic weapons, and some harsh power chords from a guitar, interspersed with a very expressive bassline that, uncommonly, stood well out from the other instrument tracks. Musically, the sounds are energetic and play well off of one another, the guitars and the drums debating back and forth, dramatic overall but with an ominous undertone that departs from The Stones’ typical fare. As the lyrics roll in, they confirm and elaborate on this mood; the picture painted is one of a desperate environment, but the bigger impact isn’t the conditions as much as the search for escapism. While containing overt sexual aspects, there is no appeal here, not even in a lascivious way – it’s little more than a frantic distraction.

Seemingly out of place is Jagger’s signature “Do do do” bridges, vocally mimicking a guitar riff that seems a little too upbeat in nature, but in context it invokes the attempt to ignore what’s going on outside – again, illustrated well in the video. The entire song, in fact, has a sound to it of a loud nightclub with just a little too much manic energy, an almost-forced air before Jagger intrudes again with the ominous narrative. The audio quality – a little tinny, a little echo-ey – enhances this to no small extent.

Undercover of the Night – The Rolling Stones

I have embedded the video below, that the director (Julien Temple) did an excellent job of illustrating, with its own story and some damn good imagery, even when it’s unclear how many levels there really are. Unfortunately, at the time it was sometimes considered appropriate to add sound effects to the video versions, which detracts significantly as far as I’m concerned – one of the few times you’ll hear me argue against helicopter sounds.

But I still find Richards looking out from the passing government transport one of the more expressive visuals from the era, or indeed any music video. The atmosphere was maintained throughout, with a truly masterful use of lighting – even the one daylight scene was done in a pall of fog or smoke. The girlfriend in the video, by the way (Elpidia Carrillo,) also appeared in Predator four years later on. And if you missed the trembling sheets matching the drum rattle, go back and look for it.

So now, I have an exercise for you, a trivial thing that occurred to me as I was writing this post. Using the audio player and not the video, go back and listen to it again, but imagine it played by a marching band, the horns carrying the treble while the drums get that added boost in bass registers. Granted, some of that guitar work won’t translate well to, like, clarinets, but you can’t have everything.

Believe it or not, the next featured music, whenever it comes, will be a lot more contemporary – not everything that I listen to is better than three decades old. Just most of it…

Storytime 5

composition notepad along side of forest road
This is another (awkward) attempt at photojournalism, like last week’s, that I came across while skimming through the folders. I used to work in a wooded compound frequented by volunteers, and on the entry road one day I spotted this lost notebook. I got out to retrieve it, and realized that there was a little ironic story right there; the challenge was getting the right angle to express it in one image. I’m still not exactly sure that I accomplished this – it takes a bigger version of the image, at least. But can you see the key element that I’m referring to?

If not, here’s a cropped and rotated portion of the frame, making it a bit more obvious.

crop from previous imageYou’ll be happy to know that the Eagle Scout, whose name I blanked out here so his future prospects as POTUS are not harmed, did indeed get his notebook back, and is probably spelling “lose” properly now every time too. But for my part, I had aimed to get the cover readable in the image while at the same time highlighting the lonely and ‘lost’ nature of the area, so needed a wide, low angle with the book close. Feel free to tell me if I succeeded or not, or even that you really don’t care either way.

Podcast: The most interesting podcast

No, it’s not really – I’m just making fun of my own terrible speech habits. If I embarrass myself enough about them perhaps I’ll break them.

In the meantime, we’ll talk about how the exhibit went, and where to go from here, and what to do when we get there. Or something like that.

Walkabout podcast – The most interesting podcast. Or not.

portion of author's photo exhibit at Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau
portion of author's photo exhibit at Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors BureauMostly, the topic is about the exhibit that just closed down, the impressions and aftermath, so of course I have to include a couple of examples. The initial display was 61 images, cut down to 32 a little later on – both of these are from the larger original. I’ve always been a fan of minimal presentation when it comes to wall display, so most of the images were ‘shadow-mounted’ on black foamcore (that might not be the technical term among the cognoscenti and I don’t care.) But I included a handful of full-framed images, three canvases, and a metal print which I really like – I would have been happy to sell it, but I would have immediately ordered another to display here at home.

As you may be able to tell from these photos, the Visitors Bureau was not built with the idea of doing art displays (or even displays of barely fartistic nature photos,) and so the lighting isn’t what you might find in a dedicated gallery. It was by no means poorly-lit, but also not what most would consider ideal.

