Another afternoon wandering Tempelhofer Feld with my camera. After yesterday’s messing around, I did some reading the fucking manual to remind myself how to use an expensive camera and lens. And I learned the 16-80mm F4 lens can also do passable macro at the zoomed end. Which obviously I like, especially if I ever go back to a museum and shoot art.
First stop, the skate park, for some boyz and lads doing ollies and kickflips. And took probably the photo of the day: someone doing a 360. Bit of a walk, bit of a sitdown to work out what buttons I’d pushed and why camera was being weird (accidentally nudged the dial to HDR), shot some cyclists in full aero TT mode. More walking and almost stomped on spring flowers being highly ostentatious, which is where I tested out exactly how macro can I go? Actually very, and the detail is mad.
More walking and got told to smile by some gormless wanker. Joke’s on you, dickhead, I already was.
More walking and these Skylarks were getting well rowdy. And fully not afraid of people, so I just stood there while one came right up scratching for a feed. Photo wasn’t so good though, but once again, yay zoom. And then took a photo of the almost full moon, which I looked at when I got home, and insane detail zooming in in the raw image, the mare are clearly visible, as are the bright craters and rays of Tycho, Copernicus, Kepler, and even Aristarchus. That’s hand-held auto-focus, in daylight with a heap of haze and high cloud, and the moon about 25° above the horizon.
Getting my arse back to Tempelhofer Feld for an arvo stroll. Haven’t been there since mid-December apparently. This time with my still-new FujiFilm X-T4 camera, despite the absence of sun and blue sky. Training my fingers and brain for where everything is amidst all the dials and buttons, and learning what kind of photos it takes.
Besides changing the auto-focus, I’m still shooting very default at the moment. Having a proper zoom lens is by far the one thing I’ve been missing, as well as the combo of substantial slabs of glass and sensor allowing me to shoot zoomed in with low light and still get sharp images at an acceptable exposure time. Actually playing around with ISO, aperture, exposure, and all, as in actually using an expensive camera properly, is somewhere in the future.
As for the photos, all but the last are the jpg versions of the raw photos the camera creates. I find them a little over-exposed (not so much the dim ones here) and flat compared to the raw originals, but I can’t be arsed spending time making them pretty. Except the last one, which I needed to rotate a little and the jpg really looked average. I also need to learn Affinity Photo, which I started using when I ditched Photoshop. The photo is far from great, but it is movement and one of the reasons I bought this camera was to shoot movement – dance, cycling, sport, motorsport, people moving.
Currently writing this on old MacBook Pro which has done 8 hard years under my fingers, and had the entire top case, keyboard, and battery replaced. And is running a tiny bash script which keeps the CPUs ticking over at a minimum of 5% so they don’t decide they’re asleep and randomly shut down.
New MacBook Pro is currently updating itself.
New MacBook Pro is a 16” M1 Pro with 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD. Which is kinda insane.
I took a few weeks last year to make a decision. More RAM? M1 Max? Bigger SSD? What combo of what? And most importantly, what colour? Which was Taner’s call. “You sure you want Space Grey?” Turns out I wasn’t. Silver it is.
I picked it up from Katrin and Taner a week ago, left it unboxed until yesterday when I had some calm, and now doing the massive migration.
Things I really like: Return of MagSafe! Which is Apple’s best invention. Braided power adaptor cable with plugs at both ends! I love braided cables (not sure how dirty it will get though), and hopefully it solves one of Apple’s biggest downers — the frayed cable at the MagSafe or adaptor ends — with a replaceable cable instead of trashing the whole thing. Return of the original TiBook blocky style. Tasty.
Obvious things I really like: Fuck me that’s a big, bright screen. Very different keyboard not requiring me to retrain my finger habits. Massive trackpad (requiring … finger habits). Touch ID. Which I don’t use for critical things like logging in but there’s plenty of other situations where it’s useful as fuck.
Things I have no idea about yet: How fast is it, actually? I went for 32GB of RAM over M1 Max because my current laptop was almost top of the line back in late-2013, and 16GB of RAM has held up well (even with terribly coded ‘modern’ websites and browsers). The 500GB SSD always felt kinda tight when my previous, 2008 MacBook Pro had a 1TB spinny drive. Battery life is supposed to be ‘up to 21 hours’, but realistically getting a day’s work out of it without a recharge, or an evening’s series binge, would be awesome.
