05/25/07 444 W - + 17 - 17 Like a Mississippi Bullfrog Sittin' on a Hollow Stump

Which hat shall we wear today? Photographer? Researcher? Historian? Blogger? There are so many flavors of buffing to choose from, and they all compete for the same span of free time. It's a daily battle of choice, and one that probably won't be made easier after retirement (in a couple decades) or winning the lottery (in our dreams). I'll rest when I'm dead, said someone once.

Photographer is the easiest part to play. Just listen for calls, then respond and take pictures. Takes time, yeah, lots of time, but it's rewarding on so many levels. You create art, refine a craft, provide a service, participate in activities, experience stimulating situations, build personal relationships, etc. That's a hard one to beat. Just have a lot of disk space on hand.

Researcher is a fun hat, too, though a more methodical and considerably less visceral vocation. Hours upon hours-- in digestible chunks-- spent sifting through microfilm or paper records. Fact checking and rechecking. Charts and lists and checking them twice. Compiling and quoting and summarizing and paraphrasing. Takes a couple years to really get the hang of it-- much like incident photography-- but, oh, the things that you learn! Great way to avoid people, sunlight, exercise, etc.

Historian is similar to Researcher, but there's more presentation and organization and higher-level thinking. The Historian sets the direction of the Researcher. What shall we research today? Age of this fire chief when appointed, so let's check census records. Details of that apparatus delivery, so let's look through some old newspapers. The Historian also sets the scope of the research. Raleigh FD history versus Wake County FD histories versus North Carolina FD histories. Heck, even South Carolina is becoming interesting these days! Alas, there are only so many days and weeks in a lifetime.

Then there's that other hat, Blogger. Time there is taken in spurts. Long-winded postings (like this one) take the longest. Ditto for transcriptions of cool old news articles. Short bits are a breeze, as are monitoring comments. Editing isn't really required that much. Blogging is all about communication, and communication is all about relationships. Thinking, then, probably takes the biggest chunk of time. What are we tying to say? What does the reader want to hear? Is this piece of information interesting? Is that piece of information proper?

Hats, hats, and more hats. Each is different, each takes time. In a good week/month/year, there's balance. Hopefully photography, history, blogging-- and other favored aspects of buffing-- benefit equally. Is mastery of one (or more) possible? Don't know. Don't want to know. Too busy being busy.

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