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Friday, 31 December 2021

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Think about learning to cook from one of those food delivery services where you do the preparation (like Blue Apron, etc). They come with instructions that leave little room for misinterpretation - so there's a picture to show what diced onions are supposed to look like, for example.

The services aren't cheap, but if you find somebody that keeps their old recipes, maybe you can borrow some to get started.

On the lens review idea, YES please.

I shoot for fun, always have, but have a terrible grounding in the properties of lenses. I sort of get some of the things they say in some reviews, the basic things mainly, but the finer points elude me. Maybe reading a few comparisons of lenses written by you could at least show me what I don't understand, what questions to ask.

Cooking is easy, the main stumbling block is the belief that it's difficult. Complex recipes might be, but don't bother with those, that's what restaurants and professional chefs are for. Start simple: stir fry some ham, onions, frozen peas, mushrooms if you have some, and pour the mixture over boiled pasta. Use olive oil. Takes 20-30 minutes start to finish. Pour bread crumbs over the top on your plate if you have some. Feel free to add/delete vegetables, only the onions are mandatory. :)

All the best for 2022.

Typing this as I listen to Bach's BWV 1042. Excellent recommendation.
As far as cooking and recipes go I find old cook books, speaking of one I found from 1939, to be full of simple to follow dishes, prepared with easy to find ingredients.
I do modify them by using less sugar, salt, and fat than called for. I don't think doing that makes them any less tasty.
To you a happy and healthy 2022. (with lots of lens reviews)

Get an Instant Pot and a good recipe book for it and you're in business. A lot of recipes don't take much prep time and they turn out well.

Happy new year Mike.
While I love cooking I rarely have enough time and energy to run complex recipes, at least not on a regular basis.
I found great comfort, pleasure ans motivation in the use of a cooking robot (Thermomix, I am unsure about its availability in the USA but you may find equivalent material). You may appreciate the fact that it guides you through the recipe and helps a lot finding new ideas with its online catalogue (the robot is connected). I find it easy, often healthy, very rewarding!

1. Get rid of every book you have about food unless it rejoices in food as a pleasure ASAP.
2. Start cooking for others--having a customer beyond yourself will lead to creativity and learning. Perhaps you could host a dinner party once a week?
3. Work out a handful of basic recipes that you like, and that can be varied. These can be adapted seasonally. I think this book by Sam Sifton at https://www.amazon.com/York-Times-Cooking-No-Recipe-Recipes/dp/1984858475/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2AX3GWWLGAGS6&keywords=sam+sifton+no+recipe+cookbook&qid=1640970531&sprefix=sam+sifton%2Caps%2C213&sr=8-1 uses this approach, but I haven't actually looked at it. He has done many wonderful articles in the NY Times along these lines.
4. Eat only "real food, mostly plants, not too much" per Michael Pollan, and always from a framework of joy and deliciousness. Shop the edges of the supermarket and make most things from scratch.
5. A great quote: "Leftovers are like money in the bank." (Cook in quantity and freeze them in smaller portions. You can also purchase high-quality frozen foods for from-scratch cooking like raw partly peeled shrimp.)

“Pretty good at lens reviews”, indeed. But maybe resolve to be careful with any picture captions. Your words often stick around.

From Mark Twain, speaking of New Years resolutions...
"New Year's Day--Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."
; )

Mike,
I would like to suggest a way to start cooking that could lead you to have many more than a dozen dinners.
I am thinking about pasta. Spaghetti or else.
It is a two step method. The steps can be performed simultaneously or you can first prepare the sauce, then cook the pasta.

1) Preparing the sauce. There is an endless list of tasty ways of accompanying pasta, cold or not. Here you find several recipes

https://www.allrecipes.com/search/results/?search=pasta

but you won't find the easiest ones, the ready-made sauces. When a student I did not have much time, I often ate spaghetti with butter or anchovy paste, tuna, olive paste (patè), artichokes paste, grated parmesan (just one sauce, not all of them), or just olive oil. Maybe with a little chilli powder or something else, just to change.

