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Recommended reading

Happy Saturday! I’m going to keep writing personal updates in this space while I grieve the loss of my daughter, but I’m moving them to the bottom.

💻 Have you ever opened a diet soda and found it to taste …wrong, somehow? It’s because the aspartame broke down. James Cooper explains the science. Read Why does my diet soda taste “off”?

St. Paul's
Agfa Isolette III, 85mm f/4.5 Agfa Apotar, Kodak T-Max 400

💻 Did you know that only about a quarter million houses are for sale in the US right now? It’s an all-time low. Ben Carlson explains why it’s not going to get better anytime soon. Read Why It Could Be Years Until We See A Normal Housing Market

📷 Mike Eckman writes a review of the Seagull 203, a 1964 near-copy of the Agfa Super Isolette, a folding camera for 120 film. Read Seagull 203 (1964)

📷 Johnny Martyr doesn’t post often, but when he does, it’s always compelling reading. This week he discusses techniques for nailing focus with a rangefinder camera, especially if you’re used to shooting SLRs. Read Seven Recommended Rangefinder Focusing Techniques


I’m depressed. I’m not surprised in the slightest by that. But it sure is inconvenient — there’s so much to do at work, and it’s hard to stay motivated to do it. I’m Director of Engineering in a software company, which is a big job. There are 40 people in my organization, and because it’s hard to hire Engineering Managers these days, most of them report directly to me. It’s a lot to carry. Everyone at work is well aware of my situation and is doing the best they can to support me. I decided to just go with full-on transparency, and to my good fortune it appears to be serving me well. My company even connected me with a grief counselor and is paying for ten sessions, which is incredibly generous.

I don’t think about Rana or her death all the time anymore. There are days I don’t think about it at all. But the low mood persists. This is not a complaint, just an observation. I know this grief will take a long time to work its way through.


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11 thoughts on “Recommended reading

  1. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to your mental health. Luckily, it sounds like you work for a caring company that believes in investing it its people. I hope the grief counselor is able to help and that you know all your virtual friends out here care as well.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    Kudos on Eckman’s look at the Seagull 203. As a 120 Folder aficionado, I’ve been looking for one of these in good enough shape for years. No Joy. Actually had a buddy who went to China fairly often, and even he couldn’t find one that seemed to be working.

    Diet soda thing is also interesting. I used to drink a diet Pepsi once a day, but gave up based on all the negative information about all the chemistry put in that bottle. Felt much better (and seemed to lose weight easier) when I quit diet sodas. Can’t take the calories in regular soda, and there’s more suspicions about corn syrup vs. cane sugar too, especially about triggering cravings. I now have one Mexican Coke on Sunday morning only! Original formula (and I mean original down to the cane sugar, no corn syrup), and in a glass bottle. No plastic to “migrate” chemicals to the product.

    • I love old folders, but I hardly buy them anymore because they are so often broken in ways I can’t handle myself.

      I love Mexican Coke! I try not to take in calories via liquids anymore, but I make an exception for a Mexican Coke.

  3. Darts and Letters says:

    I’m sorry you’re feeling so down, Jim. It’s hard, it’s really hard. I haven’t been commenting or breadcrumbing with likes very much on WP with a lot of things going on in life and my tendency to just be in the shadows on here, but FWIW I’ve been paying close attention in your journaling on Down the Road with regard to Rana. It came to a place very close to me, deeply close, in that our nephew is transitioning, we found thsi out a month and a half ago. This was an earth shock. The things about Rana you’ve shared, the struggles you’re going through, it all has resonated even more powerfully than it already would have. It’s had the effect of making me (and the boys’ mother) be more proactive, much more proactive than we might’ve been in showing support for our nephew’s dad, letting him know to let our nephew/niece know that we are supportive of her (we haven’t been particularly close to our niece and furthermore they live a few states away). But just being vocal in our support for them. And hopefully when the times come to see them, having that bridge to know them in a new way, accepting them for who they are, being supportive to her. You’re a good man Jim, the way you were supportive of Rana and did what you could to keep in touch despite the hard family situation. My heart aches that she ended her life, it fills me with deep sadness to think of the pain she must have felt.I’m so sorry. for her other family. I’m so sorry for you. Your sharing the process of working through the grief, that profoundly personal path, I deeply respect you for sharing this. Pieces of Rana move forward in this life through other people, her spirit lives on in how others live, their actions. Though her life should have been longer, this is the mark of a meaningful life.

    • Thank you. Your words are a balm on what is turning out to be a very hard day in this staggering loss.

      What I learned with Rana is that simple acceptance is the best thing to give. A key element of that acceptance is spending time with the person. Ideally, you never talk about the transition — you just spend time with them as a whole human being.

  4. Kodachromeguy says:

    Johnny’s advice about how to focus a rangefinder camera is very handy. I have used rangefinders since the 1960s, so I’m used to it, but I can see that new users might be confused. His hints are also appropriate to viewfinder cameras, such as the old Voigtlanders or Retinas without the rangefinder mechanism. And I appreciated his subtle dig that you can’t spray and pray with a manual camera. How funny…

  5. Mark says:

    Therapy will help, 10k lums light box 30 min w/bft and a good antidepressant that doesn’t make you sleepy. There should be grief groups in your area, even on zoom. Are you walking & using a camera? Journaling even whining daily about the same stuff helps. Those are all aids to help you get out of your hole. None will cure you.
    Are you afraid of the same route?
    Prayers

    • I appreciate your suggestions. I’ve tried light boxes in the past and found the benefit to be only slight. I’ve tried a whole bunch of SSRIs in the past and I’ve had violent negative side effects to them, so I’m hinky about trying them again. I’ve considered a support group.

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