And here we are again at tax time. The bane of working photographers. Well, one of the banes. Can there be multiple banes?


Urban Landscapes. Camera: Leica SL2. Lens: Sigma 45mm f2.8 

When I look through my image files I find that I really like what I'm calling, for want of a better category name, urban landscapes. These can be anything except landscapes of just natural terrain and no evidence of buildings, people, structures, etc. This was taken because I was attracted to the look of the sky and the Austonian building was the perfect foil to the vague structure of clouds. I also seemed to have found an angle at which none of the other downtown buildings intruded into the frame. 

The exif information tells me I was using a Sigma 45mm f2.8. It's a cheap and underrated lens. I don't like to stop down much so this was shot at f4.5. When I look at the full frame file; even though it was shot in Jpeg, I love the very high sharpness and the wonderful colors and tones. 

I should be filling the "pages" here with beguiling street photography from SXSW this week but to be truthful the show seems very anemic this year. Not particularly well attended; at least at street level, and even at that most of the attendees look like they all came from the same mall. Gone are the music "gangsters" all dressed in black and trying to look dangerous. Most of the people here this year look like young, mid-level managers who convinced their bosses that some value might be derived from attendance.  After all, no want wants to miss out on the next Twitter.com (sarcasm intended). 

Day after day I've been making a valiant effort to drive into the heart of downtown and find compelling images but the universe seems only to be presenting me with a never ending stream of middle class kids and their slightly wealthier peers. The full access price to attend of $1895 might have something to do with the homogenous demographic...

The sky and the buildings never seem to fail me. And I like looking at them. I'll go down once again today and give it another stab. 

Consider picking up the 45mm f2.8. It's not an earth shattering lens but it's got a quality that says, "I'm well made, well designed and can make your photographs look a bit more interesting. As an added plus I am small and easy to carry around." 

The beefy Leica SL2 makes none of these promises. 

Refrigerator news: Guy came yesterday and replaced the master control board in my four month old GE French door refrigerator. 24 hours later it's still cooling appropriately, not frosting over and not making odd noises. I guess I'll consider it fixed. I put the last of the milk in there today. I'm slowly recovering my emotional equilibrium about appliances today. If the fridge makes it through the weekend I'll stop thinking about it for a while.

Tax news: My partner, B, is usually the person who pulls together all the endless tranches of information to distill down and send to our CPA to do our duty to pay taxes to keep our nation strong. But this year she is out of town taking care of a family member. The burden of paperwork and far reaching task of acquiring information from banks, brokerage companies, credit card accounts and black, offshore hordes of gold bullion have fallen to me. Oops! Forget that part about the offshore gold bullion. I meant chicken bullion; really. 

I guess it was about time I realized how much work is involved in getting everything together. My target day for completion is Monday. Our long time CPA ensures me that this will be ample time to get the return out in time. Funny, when I look at the raw numbers I always come to the haggard realization that I spent more than I thought I had and, conversely, I made less money that I imagined. I guess it all comes out in the wash. 

At any rate I set up a six foot long table to spread everything out on and my CPA kindly sent over an associate to help me organize a bit. Now, if I can only remember some of the passwords I haven't used in a year...

Happy Swim News: I have been working out with weight machines at the local gym under the watchful eye of a good trainer. She pushes me more that I would push myself but it seems to be paying off. I was able to hold the corner of the car up with one hand yesterday as I changed the tire with the other hand... Okay, that's not true. But I have noticed that my swimming is improving by leaps and bounds. 

Many of the sets of machines I'm using I've selected because they build specific swim muscles: triceps, lats, shoulders and back. I'm also using a leg press machine as often and with as much challenge as possible. My pushes and streamlines off the walls are more powerful and so I get more distance from each turn. We call that "free speed." I also swam the most beautiful series of 25 yard butterfly sets I've swum in years. It's enough to push me to WANT to go and lift weights instead of just doing so because I think it the right thing to do. 

Now I'm pretty much convinced that everyone over 50, and certainly every every one over 60 should be hitting the gym three or four times a week as an added part of their long term fitness regimen. 

Prevention Month at VSL: It's the time of the year when I get checked out by my crack medical team. Tomorrow we've got a 7 a.m. (curses! what was I thinking when I scheduled this?) appointment with my dermatologist, Dan, who will inspect every square inch of my skin, look for stuff that might kill me, and nuke all the stuff that's just....unattractive. Many hate the sting of liquid nitrogen but I live for the tingle of it. I hope my enhanced vigilance with sunscreen and pre-morning light swims pays off and nothing is too frightening. 

In keeping with the prevention theme tomorrow afternoon is also my every six month encounter with my dentist and her hygienist. Yes! I have been flossing very regularly since the last visit and I've learned to appreciate my Braun Oral B toothbrush. It's even got bluetooth. Why? I've never figured that out. But it's great to get one's teeth cleaned and inspected. The mouth bacteria seems to be a precursor to lots of nastier conditions throughout the body. Inflammation and all that sort of stuff. A clean mouth is a happy mount and more people will want to kiss a fresh and healthy mouth. Yum. I hope, after paying hundreds of dollars I get a free toothbrush to keep in my swim bag...

At the end of the month I'll spend two days with my regular G.P. measuring body fat, heart rhythms, blood chemistry, oxygen uptake, blood pressure, vision, hearing, balance, and even check for cognitive decline. It's always fun to be poked, prodded, and chastened about the deficiencies of my lifestyle. I can hear it now ---- "are you eating your twelve servings a day of kale?"  

It's interesting. I never paid much attention to preventative stuff in my youth but statistically getting on top of anything that's going out of whack quickly and with people who know your history is a huge plus for longevity. And by extension happiness. 

My favorite example is that a routine skin check back in 2021 discovered a squamous cell cancer on my face. Left to my own devices I might not have noticed it for a while and when it comes to cosmetic surgery on your face the small the radius a surgeon can work it the better. That early detection helped me retain my movie star good looks....

That's all I have for today. Still waiting on Mike Johnston to answer all the questions he requested last weekend. Can't wait!!!