Miscellaneous Personal Essays

Below is a collection of Ande’s personal essays unrelated to music and theater.

My photo journey

This is a non-chronological series of essays on my personal photography with the stories behind some of my favorite shots.

Photo journey: My quest for the perfect capitol shot

(Published 22 May 2021): This first photo essay discusses how it took me three years to take my perfect, or almost perfect picture of the capitol dome in Washington, D.C.

Photo journey: Reflection obsession

(Published 30 May 2021): This essay discusses my obsession with reflections in photography. I’ve enjoyed trying to capture interesting reflection shots using water as the reflector medium in various locations I’ve visited.

Photo journey: South Meadow Fence Road

(Published 4 June 2021): This essay discusses why I had to capture a picturesque scene in Montgomery Village, MD, and what it has meant to me. I have a fondness for that area of the country, and almost moved there almost 30 years ago.

Photo journey: Geometry

(Published 19 June 2021): This essay explores my geometric fascination. So many mundane sites are interesting if you just explore them from a different angle or perspective and can make a huge difference in how something is perceived.

Less competition, more cooperation

(Published 8 March 2023): Our society is overflowing with competition which can sometimes have harmful effects. In this essay, I share a few formative experiences and ponder what it would take to move our society away from so much competition and toward more cooperation.

Gramps and me

(Published 26 February 2023): This essay describes a vivid happy memory of my grandfather from my childhood along with the hope that we can move forward so that more people can enjoy these kinds of memories in our increasingly complicated world.

Social media post controversy – listening vs. reading

(Published 12 February 2023): This essay explores what happened with an unexpectedly controversial Facebook post and discusses some of the differences between reading a book vs. listening to an audio book. The contention is that listening and reading are different skills despite the way the word reading sometimes gets used.

Thoughts on a foggy morning

(Published 4 February 2023): This short essay reflects on the nostalgia of a foggy winter morning.

Too many people

(Published 15 January 2023): This essay explores some of the effects of too many people roaming the Earth. Humankind is having a devastating effect on the planet’s ecology and on the lives of countless species including our own. While we have devised ways to feed ourselves (mostly), we are causing a huge amount of damage to the planet.

Renewing college friendships

(Published 10 January 2023): Sometimes the present can be a little overwhelming, especially at the beginning of a new, chaotic year. When that happens, it’s sometimes helpful to take a look back, way back, and ponder where we’ve been and where we might be going. This personal essay reminisces about some interesting connections.

Is Mastodon the solution?

(Published 23 November 2022): The Twitter saga continues with users fleeing the platform in droves. In its wake, a different kind of social media framework that has been around for a few years has gained notoriety – Mastodon – as an alternative that’s not corporate-owned or operated. This personal essay shares some observations from my first couple of weeks on Mastodon. Needless to say, the environment is very different from what Twitter has quickly become under Musk’s rule.

Social media again

(Published 30 October 2022): In the last week, Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter and took the company private. The buy-out was approved by the shareholders, and they’ll all get premium prices for their existing shares, but the users of the platform are concerned. Does it need to change, or can people still engage constructively? This short essay presents some thoughts on how and why we should stay engaged.

Cultural shifts and quirks

(Published 31 August 2022): Cultural moments can be rather transient. Other times, common knowledge is persistent and endures across multiple generations and across wide regions. This essay explores the concept of common knowledge and relates an incident that changed my understanding of how common that knowledge actually is.

What is an expert?

(Published 7 August 2022): Watching the ongoing battles on various social media platforms, and even in the traditional media over expert claims, I started thinking about what constitutes an expert. I recount some of my personal experience with experts and make a few observations about their importance and impacts.

The world I want to live in

(Published 18 July 2022): With all of the turmoil in the U.S. and around the world, I sometimes imagine what life could be like if humans were less predatory and strove to help each other rather than control one another. This essay explores some of these considerations.

What is reality?

(Published 10 March 2022): Reality, facts, and fiction. Human society is complicated. We live in a physical world, but we choose to warp it with fiction of our own making to allow very large numbers of us to cooperate over long distances. In the modern age, technology allows us to spread information instantaneously, but what is real? What is not? And in the end, what difference does it make? This personal essay explores the difficulties in understanding reality.

Finding the limits of the rules

(Published 18 February 2022): This personal essay examines a couple of formative incidents in my childhood that helped shaped my worldview where rules and laws are concerned. As a child, and even as an adult I sometimes push boundaries a little, but I still respect the law. I’ve always wanted fair, though with the current national turmoil, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s ever really achievable. There are always those who truly believe that the rules don’t apply to them, but they should apply to everyone.

Embracing my inner hermit

(Published 30 January 2022): This personal essay looks back over the first month of 2022 as the country and the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing turmoil. Sometimes the most important thing is to just keep on living and marveling at the beauty around us.

Hello 2022!

(Published 7 January 2022): This personal essay captures my thoughts at the end of the first week of the new year. It’s been a little unsettling but also very encouraging that people are energized to take on whatever comes along. A lot is brewing, and this could be a very consequential year in ways we haven’t even yet considered.

Goodbye 2021!

Me and my brother

(Published 31 December 2021): This personal essay captures my thoughts at year end as we get ready to begin anew in 2022. A lot has happened in 2021, and actually a lot of good things have happened, but reports tended to inundate us with bad news. We can’t forget the bad or the unimaginable of course, but we also can’t leave out the good as we move ahead. History will capture it all.

Thinking about holidays

(Published 25 December 2021): This personal essay captures some thoughts about our federal holidays, and what makes sense for a federal holiday vs. what doesn’t. It also includes a bit of holiday music.

Fog to clear – a new window to the world

(Published 23 November 2021): This personal essay captures some musings surrounding the difference that a clean, clear window makes compared to a fogged view of the outside world, particularly during an ongoing pandemic. Windows to the outside truly do provide windows to the world at large in multiple ways although it can sometimes be a bit challenging to get the view in focus.

The good side of Facebook

(Published 24 October 2021): This personal essay takes a look at some of the good that social media, in particular Facebook, can do. With so much bad press about the business practices, the tangible benefits of the platform are being lost.

Confessions of a Trekkie

(Published 28 June 2021): This personal essay takes an initial look at my almost lifelong obsession with Star Trek from the time I first encountered the show. The various Star Trek series had a big impact on me through the years, and there’s a lot we can learn from them.

A fitting end to 2020

(Published 30 December 2020): The year 2020 was a memorable one for all of us. This commentary expresses my thoughts about the year we are just now completing. Leap Years aren’t usually this chaotic, but it seems fitting that this extraordinary year ends a day late.

How is living through the pandemic like space?

(Published 6 December 2020): Throughout this crazy year, I’ve been thinking how the isolation forced by the pandemic reminds me of stories I imagined in childhood related to space and science fiction. It’s definitely not the same, but there are some intriguing similarities that come to mind. And like being adrift, we aren’t sure when we’ll be rescued from this misadventure.

Eclipsing Reality

(Published 24 August 2020): This personal essay discusses an example from my past showing the importance of verifying the information we consume and the dangers of spreading propaganda. In this case, a near-miss got blown into something far from the reality of what actually happened. Although this particular incident was a harmless exaggeration, it shows how something of more import could become something dangerous. This essay was also submitted to the Writer’s Digest 2020 Personal Essay contest.

The magic of the written word

(Published 3 August 2020): With all of the turmoil currently facing society, the written word has become far more important in just staying in contact with friends and family. This commentary talks a little about the care we must take in our written communications.

The leapling’s struggle

(Published 29 February 2020): This is just a little essay commemorating the struggles those born on 29 February experience and celebrating the uniqueness of having such a birthday.

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