The Roundup for July 30-August 5, 2018 Edition

The Seat by Christopher Parsons

I’m finally back in the swing of regularly getting up, and out, to make more photos. It’s once again an almost meditative activity: the process of carefully looking at my surroundings, thinking through what might be aesthetically appealing, and then trying to push myself to realize what I see in my minds eye is deeply relaxing. It’s leading me to start looking at the world as someone involved in photography: even when I don’t have camera in hand I’m trying to ‘see’ the shots around me, the focal ranges I’d want, apertures I’d prefer, and so forth.

Strapping on my camera has also been good in getting me to walk around areas of the city that I haven’t visited in too many months or, in some cases, years. Huge parts of my city have transformed themselves in short periods of time, with new art installations scattered throughout the core, old places I liked to photograph having been torn down, and new places being built right now.

In case you’re interested in seeing more of my photos, I post them more regularly at Instagram, despite my annoyance with certain elements of that social media platform.


Inspiring Quotation of the Week

“When you take responsibility for your life, you can choose peace instead of drama, growth instead of complacency and love instead of abuse.”

– Kyle D. Jones

Great Photography Shots

I’m continually impressed with just how much can be done with smartphone cameras; a recent set from Mobiography on the topic of ‘stunningly beautiful world inspired’ photos led to some great shots.

On this dreary day, memories of Provence sunflowers make me smile‘ by Barbara Frish
Foggy morning‘ by Liz Anderson
Out of the mist they come‘ by @Rawdeb

Music I’m Digging

  • Underworld and Iggy Pop – Teatime Dub Encounters (EP) // The curious combination of electronic dub and Iggy’s mostly spoken word contributions make for a unique listening experience. I keep thinking that it reminds me, here and there, of a very very upbeat Leonard Cohen. And then a few bars later (and Iggy’s own screechy voice) and I recant that position.
  • Sam Hague – Altered Carbon (Playlist) // I loved Altered Carbon when it came out: it was the gritty cyberpunk environment that I love that was accompanied by a decent plot and sufficiently interesting characters. The original series’ soundtrack is good, but I find that Sam’s playlist does a better job at more broadly capturing the ambiance and mood that I associated with cyberpunk settings.
  • Tool – 10,000 Days // Not a new album by any stretch, but I’ve been listening to this regularly all week. I love the instrumentals in Jambi and how in-depth the instrumentals and vocals are for Wings for Marie, Pt. 1 and 10,000 Days (Wings, Pt. 2).

Neat Podcast Episodes

  • Planet Money – Venezuela’s Fugitive Money Trades // A discussion of why the current government of Venezuela is struggling to shut out groups who are providing US dollars to citizens, and the potential for the Venezuela economy to spontaneously shift default currencies to one pegged to the US dollar.
  • The Heart – No: Answers // (Part three of a four part series; trigger warning) In this episode, Kaitlin talks with men about why, and when, they ignored when when women said they wanted a given sexual activity to stop. It’s a raw, hurtful, episode to listen to. And it’s critical than discussions like this are listened to, widely, by men to understand the threats that many women have already faced, and many more fear facing in the future.
  • Lawfare – Should Humans Communicate with Aliens? // Shane Harris hosts a fun discussion about the ethics of communicating with foreign beings, and works through a series of different thought experiments with his guests (e.g. what if we get a message from 50,000 years ago? What if spaceships suddenly appear over our cities?). One thing that stuck with me was that we are likely to be deeply challenged in speaking with any visitors; we can’t current communicate with intelligent life forms on Earth such as dolphins, whales, or octopi; why do we think we’ll be any more successful with beings not of this earth?
  • Wag the Dog – Dark, Dirty, and Disruptive // A new episodic and intermittent CanadaLand podcast, Allison Smith and Jonathan Goldsbie look over what Doug Ford has done since becoming Premier of Ontario, and what those actions means for how Ford will govern and Ontario likely fare under his dictates.

