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Sunday, 04 October 2020


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I'm a little younger than you (born in late 65) but have some similar issues. It figures that when you finally can afford a decent stereo is when the tinnitus kicks in. I was noticing this morning that my main stereo with the floor standing speakers only really sound good from moderately loud to quite loud. At lower volumes the music sounds a little lost. Perhaps the trick is to listen to it really loud, but with ear protection :) . Not sure the neighbors would appreciate that.

Your post put me in mind of this:


I drank too much coffee when I was younger and paid for it with some stomach ailments, although the coffee was not the only cause. I now drink one small cup mid-morning with a snack and I do it for the taste of the coffee. I think the mistake that North Americans make (maybe others too) is that they drink large quantities of coffee more than once per day. I've been saying for years, drink coffee for taste, water for hydration. I continue to be astonished to see the size of the cups that people order from take-out places, that's far too much acidic content, never mind the caffeine.

I think it is a generalized feature of the North American diet that we tend to over-indulge in everything, including coffee. What I've noticed is that even if I tried to drink more than my usual small cup, I don't enjoy the extra anyway. The day may come that I cannot drink any coffee, I hope not, but I know I could adapt. There are worse things.

Coffee is a tough abstinence. I was in the military and deployed to the middle of Saudi Arabia in the lead up to Desert Storm. We were bare base. No amenities at all and that included coffee. I was lucky enough to not be a borderline alcoholic (there are many in the military) so I only had to withdraw from caffeine. A lot of my buddies were also craving alchohol (stories of troops trying various chemicals like compass fluid and getting sick made the rounds). Lack of my normal 10 cups a day led to really bad headaches and fatigue could not be countered with the black nectar. Many months of this did not get me over a hump. My mister coffee is my most used item in the kitchen.

FWIW... if you Google "health benefits of coffee", there are multiple studies from every major medical research organization that say the same thing. Coffee (black, filtered without sugar and fatty cream) can stave off many ailments, type 2 diabetes, dementia, etc. So sorry it is not well tolerated by you, Mike.

The OM 50mm was the f2.0 macro lens: together with the OM 90mm f2.0 Macro, lenses that left Leica in the dust.....

Your stereo. Don't get rid of it, keep it, because you'll regret it and you won't get much for it anyway.

And don't write off probable interventions for managing tinnitus.

Unfortunately, I have reached this point with my photography as well. (Actually, I reached it two-ish years ago, but it was not until last year that I finally decided to address the situation.)

In my case, the solution was to significantly reduce the weight of my camera outfit, as my nighttime urban photo outings are done on foot -- no "drive-by" shooting for me! -- and carrying a 13.5 lb. camera / tripod combo over my shoulder for two or three hours while also walking several miles had literally started to become a pain.

However, by reconsidering my needs and saving every fraction of an ounce possible, I was able to recast my D.I.Y. FrankenKamera as a much more minimalist device. In combination with an even lighter (but slightly shorter and less rigid) carbon fiber tripod to match, I reduced the total weight of my camera / tripod combo to just 6 lbs., 12.4 ounces, which is roughly half of what my previous outfit weighed:

Yes, I know it's difficult to believe that reducing the weight of my camera outfit by less than 7 pounds could so dramatically improve my enjoyment over the course of my outings, but it absolutely has and remarkably so. (For some reason, the beneficial effects of this weight savings dwarf those from losing a similar amount of weight from around my waist, which I've done as well. Hmm...)

So, for now, I'm good to go again. 8^)

But having turned 61 earlier this year, I also know at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will find carrying a sub-7 lb. camera / tripod combo an annoyance, if not an actual pain again, and when this happens, I'm not sure how I'll respond then. Sigh...

We were on a cruise where Louis Shelton performed a mass of hits over two nights. His guitar work was on many Monkees releases. Amazing.


