2020, the eternal dumpster fire

2020, the eternal dumpster fire

I haven't wanted to write anything for a few days because everything's negative. If you've been here before, you've heard me mention that I'm not responding to this pandemic very well. No sense lying - I'd say my mental health could use a tune-up. Don't worry, nothing existential. I have people to see and things I really want to do, if I could just unf*(k myself. I have projects that I want to do, but then that pandemic malaise kicks in. Is that really interesting? Important? It's time to get past that and drive on.

I figure there's a good chance some others are feeling that way, too. If things are feeling overwhelming, please talk to someone.

Have you seen The Martian with Matt Damon? Damon plays astronaut Mark Watney. I love that movie. I'll steer clear of spoilers, but in the trailer it's clear that Watney is in a terrifying, seemingly impossible situation; he refuses to give up. Work the problem. Stay in touch with your team if possible.

I just read an incredible article in The Washington Post's In Sight, its "photography blog for visual narrative".

After the flames: Photographing the destruction of the western U.S. wildfires

The article is by Stuart W. Palley and Karly Domb Sadof, and it focuses on Palley's photography work with wildfires and climate change. This is good, important documentary photography. It's heart-breaking to think about what a lot of people are suffering through in these wildfires. Add that to everything else that is happening in 2020, and it can get overwhelming. If you're feeling a little low, I'd suggest skipping the article for now, but I recommend bookmarking it for another day. The images and writing are great, and there are links to Palley's extensive body of work related to fires.

If I knew about In Sight, I'd forgotten about it. The New York Times used to have the Lens Blog, and it's a shame they discontinued it. Features like In Sight remind us what we've lost with shrinking photojournalism/photography budgets. I hope some of Palley's focus, drive, and commitment to long-term projects rubs off on me.

If you like discussing photography and photos, check out Daniel Milnor's Notes on Photography Episode 3. In it Milnor discusses a favorite photo of mine. I've heard him talk about this photo a few times, but I click on any article or video that features it. The Episode 3 discussion is a refreshing departure from most photo discussions that end up being more about the gear and post-processing than about the moment and the story.

Milnor describes himself as a former photojournalist/photographer. He walked away from a career in photography, and he's happier for it. He hasn't walked away entirely. He's the creative evangelist for Blurb, so talking about photography and book-making are part of his daily grind. It's always interesting to hear him discuss the difference between long-term projects and single images. It's impossible to listen to him and not think in terms of visual narratives. An extra benefit is that it helps re-wire the brain away from the dopamine hit from social media.

No, I'm not about to start a long Facebook/Instagram/Twitter rant. Just a short one. I think they're terrible companies, and I think their products are a net negative for society. But that describes a lot of things. Some people are able to use those products as simple tools that help them stay in touch with friends. I couldn't do it. Scroll click scroll click. They had to go.

I love hotels. The older the better. As long as it's not a fire trap. Black and white photos on the walls, coffee available in the lobby until at least 10 a.m., dark bar with a calm, unrushed bartender. Like the bartender in the following clip from Passengers. There are spoilers, so if you haven't seen it, stop at the 1 minute mark.

It's difficult to read about the hotel industry's economic woes. According to The LA Times, we're looking at a "tsunami of hotel closures". I'll link to the article in a moment but wanted to give you an opportunity to walk away from your computer or click on a page that has photos of dogs being goofy.

OK, here's the article. I'm not trying to serve up a stream of doom and gloom. I think it's an interesting article that offers some insights into what it means when a hotel shuts its doors or turns it over to the banks. The writer, Hugo Martin, does a good job of proving a comprehensive overview of everything affecting the hotel industry, including the perspectives of the workers, who are going to suffer the most. The Wells Fargos of the world won't be going out of business.

Hotels that primarily cater to conventions and business travelers are more at risk of closing because such travel has all but disappeared, according to industry experts. Meanwhile, hotels located in popular car-accessible vacation destinations, such as Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and San Diego, seem more likely to survive the crisis thanks to a slow increase in leisure travel.

I lied when I said this wasn't all doom and gloom. I'm out of coffee. I started writing this last night. Woke up and wanted to finish it before getting on with the day. Got one good cup of coffee, the second cup is 1/2 strength at best. I should have reached deep for some dignity and poured some tea. (The aeropress was the best purchase I've made during the pandemic. I tried to like French presses, but they're a pain in the ass. I bought mine at Café Ladro on 15th. Buy local. If you can't buy local, buy through this affiliate link. If thousands of desperate coffee addicts with no access to coffee shops stumble on my site and use that link, I could...well, it'd be an interesting case study at least. But seriously, buy local. I'm sure it's a lovely day for a masked walk to your local coffee shop.)

UHAUL pandemic moving relocating Seattle
UHAUL, Capitol Hill, Seattle, September 2020.

Once you start noticing something or paying attention to it, it's impossible to stop. I'm like that kid in 6th Sense. I see UHAULs. If I could go back in time, to the beginning of the pandemic, I'd force myself to stop and ask people where they're moving. You'd need a pleasant demeanor and maybe some things that scream I'm a reporter or something because I could see people not responding well to that question from a stranger in close proximity to all their worldly goods.

I stopped and looked at this UHAUL for a while because of the Quebec tourism ad. If I rented that UHAUL, could it whisk me off to Quebec? If so, can I stay?

I think if I want get past very basic proficiency with Adobe Audition I'm going to have to watch a painful number of YouTube tutorials. That does not seem very appealing. If I can figure out what I'm doing wrong with mics, this level of proficiency might be fine for what I want to do. I've added a short clip below in case any audiophiles stop by the site. In just about every setup I use I get some terrible interference. In this clip it sounds like I'm multitasking as a Western Union telegraph operator. The entire clip sounded like that. It was 3 different mics, inside and outside. My phone was turned off.

The other night I was walking by Tsar and got a little nostalgic. I ate there once when I lived in Fremont. I stopped and ordered some classic potato dumplings. As I was waiting outside I noticed that the crescent moon was sitting right over the crescent moon in Soju/Anju's Seattle skyline sign. Might be hard to spot.

SoJu AnJu Capitol Hill Seattle
Crescent on Crescent. SoJu//AnJu, Capitol Hill, Seattle, September 2020.

If it turns out that green chilis and garlic stave off COVID-19, I'm set. I've been adding Los Roast New Mexico Green Chile (Hot) and Sriracha's Chili Garlic Sauce to everything, sometimes to the same dish. That'll wake you up.