Good Reads for the Week

  • The most relaxing vacation you can take is going nowhere // I’m anticipating a staycation at some point in the coming year or so, and have a list of specific things I want to do (mainly engage in photography around the city, where I’m unlikely to otherwise venture out to). Friends of mine have taken these for years and swear by their relaxing quality; while I don’t want to give up travelling for vacation, I also want to find ways of appreciating where I live that much more.
  • At any given time in their lives, people have two dozen regular haunts // Based on research, scientists have found that humans seem to have an upper limit of places that they regularly visit or spend time at. This research makes me want to think through the different places I regularly frequent and determine just how many frequent haunts I really do have, as well as when they change and perhaps why.
  • Inside the World of Racist Science Fiction // An insightful look at how the tropes of white nationalist literature now pervade the very language used by the White House.
  • Photo of Kissing Gay Couple Sparks Controversy at One of Brazil’s Most Important and Iconic Tourist Sites // Sometimes people ask how they can be an ally of a group they support, but do not belong to; this business owner shows how it can be done.
  • Your IoT security concerns are stupid // Robert Graham has a very contrarian position on IoT security: the issue isn’t patching or DNS, but something we can’t really see yet. Solving for old problems in policy is going to cost more than the benefit and, so, he argues we should let technologists just solve things at market speed instead of waiting for politics to catch up.
  • When Rio Tinto Met China’s Iron Hand // A truly stunningly detailed investigative report that unpacks how Chinese security and intelligence services are weaponized against foreign companies. Particularly noteworthy is the decision by Rio Tinto to maintain dealings with Chinese companies despite knowing they are compromised and targeted: the lure of profits mean that they will continue to negotiate and contract despite being at gross informational disadvantages.
  • Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal // When Google left the Chinese market it was heralded as a demonstration of how corporations could, and should, behave to advance human rights. Google’s plans to return to China are a serious, and painful, blow to those who have campaigned for internet freedom and human rights across the world.
  • Jeff Bezos’s $150 Billion Fortune Is a Policy Failure // The Atlantic argues that Bezos’ fortunes are the result of economic policies that disenfranchise those least well off in society while, simultaneously, externalizing the costs of wage depression and associated health challenges to the public purse. While the article concludes by arguing Bezos, himself, hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong I don’t think this holds up to the article’s own assessment of Amazon: a history of deliberately busting union-organizing, promoting non-compete agreements to inhibit worker mobility, and efforts to avoid paying taxes are all indications that the company — and Bezos by extension — is more interested in exploiting persons and localities than ?supporting the communities that it’s located within. Communities, like the humans they employ, are merely disposable assets.
  • The World Economy Runs on GPS. It Needs a Backup Plan // GPS is critical to almost all aspects of contemporary life. While Russia and the EU, along with China, have or are deploying their equivalents to reduce their dependence of American system, those very systems are vulnerable to interference that could shut down vast swathes of our lives. This is an issue that all governments need to seriously address, and soon, rather than just waiting until something bad happens.

The Roundup for July 23-29, 2018 Edition

Stay Frosty by Christopher Parsons

For several months it’s been hard for me to get out and take photos. Not because I didn’t have the time but I wasn’t in the right state of mind to work through the challenges in my life through shutter therapy. In the past few weeks I’ve pushed myself out to take a few photowalks and they’ve been immensely helpful in just helping me to slow down, to get into a different-than-normal creative flow, and to create things that I find captivating and beautiful. And, in the process, it’s been helpful to reflect on the past, the present, and contemplate my future.

For the past several months I wanted to avoid excessively taking photos to avoid capturing that time in amber; instead, I wanted to have memories develop that would fade and twist and turn over the coming years. I wanted to avoid capturing too many images that might, in time, come to feel painful upon reflection and consideration. I don’t know if this was the ‘correct’ decision or whether I’ll regret not spending more time to capture more images. Regardless, that die is cast.

At least for now, I’m motivated to get back out and shoot, often with particular aims and ends and shots in mind. One of the things that I’m finding most curious is that in returning to certain locations that I trend towards in the city, I’m not necessarily seeing them in different ways but, instead, seeing the breadth of scenes slightly differently. That is, I’m not just seeing the ‘kind’ of image that I’d like to make in a given location; I’m also seeing how to try and get that image, and a series of different techniques that might let me accomplish that goal. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve been successful in achieving many of those shots but I’m getting a lot more of them, now, than I ever would have a year or so ago.


I had a small moment of digital indigestion over at my professional site this week – a maintenance update didn’t take, leaving my site in a permanent state of ‘This site is temporary unavailable for maintenance’ – and fortunately the Internet had me covered to quickly fix the problem.