2) Cooking pasta.
2.1) Put on a fire a pot 3/4 filled with water. It has to be quite bigger than the pasta it will contain. Wait for the water to boil, then put some salt in the water, from half a spoon to an entire spoon, according to your preference.
2.2) When the salt has dissolved, put the pasta into the water. Be careful, hot water is dangerous.
2.3) Delicately stir the pasta not to get it stuck. Use some nylon stuff, they are easier to clean.
2.4) You can read on pasta packs their cooking time, which depends on their type and thickness. When the time is over, use a colander to separate pasta from water. Be careful again, hot water is more dangerous now. Personal experience :-)

Then your pasta is ready for its sauce, and you for your meal. Good appetite and Happy New Year!

I like the idea of reviewing lenses. What would (could) make use of your experience is sometimes reviewing older lenses on modern digital cameras. Plenty of folks enjoy adapting classics with modern bodies. Why do some lenses work well and others don't?

PS. Most of us will assume that over-$2000 f/1.4 behemoths are pretty good lenses. I'm more curious about optical abilities of humble consumer zooms.

Testing lenses is much easier today, with digital photography.

Regarding alcoholism, my wife and I only drink wine. Much wine. Our underground cellar is always telling us: drinking wine is not alcoholism.

We hope 2022 treats all of us well.

Lens reviews make more sense to me. Sensors and film types certainly have a role but it's the lens that really has the final say on how an image will render.

As for cooking... I'll bet you've whipped up some developers from scratch--by following a recipe. And back in the day you roasted coffee, which is just another form of cooking. Remember, read a recipe in its entirety BEFORE you begin preparation. Measure out and cut/dice or whatever needs to be done to the ingredients BEFORE you actually begin cooking. The more prepared you and your ingredients are the better your meal will be.

"I like beautiful simplicity..." Many years ago I worked for a company, Advent, that made audio equipment with this philosophy, in contrast to others whose philosophy seemed to be the more buttons and dials the better. For example, Advent made the first consumer cassette tape deck that was genuinely "high fidelity". It had the minimal amount of controls, since it was made to be used, not fiddled with. To emphasize the audio quality, Advent produced cassettes of the highest audio quality then available. If you wanted more control, Advent produced the first consumer equalizer (10 bands per channel, if I remember correctly). So you could have this added complexity if you wanted, but it was optional and separate. For more on the man behind Advent, see the Wikipedia article on "Henry Kloss". For example, "The external appearance of his products was strongly influenced by the minimalist Bauhaus esthetic style."

If you do intermittent fasting (very healthy for the body), you can eliminate one meal a day that you'd need to cook. I eat breakfast and lunch, plus a nibble in the early afternoon. All my dining is confined to 8 hours. I also go light on the carbs. Skipping eating for 16 hours a day gives your liver and pancreas a major break. Also helps control your blood sugar levels. Great for shrinking excess belly fat.

Mike, if you have figured out wet photography you have figured out cooking. Time, temperature, and chemistry. Cooking is more forgiving of mistakes. This observation is inspired by Peter Kubelka* who taught a filmmaking class by cooking a meal to teach composition and editing.
I think digital photography is more like eating, a different but related skill. (I can think of plenty of counter examples- maybe wet photography is more like farming and digital is more like hunting, but the time, temperature, and chemistry part is still apt)

I think the lens review plan is great. Camera reviews are all basically some variation on:
“This camera has a whole bunch of features that I would never use, it’s missing the feature that I would really like, and the one thing that I do all the time takes three button presses when really it out to be the main button on the camera other than the shutter. Oh and by the way why is the shutter button in such a stupid place; the designer must be half orangutan/spider monkey”
Camera reviews hardly ever address: Can you use the camera left handed? Can you use it vertically and/or waist level without buying an accessory?
Optionally and far too often:
How does this new camera model fit in to company X’s endoscopy, integrated circuit fab machinery, shipbuilding, cell phone, photocopier and video game businesses?
Throw in a few pictures of cats, telephone poles, “models”, and beer bottles and you’re done.

*Peter Kubelka is probably the most influential filmmaker you have never heard of. Certainly when you consider how short and few his films are.

Mike, a well written post as usual.
Get the food part into a Sunday Support Group post, and with a monthly revisit it may help you focus all year. The comments should be a benefit.
I have fallen off the food wagon since Thanksgiving, so it will definitely help me.