And then there's the Wrecking Crew:



Tinnitus can be a curse. Mine was also worse listening to our stereo system, comprising two Quad ESL 63’s powered by two vintage Quad 2 valve amps with a Quad 44 pre amplifier behind those. All panels of both ESL’s recently needed replacing. Quad in Huntingdon did the work and also ‘paired’ them (whatever that process is) which I don’t think had been done before. The sound is now much more beautiful, thanks I think to the pairing, and doesn’t worsen my tinnitus. The new Chinese made panels also seem to have a better bass. May not be relevant to your case.

Don't stop walking around places and keep some sort of camera with you. Having an eye for images and a reason to keep exercising will remain beneficial for your mind and health. Have fun choosing an appropriate camera, or series of cameras, to suit your changing carrying capacity. Best wishes and cheer up, its not over 'til its over.

Life is a continual progression/digression of adjustment and adaptation. I once thought that when one got older, at least things slowed down and got easier- the ignorance of youth. Things don't slow down, you do- and they certainly don't get any easier.

In the past five years alone, I've adjusted to digital image making, a less than convenient viewfinder, and adapted color photography. And am the better for it. Sometimes change can facilitate... change.

I have some ideas of how you might rejuvenate your photography. Take a seldom used lens, mount it on a appropriate body, and take a walk! See what you come up with. You might be surprised. Or, maybe even better, hop into the car and drive to a city. Of course take precautions, - maybe go down to Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon, and just wander like perhaps the downtown area.
I’m somewhat incapacitated, hopefully temporarily, and I don’t get the chance to use my cameras,- except when I see the grandkids. But the other day, I took out a seldom used Zuiko 14-54 zoom, a heavy lens, and had fun with it photographing the vinca in the front yard.

[Hi Fred, "Down to Manhattan" is a five-hour drive plus an hour and twenty minutes on the train, plus boarding for the dogs, plus the parking fee at the train station! And probably the cost of a hotel overnight so I don't have to do the same thing in reverse in the same day. Not so easily accomplished! :-)

Still, your advice is good. --Mike]

Adjusting your photography is different. The stereos and coffee are things you consume while your photography is a creative endeavor. It’s part of who you are. It’s something that wells up from within. It makes sense that changing your photography would be a slow and deliberate process.

I have jettisoned three vintage stereo systems over the last month but could not let go of my sainted Marantz 2238 from High school. I imagine I’ll take my 2238 to the grave. I remember my Dad was appalled that I could spend ALL of my money on a stereo when I didn’t own any speakers and could no longer afford to buy any. Dad was raising five kids on a teacher’s salary at the time. As a matter of fact, one of the stereos I just jettisoned was Dads Panasonic Solid State that sat on a wall shelf in our Family Room throughout my childhood. If I close my eyes I can still see the acres of wood paneling.

After I'd been using a view camera for years, I was getting bored and losing interest in taking what seemed to be the same photographs over and over. A friend recommended that I use a Holga to liven things up, and it did, and it improved my "seeing" and images a lot. Years later, when I made the switch to digital, I bought a Lensbaby Composer Pro and optics to supplement the Panasonic lenses for my micro 4/3 cameras. So now I usually have a Lensbaby on one of my cameras.

Also, I've broadened the presentation of my photo images from matted, mounted, and framed prints to use in collages, encaustics, and handbound books that I make myself.

I've always looked for change, and at 80 I've seen a lot of it. There's no doubt that if I hadn't changed my tools and methods and hadn't incorporated my photographs into other media, I would have lost interest and thrown in the towel on photo long ago.

So, if you want a change, Mike, and you're still using film, get a Holga or Diana; if not, get a Lensbaby. It doesn't cost a lot of money.

In some ways dropping a habit (like coffee) is easier than changing it (like you're trying to do with photography). Dropping is (generally) more about willpower, changing means you need to come up with a new way to practise it. Good luck!

Ah, the joys of aging, or in some cases just living.

