I hear bells or how technology will drive you crazy

Computers and cell phones…whatcha gonna do? I was being driven nuts by a jingling bicycle bell sound for about three days. It was very non directional. I would hear it intermittently when I was using my computer. I turned the computer off and waited – no bell. Got back online and searched for a solution. After following a virtual plethora of useless suggestions I gave up. Several hours elapsed and again I heard the bell. This time it seemed to be coming from elsewhere in the house. I checked all over the house to no avail. Went to use the bathroom and guess what? The bell sounded again. I wasted the better part of the day trying to track it down, No matter where I went the bell sounded like it came from somewhere else.  Funny thing, no one else heard the sound. This went on for several days. I didn’t hear the bell at all the next morning. I pretty much decided that at some time I would be in the right place at the right time and find the damn thing.  I got ready and left for Historic Flight for the afternoon. I picked up lunch to go and drove to Paine Field. I parked in a lot where I could watch airplanes on the runway. In the middle of lunch I heard the bell. It was my F*****G phone. Relieved that I wasn’t suffering from a mental breakdown I turned off all of the sounds/alarms except the ring tone. Problem solved! How the bicycle bell sound was selected on the phone I have no clue. I am just happy not to be hearing it anymore!

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When I’m 64

 

Will you still need me? Will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?  Well, at seventy-one I am way passed that point.  Now I shop for shoes with velcro closures, wear suspenders, walk a bit slower and sometimes forget if I have taken my pills (there are a lot more of those these days).  When entering a restaurant the first thing I do is locate the restrooms.  My sensitivity to cold is more acute.  Two of the more frequent visitors to my circle of companions are aches and pains.  My outlook is much clearer….mainly due to cataract surgery.

All things considered life is not that bad. I have the love of family and friends and a cat who insists he needs to be petted while I am typing this.  What my seventh decade will be like I do not know.  I will try to take the bumps as gracefully as possible and appreciate the small things more.  While I do long for the good times gone by I am excited about the possibilities to come.

I must close now to get a bite to eat so I can take that back pill.

New Old Hobbies

porterIn addition to photography I have renewed interests in a couple of other hobbies since retirement: model railroading and pocket knives.  The focus of my model railroading  is narrow gauge railroads of the 1920s – early 1940s. I am acquiring/building equipment. I hope to start building a modest layout in the near future.

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The pocket knife collection has gained a few modern “classics” from Schatt & Morgan, Northwoods and Great Eastern Cutlery. My favorite piece is a Buck folder signed by Chuck Buck, a gift from my friend Ray.  There are a few knives from Case, Spyderco, MCUSTA, Ontario, ESEE,  KA-BAR, Camillus, Victorinox, Wenger and Boker. I also have a few fixed blades. I think  I am pretty happy with my collection, unless I see something extraordinary the collection will not grow any more. I want to enjoy what I have. As Spock said, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but is often true.”

A Tail of Two Cats

It was the best of times, it was the…. oops, wrong story.

We last had a cat about 17 years ago and have been talking about getting another pet. Last year I made some inquires with a few local cat breeders, but there were no kittens available. On August 9th we went to the Seattle Humane Society’s Catapalooza event to check out the cats. We definitely were only going to look.
At the adoption center we walked around and looked at the various available pets. I found a shorthair tabby named Jack that was extremely outgoing. He never stopped rubbing my hand while I was petting him. I picked him up with no problem – some cats do not like to be picked up. Kate and the kids also looked at Jack and seemed to bond with him very quickly.
We decided to adopt Jack and filled out the paperwork. When we sat down with a staff member we learned that Jack was closely bonded with his brother Nikki and they had to be adopted as a pair. At that time we didn’t think we wanted two cats. We walked around some more and thought we might look at Jack’s brother who was hiding behind the cat furniture when we were looking at Jack. We talked to the staff member again and requested to see Nikki. He turned out to be a big cat with much the same coloration as his brother.
After a short discussion and encouragement from our daughter (she has two cats), we decided to take the plunge. We are glad we took these two guys home. They are currently staying in a bathroom until they get used to us. They come out for short periods under supervision to explore their new home.
Jack and Nikki have great personalities. Jack is the intrepid explorer. He sticks his nose into everything and is very active. He is never too busy to come over to be petted and have a conversation. Nikki is more of the gentle giant. He is 17 pounds of lap filling love. He has bonded with Kate and has quickly become her baby. He waits for her to get home and spends the evening snuggled up next to Kate in her chair.

