We had a professional family portrait made in this same location when the kids were young. This past weekend, we updated it with our current family.
When I was an undergraduate student at UT, I worked for a blind professor, Ralph Read. I’ve blogged about him a few times over the years: here, here, and here. Another thing he did is write a cookbook for the blind. I was thinking about this the other day and realized that I never had my own copy of his cookbook. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I remedied that problem.
This morning I was listening to the episode of the 99% Invisible podcast about addresses. The thesis of the episode is that while addresses are something we generally take for granted, they are actually a relatively new invention. I realized that I had lived in two places where conditions mentioned in the podcast existed.
First, I grew up in a house that didn’t have a street address. Our house was on a named street, and it even had a wooden street sign where it intersected the county road, but I don’t think the street names were official and in any case nobody used them. When we gave someone directions to our house, it was “when you’re coming down the county road, turn on the first street to the right past the water tower. Our house is the first one you come to, on your left.” Our mailing address was “Star Route 1 Box 205” and our mailbox was in a bank of mailboxes about a mile from the house.
Second, the podcast episode mentions how the Hapsburgs undertook an effort to number houses throughout their empire. When I was a high school exchange student in Austria in the 1980s, I lived in the village of Großklein (that name is another story of its own), and the address of my host family was just “Großklein 26” no street name necessary. That numbering most likely dates back to the Hapsburg numbering mentioned in the podcast.
A few weeks ago–a few days after the Run for the Water race, in fact–I injured my hip while running. Last week, I went to see my orthopedist about it. As her PA was examining me, noting that I’m a lifetime runner, I mentioned that also have low-level pain in my right knee, but not enough that I’d gotten it checked out. The PA said they should X-ray the knee, too, while I was in the office.
The good news: the hip injury will heal with a rest in running, some stretches, etc. The bad news: the knee pain is due to degenerative osteoarthritis. The doctor said that they can take some measures to ease the pain but that the only remedy is a knee replacement. The arthritis will only get worse whether I run or not, and I may eventually need a knee replacement. She emphasized that running it will accelerate the degeneration. She also pointed out that I would eventually have to stop running if I had a knee replacement and that knee replacements only last a certain period of time, therefore it’s vital that I delay it as long as possible. Therefore, she strongly advised me to stop running.
I think both the doctor and her PA assumed that I would find this news devastating and that I would not want to stop running. But after a few days of reflection and talking with a lot of people about this, at this point in my life I identify primarily as a healthy, fit and active person–it’s just that running is the only way I’ve ever used to maintain that state. Furthermore, I don’t relish the prospect of increasing chronic pain and eventual significant surgery. It’s much more acceptable to me to find other forms of exercise that don’t exacerbate my arthritis and allow me to remain fit than it is to continue running at all costs. I think that swimming is an activity that I enjoy that will most easily fit into my current schedule/lifestyle. I have already been to the pool once, and I think I will try to take a swim course to learn to swim more effectively. But I’m sure I’ll continue a little running, and maybe also do some biking as well.
After I graduated high school in 1982, I spent the following school year as an AFS high school exchange student in Austria. This past weekend, I started scanning the hundreds of slides that I took during my year abroad, including the photo in this post of the village sign. Yes, I spent the year in a village called Großklein. For those of you who don’t speak German, groß = large, klein = small. Yes, I lived in big-little. Note that in Austria it’s common that if a new village springs up next to an existing one, they use the prefixes groß and klein to distinguish them. In the case, the existing village was named Klein.
Recently I’ve been reflecting on my history as an amateur photographer. I spent 1982-3 as a high school exchange student in Austria (for you German speakers, I really lived in a village called Großklein). Before I left, I decided that I wanted to buy myself a good camera. A friend had a Canon AE-1, which was the consumer-grade pinnacle of SLR technology at the time with shutter-priority auto-exposure. My dad, however, asked a professional photographer for camera buying advice, and he recommended a Pentax MX SLR camera. The only technology on the MX was a built-in light meter. As you manipulated shutter speed and aperture size, a row of LEDs along the bottom of the viewfinder indicated whether the light level was good (red – yellow – green – yellow – red).
Film photography had two big constraints that are unknown to digital photographers. The first is delayed gratification; you don’t get to see your photo until after the film is developed and printed–which was a matter of days at the very least (hence the eventual popularity of same-day photo processing). The other limitation was cost; there were three separate expenses related to film photography: the film itself, and the costs of developing the film and printing photos.
The constraints of film photography with an all-manual camera forced me to really learn the basics of photography–the interaction of film speed, aperture size and shutter speed–and to become a disciplined shooter in order to get the shot that I wanted. Taking multiple photos with different settings was prohibitively expensive; there were essentially no do-overs; and post-processing was expensive and limited only to professional photography.
I’ve been taking photographs with a digital SLR for well over a decade now, and post-processing gets easier all the time. Yet I remain a mediocre and ambivalent post-processor of my photos. I reflected on this recently and realized that this attitude is due to my long history with film photography: I still consider getting the photo to be 90% of photography, whereas photographers who grew up on digital consider post-editing a much larger and more important part of the process.
When I lived in Austria, I shot slide film mostly–it had better color and was somewhat cheaper since you didn’t get prints. All this reminds me that I still need to get my slides from that period scanned. I think I’ll work on that today.