Think about if for a minute…when’s the last time a day went by without someone telling you to look up? This phrase applies to everything from situations as basic as looking up a bit of information on a website to much more important things, like the need to look up from the various screens that are so good at demanding attention to really engage with the people in our lives that are deserving of our attention. Finding time each day to look up from technology and work is also a good way to (re)connect with nature – to take in a daily dose of Vitamin N and reap the associated benefits.
In terms of work, we’re advised to keep our heads down and be productive. Looking up risks being seen as slacking off. It seems to me that’s backwards thinking. For one thing, looking up is the only way to follow the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. For another, if we want breakthrough thinking that re-imagines work and lets us focus on building what we want for the rest of our leaves, that’s only possible if we make time to look up from the work at hand.
A well-established walking habit provides me with time each day to look up from my never-ending task list and engage with the world around me. Here are a few of the things I noticed in May.
1. T0H 2C0
One of the most powerful internet searches is the postal code (or zip code) lookup. Not only does the information help the occasional letter get to its destination as quickly as possible, but its essential for determining shipping costs for online orders. It also provides marketers with more information than I’m comfortable with – why else would so many stores and websites ask for your postal code at check out?
This tiny brick post office proudly flies the Canadian flag in Hythe, Alberta (pop. 827). I stayed in Hythe for a couple of nights in May and headed out for a walk through town each morning before all-day meetings. The operating hours for the post office are a bit of a throwback: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, closed for lunch over the noon hour. Are you old enough to remember when most businesses had similar hours (maybe with the addition of Saturday hours)? Seems like we were all more inclined to look up, back in the day…
2. Boom Cranes
Look up from just about anywhere in downtown Calgary and you’ll almost certainly see at least one boom crane. Several office towers and condo buildings that broke ground right around the time oil prices crashed in 2014 are still under construction. Once those projects are completed, the grade “A” office vacancy rate is expected to reach about 30% in late 2018. So even though things are looking up a bit in terms of economic diversification and the unemployment rate, the situation isn’t so rosy for landlords and real estate investments.
The distraction factor is one reason Calgarians paid so much attention to the crane brought in to move the old bridge across the Bow River to the Calgary Zoo. Since the 108 year old bridge has a least one coat of lead paint, city engineers didn’t want to cut it into sections for removal and came up with the plan to remove it in one piece and then cut it into sections in a controlled situation on dry ground. But a bridge with an estimated weight of 90 tonnes needs more than your average construction crane. That’s why a very large crane was brought in from Saskatchewan on 28 tractor-trailers and assembled near the bridge. It’s a good thing it has a lift capacity of up to 650 tonnes, because the aborted first attempt to remove the bridge revealed it weighs closer to 120 tonnes!!
The wind finally calmed enough that the operation was successfully completed four days after the first attempt. A careful examination reveals eight boom cranes in this picture, taken from the Bow River pathway east of city centre.
3. The Moon
When we look up at the sky, the things we’re most likely to see are the sun, the moon, airplanes, clouds, birds and stars. One evening when I went out to photograph the sunset just above the horizon, I happened to look higher in the sky and spotted a thin crescent moon with some dissipating contrails coloured pink by sunset refraction.
4. Tree Canopy
The tree canopy in our Calgary neighbourhood is in not-so-great shape. As was the case all across the city, it was seriously damaged by a heavy snowfall in September 2014. And the 20+ year-old elm trees are slowly dying of Dutch Elm Disease. Just this month, high winds and snow brought a premature end to crab apple blossom season. So I’ve really been enjoying the flowering Mayday trees this month. It took several minutes of looking up to find just the right composition of one branch isolated against the blue sky.
One night over the May long weekend, we opted to stay up later than usual. The sky was expected to be clear, so we thought we’d try some night sky photography. It was well after 11 before stars were visible to the eye. I missed it IRL, but there’s a shooting star or small meteor visible in the U-shape between the middle and rightmost peak of Three Sisters. And while I’m pretty happy with how this photograph turned out, I really need to spend some time looking up how to improve my night sky photography.
That’s it from me. Now it’s time to check out what other participants noticed when they looked up in May.
Thanks to PJ for continuing to host the monthly photo blogging challenge. I treat it like a photo assignment, which helps me keep working at improving my photography. The one-month time frame makes it pretty low stress. New participants are welcome any time, so please join us! The June theme will be posted at a ‘lil Hoohaa tomorrow.