Inspiring Quotation of the Week

“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”

– Albert Einstein

Great Photography Shots

The shots that won in the iPhone Photography Awards this year are, as always, stunning. It’s really amazing to see how much can be done with the relative small sensors in contemporary mobile phones.

Music I’m Digging

  • blackbear – cybersex // I’m really appreciating the fusion of solid beats and good flow across the majority of the album.
  • Jazz Cartier – Fleurever // I’ve only listened to this a few times through at this point, and while I think that I prefer his earlier album Hotel Paranoia the beats and flow, again, are great in this. The opening — with a reference to Spadina station in Toronto — was really eerie when I first heard it; I’d thought I started listening to something entirely unlike what I thought was coming.

Neat Podcast Episodes

  • Dear Sugars – Trust Your Body // This is a strong episode from Dear Sugars, with solid examinations of the kinds of body issues that people carry with them, the rationales behind them, and ways in which our bodies react to our being in the world. While the emphasis is on destigmatizing our perceptions of the body, I found that it was equally helpful to just think through the ways in which we inhabit our bodies and why.
  • Song Exploder – Action Bronson – The Chairman’s Intent // I’m not going to lie: “The Chairman’s Intent” is far from a good song. The lyrics are…poor. But the beat is pretty impressive and, more generally, I found it interesting to hear the producer and artist talk through how over-the-top they perceived the song as they were getting it ready.
  • The Daily – Which to Believe: Trump’s Words, or His Acts? // In a start admittance, the Secretary of State was led to assert that Trump’s words meant little compared to actions and, upon realizing what he was saying, retreated quickly from that position. However, what was asserted was how members of the administration have been talking about Trump — and how persons surrounding the administration have been reassuring allies since Trump’s election — and that there is considered a problem in admitting to the public what we already know just further indicates the chaos built into the current administrations behaviours and associations with trust.
  • Planet Money – The One-Page Plan to Fix Global Warming Revisited // This is a superb overview of the rationales for a carbon tax and is helpful for showcasing how idiotic is that conservative populist leaders in Canada and the United States alike are abandoning a solution that would economically motivate the world towards a less carbon-intensive future.

Good Reads for the Week

  • Seeing My Body With Fresh Eyes // This is a beautiful personal essay that showcases the challenges of dealing with our bodies and the value of positive affirmations by those near to you. As someone who suffered negative body issues for years, issues which were exacerbated by persons who were close to me and deeply critical of my appearance, I can say that time spent with a loving partner who was supportive of my body made a huge difference in recuperating my own sense of self, and in finding comfort and safety in the body I inhabit.
  • Tony // This is a wonderful telling of who Tony Bourdain was, through the eyes and using the words of one of America’s best storytellers. It captures the heart of who Bourdain was and why his death is a loss for us all.
  • The SIM Hijackers // An long form piece of journalism that examines how easy it is to hijack your phone number, and the consequences of a malicious operator doing just that. In effect, there is the high potential for the operator to subsequently gain access to your online accounts regardless of whether you’ve set up two factor authentication.
  • Kinder Morgan company used private investigators to monitor pipeline protestors. Here’s how it worked // A detailed investigation into how Kinder Morgan — and now, perhaps, the federal government of Canada — uses private investigators to spy on protestors so as to obtain evidence used to strengthen penalties against those who participate in peaceful civil disobedience.
  • Beat Generosity Burnout // ”Generosity means caring about others, but not at the expense of caring for yourself. By protecting yourself from exhaustion, you may feel less altruistic. Yet you will actually end up giving more.”
  • Why I’m Deleting All My Old Tweets // I deleted a lot of old tweets earlier this year, and just went through the process of deleting almost all of them. Twitter is deliberately designed to be a reactive medium and, as such, I tend to regard it as a medium that should be relatively ephemeral. It’s a shame Twitter themselves haven’t set up their service such that tweets over a certain age are automatically deleted/archived/removed from public view.
  • When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life // An investigation by Gizmodo which showcases how much harm random strangers can cause, and how such harm is sometimes linked to a lack of empathy between persons communicating over social media.
  • Behind the Messy, Expensive Split Between Facebook and WhatsApp’s Founders // Facebook: ruining otherwise good applications and services since it began acquiring them. In the absence of the pro-privacy founders of WhatsApp, who had designed the service to be profitable but not as profitable as Facebook desires, WhatsApp will now “be run by Chris Daniels, a longtime Facebook executive who is tasked with finding a business model that brings in revenue at a level to justify the app’s purchase price, without damaging the features that make it so popular.” Expect the app to suck, fast, and for people to hate it as much as they do Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s social media platform and, increasingly, Instagram itself.
  • How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies // This is the second piece I’ve read in recent history on the counterintelligence operations that the FBI undertakes in Silicon Valley. The article specifically speaks to some of the methods used by Russian, Chinese, Israeli, French, and South Korean intelligence services, and the rationales driving different kinds of operations. If you’re interested in the significance of intelligence and counterintelligence operations in the United States then this article’s for you.

