For our upcoming trip to Florida, I thought it prudent to have on-hand a waterproof and durable point-and-shoot camera, to take places that my DSLR should never go. So today I picked up the Olympus TG-820 and I’m fairly pleased thus far. Of course, in March in Newfoundland, finding a source of water in which to test such a camera is tricky. Pools typically don’t allow camera hereabouts and fingers freeze faster than a camera can shoot in the ponds and oceans just now.
To circumvent this, I’ve been fooling around with the settings and then plunking it into the fish tank to test it.
So far I rather like it. I’m not used to the Olympus interface, but this camera has a couple of nice perks. I’ll write up a review of it after I play with it a bit more.
I remember hearing bats once as a child. I must have been five or six and I could hear their high-pitched squeaks in the night while on vacation. That was around the time when I must have stopped hearing birds, too. And leaves. Words that people spoke half-fell on my ears and there are people who have passed in and out of my life without the sound of their voice ever having been more than a jumble in my mind.
I learned to read lips, to discern what must have been said from the context used and gradually as my hearing failed, my coping mechanisms evolved. My dogs always erupt at the sounds of people outside, the toaster popping, doorbells, phones, and even the cat scratching at the sofa. This is their contribution to my alert system and an invaluable one at that.
When our daughter was born, she slept in the same room as we did so that I would be able to hear her strongest cries and get up. I don’t remember her ever snuffling or snorting or squeaking, but John says she did. The dogs alerted me to her as well; wonderful Wikket, border collie par excellence.
And time went on. I heard less and less. I could not hear someone speaking to me from the back seat of the car. A tap running in the house escaped my notice and the sink overflowed, again and again. John would have to repeat himself over and over and acted as my translator, magnifying what other people had said so that I knew what was going on. And Katherine started not talking to me after school because I couldn’t hear her.
In October, I decided to see what could be done. I got my hearing tested and the audiologist came out looking at my chart in disbelief. “Do you realize that you are almost deaf? How long have you been living like this?”
Of course I realized it. I had known it for years and it terrified me and embarrassed me to the depths of my soul. It was my dark secret and one that I could do nothing about because, frankly, I couldn’t afford to and because I’d watched other people with hearing loss suffer stigmatization and frustration with technology and communication. I come from a long line of deaf people and the solutions provided always seemed measures of desperation rather than viable solutions. Hearing aids were uncomfortable, expensive and looked horrible. Plus they didn’t always help. At least, that was what I had seen.
The audiologist was adamant. They were the only solution, but (and this was the wonderful “but”) technology had improved. Hearing aids were now digital and could talk to each other. They synchronized their efforts and the solution was almost as good as natural hearing. They were more comfortable, too and discrete. They have bluetooth connections to allow me to use my cellphone handsfree, pipe the tv audio directly into my ears and (oh joy!) to listen to my ipod wirelessly.
But they came with a hefty price tag. My Oticon Acto Pro hearing aids were $2200 each. $4400 is a lot of money and hearing aids are not typically covered in any meaningful manner via health care plans. They are tax-free and an income tax deduction, but $4400 is the hell of a lot of money.
Which I bit the bullet and did. And have not regretted for one second. Well, maybe for one, just before I put them on. I went for a walk in the woods right away, curious to hear what would be audible.
Did you know that leaves make sounds? That when they fall and hit the ground they whisper? It’s not just a figure of poetry.
Brooks and streams ARE musical, I thought it was another poetic construction, but it’s true. There isn’t just one sound to them, but a running stream tinkles and gurgles and babbles and sings all in the one set of sounds.
My feet are very noisy on the running trail and that sounded different from on the road and different again from on concrete.
At Christmas I discovered that a band playing isn’t just a jumble of noises, but you can hear the individual instruments and the air and intonations of each one. Even a junior band of first-year students.
Machines hum, wind whistles, and Katherine talks to me incessantly, now.
And voices….. words have beginnings and middles and ends sound-wise as well as in terms of lettering. I can hear whispers. I can hear tones in words that did not exist before. People don’t sound at all like I thought they did and they are really, really noisy. They sniff and murmur and shift positions and click their tongues infuriatingly. They also pee really loudly. In fact, the world is a constant onslaught of sounds. It has been five months now and I still occasionally have to turn off the hearing aid or take an Advil when it gets to be too much.
Since taking over this office (that sounds a little hostile, doesn’t it?) we’ve done a number of things to make the place more ours and more functional. One of my favourite projects, setting up the fishtank, serves both purposes.
Firstly, it gives of us a built-in de-stressing zone. Law can be stressful even on relaxed days and having the ability to momentarily lose yourself in an aquatic ecosystem is a marvellous antidote. It seems to appeal to clients as well, but mostly it’s for the staff.
The tank is 55 gallons and about four feet long. While I would have loved to have done a saltwater setup, the energy and attention needed were beyond my scope and I wasn’t keen on shelling out the extra initial funds at that time, either. So we settled on a soft-water tank and my intention was to go with South American fish, for the most part. We ran the tank for a week or so, fishless, and then added five White Cloud Mountain minnows. After that, we added one or two fish every five days or so.
The large logs are real wood and they gradually leach tannic acid into the water, which helps keep our already naturally soft local tapwater at an even acidity. Plus they look nice and some of the fish really appreciate the caves and crannies in which to hide.
The tank still isn’t up to capacity, even allowing for fish to grow. Adding small numbers of fish to a planted tank with intervals in which the biological filtration could adapt seems to have done the trick and we’ve only lost one guppy (but she had just given birth, so other factors may have been at play).
We’ve had a couple of power outages and the large size of the tank has meant that the water conditions were relatively stable throughout.
The practical consideration that this tank satisfies is the stabilization of the humidity levels in the office. With a combination of electrical radiators and forced air heat, the place gets plenty dry in winter and anyone with skin ailments suffers. The fish tank has added a constant source of humidity and the positive effects are noticeable.
But mostly, it’s pretty and makes us all happy.
Somewhere on every photographer’s blog you will likely find an entry about winter sunrises. The cliché is not without merit, since sunrises are far, far easier to be awake for at this time of year. Harder on the fingers, when the windchill dips to the -20C range, but you’re more likely to be up anyway.
This one was taken this morning during a snow squall with the D7000 DSLR and processed in Photoshop. With mittens on.
Life has been frantic to the point of chaos this fall, but it’s looking like I may be able to simplify a little and get some semi-regular blog posts and photography accomplished. I picked up an iPhone 5 and am finding that the camera is adequate, but the interface is lovely.
Have to figure out a workaround for posting photos from Flickr, though. The Flickr app doesn’t have a share to WordPress option nor doe it allow me to export the HTML coding as a cut and paste into the WordPress app….