We’ll take anything you can plug in…

Last week Caroline found a little paper announcement saying that one could bring old computers, televisions and all sorts of electrical components to a pick-up location at the local Home Depot for recycling.  This event was organized by the local Sierra Club.  We both looked at each other and thought what a great idea.  Finally here is an opportunity of getting rid of all the old, none operating equipment that has accumulated over the years in the garage.  Hey… we are no different than others; our first step of recycling is moving electronics that no longer function to the garage, where it waits, sometimes for years to get to its next step…  

Wow, Look at all these computers, screens and televisions. I bet they could write adventure stories as well.

I was always fascinated to think about the life span of stuff that people accumulate.  Some items are luckier than others, they become sought after antiques. Looking at an antique I tend to wonder who came up with the idea to create it?  Who created it?  What about all the good bad and “uglies” the item saw during its lifetime; what will the item see or experience next?  Will it end up in a garage or be treasured on display.  After all, most things that are created tend to live way much longer than the average human being.  And yet, often things are neglected and exposed to the elements where they corrode and cause an entire new problem for the future of the environment.  

From box to truck for recycling.

 An electrical component, for example, is born in a factory, assembled from many parts that hopefully came from recycled materials.  Once the unit is put together and tested and briefly made the acquaintance of many mechanical claws and maybe some human hands it ends up in a box and is shipped to a distribution center.  There it waits to be shipped to a vendor.  Then it waits again to be purchased by the end-user.  A happy new owner will use the unit for about two years.  I am told that a computer that is more than two years old is an ancient machine.  But never the less, after the equipment was used and hopefully enjoyed during its lifespan the owner gets tired of it because now there are newer and better gadgets out there or simply because it no longer works.  People seem to be conditioned to always go for the latest and newest.  Now what…  The unit ends up hopefully in a recycling bin.  But there is a small problem… electronics as well as many other things may not be allowed in the recycling bin you place at the curb every week.  

Sure, to do the right thing one should do some research and find out more about what and where to recycle things.  By doing so you find out that there are many places throughout your local area; so many that it becomes confusing of what to bring where.  Not only is it confusing it is almost like a secret.  For example did you know that you can recycle Fluorescent Bulbs at Home Depot or Lowe’s?  Or that you can bring rechargeable batteries to Radio Shack, Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears, Staples Verizon Wireless, Wal-Mart and Lowe’s?  We also learned that old Tennis shoes are recyclable.  Who knew that? 

So why not come up with one central place that takes everything.  Personally I think people are willing to do the right thing as long as it is not too complicated and  does not require too much of their valuable time.  I think they would even be willing to make a contribution in many cases so why not plan a home pick-up of all larger recyclables once a year, you know, like paint, used lawnmower engine oil, electronics, chemicals, batteries, etc.?  

So many ideas, such a big challenge….  

I had the honor to meet Ray from the Sierra Club. He was up until 3am and still showed up at the collection point at 7am. What dedication... Thank you!

Me? I am happy I found Caroline, who tries to do the right things for the environment.  She, as well as many people, realizes how fragile and beautiful Nature is and that it is our responsibility to keep it so.  So, we congratulate the Sierra Club for a great idea to bring E-Scrap to Nassau County Florida to collect some of the electronics that used up their purpose.

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Everything goes into a Box…

Umpf… This is hopefully the last 2010 file to stick into this box

The first week of the year is usually busy in a different way than the rest of the year.  It is time to stick last year’s receipts and paperwork into a Bankers Box and stash it away with all the other boxes from previous years. After all taxpayers are advised to keep their paperwork for at least 3+ years … indefinitely to be on the save side.  So in our case these boxes became part of the decoration.