Cool Things

The Roundup for June 16-July 1, 2018 Edition

Monsterous Weather by Christopher Parsons

The past few weeks have been clustered with travel across Canada for work and personal reasons, and a lot of packing as I prepare to move a few kilometres in my city. (I suspect it won’t be until after I move that things settle down and return to a more regular posting schedule.)

I’ve made a small change in this Edition that I’ll be carrying forward in all future roundups: beside each link is a little more information about the item in question to clarify what will be found on the other end of the link. I hope you like it.

 


Inspiring Quotation of the Week

A person’s dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity.

  • Pope Francis

Great Photography Shots

Daniel Mercadante’s light photography is just magical.

Music I’m Digging

  • The Carters – Everything Is Love//This might be the surprise album of the season, with APESHIT looking like it might be the Hotline Bling of 2018.
  • Jay Rock – Redemption//I hadn’t come across his work in the past, and it’s slowly starting to grow on me.
  • NAS – Nasir//I can’t pretend to appreciate many of NAS’ lyrics — the nonsense he writes about vaccines, in particular, are frustrating at best — but in terms of flow NAS’s new album is pretty terrific.

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

  • Interview with Ragnar Axelssom//An interesting, if sad, interview with a photographer who’s watched climate change damage and destroy otherwise pristine northern environments.
  • Instagram’s Wannabe-Stars Are Driving Luxury Hotels Crazy//More and more companies are capitulating to ‘influencers’ coming to promote their businesses. But to no one’s surprise, many of those so-called influencers really just want a free trip and a place to take swimsuit shots.
  • 8 Men on What It Was Like When Their Partner Had an Abortion//An honest account of the often complicated, and hard to express, feelings pro-choice men have in cases of unintended pregnancies.
  • Friends and enemies: Reacting to Apple’s privacy stance//”Is Apple your friend? No. Of course not. It’s a company that sells stuff. But, right now at least, it’s an ally. And The Macalope doesn’t know about anyone else, but he’s not clear on the rationale behind the “Always shoot your allies first” policy.”
  • The Death of a Once Great City: The fall of New York and the urban crisis of affluence//This is an ode to the downfall of New York that has been brought about by speculative land development, rising property taxes, and a hollowing out of what made the city itself. But the same thing could be written for any of the cities that are now experiencing hyper-inflated rent increases, declines of social and public services, and a general shift toward transient populations over permanent residents. What will become of these cities in ten or twenty years time?
  • Canadian winemaker Norman Hardie accused of sexual misconduct//The Globe & Mail’s investigation of sexual impropriety in the food and beverage business has revealed that one of Canada’s more notable winemakers has a long history of harassing women. And, once more, the reporting reveals that basic power imbalances led women to just leave bad situations instead of feeling like they could demand accountability and justice. If there is any silver lining, it’s that the story is coming out, now, and that there were at least some persons who refused to have business transactions with Hardie after realizing what he did to women who were around him. Sadly, such refusals were often premised on a personal realization of the truth of the behaviours: the men who stopped doing business with Hardie didn’t choose to believe women from the get-go.
  • A Janitor Preserves the Seized Belongings of Migrants//Looking at these everyday items which were (and are) seized and discarded by American border authorities I’m reminded of a Canada 150 exhibit where the contents of migrants’ bags were presented. Many of the ‘inconsequential’ things like rice, or toilet paper, held incredible value for those making the trip to Canada; while they might have been ‘inconsequential’ to the eyes of Canadian authorities, I’m very happy that we didn’t take away those things that provided a sense of security to the persons migrating to Canada.
  • How Tidal Got So Fucked//A deep dive into the problematic business practices associated with Tidal, Jay-Z’s music stream service. The title of the article is entirely apt.
  • It Can Happen Here //”In their different ways, Mayer, Haffner, and Jarausch show how habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness make terrible things possible. They call attention to the importance of individual actions of conscience both small and large, by people who never make it into the history books.”
  • Explaining the ‘Mystery’ of Numbers Stations//A great deep dive into how messages are decoded from numbers stations, as well as whom has used them and to what effect.
  • Intel and the Danger of Integration//Intel has been stumbling for years now, as evidenced in the inability of companies like Apple re reliably provide new processors with meaningful changes into their product lines for the past several years. At the same time, other chip designers and foundries are racing ahead of Intel. Thompson’s article does a good job in laying out how Intel got into its current conundrum and the corresponding implications.

