Friday, February 25, 2022

How many things?

Last night I watched a documentary on minimalism. The story goes that many people buy many things thinking that will make them happy. And all too often, it doesn't. Which explains why there are so many garages and basements and storage units full of stuff. (Don't get me started on the stuff itself, most of it being cheap shit you don't need made in China by near-slave labour.)

Which got me thinking about stuff. Cameras in particular, since the table with camera gear is in plain sight of the TV. So how many cameras are there?

Let's begin at the beginning, shall we? In high school, as far as I know there was only one camera in the house. The school had several cameras for the journalism class. There are very few photographs of me younger than grade 5, and not all that many afterward. Video cameras were rare. The first video footage of me was about 1997 during a work course. 

Then there were no cameras in my life till the early 80's when I bought an inexpensive point and shoot. Every mall had at least one place to buy such cameras and drop off film to be developed and create prints. Turnaround time could be between several hours and a week depending on how eager you were. We have a box full of them downstairs, and I'm thinking of digitizing them, or some of them.

 Then an inexpensive digital camera showed up for a vacation in Europe. Somewhere along the way computers and phones started having a camera in them. The mall camera stores started to disappear, along with Blockbuster and other video stores. There's still places to get film developed, but you have to look for them. 

So, cameras in this house now? Let me count, in no particular order.
Canon 6D mk 2, my primary digital camera, last used a few days ago.
Canon T6i, my backup digital for events, just in case, or a second night shoot direction, last used a few days ago.
Fujica GL690, a borrowed medium format film camera while my GW690 is off for CLA, last used yesterday.
Nikon FM2, a borrowed 35mm film camera, last used yesterday.
Nikon FE, a borrowed 35mm film camera, not yet used.
My iphone has 2 cameras, last used within a week although not for photographs.
Linda's phone has 2 cameras, never used as far as I know
My main iMac, last used a few weeks ago
Linda's iMac, last used last night.
The old iMac used for photo display, not used in years, though the iMac itself is.
The iPad has 2 cameras (I don't particularly need this, and it won't be replaced when it dies.) Cameras not used in years, unit is in daily use.
An obsolete iPhone with 2 cameras. (Does it count if the phone doesn't work any more?) Not used in years.
An obsolete digital camera in a drawer. It still works, but not used in years.
An obsolete film point and shoot. It probably still works, because what could break? Not used in years.
The backup camera in the car.

I don't know if the TV has a camera to pick up hand gestures to control it. I hope not, but at least we're always wearing pants while watching it.

That is 19 cameras! Holy doodle! Granted, 2 of them will be returned anon. Several are essentially non-functional. The car camera is purpose dedicated and couldn't be used to actually take a photo. In some cases the device itself is used though the camera function might not be.

I'm just assuming that aliens or some secret spy agency have not bugged the house, because that would be paranoid.

One of the questions to ask yourself is when you last used it? By that standard there are several cameras that could be disposed of. The related question is, when will it be next used? For some of them the answer is today, or within a few days. For others, and it should be obvious which they are, the answer is never.

The cameras are just an example. Clothes came up in the documentary. They mentioned there are now  essentially 52 seasons for clothing, as an impetus to make people buy more clothes. Same questions, when last worn, when will it be worn again? 

Making clothing has a huge environmental impact. It seems like there is more of it, but of much poorer quality. New jeans used to be nearly bulletproof and would last through several kids in a family growing out of them. I don't wear jeans anymore because they feel so cheap I'm afraid they'll fall apart while out in public. I've still got a bunch of clothing for working in an office, which I'm almost completely sure I'm never going to do again. 

But stuff is complicated. The documentary zipped past the de-stuff process. Most people hang onto stuff because they plan to use it again, or they might need it for the intended purpose or perhaps an unintended purpose, or there is an emotional attachment to it. Looking just to my left is a bunch of emotional attachment, in the form of race finisher medals. I suppose the only one I'm really attached to is Ironman Canada, but the others tell a story as well. But if I got hit by a bus and someone was cleaning up after me, they'd go in the rubbish bin. Probably most of the cameras would as well, though you could get actual money for the medium format camera, and the digital lenses hold their value quite well.

In many cases the choice is to keep the stuff, or throw it in the garbage. Yes, there are resell and donation options, but they're problematic. Often the sale price doesn't cover the fuss and bother of the sale. Some donation places are very strict about what they'll take. I've helped with the community cleanup a number of times now. Pre COVID it was amazing what people thought was suitable for a swap table. It's also amazing what people toss into the e-recycling cart and the garbage truck. Much of it is still functional, it's just not big enough, or new enough, or fashionable enough.

That word, fashion. It drives a lot of buying decisions. I take pride in being unfashionable. 

I think the minimalism guys went overboard. There is a continuum from not having enough stuff to do the things you want to do, to having so much stuff you're drowning in it. Hoarding is a real thing, and can be a real problem. Most of us are somewhere in between those extremes. Finding the right place for you and your family is sometimes a bit of a struggle. I'm thinking that if you can't get your car in the garage because of stuff, you've got too much. Under most circumstances, if you need a storage unit you've probably got too much stuff. 

How many cameras will we end up with? Probably the 2 digitals, though if someone wanted the T6 and associated lenses as a starter camera, I could give them a great deal. The medium format, just because. The other cameras are in devices, like the phone and computers. 

Where are you on the stuff continuum?

For all the talk about cameras, there are no photographs. I could include photos of some of our stuff, but that would just horrify all involved.

Of the Day



Fish Creek bridge one, looking upstream. As I look at it now, those rocks don't look quite the right colour.

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