I made a resolution many years ago that I kept, but I am not going public with it bc it is too personal, but I did succeed.

I wish you a very happy, healthy and successful 2022, Mike. I hope by the end of the year, you have a dozen dinners you can cook for yourself and feel good about it.

Best to you always,
Darr

cameras are too complicated now, and I don't like the complexity and get no joy from it

Amen to this. Having to carry the user manual around just to be able to use all the camera's functions is really a technological curse. BTW, my 2019 Honda hybrid's user (owners) manual is 675 pages long. I foresee the need to lug around a laptop in order to use tomorrow's devices.

I suggest a simple rice + veggies bowl. The korean variant is called bibimbap. You can use any leftover veggies in it. If you eat eggs, have a fried egg on top. As a vegan I would suggest to leave it out.

Turn on some music or a podcast tonset the mood for cutting veggies and so on. Happy cooking !

I don’t think I’ve ever made Jan 1st New Year resolutions but there are other “New Years” (Chinese etc) and one in the U.K. used to be around April 1st which was “Budget Day” when taxes were announced for the next twelvemonth and longer. Since you mentioned addictions it reminded me that my giving tobacco on 1st April 1974 should count and, thus far, I have kept to it.

Happy New Year to you, as well. Lenses sound like a great area for exploration. One thing I have noticed in some reviews and always in the comments of high quality lenses is, really good lenses are "too expensive!" I always want to know, "compared to what?" Usually, the comparisons are not apples to apples or there is an implied suggestion that some are entitled to great glass for next to nothing. Having read your posts for years, I look forward to your perspective on value, because I know it will be informed, well written, and helpful to those who might buy a lens under review.

Thanks, and be well.

Now if I was successful like Bach I’d opt for a 911 instead of the lesser 1042. Oh that says BWV not BMW, my bad.
(I will give it a listen)

Yes! To resolution No.1, a resounding YES!

I have all the cameras I want or need. Which is good because they don't make what I like anymore. I have no love for the most recent trend in cameras: mirrorless. That is except for Fuji X-Pros and X100's, which are special, and Leicas, which are fantasies. But I do enjoy lenses. I like reading old reviews of old manual focus lenses and early AF lenses. Not so much modern "perfect" lenses. But, overall, lenses fascinate me. So indulge me. Please.

I think I threw it away some time this year, but I had a half-page paper where I had written about five things to do. I titled it, "Resolutions for 20##." Each year, I would cross out the old year, write in the new one, scan the list, and find that no change was needed. As in, I didn't do any of them.

Thoughts on your numbers 1 and 2:

Keeping the camera stable, while varying the lenses, sounds to me like a perfectly reasonable way to go about things.

As to cooking, I learned how because I had to, some 50 years ago. I keep a slim clip-binder with my "repertoire" of recipes. These are in addition to a few things that I don't need a recipe for. Every so often, I'll unclip all the pages, and toss out the ones I've made once, but never repeated. There are perhaps 15-20 pages in the binder. Any more and it would become a "collection," and I have too many accidental "collections."

I would think that there are recipes a-plenty in your WFPB books to find a varied, delicious and not too challenging dozen meals.

Cooking can be fun if you approach it properly.

Mike- thanks for the Bach played by Hilary Hahn! What a great New Year's Eve treat! Best wishes for a grand new year and for your excellent TOP.

Les Myers

Happy New Year, Mike.

I do look at lens reviews, but generally on YT and only for my camera make (Sony, as it happens). With the likes of DPR, Dustin Abbott and Christopher Frost, what additional info or insight are you intending to add?

A big YES for lens reviews! I'd hope the reviews might lean toward the characteristics that a lens would give to a printed photograph of usual size. For me, that's where 'the rubber hits the road'. Comparison of prints made from compared lenses would be a fantastic contribution to what is otherwise available on the web!

My resolution is to make no promises in 2022 and beyond. I don't think I have ever made any New Years resolutions in my 77 years. I think that's a pretty good record.