The oldest box probably has an entire mini city inside… spiders, creepy crawlies, mildew … plus who knows what.  I assume to them this is like living in a fancy metropolitan high rise.  I wonder if anyone in the boxes is collecting rent. For all it matters there could be some sort of a hierarchy going on in there.  Every time a new box is stacked on top, the invisible habitants must be celebrating; new rooms, fresh food….  Maybe they have a lottery of who can move into the newest floor first. Of course living that high up comes with dangers. The bottom box which is probably the most overpopulated one is more exposed to the elements.  Everyone knows that moisture and paper are not a good combination.  Plus, with all the partying that must be going on in that box it definitely is losing strength to support all the weight above.  It is a well-known fact that if the foundation is not solid the entire building is in danger to collapse.  As a matter of fact that applies to everything in life.  A collapse would be disastrous. 

And this is the sixth floor of "Box Tower". I wonder who lives in there...

Imagine 9 boxes high, filled with all sort of papers and stuff…   what a night mare.  We don’t even want to think about it and yet year after year Caroline carefully stacks these boxes up in that corner.  She tries to outsmart nature by stacking the boxes in a way that they would fall toward the wall. The wall is a good support and therefore there is not a lot of danger for all the creepy crawlies to loose their housing.  Let’s be realistic, it is not a question of if the paper high rise collapses the question is when.  Caroline hopes that she never will have to go into any of the bottom boxes to research anything, especially the one all the way on the floor.  It is probably the most populated one and I am not talking only paper here.   Me?  Noooo, I definitely will keep my clean, white plastic paws out of any of these boxes.  I don’t even want to be close to them and I am really not interested to go back into the record history. 

Actually, in my opinion these creepy crawlies better count their blessings for now because with todays advanced technology they will be looking at a potential housing shortage very soon. More and more records are kept electronically.  So in our case we will probably no longer stack boxes but collect CDs and DVDs which require a lot less space to keep.  There are a lot of advantages in the electronic record keep; no major space requirement, no weight, only one item (the CD/DVD) to deal with etc..  However, the question is what if that CD/DVD becomes corrupt?  How many years will this CD/DVD be good?  Will computers in 20 years be able to read today’s files? What can be done during an electrical outage?  So many questions…

Well,  personally, I think there are plusses and minuses in both the old fashioned way and modern way of keeping records or anything for that matter.  So for now we are stacking our life’s history into that corner and will deal with whatever is required in the future. 

Let’s not forget we live today (the present) and Life is great!

Meet my ex-box. Today I am a happy guy who enjoys living outside the box...

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IT’S A NEW YEAR – A NEW CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT…

A few days ago I saw this headline somewhere.  It made me think.  It’s strange how humans think that things change and start from the beginning when the calendar changes from December into January.  Think about it, we should have mini celebrations with the start of each month, party, get drunk, be glad the month is over, and drop something to symbolize the beginning of the next 30 days.  In some way this is done in business (except the party part).  Many businesses are required to close the month and file monthly tax reports.  Well anyway…. 

They are right my plastic belly grew over the holidays

Let’s talk a little bit about New Year’s resolutions. It seems now is the time that advertisers bombard us with diet plans; stop smoking plans; stop drinking plans; exercise gadgets and plans, etc. Sadly, New Year’s resolutions tend to be only good for the first three weeks, but at least the first three weeks of January in many cases are exceptionally healthy.  Luckily I don’t have most of the above mentioned problems, therefore I only got one resolution to work on.  I was told my little plastic belly got a bit bigger. 

So I looked into some of the diet plans out there and wow…..  what a selection.  It is almost making me dizzy what is available and all the promises for success.  Nutritional drinks in chocolate, strawberry or vanilla flavors.  Some of them not only promise to fill you up but also come with all sorts of other rewards.  Nice…. But will it work, both, losing weight and getting rich???

Then there are the places that actually sell you instructional books and make you go to weigh in on a weekly basis but mostly sell you expensive diet  food.  Often they will try to sell their services by having some famous spokesperson showing off their new bodies. Did you ever notice that these spokespeople tend to gain their weight and then some back after the advertising campaign?

