Friday, November 18, 2005

Why in the world am I doing this?

Actually, I'm not entirely sure. And no, I'm not going to tell you exactly who I am, where I live, etc. Not that I am hiding anything, but it's just more fun this way. Besides, those who know me will figure out those bits right away; I guarantee there will be lots of hints from the get-go.

The executive summary: I need to remake my life, both physically and mentally because the way I am living is preventing me from doing a lot of the things I love.

In the past I have worked at several jobs/professions. One of those was as a professional photographer. I didn't do weddings or portraits. Weddings are too high pressure, and the portrait market was too cliché and boring. I did a lot of documentation and illustration work. Most of my income came from legal work, documenting personal injury cases. There was never any greusome work. Mostly I photographed traffic accident scenes well after the accident. Lines of sight, highway signage, etc.; these were things that would be needed as exhibits in a trial. Often I had to testify in court as to the veracity of the photos, how, when and where they were made, etc.

The pay was good, and it allowed me to do other work that didn't pay well or not at all, such as personal work. I was good at what I did, but not much of a self-promoter or business person, so I wasn't really making a living. I was stressed out and decided to quit photography as a business before I started hating the art of making pictures.

It was a good decision. My interest in photography has lain dormant for many years, but it has survied thanks to that decision. Some of the equipment that remains (I sold a lot of my gear) developed problems like fungus on lens elements, etc. So now that I have a desire to make pictures, to express myself creatively, I'm having to rebuild some of my inventory. That's not difficult thanks to a certain auction site on the internet. It just takes a bit of cash and some patience. (Actually, it is a bit more complicated since I discovered an email list of people who are owners of the particular brand of 35mm equipment I use. In addition to being a bunch of very good photographers, they are even better at "enabling" the addiction to the equipment, which is of extremely high quality. I really DO need all three speeds of the 28mm wideangle. But I can quit, anytime, I swear...)

A bit more difficult is the issue of the darkroom. My current digs don't really have a space that can easily be used for a darkroom. I have not warmed to digital workflow. I am not against it, but my primary interest in black & white, and the workflow for digital B&W just isn't as good as colour. But more importantly, I don't want to make the investment in learning digital printing techniques that meet my standards. I can be far more productive using the knowledge and skill I took so long to learn. New technique can come later.

What does this all have to do with the "executive summary"? Well, I'm out of shape. Like 75% or so of all western adults, you say.... so what? Well, I have a disadvantage to start with. Due to a disease I contracted in infancy, I pretty much lost the use of my left leg. As I grew up, my weight outgrew its ability to bear weight, so I had to start using a crutch. So my mobility is limited, but I've always been able to adapt to that. But the other consequence of effectively having only one leg is that extra weight is amplified. I don't know the amplification factor for physical effort, but there is an emotional dimension too. Fatigue can open the door to depression, even mild in nature. For an emotional eater (I am), that can set up a vicious circle. Add a heart attack (full recovery) that has diminished my ability to pump corpuscles, and you get the picture. Oh, and I am a bit of a foodie; I love to cook and have meals with really good wine. Our current kitchen (yes, I am married) is not an inviting workspace for me, so I don't cook as much as I used to. Which sets up the "need" to make food that is quick and easy to prepare. Not a recipe for weight control.

So, my mission is to get to where I need to be. How much overweight am I? I don't know exactly. I have a decent idea how much I weigh (I'll get on the scale in the next day or so and peg a starting point), and I can look up my ideal weight/BMI in some sort of chart. But I instinctively know that I need to target 11-13 kg. If I dropped 9 kg I know I'd feel very good. But I want to be in great shape, not just good enough. I want to be in the top 5% for my age, considering the limitations of my disability. I'd like to prove that by paddling my canoe (open, not kayak) across one of the great lakes that is just outside my door.

What I would like from anyone who might read my blog is a bit of support, and maybe some helpful hints on nutrition and conditioning. And this is a NO ATKINS ZONE, so if you want to promote that low-carb, high protein/fat approach, don't waste our time. One heart attack is enough, thank you very much.

Update: I began this post way back in February 2005, and it's now mid-November. Since that time, I've made good progress in getting my photographic life in shape. "New" old equipment, some of it quite sexy just to hold, a stash of film, and shooting semi-regularly and getting my "eye" back. Some of the gear has been CLA'd (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust) and even recovered with fresh, luxurious leather. Some is just as is but in perfectly useable condition (for example, a 28mm/f2.8 lens for $11 that works very well) some still needs TLC, such as a German rangefinder from 1954 that has a very dirty viewfinder but otherwise in wonderful condition. German glass is special!

Not so much progress on the weight, but I've started! I wasn't quite as bad as I thought, and I've dropped about 1.5 kg what I'd like to lose. The key is, I know I can do it, and I have started. The next part will be to start "working out" and getting better exercise. Part of that requires clearing out the big room in the basement so I can do some weight work. I've started, but ugh, there's a lot left.

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