Sort of a tangent to lens reviews: I've been skimming through sections of _Modern Optical Engineering_ by Warren Smith. There'a lot of math that only an optical engineer could love, but there's a lot of information about optical materials, fabrication methods, etc. that I found fascinating. It gave me a much greater appreciation for the whole process of lens making, and for the remarkably low prices that these exquisite objects sell for - remarkable when you consider all that goes into making them. I'd suggest borrowing the book through your library (it's expensive) unless you're going to take up optical design as a career.

Happy New Year, Mike (and all TOPers). I have a couple of resolutions:

1. Get out more with the camera.
2. Lose the Covid 15(lbs).

Thanks for the musical link. Hilary Hahn is my favorite classical performer these days. She's a wonderful violinist and is also very accessible, playing on NPR's tiny desk, etc.

I often go down musical rabbit holes on Youtube, and one day I came across this short performance to which I often return:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1ZL5AxmK_A

I love the vibe of this session. Casual dress, warm lighting, people passing by the windows (looks cold out).

[That's lovely. Thanks Rick. --Mike]

Mike, I think lens reviews are a great idea. Disregard the naysayers, I say!

You are right in saying that the only way out of alcoholism is total abstinence - and not a drop after that last one. Alcohol in any fancy form and name is actually a toxin.

It seems to me that the world of lenses is in a period of expansion, with new brands (mostly Chinese) popping up all the time. So I think you have identified a promising niche. I write that with a caveat though.

If there is a problem with the idea, I think it is that the cameras whose complexity you decry are also manipulating data from the lenses, even in RAW mode. So a review of, say, a Sony lens has to be done on some platform -- probably Sony -- that is tweaking the ones and zeros according to some secret sauce coded in the hardware. I guess I am asking whether a "lens test" can be separated from a camera test in the real world.

Sean Reid did a pretty good job on lens reviews on his paid site (at least when I was a subscriber), and of course DPReview takes another tack (I think of DPR as the intellectual heirs to Herb Keppler--take from that what you will). I am betting that you have a specific format in mind that will be unique to TOP.

I used to be a subscriber to Sean's weblog but lost interest over the years. Part of the reason was something I will affectionately refer to as Puts-ism (as in Erwin). When you get to descriptions of micro-contrast on a lens, unless the reader has something to visualize, the description doesn't mean much. And the test images Sean used were so low contrast, that I could never tell from the images whether the lens being tested was the "one" for me, because I was never going to take a picture of a plywood board with items glued to it. I wound up mostly reading his reviews of lenses I already owned, to see whether I agreed with Sean's assessment.

I think lenses are just part of the photographic equation. I agree with those who think your strengths lie in the human experience of observation and what happens when we try to capture those moments. All the steps and equipment involved are just meaningful choices we make, some more important at times, others not. Stick with your well-rounded experience that embraces photography as a whole, highlighting things with particular expertise when needed.

I work in mental health and the story about the guy who had to choose between quitting or his job saddens me: research shows that ultimatums and contracts such as this simply do not work. People participating in self-harmful behaviour of any sort need support, not punishment.

Mike, I recommend you read about a counselling style called motivational interviewing, as it is built on the same principle you give that 'we all actually know what we have to do'.

In terms of lens reviews, I would prefer this for older lenses which don't have so much data on them. I think this would be especially interesting for fixed lens rangefinders, for example. All modern lenses are good.

Rather than gear reviews, more posts on printmaking, digital monochrome techniques, etc. would be more informative in general I think.

Learn to cook: Like you, I’m not much of a cook and don’t particularly enjoy cooking but I’ve found value in the America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cook Book and Cooking School Cookbook. This is the only cooking show I’ve ever watched (PBS) and I’ve always appreciated how they combine the artistry of cooking with a little chemistry and a Consumer Reports approach to the ingredients and paraphernalia needed to get the job done.

I think it was their honest approach to the ingredient and paraphernalia reviews that first drew me in. Not many people or organizations seen on TV are willing to tell you what sucks and why during a side by side comparison of brands we all know before telling you what’s great and why. I also appreciate the fact that they will methodically cook a recipe a dozen different ways to learn what’s best and then report any happy accidents that occur along the way. Happy New Year!

Yes, sort of. I once managed to stop smoking for over a year on a New Year's resolution, but that was just barely. The second time was also a New Year's resolution and it was both more and less successful than the first. "Less" because I "cheated" that year, but "more" because on a more important level it was the beginning of a long, difficult process of quitting for good.

