Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wisconsin in the fall

Another update for the sake of updating. The weather has been pretty hit or miss lately around these parts so the camera has been sitting idle. I did finally get the engine problems taken care of on the ole yellow Mazda. It was exactly what I had suspected, with a bad front cylinder coil pack, but ended up costing me about 1/4 of what I was expecting to shell out. It looks like the only decent day this upcoming week will be Tuesday, and I have major exams on Wednesday and Thursday so it looks as if I'll be waiting a bit longer for anything photo-wise.

When I get bored at the computer I often find myself digging through the old photo folders on my hard drive, which is the same way I found all of the photos that I displayed during the "overlooked photos" series back in February. I will go out and shoot between 30 and 200 photos on an outing, and upload maybe an average of five. Mostly because the other photos sucked a lot. But sometimes a decent one sneaks by, and I happened to find one I liked quite a bit from the lake in Wisconsin last October. I shot the photo from a canoe while Scott Weberpal tried his hand at fishing.

Saturday afternoon I attended the Wisconsin vs. Northern Illinois football game at Soldier Field, which didn't exactly go the way I had planned. My plans did not include an NIU victory, but they certainly didn't include a 49-7 loss that had us headed for the exits at the end of the 3rd quarter. Normally I'm completely against leaving games early, but given Chicago traffic leaving the stadium, the Illinois football game being in a couple of hours, and us being down 42 points to a legitimate national championship contender, I was willing to head for the exits. I shot this panoramic shot on my droid during the first half. Since both schools share the same primary color of red, there was plenty to go around. It was hard to tell who was rooting for who until one team did something decent, which ended up not being us most of the time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wisconsin Paralysis

A new first, as I didn't take one single photograph on my entire stay in Wisconsin this past weekend. I don't think that has been accomplished since I got my first film camera as a kid. I was accompanied by David Bellmore who made the trip up separately from Champaign.

The trip was fairly uneventful, which was perfect! The weather was flawless, so I came back with a healthy dose of Vitamin D. The water temperature was down to about 72F which was refreshing at first, but felt amazing.

The most eventful part of the trip was probably the bout of sleep paralysis that I had while in my tent on Saturday night. For those who aren't familiar, here's an interesting read.

Essentially, you're awake while your brain is still in a dream state. Your brain still thinks your asleep, so your body remains paralyzed, but you become aware of your surroundings. "Sleep paralysis was first identified within the scientific community by psychologist Weir Mitchell in 1876. He laid down this syntactically old-school, but accurate description of how it works. “The subject awakes to consciousness of his environment but is incapable of moving a muscle; lying to all appearance still asleep. He is really engaged in a struggle for movement fraught with acute mental distress; could he but manage to stir, the spell would vanish instantly.”"

Anyway, this used to happen to me somewhat frequently around ages 11-15 for whatever reason, but hasn't happened since. You'd swear there was a time zone change between the real world and "at the lake" world, because we always retire early for the night. We watched the Notre Dame/Michigan football game and then decided to call it. I went to my tent around 11 and was almost instantly asleep. For whatever reason, I woke up a couple hours later around 1 AM feeling completely refreshed, almost like my body took a nap and was ready to go again. This was a problem. Luckily a friend of mine texted me shortly after and kept me company for a while as I lay awake in the tent under the bright moonlight. I wasn't exactly pissed, as being out in nature on a beautiful clear night with temperatures in the middle 50s is a pretty good place to be unable to sleep. I talked to my friend until after 3 AM before deciding to go for a walk. I have absolutely no reservations about being out in the wilderness or in rural areas in the middle of the night completely alone. I was never an easily scared kid, and what reservations I had before have probably been erased in years of spending nights alone shooting photos, whether on a storm chase or simple night photo outing. You eventually learn that the only thing you have to fear is your brain. In time you learn that the thing that is making the crunching noise in the brush behind you that sounds huge, is probably no bigger than a football and could be punted about 40 yards if you felt so compelled.

I made my way back to the tent and decided to try that sleeping thing. At one point I heard something sniffing around outside my tent and briefly contemplated smacking the side of the tent to startle it and send it running but the idea that it could potentially be a skunk had me thinking better of it. The next thing I knew it was sleep paralysis time.

I don't remember ever falling asleep, which perhaps added to it seeming so real. My mind had awakened in a dreaming state, my body still paralyzed but my conscience becoming more and more aware of my surroundings. I was 100% convinced that there was a snarling wolf first directly outside my tent, but then actually inside my tent grabbing my left arm.

Fast forward to 0:38 and that's almost exactly what I heard. That slow, low snarling noise. This lasted what seemed like maybe a minute or two, all the while I was unable to move anything but my eyes. It's almost like a lightswitch is flipped when it ends too. I immediately became aware of what had happened. When I was younger I wasn't overly aware of what sleep paralysis was, but when I came to this time and realized the "wolf" was really my blanket bunched up in the corner of my eye I immediately knew I'd been had by Mr. Paralysis. It was just odd that it had been so long. Ah well. Like I said, I can't remember the last time I was even a little bit afraid while out at night, but this had my heart racing for several minutes afterward just given the realness of the situation. When I was a kid it seemed to come more under the guise of the alien abduction scenario that is frequently reported. I would simply 'awaken' unable to move a muscle, but knowing something evil was in my room before I would quickly regain complete awareness and be able to look around and see my empty bedroom.

Anyway, I guess that was the final motivation I needed to get to sleep because after that I didn't remember a thing until the sun was well up in the sky and my tent was quickly becoming an oven. The rest of the day was spent on the lake and manning the grill before we headed back down south during the evening.

As I said, I didn't take any photos this trip but I do have a photo or two from the last week or so that I could toss up here. They're inevitably going to be from the wind farm, but if you're reading this blog you've grown to expect that crap.