And the big thing: How many years is it good for? 8 years on my current one and the main reason I bought a new one was I needed to get rid of some money. High on the list of other reasons were: it’s feeling old and a little creaky and slow, and it might decide to actually die at any time — or keep running for years. Dasniya has my 2008 laptop which still does occasional work and it’s still running slow but ok. Also high on the list was ditching of the Touch Bar, return of MagSafe, and arrival of M1. But I’ve spent on average 4–500€ a year across 4 laptops since 2002, and while they last a lot longer now, they’re also a lot more expensive. So, is 8 years realistic? Especially on the whole M1 hardware.
Somehow I’d like to not have to buy a new laptop again. I have no idea what my life might look like where I’m doing the work I enjoy and have no need for a laptop though. Being a poor who has very carefully balanced a shite household budget for decades means while I might be able to afford to pay for this, I never know if I’ll be able to afford having it. And yes, for anyone who thinks buying this does not equal poor: it’s a very large work expense, it’s one of a number of large expenses I had to choose between — including those trans expenses which I don’t know if I’ll ever fully cross off — and for most of the last decade I’ve been wearing the same clothes and cheap underwear. It’s beautiful and a little intimidating, and I’d love to enjoy it fully without worrying about how near-future me might be in a situation where I can’t afford the basics again.
Yah, so, obligatory unboxing photos, which are not especially aesthetic but I took as I was seeing it for the first time.
I know! It’s been a month since I haemorrhaged 💶💶💶 for a fancy new FujiFilm X-T4 camera, and now, thanks finally to Berlin backing off on the shitful dim grey and showing some sun (after snowing, which means funtimes on the shitful Berlin sidewalks which are fully glassy with ice), I point-and-clicked.
To be fair, I have spent a few afternoons and evenings without the lens attached going through settings and dials and reading the manual and connecting camera to phone, so it’s not like I stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it. Though I did forgot everything I learned and was feeling like a child playing with a very expensive racing car.
Yeah, I blew a shitton of 💶 on a FujiFilm X-T4 camera with the XF 16–80mm F4 OIS WR lens. It’s a very expensive gift to myself I’ve wanted for years: a proper, interchangeable lens camera with all the manual fun stuff and a big enough sensor to do ‘serious’ stuff. As for why FujiFilm instead of my fave Panasonic for the last decade, or second-fave Canon? Aesthetics. Purely aesthetics. And it’s a seriously good camera. Also aesthetics.
Rando bit of very late in winter these days snow last week. Probably the last cold-ish weather till next winter (when we’ll still be in lockdown ’cos haha isn’t Germany slash Europe doing well?!? Dying. (Figuratively, yo.)) And the crows are back in their precarious nest high up in that tree in the centre. The small black blob midway from bottom of photo to crown of the thin trunk is them.
Late-December last year, I got paid in one hit for a bunch of work on a couple of projects, that contemporary dance thing in Europe of getting cash after the work was done. One of those was the solo which got canned a few days before première (thanks poor response in Germland and EU to global pandemic) which we’d been working on since January.
So, I had mad cash and, for possibly the first time in my life, no pressing obligations. Also not mad enough cash that I could do bougie middle-age things like get a mortgage. Cash enough I’ve been working my way down a list that’s a decade old in places of stuff I need to buy. Like new underwear and socks.
And then there’s the big items. Big for me and pretty much everyone I know. The kind of things which cost up to a couple of thousand and actually cause me cold sweats when I think of doing the spend. ’Cos what if, tomorrow, I’m fully povo again and a couple of hundred is the difference between eating, making rent and all? Except this year I already have work till August and money-wise — ’cos I’m good at living on fuck all — I’m kinda sorta maybe doing ok.
I’d been struggling with training over winter. My back blew out in November, I was feeling well too soft to be doing 90-minute rides in below zero weather, and my base training felt majorly on a plateau. I’d been thinking of buying an indoor trainer for years, very attached to the idea of getting rollers rather than one of those remove the back wheel direct trainers, but somehow over the last few years (thanks bogan mountain bikers on a YouTube channel I watch far too frequently), I went for the latter. Went for multiple times and nah nah nah I’ll come back in the morning, need to sleep on this massive decision, only to find them sold out for more weeks, repeating this until a month ago when there it was in the morning, still available.
It arrived within days and sat there, unboxed for three weeks. Because I needed a 10-speed cassette for it, and decided to get an isolation mat and cadence sensor and new heart rate monitor and … and … absolutely spraying money around. And I knew I’d need a calm few hours to do the setup, get it all working, get a feeling for it. On Monday, I did that.
And joined Zwift.
Total fucking bougie middle-aged cunt on a bike.
Yeah but I’m also a semi- / ex- / occasional- athlete-ish dancer-ish professional who knows very well how much I fall apart if I don’t train and it’s work and an actual work expense and a serious commitment and investment.