As for coffee, I've been off it several times - same issue of caffeine not being compatible with my microbiome. My late 30s kid had the same problem and came up with a good solution - Tieman's low acid coffee at half-caf strength and cold brewing.

The recipe:
50/50% Tiemans medium roast and decaf. Six scoops in a quart jar, fill with cold water, let it brew for 24 hours at room temperature. Filter, add some low-fat milk (helps neutralize the acid too) and warm in a microwave.

Technically a quart is 4 cups, but I have it in about 8 portions spread over the day. No problems with it.

I know you like studying special topics - have you looked into your microbiome? It's a subject full of crackpots but is indeed being scientifically studied. I've been tweaking mine for about 10 years now, adjusting my diet to keep it happy. Probiotics, BTW, are mostly in the crackpot category - diet is the key. And my microbiome cannot tolerate tea, vinegar, fish sauce, too much salt, plus a long list...

Tiemans: https://www.tiemans.com

As for photography, I enjoy just the documenting of life everyday and the small projects I need for my work. Satisfies me.

Your writing doesn’t seem to suffer from your age. Am I wrong to suggest that growing older one gets better at it? In your case I would say Yes.
I envy you for that. I always enjoy your writing, even when it is about photography.
I think you excel in off topic writing, today’s post on getting older is a fine example of that.
Lately you mentioned several time that you are having trouble keeping up all the work that comes with the writing. I emphasize with that. So it’s getting harder to do as well.

I've have tinnitus all my life since I was young and I think was due to letting off too many firecrackers without ear protection.

As I pen this, I am conscious of my tinnitus but after a while, I ignore it. You can say that I'm a walking tinnitus.


Like you I had the same proceedure in my late 60s. I had tried giving up the coffee but that did not work, hence the op. I still drink a lot of coffee, 6-8 cups per day; the first 4 in the 2 hours after waking i.e. I am on my 4th right now, but it does not seem to affect my heart. All tests since show it is behaving normally.

I think I read recently that if you have drunk a lot of coffee all your life you can still drink at lot and not have any trouble.


We are all different.

Hi Mike, can Shake hand on both the tinnitus and the stereo issue, found that recent models are givinwg very well detailed sound that instantly gave a a nervous feeling. Fortunately I was advised to try out some of the older sets and found that this although les detailed sound did not cause that ‘nerveus’ itch during listening. Decided to recap my 1970’s Marantz receiver and have been listening daily since.......

I stopped drinking anything with caffeine in it 30 years ago, when I realized I was drinking a pot a day in the studio, AND, I had horrible neck pains and knots. After three weeks of horrible headaches, my back knots went away and I felt fine!

But, the dark bean is evil because it tastes so good, and my last job before I decided to try retirement had free high-end coffee. So I started drinking it again, just a cup a day, then a caffeinated soda here and there.

Same thing happened to me. When I finally got a doctor on Medicare, the first two check-ups were fine, then he "heard something" in my heart. Yep, a little bit of a jump every so often. He recommended I quit all caffeine again, so I did, and ...gone.

After I quit, I remembered the thing that's interesting is that you don't NEED a cup of coffee to wake up. These people that say they can't get started until they have their coffee, can't get started because they NEED caffeine. Two weeks after you quit, you don't need coffee. When you get up, you just get up, as up as you're going to be!

Mike, celebrate dear friend, you are spoilt for choice. As a 1949er I've got a few years on you, but I was sti;; getting around schlepping a Toyo 45 AX, film holders, and a boat anchor Gitzo Series 4 most weekends exploiting the gifts of Urban Anomalies presented to me. Then on December 6 last year I too experienced arterial fibrillation and, with no calamitous event, I have never been able to stand or walk again. Blood clots, clearly visible on the MRI affected neural connections to the right leg and impeded fine motor skills in the right hand. Lots of things have been given up, not just good coffee which have resulted in a weight loss of 24.7 kilos =54.5 pounds but I'll be damned if I'll give up my life-long addiction yo photography: I have a Foba ground plate and purchased an Arca-Swiss PO monoball head and I'll be out pointing shiny lenses again just as soon as COVI lockdown becomes history. Regards, Walter

