Ben leading in the last lap of the mile. 2016.
One of the things I hate most in adult life is getting a blood test. Not a happy little finger prick but a full on jab deep into the vein in the crook of my arm. "We'll only need two tubes." "You'll hardly feel it..." In what universe is two tubes of hot, red blood not too much? And there might be people out in the world with no nerve endings in their arms but I'm certainly not one of them. The emotion of a it all must give me a vaso-vagal response that's off the charts because I can assure you that drawing my blood while I'm sitting or standing will have me unconscious on the floor in seconds. To my greater incredulity I have heard (often) that there are people who like to watch the procedure of their own blood draws. That would have me sitting in front of my psychiatrist in a....heartbeat.
So why do I, yearly, submit to this relatively quick but deep torture? Well, mostly because I do believe in the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And also, although there isn't a nifty saying about it, I understand the benefits across a wide range of maladies of "early detection."
Over the weekend I wrote about winding down the business a bit. Maybe not a full "ripping off of the bandaid" but more of a throttling back of the engines of photographic commerce. One of my friends joked that this would free up more time to visit doctors. Which seems to be an active pastime of people over a certain age. It's funny that all of this change would coincide with a dentist appointment (all good, no cavities, no gum disease), a visit with my dermatologist (all good, no cancerous or pre-cancerous spots --- but a lengthy discussion about the relative merits, for him, of a Leica Q2) and then again this morning for day one of a two day physical exam (routine and yearly --- concierge physician; my personal provider of 27 years, and how I can mostly ignore the American medical system...).
My blood pressure was a bit high before the blood draw. But nicely purring along when taken again ten minutes after the "jab and flow." I weighed four pounds less than I did at my last physical. My eyes are 25/25 and symmetrically enabled. I can hear bats echolocate with my right ear and I'm just above average in my left ear. My EKG was normal. As were all the BMI, % of fat, and other metrics. I have not shrunk in height over the years. Not yet. And my balance is very good. Actually....excellent.
The rest of the physical takes place next week and the doctor and I will get to deconstruct the numbers from the blood test. The only thing I've added to my routines lately, beyond lifting weights, is a striking increase in the consumption of really good peanuts. Which are not actually a nut but are, instead, a legume. Super-low glycemic index, lots of protein and fiber and chocked full of good minerals. My new snack food. Thanks to a reader/commenter/friend of VSL who sent me a giant tin of Whitley's Peanuts after a recent visit. I just re-ordered....so "thank you."
I'm sure most of you go through routines like this once a year (teeth and skin x2) because you want to take charge of your good health, or you just want to get your money's worth out of your insurance, or your Medicare policy. I think it's great for trying to figure out what you need to change, add or remove from your day to day lifestyle to live optimally. I joked a week or so back about adding strength training to my regimen so I could continue to carry heavy camera gear but you know what? It really works!
Checking on your health is not much different than checking in with your wealth management team over the course of a year to make sure your investments are on track and doing well. Or keeping your car running safely and as it should with routine maintenance.
We're holding steady on the camera and lens inventory over here. I was tempted to follow through and pick up the Leica 50mm f2.0 ASPH lens last week but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't because it appears that Sigma, on April 3rd, will be announcing or introducing their own 50mm f2.0 lens as part of their i-Series lenses. I'd rather own the Sigma as every i-Series lens I've gotten from them has been a wonderful combination of great styling and superb optical quality. And it seems slotted in to be 1/3rd the price of the Leica SL product. Or 1/8th the price of the 50mm APO model. And, of course, you know how I like to watch every penny....
But, surprisingly, not all of my favorite clients have fled the playing field of photography. On Thursday I'll head over to public relations and advertising company, Hahn, and make portraits of eight different people who I will then composite into some backgrounds the art director and I shot last year. A very large medical products company keeps teasing a big, upcoming (and production intensive) campaign and there are several ad agencies in San Antonio that have just requested bids and treatments for upcoming projects. Not nearly as dire as it might seem to be around here and certainly enough to throw off sufficient dollars with which to pick up fun gear from time to time.
Can't wait for that 50mm Sigma lens. Just the right size, price, etc. All the rest of the stuff? We'll take it on a case-by-case basis.
A quick tutorial on finance for new photographers. Part one, maximize marketing to maximize profits and gross income. Part two, never spend a cent that you can't bill back to a client, and use in multiple jobs, and depreciate or deduct. Save money outside the business every month. Buy and hold S&P 500 index funds. Buy and hold carefully researched stocks only in companies that you deeply understand. Don't buy expensive cars or trucks. Don't feel as though you are entitled to costly family vacations at the drop of a hat. Never have cable TV. If you must eat out at restaurants try to limit yourself to once a week. Better yet, twice a month. Only buy clothes you can wear until they disintegrate from prolonged use. Don't buy a boat. Don't learn to fly your own plane. Don't buy a plane. Don't buy real estate at the top of the market. There will almost always be a recession coming along that will give you great "discounts." Same with other investments beyond the mandatory monthly investments in the stock market.
Never marry a spouse with demanding and expensive tastes. Always marry someone who is smarter than you. Always marry someone who is more practical than you. Never marry a spouse who has a Nordstrom's charge card. Beware of people who "need" to buy shoes that cost over $150 a pair. Don't buy a motorcycle. You will fall off. It will be an expensive fall. I have learned from experience. Don't run your business without liability insurance. Same with your household. Eating healthy is more important than eating gourmet/luxury. True story: when B. and I talked about getting married (some 36+ years ago) her only hesitation was my cavalier approach to handling money. She required me to take all of my accounting to her CPA and have the CPA generate a clean and meticulous tax return for that year. She did not want to "inherit" stupid debt. At the time I thought it was a bit over the top. Now I laud her for her judgement.
If you like to drink wine be sure, at least, that it's very good wine. Instead of "more" wine. Don't get subscriptions. To anything. Use your local library. Here's a mantra for morning biz meetings: Breakfast at home. Coffee out with clients/peers/friends. Have an agenda and a goal.
I have tried all of this and it works well. Here's a few more: Don't discuss your net worth on the web. You will make some people jealous, others will pity you and a third group will wonder why your parents didn't tell you that your finances are nobody else's business. The fourth group will be scammers....
Take care of yourself. Take care of business. Always be invested. You may get tired as you get older but your invested money will work for you around the clock.
Oh....and try to take nice and interesting photographs. Be nice to everyone you meet. That's all.