The Roundup for April 14-20, 2018 Edition

Walkways by Christopher Parsons

Earlier this year, I suggested that the current concerns around Facebook data being accessed by unauthorized third parties wouldn’t result in users leaving the social network in droves. Not just because people would be disinclined to actually leave the social network but because so many services use Facebook.

Specifically, one of the points that I raised was:

3. Facebook is required to log into a lot of third party services. I’m thinking of services from my barber to Tinder. Deleting Facebook means it’s a lot harder to get a haircut and impossible to use something like Tinder.

At least one company, Bumble, is changing its profile confirmation methods: whereas previously all Bumble users linked their Facebook information to their Bumble account for account identification, the company is now developing their own verification system. Should a significant number of companies end up following Bumble’s model then this could have a significant impact on Facebook’s popularity, as some of the ‘stickiness’ of the service would be diminished.1

I think that people moving away from Facebook is a good thing. But it’s important to recognize that the company doesn’t just provide social connectivity: Facebook has also made it easier for businesses to secure login credential and (in others cases) ‘verify’ identity.2 In effect one of the trickiest parts of on boarding customers has been done by a third party that was well resourced to both collect and secure the data from formal data breaches. As smaller companies assume these responsibilities, without the equivalent to Facebook’s security staff, they are going to have to get very good, very fast, at protecting their customers’ information from data breaches. While it’s certainly not impossible for smaller companies to rise to the challenge, it won’t be a cost free endeavour, either.

It will be interesting to see if more companies move over to Bumble’s approach or if, instead, businesses and consumers alike merely shake their heads angrily at Facebook’s and continue to use the service despite its failings. For what it’s worth, I continue to think that people will just shake their heads angrily and little will actually come of the Cambridge Analytica story in terms of affecting the behaviours and desires of most Facebook users, unless there are continued rapid and sustained violations of Facebook users’ trust. But hope springs eternal and so I genuinely do hope that people shift away from Facebook and towards more open, self-owned, and interesting communications and networking platforms.


Thoughtful Quotation of the Week

The brands themselves aren’t the problem, though: we all need some stuff, so we rely on brands to create the things we need. The problem arises when we feel external pressure to acquire as if new trinkets are a shortcut to a more complete life. That external pressure shouldn’t be a sign to consume. If anything, it’s a sign to pause and ask, “Who am I buying this for?”

Great Photography Shots

I was really stunned by Zsolt Hlinka’s architectural photography, which was featured on My Modern MET.

Music I’m Digging

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

Cool Things

Footnotes

  1. I think that the other reasons I listed in my earlier post will still hold. Those points were:

    1. Few people vote. And so they aren’t going to care that some shady company was trying to affect voting patterns.
    2. Lots of people rely on Facebook to keep passive track of the people in their lives. Unless communities, not individuals, quit there will be immense pressure to remain part of the network.

  2. I’m aware that it’s easy to establish a fake Facebook account and that such activity is pretty common. Nevertheless, an awful lot of people use their ‘real’ Facebook accounts that has real verification information, such as email addresses and phone numbers.

The Roundup for March 10-23, 2018 Edition

Granada Cathedral by Christopher Parsons

For many years I’ve kept paper records of the things I’ve done in a given week. The rationale for keeping track is that I can be very busy, get a lot of real work done, but quickly forget about it because I routinely task shift between major projects. The result of this shifting is that I often produce thousands of words a week and forget about them once published. Keeping records has helped to ameliorate this forgetfulness problem.

In more recent years, rather than letting my week get filled up with ‘what I’ve done’ I’ve developed lists to try and keep me focused on the most important things. That has worked reasonably well, save that a lot of ‘extras’ get added to my week and then I’d typically just list them down with all of the planned tasks. So it looked like I was getting a lot done but, when I reviewed those lists a few weeks or months later, I couldn’t determine which were intentional versus unintentional tasks. During this period I also started to have a master list of my professional and personal objectives for a given week, and crossed them off as I finished them up. Tasks that didn’t get done tended to be moved to the subsequent week and, at the end of a work week, I’d have a short narrative explanation for what I did, why I did it, and how I felt about my professional and personal life during that period of time. That narrative component was important because it forced me to reflect at the end of the week on how the week had gone: pure lists didn’t compel that kind of introspection and, as such, weren’t as helpful for facilitating my personal development.

This year, things are (again) slightly different. I’ve separated out personal and professional tasks, for one: I continue to maintain a professional notebook but instead of also including a long list of my personal goals for the week, only highlight the top two or three personal items. I also have a section in my professional notebook for ‘extras’, or things which other people place on my schedule and which I accomplish in a given week. This helps me to segregate out how much of my work — and work accomplishments — are ‘mine’ versus belonging to others.

I also now have a pair of ‘personal’ notebooks; one is very tiny and travels everywhere with me. In addition to goal tracking I use it to record highlights from some books I’m reading, record useful quotations, or otherwise collect mental items that I want to retain longer-term. At the end of each week I move the items on the task list into my long-term personal notebook; other items (e.g. quotations, book notes, etc) are moved over when appropriate, such as when I’m done with reading a book for personal development and have concluded taking notes from it. On the Sunday or Monday of each week (i.e. very end of one week or very beginning of the next) I undertake a narrative reflection on how my personal life unfolded.

I’ve found that this system has been helpful for advancing my projects. It means that my work projects are always moving ahead a little each week, or that a single project enjoys a significant advancement if I almost entirely concentrate on it. Because I have a deliberate system planned out I can always find something else ‘productive’ to do if I’m stuck on a task or complete the element of a project I’d assigned myself in a given week. Having a deliberate series of tasks to complete also helps me to say ‘no’ to requests: if it’s important, and will take some time, then it gets moved to next week’s ‘todo’ instead of being taken up right away.1 In tandem with maintaining a deliberate task list I’ve taken to recording monthly highlights: I go through and identify the major victories over a given month (e.g. writing, speaking, planning, etc); this is useful to capture what I’ve been up to in a given month as well as to potentially advocate for pay cheque increases when my contract is renewed.

On the personal side, the system I’ve adopted of establishing weekly goals means I’m genuinely working on my more measurable yearly goals. It also means that I can always identify something ‘productive’ that I can spend time on, rather than just burning away a lot of time playing video games or watching Netflix. That’s not to say that all of my personal time is spent working! Projects I assign myself can range from reading fiction a few times in a given week, working through a backlog of high-quality magazine articles, exercising, or just organizing/cleaning my home. The point is to spend my personal time more deliberately, not to cut myself off from things that bring me joy and pleasure.

So far this system has served me well and keeps me relatively well grounded in my personal and professional life. It’s not as complicated or ornate as some of the task management systems that other people use. It doesn’t entail scheduling each and every second of my day, because I know that such organization systems just won’t work for me. It also means that there remains a lot of ‘gap’ time that’s filled with miscellaneous activities and opportunities, meaning that my life is relatively self-scheduled without being over-scheduled.

What system have you found works best, for you, to advance your professional and personal goals, projects, and objectives?


Quotation of the Week

“I strongly believe that the amount of love and care you put into a project is always apparent. Even if people are not conscious of it, they can sense when you have paid attention to every little detail.”

– Jocelyn K. Glei

Great Photography Shots

I really love these shots that Yuichi Yokota took of Tokyo during snowfalls.

Music I’m Digging

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

Cool Things

Footnotes

  1. I’ve been finding that if you promise you can do something, but only one week later, a lot of the miscellaneous tasks that are really about people just wanting fast work done go away, thus freeing up my schedule. Your mileage may vary.

The Roundup for March 3 – 9, 2018 Edition

Bang!
Bang! by Christopher Parsons

I’ve been on a speaking circuit this week, and so living a quasi-nomadic life. It’s a very strange experience to be shuttled between locations and across vast distances, all with only a modicum of awareness of all the places I’m scheduled to attend, persons I’ll be meeting, and expectations I will have to meet. I don’t mean to say that I don’t know why I’m travelling, or what I’ll be speaking about, but that the aspects of travel itself are often almost entire dealt with by other parties. There is no effort to determine where I need to go: someone will take me to the designated address. I don’t need to find a place to eat: I’ll be taken to where I need to eat. I don’t need to figure out where to sleep: someone else will determine that.

I contrast it with trips I take for personal relaxation and it’s a totally different experience. Tomorrow, as an example, I’ll be landing in a new place where I don’t speak the language and have no read guidance once I’m there. There are a few tent pole events — nature hikes! — but otherwise time will be entirely unoccupied with designated tasks or todos other than exploring. I actually find this kind of travel deeply uncomfortable because it feels so uncontrolled, but every time I learn a great deal more about the world, and how I should readjust my perceptions of that world.

While shuttling between places for conferences and events is intellectually stimulating it doesn’t tend to push me into uncomfortable spaces that facilitate growth. The exact opposite is true of personal travel. I half wonder, though: if I didn’t travel so often for work where things are scheduled and I’m attended to, would I prefer personal travel that had those characteristics? Would visiting resorts have some resonance if I wasn’t functionally visiting them for work on a semi-regular basis?


Great Photography Shots

I really like these simple compositions which were made with smartphones.

Pier‘ by Nikhil Kulkarni
Bird on a cold tin roof!‘ by Jaz Oldham

Music I’m Digging

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

Cool Things

The Roundup for February 24-March 2, 2018 Edition

Evening Dream
Evening Dream by Christopher Parsons

For the past few weeks I’ve been deliberately constraining my photography by shooting exclusively by a 35mm equivalent lens. This was the focal length that really convinced me that I enjoyed photography as a way of seeing and experiencing the world. I’m a big fan of zoom lenses, and keep eyeing the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 Pro lens, but I find that I learn the most about a scene by having to walk around it with a bright prime lens.

Alien Reach
Alien Reach by Christopher Parsons

When I travelled to Cuba, having to march around with a 50mm equivalent lens meant I went into entirely new places and angles that I wouldn’t have if I’d had a zoom lens to otherwise get a shot. And while I’ve previously used my 35mm equivalent, I have to admit that I’ve been far more reliant on some of my zooms and the 50mm; I just haven’t focused on learning to use the 35mm lens because there is so much more walking-by-zooming that I have to do with it compared to even my other prime lenses.

Sound Off!
Sound Off! by Christopher Parsons

But that’s silly: I enjoy the focal length, I just have to work a lot more to get things out of the camera. So I’ve been using it at night, during the day, and exclusively attached it to my camera body for the past month and intend to bring it (along with an 80-300mm equivalent lens) when I travel to South America in a week and change. I like the idea of an unobtrusive lens as my walkabout, and then the zoom for when I’ve trekking through nature. And, perhaps most importantly, I really like the idea of forcing myself to get a lot more comfortable with my current gear as a way to inhibit my desire to buy more gear: I have functionally underused equipment, and I should be playing with it, first and foremost, before even considering the purchase of new kit.


Inspiring Quotation

“We start on the path to genuine adulthood when we stop insisting on our emotional competence and acknowledge the extent to which we are – in many areas of our psyche – likely to be sharply trailing our biological age. Realising we aren’t – as yet, in subtle ways – quite adults may be the start of true maturity.”

Great Photography Shots

Mobiography’s landscape photography shots are really, really amazing and showcase just how much you can do with a contemporary smartphone and good lighting conditions.

Jagged horizon, Monument Valley…
Jagged horizon, Monument Valley… by Joseph Cyr
It’s been a good day… full of weather again..
It’s been a good day… full of weather again.. by Fi Austin
Snow & Fishing Cottages
Snow & Fishing Cottages by Jen Pollack Bianco
Windswept
Windswept by lkbside

Music I’m Digging

Neat Podcast Episodes

Good Reads for the Week

Cool Things