[So sorry to hear that Walter, and good for you for not giving up! Read the link about Friedlander's "stems" that Neils provided. I wish you good subjects and good light! --Mike]

In the book Stems, Lee Fridlander demonstrates that even the most mundane is photographable. It is one of my favourite photo-books:

We should all be so lucky to work through how to change our approach to photography or whatever else as we age. Good on you for recognizing it and working through it, Mike. It would be too easy to just let it drop or continue to force things the old way.

My neighbour, a true old school photo dawg, has had to adjust more dramatically and permanently in his style of photography, from a free-gunning street photographer (and TV news cameraman) through the 70s to the 90s to now a fully studio-based still life / montage approach, as he has dealt with the increasingly restrictive effects of Multiple Sclerosis. He has done well and maintained the creative streak admirably, still putting on the occasional show of photographs and pushing off from a different direction. He's also gotten back into drawing / painting, as a further avenue of expression. An inspiring fellow, for sure.

Ideas and observations. That what‘s produced most of the best* photographs. Not new gadgets. So what do you think and see at 60? “What -can- you photograph?”

Joel Meyerowitz, now around 80, sold his archive and moved to Tuscany. But he’s still clickin’, just not on the streets of Manhattan anymore. He’s been doing still life photos that echo artists’ lives, for example.

But maybe it’s time to just let go of the camera. You mentioned having storage boxes of your photos somewhere. If you don’t organize and curate that material it will almost certainly end up trashed. Are you OK with that? (If so, why do you photograph at all?)

Just replaying some of the many finger wags from my own self-assessment.

* Best mainly from a personal satisfaction perspective rather than public acclaim.

Unfortunately, Mike, all of life is about making adjustments. Advancing age merely affects different things.

I'm many years ahead of you in the age graph, which fact brings no delight whatsoever. I have also had problems with my heart - two attacks, two stents and two cataract ops for the eyes, where I discovered that Hoya supplied the new lenses. (I don't see/read the logo from within as a permanent byline - simply read it in the report ;-) ) I have had innumerable scans of stomach, along with even more blood tests.

The two heart attacks and the first stent were treated courtesy of private health; the second stent through the Spanish health service. The first stent cost €3000 which I paid upfront, and for which the insurance company paid me back €2000. The second one, on the Spanish State, was free. My wife had cancer; she was a frequent patient in private clinics. She tripped over a kerb and broke her hip. She opted that the ambulance take her to the nearest hospital (State one) to end the pain. Within ten days she'd had a new hip and another cancer operation when they discovered her tumour was back. She felt the service was so good that we decided to stop the private contract. She died six months later, when the cancer came back yet again. I guess that since stopping the private insurance policy I have saved over thirty-six grand. I couldn't afford to pay that anymore.

What you need is an all-inclusive national health service as most European countries have, where you pay via taxation and the load is spread across the board. And the State doesn't send you another invoice or expect you to pay the hospital a penny. It seems incredible to non-Americans that for a leading country your politicians can't summon up that basic respect for your citizens, rich or poor. A nationally-provided service in no way precludes voluntary private health insurances for those able to afford them; it merely permits the best of both worlds. It also tends to moderate medical gangsterism and incredible fees.

Right, coffee: after my first heart event I was told one cup of coffee per day, and no more. I went along with that for many years, and when my wife died, I though the hell with it - two won't make much difference. It didn't - so far. However, since the advent of the pandemic I have not set foot in a bar or restaurant, and my wonderful machine coffees are things of the past. I now make myself a Nescafé a couple of times a day - decaffed at that. So far, so good. You get used to any taste after a while.

