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Sunday, 29 November 2015


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llen's in Pa, etc, because i get free overnight or 2nd day shipping and pay no sales tax. for an A7r II and both Batis lenses that is a lot of tax. i would favor your links if they weren't all hanging around Times Square.
Thanks for all the entertainment, thought provoking and useful knowledge,

I started a blog as a diary, specifically as a way to keep a logbook of walks and climbs as part of an aspiration to get a mountain leader qualification. After not too long getting traffic to it became an end in itself and a bit of an obsession. A bit like the obsession when I took up photography to take any picture that was sharp and well exposed, regardless of composition or subject. My blog's become more about photography in the last few months - an achilles injury means I'm not able to walk up mountains for a while. But I think it's still as much a diary as anything else.

I've read other articles about keeping a diary or a journal and I used to do it myself for some time. I haven't in several years though - maybe it's just that I felt the need back then to keep track of what I was doing or felt at the time. It was also an opportunity, though, to practice writing when I knew nobody else was watching (I fancy myself as a decent writer and you need to practice). As a cruising sailor, I used to write regularly in my logbook about what was happening around me and my boat. I typically only write now for work, and it's mostly boring stuff although I try to make it as readable as possible.

I may try to pick it up again as I realize I do miss it sometimes. Also never hurts to practice.

Perhaps today's equivalent of keeping a diary is posting your meals and toilet habits on Fecebook and the like. How can you keep a diary when you don't know how to write (not type)?

People communicate with each other in words more than any time in many generations! Particularly young people.

[Well, maybe technically, but tweets and texts are not the same thing as handwritten letters and diary entries, I don't think. --Mike]

I find that much like the camera in photography, the selection of the writing instrument itself can influence the what, when and how of keeping a journal. I find that if I use a certain fountain pen, as versus a pencil or ballpoint pen, I tend to slow down, and think more carefully about what I'm writing, with the added plus that my "penmanship" is much more readable. a much more pleasant experience, one which I'm more than likely to repeat.

Mike, I started writing a blog about 2 3/4 years ago just to provide updates and images to family and friends who were following my travels. After returning home, I continued it and started writing about my lifelong experiences in photography, the satisfaction from it I derived and a bit about my gear and how it performed. Now, 500 posts later, I find that I don't want to stop writing (even with a very small audience of about 500-600 readers per day) as writing gives me great satisfaction and has become somewhat addictive. Additionally, I think I may be providing information of interest and am being helpful to a few and I enjoy helping others. Finally, I've now met and made friends from readers who have contacted me and I cherish those new friendships. I think my blogging is good therapy!

[That's not actually a small audience Dennis--500-600 readers puts you ahead of all but a tiny fraction of blogs. Take heart.

(Good to hear from you, too.) --Mike]

I used to keep written journals in my art school days about twenty years ago. I had the habit of writing at the end of the day, often in bed. I built up too many notebooks and that made me stop. I recently started again using the Evernote app which syncs between my iphone & home computer. So I can make notes on either device and it all ends up the same. Currently I'm just doing brief summaries of the day.

Thanks for an interesting discussion of diaries.

Looking back, I've found that I did a better job of keeping a journal for my work than for my personal life. I have several volumes that document the problems I was working on, how I solved them, interesting methodologies, and more. This was an essential part of my scientific career. Now retired, I've gone back through some of these journals and have been amazed at how much smarter I was back then...

I've been writing a photo-blog for a bit over five years. In that space of time I've had about three dozen comments (and about 65 thousand spams). I like your idea of ending the post in a way to invite comments. I'll have to work harder at that.

While reading this post, I, too, wondered about the similarities and differences between diaries and Facebook et al. We may be living in a time when ordinary lives are both more exposed and less examined than ever (at least for those with the luxury to do either).

Oh, and belated Happy Birthday to TOP!

Kevin Cameron in the Jan/Feb 2016 Cycle World ...

" ... after every interview with a rider or engineer at trackside, I would walk out of sight, then whip out a notebook and write down everything I could remember. Often when writing about related matters, I refer to those numbered notebooks and in a sense may learn more than what the words say; in the time since I wrote them, I've learned other things that how shed further light on those old notes. That suggests it might be good to live twice -- once for the experience and a second time hoping for understanding."

