Goodbye Lens…and more?

Finally calling it. Time of Death: 3:12PM, Saturday October 3rd. Two years ago, on the second day of a five day hike in Patagonia, my main ‘walkabout’ lens for my old Canon T2i DSLR body went clickas I went to zoom out. Click, click. I couldn’t zoom out. Instead of a 24-105mm lens, it became a ~70-105mm lens. Not very practical for shooting landscapes. I packed it up and it was dead weight for the rest of the trip.

Of course the warranty on the lens expired six months previously. And the cost to ‘evaluate’ the repair was more than half the cost of a new one. An old colleague of mine said if I could take apart an iPod, I could take apart a lens. Probably just a loose screw.

camera repair

I tried to repair it today, being careful and diligent. But then halfway through, two screw heads were stripped beyond repair. Four screws held a bracket down. Two of the them came out without a problem. Two of them just melted at the first turn of the screwdriver. Incredibly annoying, almost like they were sabotage screws.

I tried Dremel-ing a slot in the screw head, but lacked a cutter thin enough given the small screw size. Oh well. Dad said to bring it to India this winter and see if it can be repaired there for cheap.

I was quite serious about my DSLR for a while, but when this lens went down, so did my usage of it. Without a real walkabout lens, my DSLR started to collect dust. Meanwhile, the cameras in my phone just got better and better. More convenient. More immediately sharable. More geo aware.

I’m not sure what’s next with my DSLR, but for now it’ll stay on the shelf.


I write long emails. People have told me for this years, but I keep finding myself doing it anydway. But most people don’t like long emails. They only read the first few and last few sentences of emails.

Now, it’s not always like this. On those hectic days, my notes are quick & on point. But catch me in quieter moments, and the words start flowing. I go into detail, describing context, justifications, motivations, and rationales. There are a handful of people that appreciate this, but most don’t. I enjoy writing, and words have always come easily to me.

I never really understood why people had such a negative reaction to long emails. “If only they’d bother to read them they would understand what I mean so much better!” I’d indignantly retort. Then Chrissy pointed out to me something I hadn’t considered before — it takes most people a lot longer to read my emails than I think it does. So even if they wanted to read my note, it could just be one email out of 50+ they are trying to get through, and they feel they can’t afford to spend the extra time.

I admit, that was a blindspot for me. I knew the explanation made sense, and felt I should’ve realized it earlier. I’ve always been a fast reader, and just didn’t consider the situation from a different set of assumptions.

We all probably have our own blindspots like this. What are yours?

Goodbye, Dean Smith

Dean Smith, legendary basketball coach of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, passed away last weekend. He was 83.

I’ve been to games at the Dean Dome and have endured countless days of fandom by my sisters who are proud Tar Heel alums. But I never learned much about the man until now. Reading about Dean Smith after his passing opened my eyes to just how legendary he was to the game of basketball and his Carolina family.

Apart from coaching the Tar Heels to 11 Final Fours and 2 championships and amassing 884 wins over his 36 year career, Smith also spurred major evolutions of the game itself, and pioneered strategies that are still seen today. He also ran a widely respected program that graduated over 96% of his players. And even more impactful than that, he was instrumental at de-segregating the sport in the South — offering scholarships to African-Americans and going with black students to restaurants to ensure they were treated fairly.

And he did this all with a humility and sincerity not often seen or rewarded today.

Rest in peace, Dean Smith, and thank you.

New Music: Glass Animals

Check out Glass Animals, a new band out of the UK that released its debut album ZABA last June. I first heard them on a Pandora station seeded with Sylvan Esso, and was immediately drawn to it.

This is night music; enigmatic, with pulsating undercurrents, shifting electronic-fused beats, and tribal rhythms.

Tracks to hear: Flip, Walla Walla, Pools, Hazey, Intruxx.

And listen to this one with headphones on, loud:

The Dominance of ESPN

Fascinating article from The Verge into the media juggernaut that is ESPN — and how it’s making moves to keep pace with the latest technological and social media trends.

A salient point here is that in an era in which the model of traditional television shows are being threatened, ESPN’s strategy of seizing coverage of live sports is proving smarter by the month. The speed of the internet has made the venerable broadcast news shows antiquated, the pundit-driven 24-hour news cycle being chased by the cable news network has turned their product into garbage, DVRs and mobile devices are upending traditional ways of judging success, and new actors like Netflix and Amazon are entering (and now winning) in developing popular TV shows.

But you can’t easily disrupt the live nature of live sports.

The Story of a House

Congrats to Brock for having BOOM California publish his richly textured, detailed exploration into the story of the house and land he owns in Oakland.

In it, Brock finds that the contemporary narrative of the anti-gentrification movement has in fact been an on-going cycle since the first settling of the land by tribes of the Ohlone Indians thousands of years ago. He goes back and researches the various people who laid claim to the land his house sits on, and the story of how his house and neighborhood changed in the past two hundred years.

I found in that history the pattern that I expected. One group pushes out another group, often aided by forces much larger than themselves: a royal army, a Gold Rush, an earthquake, racism, the law, or the gears of capitalism turning. Those gears grind some people to dust. Others manage to harness their power to make fortunes large and small. Whether a person ends up as the machine’s operator or its input is often not determined by anything resembling merit or even by individual decisions, however much we might like to pretend otherwise.

Go read it. (Great historical maps too!)

a thought, a spark