I think many resolutions fail because of unrealistic definitions of "success" or "failure". This is a kind of poor planning, and whether due to sloppiness, arrogance, dishonesty, or something else, it paradoxically (perhaps intentionally) sets up convenient excuses to declare "failure" and give up.

But it's possible to disallow that kind of self-sabotage--to commit to an ultimate goal while admitting that our methods and arbitrary thresholds are nothing more than experimental essays, and certainly not opportunities for fruitless judgment or convenient escape hatches.

Also, I found that taking up a healthier habit (obsession?) as a substitute for the unhealthy one was helpful. In my case, that was photography.

I think you're mostly veggies and whole grains now. For me, a revolution in my cooking came when my roommate taught me how to carmelize an onion in (olive) oil. Suddenly a diet of mostly vegetables seemed possible to me. It wasn't just the onion itself, but rather me learning to pay attention to the timing and transformation of raw stuff in a skillet. I think it's akin to when a person discovers that the light/illumination matters for photography, not just shape and composition.

All those things I hated as a kid-- onions, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts-- I could see why people actually chose to eat those things, and maybe even preferred them. Similarly, a thing to do that's simple: lots of veggies become amazing when sliced thin, roasted under the broiler with a little olive oil. Easy to do, plop on some brown rice or whole grain. Yum.

I think I subscribed, when I paid attention, to Mark Bittman's view on cooking. Basic techniques done right, good ingredients, bringing their flavors out, not burying them. I think he's moved away from meat as of late, so maybe check him out. I also think he's a fan of pasta which I think you are against. So you'd have to take him with a grain of salt, pardon the pun. Smart guy, direct, to the point. Loves to think about food.

I've been making the same resolution for more than 3 decades now and always keep it: Long ago I resolved to never waste my time making new year's resolutions.

I agree with some others that there are plenty of equipment reviews; so many they are boring. I've gotten so tired of the technicrap about cameras and lenses. I'm enjoying my new Nikon Z-fc because I set it up to operate just like my FM from 40 years ago and only diddle with 2 controls - exposure compensation and conversion from B/W to color. Now I take photographs instead of trying to use some overcomplicated gadget.

Might I suggest you spend some time looking at photography and photographers. For example today's NYTimes has a super article on someone I never heard of but really like his work - Richard Benson. And he started in the darkroom! (Humor: your spellchecker changed darkroom to doom!)

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/30/arts/design/richard-benson-photography-review-philadelphia.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Art%20and%20Design

On learning to cook, you need motivation. Best motivation is liking to eat. If you consider food mere sustenance, it's hard to get motivated. If you relish the taste, texture and even nutrition of food, it can motivate you.
Me, I just love to eat good food. I found that most trendy restaurants and many recipes are trying too hard. Good food is not food for Instagram - it's for your taste buds and gut.

Mike,

Please, consider more Book Reviews!

I'm sure you would bring a new, enjoyable, and unconventional narrative, to lens evaluation. But for me, I find your posts on photography books and related arts to be unique in their frequency (especially with the new "Book o' the Week"), the quality of the books selected, and your commentary. I find myself heading to the library or the bookshop/online sources for a good many of the books I find here, including those suggested by TOP readers.

If you could just do one new (photo-related) thing in 2022, my vote would be for photography book reviews. I don't know of anyone else who could come close to your style and competency.

Best wishes to you for a peaceful and stimulating 2022.

I'd enjoy reading more of your lens thoughts. No particular need to MTF charts or measurements of distortion—you have an eye for the way a lens draws (if that's still the right term) and your thoughts would be very interesting: a counterpoint to all the measurement-based reviews.

I treasure your lens reviews because they aren't technical, they are informed. I don't care how many lines it resolves, I care if it's a good lens. Your reviews tend to make me curious to try a lens or warn me off from bothering, which is what I'm looking for, so hopeful we see more reviews!

