I rarely have nostalgia for a camera or lens that's gone but I always have nostalgia for a time, opportunity or era that's slipped away.


Olympus EPL-2 + 40-150mm kit lens.

I think a lot of my personal practice of churning through gear is a manifestation of my sadness and frustration, lately, at the way I used to do things is dissolving under the grind of a pandemic and also the worsening economic conditions of so many.  

The pandemic has forced us to don on masks that cover faces (and smiles) while social distancing retards the process of finding and working with new talent. But more than that; there's been an emotional change in people that's minimizing their flexibility and proclivity to go outside their basic daily routines. It's a survival instinct of sorts. As people lose jobs they have to concentrate on getting new jobs or interim work to make ends meet. Even people who've kept their jobs are having to channel more and more of their free time into making new processes and responsibilities work in the new, online workplace. When you add in the responsibility for taking care of children throughout the day while trying to do everything else it's little wonder that most no longer have the bandwidth to be a willing participant in someone else's ego projects. 

In Travis County, where I live infection rates of Covid-19 are still very high. It just feels wrong to ask friends or acquaintances to drop over and sit in a small studio for a while to be photographed. It also feels wrong to ask them to take off their faces masks for the process. If my rate of photographing people was falling off before then the pandemic of the last year pushed the number of fun portrait engagements off the edge of a very high cliff. 

When we face this kind of extraordinary downtime from our projects I think I tend to get into neurotic patterns of over preparing for future opportunities. To translate a bit: If an S1R is a great, square format portrait camera would it be possible that an SL2 would be even better?

I know, intellectually and rationally, that there's no reason under the (dark and cold) sun for me to go out and spend more money on gear since it's equipment that will mostly lay fallow in a drawer somewhere, or get pressed into the role of glorified jewelry, for the present time. It would make much more sense for me to just park the funds somewhere and wait for the inevitable thaw that will come with vaccinations and other means. But, as an irrational human I'm sure the acquisition of different or better gear feels, on some evolutionary level, as though I'm engaged in preparing for the future. 

The sun is out today and the temperatures are supposed to climb up to the 70's. That's 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The nice weather is most welcome. We're still boiling our drinking water but we were much luckier than people all over the state who've had countless pipes burst and no access to water at all. 

I'm sure you've read somewhere in the national news that when the republicans in Texas de-regulated the power industry a decade or so back it brought into existence the choice for many of either staying with a traditional provider, such as the city of Austin, or opting by go with a private industry provider who would sell you energy at the actual wholesale cost. Many people who did not understand the arcane fine points of the contracts they were signing benefitted in the short term by paying less, overall, during the year than customers on traditional, city regulated plans. But during this last cold snap we also had a supply failure in the natural gas markets and natural gas is the bulk fuel of our power generation in Texas. As supplies dwindled to "next to nothing" status the cost per kilowatt soared. Spiked insanely. And now the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of customers who thought they'd signed up for a great bargain are starting to see monthly bills as high as $17,000 for a normal-sized single family residence. To be fair, most are "only" getting hit with MONTHLY bills in the $6,000 to $7,000 range. 

Politicians are scrambling to cover their asses but the way the contracts were written it's going to be hard for many people to recover these outrageous amounts, some of which were set up on direct bill pay and are already sucked out of people's accounts. The legislators will posture, blame windmills (less than 18% of the overall power grid) and give their fellow Texans "Thoughts and Prayers" which I have come to understand means: "You're fucked and there's nothing I can or will do for you".

So, added to cold, thirsty and hungry, Texan can now also experience... bankruptcy. All as a result of a vicious, anti-government, bargain with the "devil." And to think that it only took a week to bring an entire state to its knees. Nothing like twenty solid years of bad, selfish governance to ruin a perfectly good state. 

At some point one's subconscious tickles the brain with the realization that you have no control over any of this. There's nothing you can do to change the giant hellscape. You can only help your neighbors and take care of your family. And work to change a severely broken system by voting out the scoundrels. 

Why were power providers so unprepared in Texas? They didn't have the money to pay for winterizing and to pay for adding more supply. Why didn't they have the money even though they are for profit enterprises? Well Texans are about to find out that bribes, kick backs and "campaign donations" are expensive, and after you've paid off all the sticky fingers there's very little left. If there is very little $$$ left do you think the CEOs of these power generation companies will waste it on "people?" Naw, it goes right into their pockets and the hell with everyone else. 

And today, as the snow all melts away and the temperatures get back to normal, I think that my compulsion to buy gear is a source of comfort, and a delusional feeling that I can control at least one facet of my day-to-day existence. When the power goes out, the water runs dry, the temperatures drop, at least I will be able to curl up with my new camera and dream about better days ahead. Kinda sad.

For all of you living in real civilizations, in countries that would never allow people with 6th grade educations to be enticed into signing binding contracts with terms even college economics professors can't fully grasp, I have to say: I'm jealous. If the fact that people in Denmark are the happiest in the world is true then bring on Danish socialism as quick as you can. The only people who won't benefit will be the likes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. 

We've allowed people to lie about basic economics in the U.S. for far too long. It's time to fix a lot bad laws. And it's far past time for a lot more transparency. This last year might be the catalyst we need to emerge not only stronger but happier. 

Let those comments fly but remember, I'll be moderating stuff that's not true or viciously delivered.