Mountain Ranch

I am happy to report that my collection of photo books is growing.

Last week, I picked up Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser. It’s been on my list ever since I heard Michael Crouser talk about his book on NPR.

The book doesn’t disappoint. Actually that is a gross understatement. This book is a treasure. It’s a collection of black and white photographs the photographer made during a series of visits to the same Colorado ranch over 10 years.

And the entire project is made with Kodak Tri-X film.

In the afterword, Michael Crouser shares his thoughts about why he chose film. In his words:

All the images in this book were shot on Kodak Tri-X film, either with a Pentax 67 or a Nikon F4, and when someone would see me loading my cameras, I was invariably asked, with near disbelief, why I use film. I have always believed that how you say something is as important as what you say. And if you feel that photography is a form of personal expression and a reflection of yourself — which I do — then everything you do in making the photograph matters. For me, that means tactile photography. It means holding, loading, rewinding, and stashing film away in a pocket. Maybe even dropping the film accidentally in the dirt and going back to look for it. It means processing film in liquid, hanging it in the air, and printing the image with light on paper. It means using chemicals that still remind me of the first time I smelled them forty years ago. The prints dry overnight on a screen and are held up to a light in the morning to judge their qualities. Sometimes I feel that my photographs have more in common with ceramics, or even mud pies, than with digital photographs. This isn’t retro, this is who I am and who I’ve always been, and whether the viewer knows it or not, these photographs are as much a reflection of myself as they are a record of the last vestiges of an American tradition.

My goodness, that is a beautiful way of describing the magic of making photographs with film, isn’t it.

A healthier me

Exactly a year ago, I felt unhealthy.

Actually I was very unhealthy. I wasn’t sleeping well. Stress level was too high. My workout routine was ad hoc, at best. I could tell I was overweight.

I bought a scale, took a breath and weighed myself. 176lbs. The heaviest I’ve ever been.

Jesus. 

I’m only 5’7″ so this was clearly a problem.

Counting calories. 

I knew I had to change my nutrition, so I downloaded the app LoseIt and stuck it on my home page. The app prompts you for a goal weight. I entered 155lbs. I figured that was a good target. A few blogs and websites seemed to back it up based on my age and height.

LoseIt then asks, how aggressive do you want to lose the weight, e.g. 1/2lb a week, 1lb a week or more. I moved the slider to 1lb a week. The app told me I could eat 1700 calories a day. It’s easy to underestimate calories in your food, so I end up targeting 1600 calories per day.

And that’s what I did. I started counting my calories after each meals, every day. I still do this.

I lost the first 5 pounds very quickly. Most of it was water but then a few more pounds came off and the emotional feedback felt incredible.

Yet I knew that 1600 calories was going to be tough to sustain. So the best way to eat more than 1600, was to add a daily exercise routine.

Daily exercise. 

My workout routine has basically been fairly consistent since I started this journey a year ago.

I get cardio each day from running or biking or tennis. I do weights and core workouts on alternating days (in combination with a long walk). My primary goal is to burn 400 calories a day. This number comes from an Apple Watch connected to a Polar H10. I noticed Apple Watch overestimates workout calories burned, so I take that into account and set my workout target for 450 calories.

Daily weigh in. 

I weigh myself every morning. This is a critical part of my process. Since I know I’m going to weigh myself, it keeps me mentally in check thoughout the day. It also gives me concrete feedback if I’m eating more than I thought and/or didn’t workout as efficiently as I hoped the prior day.

Daily meditation. 

Mediation has become increasingly more important to me and my health. I make it a priority to meditate 15 minutes or more each day. Sometimes I use the 10% Happier app if I’m looking for guided meditation, otherwise I just set a timer on my watch. Sometimes I sit first thing in the morning. Or I walk to a local church and sit. Or at home before bed. But I sit each day.

My wife and I have taken three workshops at Cambridge Insight Mediation Center. Each workshop is a weekly 2 hour meditation class, which is combination of mindful meditation and instruction. I highly recommend CIMC if you live in the Boston/Cambridge area. I’m working through a stack of meditation related books on my bedside table. My favorite so far is Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein.

Sleep.

Getting enough sleep is critical for a healthy lifestyle and continues to be my biggest challenge. I have recently started wearing an Oura Ring and it has been helpful. I have improved from 5 hours a night to over 6.5 hours. My goal is 7 hours of sleep.

Thoughts. 

I reached my weight loss goal in 4 months. And I’ve been in maintenance mode for the last 8 months. I think each of these five areas — nutrition, exercise, daily weigh ins, mediation and sleep — are the essential things I need to keep this healthy thing going.

I am not pretending to be an expert on any of this but several folks have asked me what worked for me so I wanted to share this in a post. I’m grateful for my health and I hope I can keep this going.

weight.jpg

PS: apps & devices I’m using:

Apps: Apple Health, Health Mate, LoseIt, 10% Happier, Seven, Oura, Mirror

Hardware: Mirror, Peloton, Withings Scale, Apple Watch, Polar H10, kettle bells, misc dumbbells,

 

The openness of business software

As someone who mostly invests in consumer products, I guess I never imagined writing a post with the words ‘business software’ in the title.

But Aaron Levie’s tweet today got me thinking.

All these cloud products have substantial overlap and compete with each other. Google would love to have their users skip Box and use Google Drive. But they are building their Gsuite products to seamlessly work with their competitors.

Microsoft is doing the same thing. Azure works with Microsoft competitors. And Slack is integrating Microsoft 365 apps.

In the consumer space, we used to see collaboration. I’m old enough to remember Instagram’s location integration with Foursquare, or Instagram photos showing up natively in Twitter.  But these integrations are less apparent these days.

Vertical integration seems like the priority. I can’t imagine Apple iMessage on Android in my lifetime. Nor does Apple still doesn’t allow Google Maps and Chrome to be treated as first class citizens. Apple’s Home Pod doesn’t work with Spotify. Google’s OneBox does nasty things for the open web. Google’s smart home products don’t integrate with HomeKit. Netflix doesn’t seem to have any interest in integrating with Apple’s TV app. (I could cite more examples about Facebook’s behavior but what’s the point, really)

Don’t get me wrong. The enterprise space has plenty of sharp elbows. Microsoft is trying to clone Slack, just like MS Planner is cloned Trello and bundled it with Office365.

But I am truly curious why we do see so much collaboration in the enterprise space. I suppose big enterprise IT budgets has tremendous power. But we consumers have power too. So let’s not forget it.

 

Dominos, Better Oblivion Community Center

We went to see the new band by Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers last week in Cambridge. Great show and loving their debut album.