Jack

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Nikki

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The Blues

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As the holiday season approaches the pressure seems to take a sharp rise. Exactly what the pressure is I am not sure. Perhaps the pressure is caused by the expectations I place on myself. For the last few years the holidays have brought a feeling of emptiness. Yes, I am with my wife and children and am thankful. Many years ago there was a bit of magic associated with this time of year. I often blame the blues I experience on the extreme commercialization that takes place months before the holidays. When I was a child there was not a sign of Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Now it seems to be unusual for Christmas displays not to appear before Halloween is over.

I have experienced depression for many years if not all of my adult life. Recently I participated in a depression and anxiety group. I learned that as bad as I thought my depression was it was pretty much minor league. There are some who have crawled into a hole and have begun to pull the dirt in on themselves. At least these individuals recognized their depression and sought help. I learned that depression is a downward spiral fueled by one’s own thoughts. In the group we were given tools to recognize depression and what triggers it. We practiced techniques to fight and help prevent depression.

There is a well-known prayer that asks for the strength to change what we are able to and accept what we cannot change. Acceptance is not always pleasant or easy. I can change my perception of the world and the people around me. Life is not waiting for the storm to clear. Life is learning to dance in the rain.

I am aware that I will never be completely free of depression. I do know that I will be okay. I also know I am loved and for me, that is enough.

My friend Bill

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I met my friend Bill around 20 years ago when we lived in Lynnwood, WA. We both shared an interest in photography. Bill and I made the step into digital cameras around the same time. He chose a Sony and I went with a Minolta. When we both upgraded to DSLR cameras Bill went with the Sigma SD9 and I the Canon 10D. We did a lot of photography together. The only area we didn’t see eye to eye on was politics, Bill the conservative and I the liberal. In spite of that we had a great friendship. Bill was always there when needed to help with something or just a friend to talk to. Bill and his wife moved to Oregon a few years back into a home they owned and had rented out for years. As often happens when people move away we didn’t see much of each other. Phone calls and emails became our main means of communication. Bill’s wife Gail stayed with us several times when she was in the area visiting friends. My wife and Gail have remained very close over the years. We drove to Oregon a couple of times to visit.

The last time I saw Bill was in January of this year. The visit was short due to Bill’s health. He was diagnosed with a form of leukemia shortly before moving to Oregon. He finally succumbed to the health problems he had been fighting over the years. Last night we had a very short but thunderous storm. The lights flickered and even darkened for a moment after a rather loud thunderclap. This morning we learned that Bill had died last night. That storm had been Bill’s 21 gun salute.

 

Farewell to my dear Bessa(s)

I have used film cameras for most of my life. Starting with a Kodak Brownie and ending up with Nikon SLRs.  A while after I was using digital cameras I purchased a Voigtländer Bessa R3A made by Cosina in Japan.  This eventually grew into a collection of three camera bodies and seven lenses.  I was totally committed to using these great little rangefinders and excellent lenses.  The results I was getting with film seemed to be better than the output of my digital gear, at least in terms of dynamic range.  I was scanning the negatives first with a Canon FS4000US film scanner and then later with a Nikon Coolscan V.  I was in love with film photography and my Voigtländer rangefinder cameras.  For those who have not used a 35mm rangefinder camera, there is a certain romance, a connection with famous photographers and a feeling of exclusiveness when shooting with one of these beauties. The king of rangefinders is the Leica. The Leica rangefinder is a piece of art you can take photographs with.  If you own a Leica you have the crème de la crème of cameras.  Everything about them exudes quality and craftsmanship.  This does demand something from the photographer – a significant amount of cash.

This is where the Cosina made Voigtländer comes in.  For a much smaller amount of hard earned dollars one can experience the joy of rangefinder photography. These are not the same German built beauties that bear the Leica brand. The Voigtländer is a blue collar camera and a great of bang for the buck. They are the children of a camera loving gentleman who happens to run Cosina.  I was able to accumulate my modest rangefinder gear for less than the price of a current Leica rangefinder body.

This now brings me to the point of the story.  With my entry into the world of micro four thirds photography my beloved Bessa rangefinders were taken out into the daylight less and less. It came to mind recently that they had not been used in two years. I did a lot of rationalization and finally last week made the decision to sell or trade my rangefinders.  They served me faithfully once more and delivered enough cash value to purchase a couple of new lenses for my newer cameras. Lenses that I would not have been able to afford otherwise. Today when I was using one of my new lenses I was thinking of my Bessas.

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