Posts Tagged ‘materialism’

Materialism Trio

1 March 2011

Dear J-

I’m thinking of all the gadgets I could consolidate with a smartphone that actually does everything I need it to — camera, writing, music, and phone — and I’m beginning to think that I’m a fool for not moving faster for one. This is an easy thing, after all. If you find a need, fill it and the several thousand devices I do end up carrying around fill specific needs very well but not a generalist role, and the prices have come down to reasonable levels — the penalty for a prepaid service plan smartphone is acceptable now that Virgin Mobile has the Optimus V out as an alternative to the Intercept. All i need to do now is verify that Android has a Bluetooth HID stack present and my writing needs will be met.

There’s some things that are very wrong with the bike too — I don’t believe that throwing the chain as often as it does is acceptable, but a roller guide will have to wait for a new bottom bracket and crankset, as once again, I’ve never had a bike with components that fall apart quite so easily (the rear derallieur and cassette are also shot but one thing at a time, and the audible eccentric clunk from the bottom bracket comes first). At this point I’m contemplating the upgrade to something with hub gears and no suspension, so frustrated am I with the current mess for everything south of the pedals. It’s almost cheaper to start over again and hope for better luck with a more rugged bike now that I’m embracing my old slow guy philosophy (it’s commuting, not racing, and I’m not competing with everyone who beats me up the hill).

Gas is fast approaching four dollars a gallon around here, which would put my daily commute savings at roughly $1.50 (figure around 20 MPG in the city, seven miles round-trip to the vanpool spot — if you want to count overall cost we’re getting low-20s on gas in the van but that’s a hundred miles a day, five gallons per day is $20 split four or five ways depending on how full we are for the day). It’s really not much when you consider how much more effort it is to ride, but if I was in it for the money alone I’m doing a really poor job at making it. It’s not bad, though, and would pay for a thousand-dollar bike (not that I’m looking) over two solid years assuming no further costs. Then again it’s not about the money, right?

Mike

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Battle Money

19 January 2010

Dear J-

Every so often I go through and clean out the camera that usually sits in the bottom of my purse satchel. I’ve been carrying it around for at least three years now and I’ve managed to take only a handful of pictures with it, really; the same thing happened with the Olympus 35RC I carried around in my old backpack; I managed to run maybe one or two rolls of film through before I got sidetracked into a video game habit. I tend to overcollect; there are games on the shelf that haven’t been collected, just as there are cameras and lenses which haven’t imaged scenes for years now (I’m looking at you, Nikkor-NC 35/1.4).

I suppose I feel a need to prepare for the unexpected, no matter how unlikely. I spent the last couple of weeks mulling over various portable photographic options, convinced that I had enough room to throw together a flat-topped SLR, like a Pen or GF1 hasn’t got my name on it in the eventual future. Throughout elementary school I saved bandage tins (when they came in tins) and armed with a basic knowledge and my usual pack-rat habits, would squirrel away random bits of aluminum foil, matchbooks, stale candy, and analgesics as a survival kit. After all, you never knew when it would come in handy, and wouldn’t that be a feather in my cap, to have that on hand?

The mind tends to invent the need for things you don’t need; I’ve been throwing around different lenses in my head because of a perceived need for missing focal lengths, for instance, or that I may run out of things to watch or play. When it comes down to it I can’t predict the future, and I sure can’t ensure that I’ll always have the right tool or survival kit at hand. Right now it’s not hard to drive those feelings down by asking the easy question of how often I’m actually going to use it, but I can’t count on it forever; the paean to materialism isn’t the most uplifting message, but understanding it is half the battle, really.

Mike

Deadly Poison

10 October 2009

Dear J-

As the hours pile up here at work I find myself increasingly tempted by various purchases I know I can’t (shouldn’t, mustn’t) justify.  I said before that with a few extra dollars in my pocket I’d invest it in a college education, but it feels like fifteen years ago and various bits of glass keep calling my name lately.  Trouble is I’ve already spent a small fortune in various shiny bits of silicon dioxide this year thanks to variously expensive moments of boredom leading to google searches.

That’s one of the reasons I love the clubsnap forums — some of the posts inevitably bring up the term “poison,” which I never quite understood until it was too late:  you’d despair that you wouldn’t be able to make anything quite so beautiful until you get your hands on that same piece of glass.  It’s all a lie, of course; photography starts in the brain — the framing and composition tell the story, and though you might believe that you need a particular bit to make it happen, chances are that you’ve always been able to do it all along.

Poison 1
Poison 2
(okay, really, this sub-link I ran across)

I still remember when I was collecting games for the Saturn — one of the ones I always wanted and paid an absurd amount of money for was Radiant Silvergun based on the glowing reviews I’d read.  After I got it on the shelf, though, I popped it in the machine maybe once or twice before shelving it forever — it’s not that it wasn’t a good game, or that I was too afraid of playing it (for the price it could have been minted from PURE GOLD).  It’s just that I couldn’t get good enough fast enough, which frustrated me to no end, great reviews or not.  One thing at a time, then; I’m still struggling with my first poison and don’t need to throw another slug down on top of it.  I think.

Mike

Horse Gone

9 September 2009

Dear J-

I used to be content with reading about product announcements as they happened, perhaps a few days following, but lately it seems like it’s all I can do to tear myself away from the various rumor sites on the web; today (09/09/09) is perhaps not as auspicious a day as couid be found last year on 8 Aug 08, but it’s sufficiently memorable to trigger an avalanche of new product announcements.  With spoilers in hand, though (c’mon, who wouldn’t have thought Leica would launch a full-frame M9 today?), the day holds only the mystery of verifying the veracity of those rumors.

The new cameras, gadgets, and iPods will no doubt be picked apart in detailed analyses by folks less lazy than me; there is nothing that would cause me to crack open my wallet immediately (besides which it’s waiting for a cash transplant to accomodate the necessary, acute photographic repairs).  Or so I always think; when I sit around and try to come up with nonexistent needs (mobile blogging! for all the travel I fail to do!) for things I don’t have, maybe it’s just about getting a package.  I realize that I’m conditioned through long years of college to expect wonderful surprises in cardboard boxes.  Yes, I will sometimes buy stuff just to have someone drop off a package at the door.

Take for instance the various items of MOLLE gear now adorning the MOLLE Fighting Load Carrier — this is a classic case of barring the gate after the horse has escaped.  If I hadn’t dropped the camera a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been motivated to get and use the pouches.  The need had already evaporated and yet because of the relatively low cost and abundance, I was able to wangle a good ten packets of stuff or so off eBay, no doubt thrilling the mailman as a steady stream of boxes and fat envelopes had to be carried to the door.  Never underestimate the thrilling power of cardboard, right?

Mike