Stereo. I went through the stereo thing a bit too - bought into B&O. I now have forty-something year-old speakers on the wall, and nothing else B&O survived, the first thing to die being the turntable. I don't even listen to my LPs or cassettes anymore: all my music comes via the Internet into the iPad or the computer. In the car I listen to a tiny thing I plug into the socket, and on which I have about forty hours of music. Cars make so much road din that fancy equipment is a joke.

Photographic inspiration. This doesn't come - usually - from procrastination. Adopt the one-lens with camera attitude; go out and exploit that fitted lens - whichever focal length you chose. I did that ever since my wife departed, and it worked for ten years. Sadly, as I live in a large village - I hesitate to grace it with the name of a town - I have run out of options. I guess that's also your problem, living as you do in the sticks: you need cities to get life and activity and something exciting. Leiter, Klein, Doisneau, none of the great names lived in the sticks - there's nothing there but bloody sticks! I have been trying to get out of mine and to rejoin the living for three or so years, but nothing is selling, the property market deader than the dodo. To all intents and purposes I am stuck, with nothing but trees, rocks and boring beaches. My heart bleeds for you, brother. There's a huge downside to being a misanthrope, I discovered. You don't have to love people as a herd to enjoy photographing them!

As a voluntary change (some years ago), I gave up beer - and specifically English ‘Real Ale’. I started getting gout, which is not fun. I researched it, of course, and discovered that it’s largely about what you eat. Foods that are high in ‘purines’ are especially to blame, and among that category is anything with living yeast in it - for example, English real ale. So I just stopped drinking real ale; in fact, pretty much all beer, after over 40 years.

And I didn’t actually miss it - I realised that it was that first mouthful or so that I was enjoying, and not the whole pint. Although I must admit that the wine I’ve come to love has been a help.....

One of your dietary posts has always stuck with me. You spent over a year reading numerous books on diet and nutrition, and one of the things you took away was that no diet worked for everybody. We are amazingly individual in that respect and probably in numerous others.

My tinnitus only shows up if I abuse my ears. If I am gentle it fades to background. I have good Costco hearing aids and get along fine with them. glad to see you are getting. your hearing checked regularly.

One isolation related change I made this year almost on a whim was that I bought a little underwater camera (Olympus TG6). The Idea was since we are Sheltering in Places (Bucks County PA and Montauk NY, and I have a 4 year old Grandson, we would have fun in the Pool and the Ocean. Well, we did, but more than that, taking it out INTO the ocean gave me a completely new perspective on the shoreline I've been photographing from the land for many years.
Not only was it great fun, I got some nice pictures Too.

"for many years I would take a camera (...) and take long walks around the cities in which I lived." That's a good habit to keep. Forget film, keep up the walking and looking.

I’ve given up running, as two herniated lumbar disks made it untenable. I really miss it. I ran from 38 until about 60. Now I walk and hike, which I enjoy, but it’s not the same (and takes a lot longer!).

I’ve partially given up guitar, as arthritis in my fingers prevents them from bending enough to hold certain chords. I keep trying to adjust my playing style to accommodate this, but the satisfaction of strumming some open chords on a big acoustic guitar - which I started doing 56 years ago - is gone forever. Whatever fluidity I ever had is severely diminished.

As my eyesight has deteriorated the need for a variety of eyeglasses (everyday, reading, sunglasses, exercise, computer, ... ) and expense and inconvenience of dealing with them has grown. I can see fine with my glasses, but the need to have a bag with me at all time to accommodate them, along with face masks and hand cleanser, is annoying.

I’m close to disposing of my last traditional component stereo system and replacing it with yet another Sonos. The convenience and lack of clutter offered by the Sonos more than offsets my diminished ability to hear the difference in sound quality. Too many years playing that guitar in front of loud amplifiers ... .

I’m still riding my road bike, but I wonder how long before the back and arthritic hands will begin to curtail that.