Most amazing to me is that some people go to clinics to get vitamin injections (or whatever) to help them lose weight.  Imagine….

Cookies!!!!!

Here is my opinion.  All these plans probably work, however; the trick is to stick to it.  It is called a lifestyle change and for that no one really needs to spend a lot of money.  Actually, I discussed this with Caroline, who over 10 years ago lost about 40lb.  Nope she decided that most of the advertised plans didn’t work for her and she was also too stingy to spend a lot of money with some of these diet outfits.  What did she do you ask?  Simple, she started exercising every day and most importantly wrote down all the calories and fat grams of everything she ate during the course of the day.  Keeping a food diary is a great thing because now you think twice before eating that small piece of chocolate that has 120 calories and 12g of fat. Note that she tried to keep her fat budget to about 40g of fat and her calories to about  1000 – 1200 per day.  Do some research and find out how many grams of fat is ok for you per day and to how many calories you should stick to.  Also, when you are thirsty stay away from the alcohol and soft drinks, stick to a lot of water. Before you know, you have changed your lifestyle by eating less, exercising more and feeling great by still eating what you enjoy.

So here you go.  Yup, Caroline, as well as I are ready to start our food diaries and daily exercise program since both of us enjoyed lots of cookies and great holiday food over the past two months.

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Reflections! Overall 2010 was a Great Year!

Time to consult the Horoscope section in the paper and the internet. 

Mine said the following today: 
“Every now and then, we all need to spend some time alone and think about what’s really important to us. You’ll want to take that time now, and you really shouldn’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Cancel your appointments and sit down quietly in a place where you know you won’t be disturbed. Take your time. When you’re done, you’ll want to share your thoughts with the ones you love. Call them. They’ll be glad to hear from you.”

Good advice, so I did exactly that… well, I was also a bit influenced by the fact that this is the last week in 2010 and usually this is the time we tend to look back.  For many it seemed to have been a year with some ups and downs but it seems that overall everyone had a better year than the previous one.  I for one had a blast and the year was especially great since I found Caroline.  I like sticking with her because I am sure that most of my brothers and sisters don’t have as much fun as I do.  Let alone have a blog. Wow… 

OK then, back to 2010.  I am sitting here reflecting…  I have been in many places already and think that I even made a few people smile.

My 2010 adventure started in Orlando at the NAPP convention.  That’s where I met Caroline.  I loved this convention.  There was so much to do and to see not to mention to learn.  I have met instructors and photographers many of them belonging to the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professional) Dream Team. I even managed to say hi to some of them.

Another memorable event was my trip to Dalton GA, where I had a chance to roam around in the woods. I found a lot of interesting stuff that was discarded.  I am not quite sure why people just forget items in nature, but I guess this is another story.  I was looking for birdhouses there, you know, as a vacation house for me.  Birdhouses just seem to be the right size for me.  Unfortunately, they all were occupied or in too bad a condition to move in.  Furthermore after a while I was looking forward to go back home to Amelia Island. This ended the dream of a second home for now.

Yup, I also was thinking about my health in 2010. So we checked out a few soccer games in Savannah, GA.  I really had a great time there even though I came to the conclusion that the goal is way too huge to keep and the soccer ball is too large for me to kick.  Did you ever see the size of that ball???

Of course Petanque is great as well.  The balls are much more to my size but I’d break my foot trying to kick one of those.  These are made of steel.  Watching people throwing the balls is lots of fun.  They are all so serious and even pull out measuring devices to figure out which of the balls are closest to the “pig”. One can feel the enthusiasms in the game and lots of friends are made at the court. I always look forward going there.

I could go on and on after all there are 365 days in a year and every day is filled with some adventure. If you don’t agree you should open your eyes and see all the good and fun stuff that is going on on a daily basis. The not so good stuff???  Well, there is the saying when you got lemons make lemonade, i.e. find the sweet spot in the situation.  If you look hard enough you will find it.  I am a strong believer that it is always there.

