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Sunday, 04 August 2013


I for one enjoy all the OT posts, and I hope you both will continue to post all the subjects you find interesting. I for one love the jazz and hi-fi posts. Not a big billiard person, but I enjoyed the posts anyway.

Ctein's tea posts, I read with interest, even though I am a coffee person. I do forward them on to my tea drinking friends.

Just because we are not commenting, doesn't mean they are not being read.

I'm joining the chorus - please do not stop the OT posts. They are a fascinating glimpse into topics I often know nothing about.
And you would become stale as photography topic writers if you could not occasionally exercise your alternate writing skills, yes?

Please, Ctein, can you sometime add at least a paragraph about Darjeelings, one of my favorites?
And Mike, billiards, hi-fi whatever man - carry on!!

You are both such wonderfully Well-rounded Geeks.

No more tea columns? Who even dares suggest that??

I see that I am in the majority (of people who write comments) that appreciate the off-topic posts.

That being said, I think that the latest tea column was, pardon the pun, weak tea. Previous tea columns were informative and insightful, but this one read like an infomercial. That doesn't mean that the next one won't be fascinating.

I liked the billiards column, and I found the angle that you chose (teacher/student rapport) fascinating. I'm waiting for the column where you draw a parallel between lining-up a shot in billiards and composing a shot in a viewfinder. I find that my mind goes to the same place during both activities, and I would be surprised if I was the only person who feels this way. There's a point when your mind goes "click," and that feeling goes away if you move by the slightest amount.

Maybe Ctein can title his OT posts "Tea for two" ?

I will take a thousand posts about tea (which I love and which inspired me to order a bunch of stuff from teasource.com) or billiards or even (shudder) hi-fi equipment if it means never having to see another bloody word about camera bags.

No comment != no interest

There is the geek issue of bandwidth. Like most geeks I know, I participate in frequent deep dives, where I endeavor to learn everything I can about a subject in a given amount of time, often to the almost exclusion of everything else going in my life. This meams that over the years, I've become at least well-versed in a lot of things, but ultimately life gets in the way (or something else interesting), and it gets put on the shelf in favor of yet another deep dive.

My two major interests at the moment are photography and amateur radio. I've actually dabbled in both off and on for decades, and I keep coming back to them for one reason or another (new camera gear or new radio, it's really about the same rush to me). I've tried other hobbies or interests, and the basement and garage are filled with the leftovers, waiting for me to take them up again, or to ultimately discard them to make room for something else.

Things like this take up mental space, as well as physical. So, you see, reading about something like tea may or may not set me off on another deep dive, depending on whether I can see myself having the time and/or space to do a deep dive on tea. Otherwise, I enjoy the article, and move on.

I'm slowly learning that any new interest or gadget requires care and feeding, and if I can't see myself spending enough time on it to be worthwhile, I'm starting to bypass opportunities these days.

I enjoy and need the off topic stuff, tea and pool included, just to prove to myself I am not a geek.
Jeremy Pardoe.

The crowd has moved on to another room, but just in case anyone's listening, one more word of support from a reader who enjoys good journalism, eclecticism, good writing, arcana, the Art of ____, enthusiasm, curiosity, and other more ineffable qualities often in evidence in TOP's "off-topic" essays.

If you want to call certain of those qualities "geekery", then so be it. But I note that, in the normal world, people who read photography blogs are considered geeks, and that no one appreciates geekery like a geek. It's relative, I know. But then so is the notion of "roundedness", and one of the wonderful things about TOP is roundedness--not only the admission but the embrace of the truth that cameras and photography, while very, very important, are not all there is--that the reasons why they are important may lie elsewhere. I enjoy roundedness as much as geekery, and often enjoy the combination of the two even more.

As for the other qualities, I don't think it's even arguable that TOP consistently produces the best writing among all the photography blogs out there, which is another reason why I like the off-topic posts. TOP is apparently written and edited by people who care as much about writing and language as they do about photography, and thank you, thank you, thank you for that. Because most blogs, even photography blogs, are written, and this blog does a stellar job of that. And because the best writing is like the best photography, in that no matter what the subject, or source, they artfully limn something too sublime to be described in words or images or HTML.

As for feedback--as others noted, sometimes a piece of work is a conversation starter, and sometimes it's complete and all there is to do is sit back and enjoy it (or skip it). Many sites now use some kind of like/dislike or rating system for their articles. I suspect that's a Pandora's box, though. A perfectly good alternative might be to write the occasional declaration that certain kinds of content has been axed, and see what happens.

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