For the moment I set up in my kitchen. My balcony has some weird, complex slopes I need to make a trip to the Baumarkt to get some levelling blocks to sort out. I put myself through the intro 5-day training plan, 30 minutes each ride and fuuuuck me I have to face the shame I might have never pushed myself as hard — or maybe as structured and intense within that structure, even though I like suffering. It’s very different having actual numbers on a screen to correlate to feeling, and to have to stay at certain numbers for more seconds or minutes than I’d do when doing laps at Tempelhofer Feld and doing it on feel. Mostly it feels like what I get in 30 minutes on the trainer is about what I’d get from an hour at the airport. And if I did my casual longer warmup and cooldown, 15 minutes either side, it’d maybe be comparable. Still though, I haven’t ridden since November, and very not in endurance and high-intensity shape, and I might be in love with how good a fit an indoor smart trainer is for me. Especially because I can set it up at 9pm and do a session in the dark.
And it occurred to me over breakfast that I needed a trainer if I ever wanted to make those solo endurance works, Preparation, and Hell of the North. And now I have one.
Yeah but the bougie, white, racist, cisgender, heteronormative, ableist, masc-centric, middle-class and all miasma is what cycling soaks in, road cycling especially, and online smart training environments even more so. There’s almost not a day that goes by where there isn’t another story about legislation to ban trans kids or athletes — almost always girls, femmes, and women — from sport, competition, changing rooms, swimming pools, and all. I barely ever see a rider who isn’t white — and yes, this is why riders like Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Teniel Campbell and Ayesha McGowan are important but aren’t in themselves or as ‘representation’ enough alone. I’m acutely aware of who I am when I’m in lycra on a bike in that environment. I’m acutely aware also, when I’m in queer and trans spaces, that my decades-long relationship with and love of physicality, training and the discipline that is part of professional dance which I carry into riding, climbing, and everything else, all this has a very uneasy, fraught and painful relationship of its own with and in those spaces. How my trans-ness, femme-ness, queer-ness bangs up against cis AFAB queer spaces has a history of exclusion that has an eerie familiarity with sport.
Shit’s mad over-complicated. I just wanna ride and thrash shit.
I can tell my mood by how often I blog. Honestly, there’s not a heap to blog about these days, and hasn’t been for the last year.
I’m doing ok. I’m surviving.
I’m trying to ignore how appallingly bad the pandemic has been handled by Germany and Europe and much of the rest of the world. I’m trying to ignore the plans I had and the desires I have. I’ve done good work in the last year. I’ve lost my shit a couple of times and truly, no fucks given. I like the person I am when I need to be harsh.
I’m deeply sad at how the pandemic has been handled has disproportionately hit trans and queer people, and Indigenous, Black, Brown, and migrant people. And how selective access to the vaccine is exacerbating this. And how all we hear about is how tough it is for ‘families.’ Dog-whistling so loud I can smell it. It’s on-going grief and I survive because I survived before.
I got the novel — which I gave myself to during post-surgery recovery back in late-2019, finally having time for art again and it flooding out — to a 4th draft and people are reading it. And that’s a madness ’cos I never believed in myself on that.
I’ve really lost it on training though, especially since blowing my delightfully petty back to shit in early-November. I think it’s that ‘surviving’ for me is mental and emotional discipline and training has always been that as well and I don’t have much in the tank at the moment for pushing myself.
I’m really missing physical contact, seeing the same three people for a year, sometimes only once every couple of weeks. It’s austere as fuck. It’s what it takes. It reminds me my neurofuckery, which tends towards a lot of time on my own while still loving being around people, has not aided me in having a lot of close friends in Berlin. Or maybe that’s on Berlin.
I wanna say, “It’s all good,” ’cos I can do this for as long as it takes. It’s not though, but whatever, suck it up till it’s done kinda thing.
Anyway, this was supposed to be a couple of lines reminder to myself, and now it’s a long, unformatted few hundred words. Fucking weirdarse twelve months which mainly dialled up the contrast on how shitty our current era of late-, high-, necro-, 500 years of- capitalism is, how like an authoritarian dictatorship democracy looks these days, nah it was always that.
It was Strada Bianche yesterday, one of my fave bike races. Weird as watching the women thrash it out. Doing anything we love in a pandemic feels weird. It’s also rhubarb and asparagus season (green thanks, not the white stuff they love up north-west Europe). I dunno. Yeah, doing ok. Ok is good enough.
(I added in some paragraphs ’cos my neurofuckery hates walls of text and won’t even on that shit ??♀️)