So until next time I wish you all a Happy New Year.
I can sense 2011 will be grand!

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Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum wie grün sind deine Blätter…

How did the tree get into Christmas?

This is a tree that is just right for me.

Wow… hold it.  Don’t misunderstand this question I love Christmas trees. I enjoy helping to pick out just the right tree, go through all the trouble of having to clean up the needles from the trunk of the car and the house and mostly enjoy decorating it. Actually Caroline does all the work I just look pretty. Once all this is done there are true pleasures to the senses, both the vision and the smell.  Christmas Trees just have this scent of peace and happiness. We traditionally get and decorate the tree and the house the entire week after Thanksgiving.  This way at least we get to enjoy the labors of our work until January 6 (Epiphany).

But the other day as we were driving down the street and still after 3 weeks saw the about 15 ft tree leaning against a port-o-potty of a tree vendor we were wondering about Christmas trees.  Where does this tradition come from?  Why a tree? I don’t think there are any fir trees growing in the Middle East where the story of nativity took place. So we decided to do a little research and this is essentially what we found.

There seems to have been, and still today, a lot of controversy around the Christmas tree. Many believe that it comes from the pagan origin.  It seems that even back in Egypt evergreens were worshiped.  There they brought green date palm leaves into their home to symbolize life’s triumph over death. 

Romans celebrated the winter solstice and honored Saturnus, the god of agriculture.  Houses were decorated with greens and lights and gifts were exchanged. <read more…>

But it seems the tradition of erecting a Christmas tree dates back to Germany and Scandinavia (15th Century).  Evergreens commonly were brought into the houses to remind everyone that warm weather would soon return.  It is also widely believed that Martin Luther, the sixteenth century reformer, while walking outside saw new snow glistening on some fir trees.  He was so delighted by this sight that he brought a young fir into his house and decorated it with candles to try to replicate the beauty he just observed.

By the 18th century the Christbaum, or Christmas tree was a firmly established tradition.  Most likely the custom was brought to the New World through Pennsylvania by German immigrants.

Today we see Christmas Trees everywhere. Many Cities and Towns put up outdoor trees.  We just read in the news about the tree that is decked out in $11 million worth of gold and jewels which stands in the lobby of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).  Swarovski also decorates trees every year in several locations around the world.  I think we were most impressed by the one in the Main Train station in Zurich, Switzerland. As the light was broken by the crystal decorations the entire tree seemed to glow from within.  I am certain Martin Luther would have been very impressed by this sight.  <click here to see picture of the tree>

Of course hanging out with these pretty angles is always fun!

So here we go.  If you want to know more about the origin and history around Christmas trees visit Wikipedia. <more…>

One thing is certain, we are glad that this tradition exists whether it was started by pagans, Druids, Germans, Scandinavians etc. , it seems that people of all sort of backgrounds enjoy this tradition and are more than willing to keep it up.

Merry Christmas and
Happy Holidays to all!
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Hello World My Name is Shukie….

Finally I am making the hop into this wonderful medium called internet or better yet THIS BLOG…
HELLO WORLD!Shukie for Studio CB Photography
Let me introduce myself… I originally was referred to as Doo Hickie..  Then, until my owner realized what it really means I was called Dukie.  Well, little did we know that this is not such a great name here in the south, so much for speaking German. So it almost took a year for me to get my official name which now is SHUKIE.   What do you think?  Let me know.
My plan is to share my adventures and some thoughts on life with the world! Well, you say who cares? I simply respond to these guys that no one makes you read my stuff….  Maybe there will be some of you that actually care I always like to hear from you.
Yup… life is what we make of it and I already experienced quite a bit.  I will share these past experiences with you as well.  In the meantime I am thrilled I finally get to go on my adventures and even more so that it starts before the year end so I can wish everyone Great Holidays!

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