How Karen Hutten Shortened My Life

Welcome back, Scott.
— Karen Hutton

Three words. That's all it took. My heart stopped, my hair grayed, and my life was forever shortened ... but only by a wee bit.

I know now that Karen is the voice behind Stuck On EarthBut 18 months ago, I didn't even know Stuck On Earth had sound. My iPad is almost always muted. Time and again I went into Stuck On Earth, volume muted, none the wiser of Karen's rich, smooth voice offering inspirations and whimsical suggestions on places to explore.

Then, one fateful morning, I grabbed my iPad to watch a movie. I remember it was very quiet in the house. It was a weekend. I was up early and the rest of the house was still sleeping. With headphones plugged in, I raised the volume. For some reason, I decided to poke into Stuck On Earth before firing up Netflix. And then, at near full volume ... "Welcome back, Scott."

I jumped. Not just emotionally. I physically jumped. I hadn't been that startled in years. Cut to the cartoon scene where a guy gets scared and jumps off the floor so fast his shoes and socks stay in place. A few moments later, the same guy falls back to earth, sliding back into his socks and shoes.

I died a little that day. But only a little.

Now, Karen's voice isn't frightening - far from it. But in that set of circumstances - a calm, quiet house, a relaxing weekend morning, an unsuspecting me -  "Welcome back, Scott" was a shock. It may as well have been Freddy Krueger ushering me into another of his terrifying nightmares. Or a horror movie clown, sadistically taunting me, being forever-stuck in his funhouse of horrors. Just. Plain. Scary.

More than a year has passed. I'm still alive, I still use Stuck On Earth regularly, and I smile when I hear Karen. Stuck On Earth is a large part of my research workflow (a subject for an upcoming blog post). I use it when planning a shoot for a new location, or finding cool places to photograph when I'm in unfamiliar territory. If you haven't tried it out, it's worth your time to do so.

Do check the volume before you launch the app.