This year, I’ve given up taking pictures of people in the street, as there are fewer people and they all look the same with masks on. And I don’t want to get close to them, anyway. I’ve struggled to replace it with other forms of photography, but it’s a struggle as I find people to be the most interesting subjects.

About 5 or 6 years ago I switched to m43 cameras and at the beginning of this year finished selling off my remaining gear for the Nikon F mount. Now I fear that m43 is going to be effectively orphaned. My equipment works great, and takes the same great pictures it did before, but now I need to think about what to do going forward. I think that’s a problem for a few years out.

We all face these challenges as we age and the world evolves. We have essentially two choices: to evolve with our limitations and the new world we live in, or slowly retreat into a shell. I’m trying hard to do the former.

Your tinnitus story is very similar to mine. I still have the DIY beast stereo, but have reduced the frequency of use a lot.

And of course, Mike, there is also such a thing as quality desktop audio.



You make it sound so easy to adapt, which is to renounce ... But is it so easy?

O man! Take heed!
What saith deep midnight’s voice indeed?
“I slept my sleep—,
“From deepest dream I’ve woke, and plead:—
“The world is deep,
“And deeper than the day could read.
“Deep is its woe—,
“Joy—deeper still than grief can be:
“Woe saith: Hence! Go!
“But joys all want eternity-,
“-Want deep, profound eternity!”

(Friedrich Nietzsche, The Drunken Song, from Thus Spake Zarathustra)

What an apropos post, as I stood over a drawer in my kitchen while reaching in for not one, not two, but two pinks and blues (Equal & Sweet n Lo) for my one cup of joe, something I never drank before meeting my wife of 40 years thinking how bad this fake sugar must be for me. I buy it in industrial size boxes and as the contents shrink I find it hard to believe I’ve used so much. No ill effects yet though.
As a court reporter my hearing is crucial; it’s also not what it used to be. And with depositions and the current arbitration I’m doing over Zoom, it’s harder to decipher every word than ever before. But I still, foolishly, I guess, play my stereo loud on occasion.
As for photography my hobby, I recently, once again, sold all my gear, an A9, A7r4, multiple barely used and new lenses, and bought a trailer with the proceeds. I do miss it. We shall see.

Hearing Loss: Everyone should have several sets of foam ear plugs on hand. They are very effective (32dB noise reduction rating/claim) and cost very little. I always, always, always wear these when riding my motorcycle. At highways speeds of 80 mph+ I can experience sound levels of 100 db which is just not safe for more than a couple of hours. Make sure you read the instructions on the package (not a male strong suit) and insert the foam ear plugs properly.

Here’s a link that does a nice job explaining the risks of hearing loss when riding and also provides noise levels for everyday activities as well as OSHA noise exposure duration standards.

Some of my favorite rides have been descents of the Mogolon Rim when my ears plug due to the altitude change. With my ears double plugged I can hear my heartbeat as I surf the downhill twistys.

Three days in the hospital last week confirms that aging sucks! Still I'm enjoying life, playing Pickleball here in the retirement community where I live in Arizona. I have a large format printer that I have only power cycled in the last year. While I take many photos with my camera, I only take a very few (mostly landscape and macro) with my cameras. On the other hand I am fortunate enough to really enjoy high end audio and have sold much of the photography stuff to update and thoroughly enjoy the audio-and I do that on a nearly daily basis. I had always hoped you might find the bandwidth to write more about HiFI, etc. Good luck with downsizing the audio stable. I hope you will let us know what you have and would like for it. I've sold a bunch of vintage stuff in the last two years and haven't found it necessary to negotiate much at all. Often it sells almost immediately in fact. I do wish you would reveal which speakers so disappointed you when you got inside the cabinets that you have referred to a couple of time. All the best!

Get a good quality single estate Swiss Water decaff coffee! If roasted well, it'll have oodles of flavour without the wobbles... (I get mine from Monsoon Estates and I'm gonna try Decadent Decaf, but both are UK-based; there must be US equivalents)

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