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April 21, 2011

Typewriter Days

Thursday. Sun this morning: bright, nice, good. To bed last night relatively early at nine, a somewhat fitful night's sleep, but a long night's sleep, so we were up with the alarm at six and out the door and back by eight having eaten what I consider to be a somewhat too large breakfast, even though I had them cut back on the size. We've gained a pound lately, we're keeping an eye on it with its demise in mind. Such is life now that I'm an old coot. Wouldn't have done that when I was younger.

I did get down to the sushi place last night for my usual fare, along with the large hot sake, of course. Whenever in the past I'd hear someone say in a movie “let's have a night cap before turning in” it never occurred to me they might be having the nightcap to facilitate their getting to sleep. Just didn't compute, the question never asked, getting to sleep then didn't require any help. Drinking had to do with something altogether else in that tunnel world of limited experience.

It also seems to make your sleep a bit uneven. I wouldn't say troubled, but I seem to wake up more often after a couple of drinks (more than a couple and you don't wake up at all). One needs to be honest about such. Upsides as well as downsides. A nightcap before turning in. Seemed precious, that line, not something I could see coming out of my mouth. More a line from a British movie where the after dinner cigars and brandy have stretched far into the evening or, the couple, having returned from the dinner party and dance, wandered over to the liquor cabinet for one last civilized taste before they retired.

You do go on about alcohol.

It pretty much qualifies as excitement around here. Probably why some photographers go and cover wars. There wouldn't otherwise be any excitement in their lives. (Or terror.) I'm just keeping an eye on it. What everyone who drinks at all does on a day to day or week to week basis. Nothing too obsessive, but after all these years we know when we're, um, approaching the line. Like driving a car. Too fast is still too fast, so slow down and avoid accidents.

Or speeding tickets.

Well yes, those too.

Later. An hour lying down, listening to the radio, considering getting out the door, but stuck on the decision of what camera and lens to take. I'm sure you go through these same existential moments of angst: which camera, which lens? How hard is a life when that's at the top of the list? Let's enjoy it as we're able, other less appealing choices are coming, one hopes not for some years, but life can be a joker when its mood is right. Even here on the steppes of Oakland not far from the arctic circle.

But again, some clouds up there, but mostly sun and a reasonable temperature. Not quite California as I know it, as I tell myself I know it, my weather memory proven not to be the best, but close enough. So pick up the camera and vamanos! (hup! hup!)

Later still. Out the door just after ten, returning to the apartment some two or so hours later, a decent walk without overdoing it. I took along the 24-120mm f 4 lens that I complained I couldn't seem to get a sharp picture from yesterday, but on the D3s, rather than the older smaller sensor D2Xs, to see if there was a difference. I usually set the ISO on the D2Xs at 100, as it doesn't manage noise nearly as well as the D3 series, the D3s routinely set when I head out during the day at ISO 400 with the aperture at f 9. Sharper? A little. Something to analyze further for someone who doesn't analyze much more than he feels he must.

Still, felt pretty good, the sinus-upper palate acting up, feeling as if I had something similar to a head cold but without the liquids: unpleasant, but not too unpleasant. The double vision of course, the world coming together if I really concentrated, but persistent. It seems to have gotten better now that I'm home, holding course in its habit of coming on in the mid to late mornings and going away at some point after noon.

What do I do routinely in the mornings that might have a part in it? I eat at the same restaurant, who knows how they cook their food; I take a set of vitamins, prescription drugs and such that I've taken now for years, no change in evidence. Such thoughts can become obsessive, best to describe them to the medicos and then let them lie.

A picture of two, nothing jumping out at me on the street. But that's OK. How many times have I walked this route, taken a cup of coffee out on the patio in front of Peet's, taken the same bus, shot the same pictures? Many, many. You're lucky if you have the eye and gumption to shoot even one, but I enjoyed this walk (double vision or no) as I usually enjoy this walk, come rain or sun. Clouds or sun. Rain is another matter.

So some guitar, I think. I'd practiced maybe half an hour or so this morning, futzed with that B7 chord I was talking about. It seems easier to play correctly, easier to hit, but we've got much road to travel before it's in hand. Much road indeed. Then again I compare it to learning to do anything that requires practice - drawing, photography, writing - it takes time, lots of time, so if you really want to play then get on with it. ( hup! hup!)

Are you preaching to the choir?

I'm preaching to the moi. The choir can well figure out its own damned direction.

Much later indeed. I'm still not moving between chords quickly enough, but it's getting better. I can see I'm fingering the chords more cleanly, the fingertips are hurting because I'm able now to position the fingers better so they press more directly down on the strings (thereby not fat fingering the strings next to them) and better callouses are forming at the fingertips in response. I play until the fingertips tell me to stop and then I play again until they do it again three or four times throughout the day. So progress is being made, but it's going to take time.

And so everybody needed to know all that? Do you have any other exciting stories where you sit and watch paint as it dries?

You get glimpses of how long it takes to learn to play one of these things, how much time and practice (and talent) a really good guitar player must have invested to do what they do, doodle-dee-do. Doesn't seem to make me want to stop, to give up, to get me down, but it's interesting to see now and again how high the climb. Like learning to type with a beat. It takes time, time, time. It did for me, anyway, thinking back on those old typewriter days.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival Parade with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70-200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens.