I didn't want to get up in the cold and the dark this morning to go outside and swim. It was a moist kind of cold that chills you quickly and wraps you in discomfort. But I didn't seem to have a choice. You see, we have new neighbors. The spent enormous amounts of money to scrape an older house off the lot next door and build a new house with lots of big windows and, for some reason, enormous television sets in nearly every room. When I say "big television sets" I mean monstrous ones that are wider than most people are tall. And they are the brightest televisions/monitors I think anyone could buy. Even though their house is two hundred feet from mine when they click on the early morning talk shows in one of the rooms facing my bedroom it's as though a psychedelic lightning storm is occurring right in our own little eco-sphere.
I don't know what time the neighbor's brilliant television set clicked on this morning but I started responding to the abrupt shift in circadian cues around 6:15 am. Way too early for anyone to be watching cable programming. The "quick cut" editing of the early morning talk shows doesn't help either. It's a series of constant cuts between one bright screen after the other.
But I was up so I grabbed a clean towel and my car keys and headed to the pool. It was still dark at 7 as I walked gingerly across the pool deck which was awash in the red glow of the digital pace clocks at each end. A puffy blanket of steam floated above the water lit from beneath by the underwater pool lights. I hopped into lane three and began the warm up. The fast lanes filled up quickly. A young woman hopped into my lane and started warming up. I'm always a bit nervous when swimming with college kids because they have boundless energy and love to push the intervals. We made it through the workout and I was satisfied that I had at least kept up with someone a third of my age in what our master's club calls, "The Varsity Practice."
I would have loved to have stopped by Starbucks for a venti "half-caff" and a warm, chocolate croissant but I wanted to get home. We were scheduled to have a sectional couch delivered in the morning and I wanted to be there to help. We only buy couches once every thirty years so it's a big deal to me. I also wanted to be on hand to slip some money to the guys from the Salvation Army who were coming to take away our old sofa. As I got close to home I could see that Belinda and Studio Dog had just started their morning walk and were halfway around the loop that runs near our house. I had just enough time to hit the kitchen, make coffee in a Keurig machine and head out with a to-go cup and meet them for the next leg of their walk. Studio Dog was pretty happy to see me. I'm a soft touch when it comes to handing out treats...
The delivery people from the furniture store were here early and did a nice job getting the sections of the couch in, unwrapped and set up. We inspected everything and gave them a "thumbs up." A few minutes later the guys from the Salvation Army came and looked at the old sofa. "Today is your lucky day! We'll take it." they said. We breathed a sigh of relief because who really knows how to get rid of an old sofa in this day and age? Especially a sleeper sofa that weighs too much. Once all the non-family members cleared out Belinda and I took turns making subtle changes in our furniture arrangements. I knew that the couch was just an opening feint in a new acquisition binge as we started talking about new chairs, a new rug and the idea of perhaps refinishing the hardwood floors.
I finally made it out to the studio/office where I was curious to see if I'd gotten any more results from an e-mail marketing campaign I embarked on last week. To date I've gotten three bid requests, one from as far away as Boston, and several dozen, "Beautiful Work!!!!" responses. I did my mailer differently this time. I sent out 500+ messages and each one was sent individually. Personalized notes included, where appropriate. I think bulk e-mails tend to get spam filtered but I have no real data to back up that presumption. I am happy with the initial response and I took a few more minutes to look over a greeting card (physical) mailer that I'm sending off to Overnight Prints later today. I'll have 500 cards printed, we'll stuff them into envelopes and mail them to the same list as the e-mail blast, as a follow up.
I went back into the house to take another look at the couch and to wake up Ben. He and I are meeting my advertising mentor-friend, Mike, for Chinese food at 1 pm. He's known Ben since forever and he thought it would be nice to have a meal together before we bundle the boy up and send him back to college in the frigid Northeast. Funny, my old sofa is out. My kid is leaving again and I'm going to have to get used to a new piece of furniture. I'm certain Studio Dog will help me break it in.
Just as in every previous year I am in the danger zone when it comes to gear. A year has come and gone and I spent it mostly doing jobs with the smaller format cameras. For the most part they worked well. Especially for video. But while I sit here and wait for clients to get fired up again after a long holiday of non-work I wonder if I should change everything up again and dive head first into something crazy like the Pentax 645Z or the Nikon D810. It's dangerous to be adrift for too long. I start over analyzing everything and making all kinds of photographic contingency plans.
I'm just back from lunch and I've already been on phone to Precision Camera to talk about trade ins. Here's the root of today's first world problem: I can't find anything in the drawers that I dislike enough to trade in. I was thinking about the Panasonic GH4 system till I watched some 4K test footage earlier. That stuff is too good to lose money on. The EM-5's? Now way. They're going too cheap and they are too much fun to have into the bargain.
I guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way and just buy new stuff when the old stuff breaks. It could take a while. I'll think about the 2015 gear inventory later, right now Studio Dog has made the brilliant suggestion that I join her on the new couch for a nap. Now that seems like an intelligent priority. I guess nothing gets traded or acquired today.