I would agree with your response to DDB about tweets and texts as opposed to letters and diaries -- tweets and texts are purely conversational, and are ordered like conversations -- that is, with very little real order. They are also intended to elicit replies, as is spoken conversation.

Letters and diary entries are usually structured, and are not intended to elicit replies. Somebody will now say, "Yeah, but the Iliad and the Odyssey were originally spoken, not written," which is true, but what we know of them is written, and since they were long formal poems, they were heavily structured even when spoken, so that they could be more easily remembered. They weren't conversation.

Going back to DDB's comment, young people don't converse more than in the past, they just tweet and text more. That tweeting and texting is simply displaced vocal conversation, not an add-on. IMHO.

I have always written notes to people. Especially my kids & wife. We have 4 kids the oldest of whom is 40.We ahd a rule about no store bought cards, Take a minute draw a picture write down what you want to tell the other person. It persists to this day, if not with complete evenness throughout the family. Some has moved from longhand to email. But the goodness and power of thoughtfully composing complete sentences has become a shared family treasure.
To this day, the best way for me to know what I really think about a subject is to write about it. And frankly, I find electronic forms of writing nore satisfying and productive because they are so easily revised to better say what we mean.
I have always kept a notebook of quotes and short pieces that has moved to bits as well
I don't keep a diary, but I write

The topic of diaries can't be complete on a photography blog without a mention of "The Daybooks of Edward Weston" (Aperture, 2 vols). More than 20 years of often daily notes about the ups and downs of a committed, often difficult, life by the man whom Ansel Adams once said was "the J.S. Bach of photography". Amazon has various editions available, both hardcover and paperback, with some of Weston's best photos from both the Mexico and California phases of his career. The books are not cheap, but are not unduly costly, and are definitely worth the price. (A good way to contribute to TOP.)

I've never kept a diary, because I don't need to: my memory isn't perfect, but it's good enough that a decade for me is like two or three months ago for regular people. Though thanks to that, I can also vouch for the benefits of reflection and self-examination; you cannot determine how to reach your goal if you don't know where you're starting from.

One downside of having such a good memory: most stuff you read stay so long in your head, it's hard getting to enjoy it again like you did the first time—or never got to, if someone spoiled it for you. And speaking of, an XKCD relevant to your statement on younger generations' writing skills: https://xkcd.com/1414/

Funny anecdote, though, to show such thinking happens to everyone: I'm still not even 30, but I used to bemoan the newer generations' hard computer skills would be hurt by modern systems' relative ease of use compared to the MS-DOS and UNIX of my childhood. That, until I had to fix my aunt's computer after my then 9-years-old daughter had "tinkered" with it, and understood she could not have made half the mess she did without a deep understanding of Windows' permission system and how to maneuver around it. And even though unlike me, computers have never been among her interests; she's a visual artist first and foremost.

Fear the Facebook generation, for they hold keys to a world we do not even know, and which comes to them as natural as breathing.

Well, with 10-second turnaround, it's only rational that the form of communication is somewhat different from when it took days, weeks, or months (going back to say the 18th century) for a letter to cross an ocean).

But I'm thinking of real email, and LiveJournal posts, and blog posts and comments, and FaceBook posts, and such as much as tweets and texts. Texts are for practical arrangements mostly, not so much for discussion.

Look at people communicating with each other in text right here on your blog!

"success, accomplishment, progress"

', and for "knowing thyself."'

I suggest that these two pieces, strung together, don't necessarily get along.

Success, accomplishment and progress, for most of us, most of the time, especially when young, tend to be adopted cultural, parental, religious and other external definitions.

Once one begins to know oneself, the definitions tend to change. The greater the self knowledge, the greater the difference may become.

Conventional "success" at the first may mean failure at the second. "Success" at the second will most often mean at least replacement with old definitions of the first, and not uncommonly, abandonment of the first entirely as collective values that don't apply to the now known self.

On the subject of Pepys I'd recommend this excellent Radio4 dramatization of his diaries.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0162jg4 not sure if you can get this in the states but the 15 minute slices are a nice way to access the diaries.

The man was an absolute rogue in modern terms, very entertaining.

Many years ago I ran a centre in the UK to assist unemployed people. I decided to offer a free training course in word processing, and advertised it in the local press. Amongst the people who applied to join the course was a seventy year old Indian lady. Curious, I asked why she wanted to learn word processing. She told me that every month she wrote a thirty page letter to her family in India, describing all her activities for the month past. In return she received thirty pages back from several family members. So I said, "Why do you want to learn word processing?". Silently, she held up her hands to show me her arthritis.