Another view of the exhibit can be found here, with some remarkably dapper gentleman in the frame.

reproduction of someone's ridiculous cropI mentioned that the website for the 2nd Friday Art Walk used an image from my site as a thumbnail, and that image is here. The portion that they actually used, however, is reproduced from memory at left. Seriously, don’t ask me what that was all about – I had nothing to do with it.

I also spoke about doing a visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art, and that was the topic of my previous podcast, posted in between recording that short blurb and including it within this one. We’re being a little nonlinear here.

I can’t go this far without including the actual bio page that was on display; it might help shed some light on my unique approach to the art form.

Al Denelsbeck is a local nature and wildlife photographer who “lives on the edge,” as he puts it, but that’s only because his home is on the border of Chapel Hill and Durham. He focuses more on macro work, but has been rumored to take the occasional scenic image if he’s not feeling well. He has far more photos of spiders than anyone wants to see.

When asked about his style, his focus wandered off and we never received an intelligible answer, so we’ll just go ahead and say that he likes interesting portrait angles on his wildlife, and semi-abstract approaches to landscape images, but you can probably see that for yourself. When asked about his vision, connectedness, and spiritual journey, he just giggled and mocked us in a derogatory tone. “If you’re not getting your own impressions from my images,” he told us, “why should I have to provide some to you?” However, he did claim that if he didn’t get dirty chasing any particular photo, he didn’t feel right, but we suspect that’s just an excuse for being a slob.

Al’s website and gallery, Wading-In Photography, can be found at He also teaches photography on a one-on-one basis, available throughout the greater Triangle area, and more information on this can be found on the site, as well as several pages on tips and tricks. He abhors social media, so you’ll have to like or dislike him in person.

Moving on. In the podcast I recounted doing a largely unproductive zoo trip, and one of the images from it can be found here – yes, I actually did non-captive, non-habituated wildlife photos while visiting the zoo, but don’t get too excited before clicking on that link. While on this trip, the red-shouldered hawk family that I’d been following decided to leave the nest; parts of that saga can be found here and here. The opening pic on that second link is among the last photos I got of the fledglings. Despite the obvious negative impact from seeking out something else to photograph, I still expect to get a butterfly house visit in at some point, with a couple of other possibilities stewing on a back burner.

This podcast from two years ago still applies very well to the season, and may provide a few ideas of what to do while the conditions aren’t all that conducive to nature photography. We can’t all get involved in wildly successful exhibits of our work.

And this time around, I suggested having a few photographic goals for the coming season, but that’s always half-assed advice, isn’t it? That’s like saying, “You should work to improve yourself.” So, let me list a couple of examples, and perhaps they might spark some additional ideas as well.

  • Find out what endangered species can be found in your area, and endeavor to get some photos of them (always respecting their habitat and sensitivities of course, so some research may be in order.) Additionally, find out why they’re endangered and what impact their extinction may have on the ecosystem.
  • For a more abundant subject, flesh it out in detail. Get images of growth, habitat, behavior, life cycles, and so on. If there’s something particularly interesting or special about your subject, try to illustrate that. Remember that some aspects will only be visible during a certain portion of the year, so you’ll have to plan ahead to be ready to capture this.
  • Have a project that’s supposed to assist your photography? Finish it! Your deadline is March 31st.
  • Have a lot of photos illustrating something interesting? Find someplace to show them, especially if they can be used to educate. This means schools of course, but there are other options in any given community as well. You may even like doing presentations at retirement homes. If you’re not the type to do presentations, think about teaming up with someone who is.
  • Pick one of those esoteric functions on your camera that you never thought you’d use, and build a project around it. Second-curtain sync? Trap focus? Highlight Tone Priority? Be creative. Additionally, figure out a way to do something digitally that used to be available only in the realm of film (such as multiple-exposures without the use of an editing program.)
  • A couple of old standbys: take one image every day that has to be a keeper; close your eyes and put a pin in a paper map (or a mouse-click on a web-based one) and go there to shoot something; find the most creative way to get an image of yourself; determine something trivial about past photos, such as the highest and lowest elevation that you’ve shot at, and aim to beat those; choose a particular aspect of composition to tackle for any given outing.
  • Do some different with display prints, such as making a literally three-dimensional print (by layering different portions, or curving, etc.) Or make unique frames from odd materials such as hardback books, shells, leaves, patches of fabric, and so on. Aim to complement the mood or idea of the print itself.
  • Go someplace new every month.
  • Recreate an older photo of yours – same position, angle, and so on.
  • Long exposures are fun – be creative and find a new subject to tackle using them. Also, find a way to use the fastest shutter speed your camera can handle (without just aiming into the sun.)
  • Hopefully, at least one of those will spark something creative in you, or give you something to do in the slow season.