Mike, I have to lean towards the thoughts of Tom Burke and David Francis. The phrase that comes to mind here is "do only what only you can do." You bring something to this space that doesn't exist elsewhere. True knowledge and appreciation of the craft of photography. Sometimes that is in the form of a lens review and your unique take on the character and personality of a lens as opposed to the MFT charts is a part of what you provide. But more unique and valuable are the "Redact and Reify" posts. The posts about who we are as photographers. Why do we do this? What motivates us and keeps us chasing images? A post about an unknown photographer or a book we might love - with your take on why this person's work is great. So sure, give me a lens review or a cameras review, but that stuff is everywhere. Honestly, I'd be more interested in reviews of images. Bodies of work. Photographers. A 25 year old gearhead can regurgitate specs. I prefer your expertise and opinion on photographs, prints, books.

I'd like to recommend batch cooking for your 12 dinners plan. I have health problems that mean I can't stand at the stove for long, and certainly not every day. So I've collected recipes that can be quickly and easily batch prepared and then frozen in single portions (either cooked or raw, I have some of each) and reheated/cooked in the microwave/oven/airfryer/whatever when it's dinner time, with minimal attention.

Soups and stews are obvious, but my latest favourites are sheet pan dinners - they're great for crispy texture etc. Once I get a few batches in the freezer, I choose whatever I'm in the mood for at dinner time with almost no thought or effort required.

Sheet pan dinners are really easy - shove a few veggies and proteins on an oven proof tray, add some oil if you want, and maybe some flavours like garlic/herbs/spices/lemon/whatever, put tray in oven until done. Choose your ingredients a bit carefully and most will freeze just fine in their raw state (you can always add more delicate ingredients on the day of cooking if you prefer).

“I had the bright idea that what I should do for TOP is review lenses.”

I wish you a healthy and very rewarding 2022, Mike. But, for a medley of sound reasons, I don’t believe that this would be a viable direction toward those goals.

This reader would love to see lens reviews. However even better would be reviews of older lenses of various shapes and sizes, from legends to diamonds in the rough. I don’t care to see MTF charts and the like, I’d want to know how you like shooting the lens, how satisfied you are with the images it helps you make, and just an overall impression of the je ne sais quois. I love how you write about equipment, especially older equipment; it’s a far cry from both the chart and test shot intensive sites and the YouTube reviews, and the work you make with the equipment is always understated and beautiful. So yes to those sorts of lens reviews. For the first one can you get someone to lend you an 8 element Takumar 50?

As an aside, I think review like this could get some traction and a good amount of clicks. Shooting old lenses seems to be very popular right now (especially if prices are any indication) but most reviews of such are not great. Having a mature photographer with a gift for writing put together some reviews in this genre would be amazing and would likely attract the type of reader who would stick around.

I smiled after reading your resolution on learning to cook; several times in the past, when I have read your articles on diets and so on, that idea came to my mind: you don't need to have diets; you need to learn to cook your own, healthy food, and stick to old principles of nutrtition. Here we call that the Mediterranean diet (lots of vegetables, legumes and fruit, meat, fishes; all home made, using good quality products; and some toasted bread and full milk for breakfast) , but you can call it as you want.

In any case, happy new 2022 and I hope you discover soon that cooking can be also fun if you have an open mind. Actually, my wife (now in her mid 50s, working as Biology teacher since she was 23) enrolled this year in a course of vocational training for cookers. She is already an outstanding cooker, but she wanted to learn more because she thinks cooking is very fun!
I am a much less accomplished cooker than she is, but I also think cooking is fun, and when you learn a little bit, eating your own food can be extremely satisfactory, besides healthy and interesting.

Best wishes Mike. Excuses for my slow reaction. Had to get over my hangover from New Year’s Eve.
Last year you made some changes that work out very well. Publishing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the comments on the days in between plus the weekly recommendation of a new book or product give TOP more structure. I would welcome a lens review on a regular basis too. Lens o’ the Month? There are so many new lenses that deserve attention. Innovative designs that we have never seen before.
I recognize your cooking problem. I love cooking but when I was a bachelor my motivation wasn’t always there. The best way to solve that problem is to find a partner, so you can share that cauliflower and don’t have to eat it for five days in a row.
And don’t eat any pasta that no Italian grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

I'm not sure "reviewing" lenses is quite what you should do. But...can you write about specific cases of how different lenses actually render scenes differently? That's very different from MTF at various apertures and such, and possibly much more interesting. Especially since there are more and more new lens companies showing up, making lenses for Sony and sometimes M43 and various others. Quirky interesting lenses may be making a comeback. (Competing with Roger Cicala is not your winning strategy of course!)