I have done both, a 7-year blog and off and on diaries for most of my life. I actually had a lot of comments on my blog which was about Japan and Japanese politics. I posted about every day for a while then dropped to several a week when I had something worth writing about. For a while I didn't even accept comments and after lots of email requesting I open them I did. I rarely rejected comments, even when a few of the far, far, Japanese right would make some very wild ones. "Let a hundred flowers bloom," I figured.

Then, in January 2011, I all the sudden got tired of it. Sorta took a break and never went back. As it became more popular, I became more concerned about any influence I might have, so research and checking sources became more and more time consuming. I was a bit concerned about writing anything controversial due to my and my ex-wife's jobs in a country where open controversy isn't accepted as much as in the US. And finally, someone once said something like "I love having written, but I hate writing," which perfectly describes my thoughts.

Diaries I find interesting to read years later. I don't get any epiphanies from doing so, just nostalgia mainly. I would say I am a pretty unsuccessful person who keeps a diary.

I kept photographic scrapbooks of everything I was involved in, from about 1985, until my mother (my last parent) died in 2011 (totaling about 9 books). I had a pile of ephemera to put into a book, and some photos, and was waiting for a book to arrive when she died, and then I just lost heart. The books were a visual diary, as well as a partially written one.

It seems like a lot of events conspired to make me give up:

...the realization that I was getting older, and had no one to give the books to, at least no one who would care...

...the book I had been using for all those years, which was carried by Light Impressions, was no longer available, or should I say, they were never shipping...

...the fact that I loved to keep a small Olympus film camera in my pocket, and just get 3X5 prints at the drug store, and glue them into the book, but the drug stores were no longer processing film, and I didn't like the digital work flow for this...

...I had been thinking about how over the years, the act of photographing something, made it less enjoyable than just experiencing it. It seemed to go from being a fun adjunct to the event, to being a boring duty that I had to keep up.

The interesting thing is now, I'm trying to figure out how to semi-retire, get out of the state I'm living in, and scan and put together a "Blurb" book of all those stray photos (and practically none of my professional ones), from 1965, to 2010, and make a few copies, and then call it a day.

I too am amazed at how few people comment compared to how many read your posts every day. I keep thinking...over 10,000 hits a day and MY comments are always published and sometimes I am actually featured. And thank You for sharing all of this insight about journals. I will be starting mine Tomorrow. tsk. tsk.

[Your comments are always published because you're above average. But then, *ALL* TOP readers are above average. And good looking, too. --Mike]

We're back to Montaigne, of course. :-)

My own journals are many, but all partial. I'm not sure how common it is to have twenty or so partially filled journals, but that's how it is. Still enjoy opening one up and seeing what was happening in 1993 (Eugene, cheap apartment, newly married, temp work). That's more or less how my photography is as well, bursts of activity, then a break.
A few months ago I became immersed in Karl Ove Knausgaard's detailed autobiographical (real names and everything) novel series, My Struggle (yes, same name). Addictive stuff, at least for me. Waiting for book five and six to be translated from the Norwegian.

This showed up in the Facebook feed today. Interesting timing...


Perhaps "we" as in the collective we, would write our comments to you, Mike more often IF you would let us know your new e-mail and
postal address. Mind the problem if actually writing (or printing as some indivudals' handwriting is poor) is the delivery of same to you. By the time the comment arrives, your blog has rolled well beyond the topic at hand and is on to other topics and happenings.

I do weekly jottings, to remind myself what happened, did not happen or perhaps simply did not anything.

I maintain a blog which, to my surprise, has garnered some readership. Not a LOT, but some.

The purpose of the blog evolved almost immediately to a place for me to work out my own thoughts and ideas about photography. A place where I'd think through things I've read, things I've seen, and try to work through where those things might lead, what the consequences of this or that might be.

As a result, interestingly, I am much more personally vested in my photography. I take many fewer pictures, but to much greater effect. I've traveled quite far from what I thought, five years ago, I wanted to do with a camera. Where I've wound up is immensely more satisfying to me than where I was. I suppose I'm still traveling, to be honest, but right now here feels good.

And I got here by writing a lot.

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