    Going back to opening topic as I wrap up this post, you likely asked what my favorite image in the exhibit was (no, you likely didn’t, but humor an old man.) Except I don’t really think in those terms, and probably couldn’t even narrow it down to five – the intention was to show off, of course, so there weren’t exactly a lot of photos that I wasn’t fond of in there. But what I can leave you with is one of only two images (I believe) that weren’t published elsewhere in the web gallery or on the blog – though a variation was. This presently serves as my screen background too, having switched to a new one when I converted to Linux to make the operating system obvious, and because I’d had the old one for years.

    green treefrog Hyla cinerea napping on pokeweed plant

    Ever see a guy say goodbye to a month before?

    Let’s see, January 31st; there’s something I’m supposed to do today – now what was it? Extortion payment? No. Take my SATs? No. File an anonymous report about a former boss being a child molester? N–… well, yes, but that doesn’t have to be today. Damn, what was it?

    Oh yeah, the end of the month abstract!

    rough ice patterns on pond
    Today’s photo was actually taken today, so kudos to me and all that. We’re not getting anywhere near the shitass weather that half of the country is getting and thus has taken over every last aspect of media available, so in a couple of ways I feel bad about this, but then again, there’s little else to photograph out there – the great blue heron that I was stalking didn’t let me get close enough for a decent shot, so this is what we have. And as skilled as I am, I haven’t mastered making dead grass look interesting.

    The tree was actually an integral part of this image – and don’t disappoint me by saying, “What tree?” The reflections were there to add a little more to the photo, and provide some nice dark lines that enhance the textures of the ice by being reflected from the edges. Had there been some really smooth ice, I would have aimed to have more of the branches in there, a little window among the rough patches of ice, but nothing that I found was smooth enough. Without the trees, the pic would have been a lot more monochromatic, so it gains a little more character this way.

    But don’t ask me how ice forms like this. I’m a photographer, not a… coldologist.

    A picture!

    A photograph, an image, a daguerreotype, a portrait du nitrate of silver! Or some such rot.

    blue and yellow pansies - I think
    This is just to celebrate the raw fact that I actually took a couple of photos! Seriously, it’s been rotten conditions around here; nothing to see, and crappy weather whenever I have even a few moments. These were taken during a student session in a park that’s often used for weddings, and obviously not growing wild. I was heading back to the car and decided I needed to shoot some damn thing.

    And hard as it may be to believe, my legion of readers somehow didn’t take me up on my previous suggestion and send me a ticket to Belize. I suspect that you all felt someone else had it covered, but hey, honestly, if I get too many I’ll send them back to you – no worries.

    Too cool, part 39

    Just a quick one here, but check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day from Friday. It features an image of a meteoroid striking the moon during the total phase of the lunar eclipse the other night. This is pretty lucky timing, because had it occurred during any phase that had full sunlight on that portion, it would have been too dim to see against the reflected light of the moon itself, save for perhaps very sensitive measuring equipment, and even if it had occurred in the dark region of a partial moon, exposure times for the photos would likely have been too brief to register it.

    edited estimated image of total lunar eclipse by naked eyeAnd seeing it in person? Not very likely, unless you had at least a decent set of binoculars or a telescope and were paying close attention. I edited one of my frames of the total eclipse here to give a rough idea of what it looked like to the naked eye – of course, back away from the screen enough until you can hide it under your thumb to get a more accurate size estimate. The meteoroid, by the way, was estimated to be quite small, perhaps about melon-sized, and to have left a crater 7-10 meters in diameter, which is roughly the footprint of a smaller house. So actually pretty cool to have been visible at all from 800,000 kilometers away.