(If you've got a "full-frame" mirrorless body it should be somewhat possible to actually illustrate the differences, with photos taking from the same tripod position within minutes of each other using the different lenses. If you don't, probably this is NOT the right path to go down.)

You said you'd never kept a New Year's resolution, but the timespan you gave for being sober seems to suggest that you stopped drinking right about on New Year's, so maybe you can claim credit for that, even if you didn't phrase it to yourself that way?

Your test for being an alcoholic implicitly defines anybody who ever drinks as an alcoholic. That's bad rhetoric, among many other things. Huge numbers of people drink now and then without messing up their lives at all. Some people mess their lives up badly with alcohol. Some people never had a problem and never found alcohol of any interest. I dunno that it takes all kinds, but it appears that the world has all kinds in it. People who have problems with alcohol should find ways to stop having those problems, and one way is to stop drinking entirely, fine. It's not actually the only way.

[That's not true; you've been misinformed.

Alcohol is a selectively addictive substance; in fact, the WHO does not even classify it as addictive because heavy exposure to the drug results in addiction such a low percentage of cases. But for those who ARE addicted to it, the only choices are total and complete abstinence, or the progression of the disease.

There are two possibilities that might mislead you to make the statement you did. One, you might be considering cases of non-alcoholic (non-addicted) heavy or steady drinkers. Or two, you might be mislead by cases in which alcoholics are temporarily controlling their problem successfully. Such periods of apparent control can go on for years. But I repeat, for those who are alcoholic, the only choices are total and complete abstinence, or the progression of the disease. --Mike]

Oh, and dinner. I'm not a super-energetic or really fine cook, but I invent recipes as needed, in addition to just bending the ones I get elsewhere.

Especially when cooking for one, which is what I've been doing the last few weeks, I get a LOT of mileage out of freezing leftovers. For many dishes, making twice as much is very little extra trouble. Or four times as much.

I have also become very fond of the Instantpot for this; pot roast, chicken or pork taco/burrito filling, red beans and rice. Also turkey stock, twice in the last few weeks. And in the summer it doesn't heat the kitchen up much.

So, tonight I think I'm having commercial chicken tortellini (1/4 of a big package, frozen for weeks now) with home-made frozen marinara sauce, or else my own chicken tinga filling (from frozen single portions) in a big flour tortilla with rice, sour cream and red salsa (i.e. a burrito, but not frozen assembled).

Learn to bake your own bread. Been a life changer for me. Ken Forbish's book Flour water salt and yeast is a great start. Nothing like freshly baked bread...and yes, lens reviews!

I've never read a review of photography gear that conveyed any insight whatever pertaining to the crux of the matter.

Best avoided.

Mike, from my own perspective, I agree with what John B. Gilloly wrote in his comment. I would say, rather not more than a lens review per month. On the other hand, if lens and camera reviews are all over the place, it is because there are readers interested in them. They bring traffic and thus also sponsors and advertisers willing to support the sites. So, yes do your kind of lens reviews, sprinkle in a bit of the other stuff into the reviews so that those new readers who come just for the lens reviews can see what other great content there is in TOP.

As for cooking, once you know the basic technique, experiment with variations. That is where the fun is and what makes every dinner different. For me starting from the ingredients at hand rather than from a recipe makes cooking most enjoyable. It becomes an entertaing creative experience that following step by step instructions never is for me. (I do use recipes from books, but I usually use them as sources of ideas or starting points for what I actually cook.)

Lens reviews? So boring, and there's a glut of lens and equipment reviews all over the internet. I don't read TOP for the hardware. I read it for the craft and quirks of photography and photographers. That's far more interesting, and you're good at it. Hell, I'd rather read about your pool table or latest diet than a new lens.

Sorry - late to the party on this but I just saw the following on the DPReview site

https://www.dpreview.com/articles/7490832081/through-a-different-lens-why-we-re-changing-the-way-we-process-lens-images?comment=8907478977

Seems like everybody is struggling to understand how to categorize lens performance these days.

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