    Yes, I looked through all of my images, and no, I did not get even a hint of it. I only had a few frames from the approximate time period that it occurred within, and most of those were too badly focused to have registered it anyway, even if the timing had been bang on. So, fame eludes me once again. Well, greater fame, anyway…

    Storytime 4

    expressive sign on Rt 41, rural North Carolina
    Not so much a story this time, as a more-than-accurate representation of rural North Carolina – or indeed, rural anyplace-in-America. I’d been out with The Girlfriend and, you know, that Jim Kramer, and we were returning from a little side trip out by Elizabethtown, NC, and Jones Lake State Park. Jim was driving, but I spotted the two primary elements in the image and made him turn around so I could get this shot – I assured myself no Buck-Roys were hanging around outside the hunting club before I positioned myself behind the sign, believe me.

    I don’t do photojournalism much, mostly because it involves photographing people, but this is probably one of the most expressive shots that I’ve done, and it illustrates rural America pretty damn well, if anyone from another country wanted to get an impression from a single image. Pickup trucks are everywhere, and road signs with bullet dents are pretty common in any quiet area. And just to clarify for anyone that needs it, they’re typically from rifles, not handguns – this is not gang-related or anything of the sort, but bored yokels looking for something to shoot other than old bottles and cans (which require a hell of a lot more accuracy.) You’d think a hunting club would provide some other kind of opportunity, but there you go.

    Now, I presently live in a bit more of an urbanized section, so bullet-ridden road signs are much less common. But there’s a different kind of damage instead, and it took me a while to figure it out. From time to time, really far too often, I’d see signs that were twisted and mangled, usually still attached to the posts and upright, which was what made them very curious. Mangled while lying flat, sure – some drunk-ass fuckhead, or some kid who wasn’t capable of handling a car at the speeds they were driving, had taken out a sign. But still attached to the poles? A utility truck lost a ladder in passing, maybe? But suddenly, after seeing one in a particular location and time, I knew what it was (especially since I’d almost seen it happen somewhere else): the guys trimming the roadside verges with the huge mower attachment on the end of a hydraulic arm are notoriously bad at watching what they are doing, and swinging the arm clear of the road signs before they make contact (or shutting the blade down when they lift the mower into a vertical position, as they really should and are probably required to do.) As you can see from my image above, most of the bullets never actually penetrated; road signs are tough. So mangling one with a mower almost certainly results in a bit of damage to the blades as well. I imagine that the budgets for such services could be vastly improved by hiring more people who can actually pay attention to what they’re doing.

    [It occurs to me, as I type this, that I should see if there are any examples nearby to show you. Stay tuned.]

    Stay with me here

    You might recall that October 31st is International I Need Some More time Day and is actually 48 hours long instead of the usual 24. As handy as this is, it turns out there are repercussions, the biggest being that despite our valiant efforts, it still takes a certain amount of time for the Earth to orbit the Sun, which is where we get our concept of years. Thus, celebrating IINSMTD kinda screws things up by shifting the calendar around.

    To compensate, January 23rd is January 23rd Does Not Exist Day, bringing us back to normal (well, nominal, let’s say.) This was determined by an astute group of astronomers, sociologists, and numismatists as being the least valuable day in the year, so the easiest to get rid of. Therefore, those that celebrated IINSMTD can find themselves back on track, perhaps soothing some of the enmity earned during the winter holidays.

    You may have spotted what many perceive to be a problem, however. If January 23rd does not exist, then the holiday on that day cannot exist either, which is what eradicated that day to begin with, thus it exists, and so does the holiday. The majority of people consider this a paradox, but that’s actually incorrect. The existence or not of the day and/or the holiday are consequential; one relies on the other, so there is always a ‘then’ to any given ‘if.’ If we celebrate the holiday, then January 23rd does not exist. And if January 23rd does not exist, then we have no holiday to dismiss it. Rather than being mutually exclusive, they both exist in a constant state of flux relying on the other, creating not exactly perpetual motion, but perpetual changes of state at least. No energy is involved, and nothing physical, so this isn’t quantum indeterminacy or anything silly like that. Instead, this is Appellative Redeterminacy.

    This is not to say that it has no impact, however. Since the day is in a constant state of flux between existence and nonexistence, then anything that happens today may not actually happen, depending on whether it happened (or not) in the picosecond between the day existing and the holiday eradicating it, or the picosecond between its nonexistence and the holiday’s extinction that brings it back. Just be aware that anything important today might not be.