March Vinyl Acquisitions

I actually made it a month without buying any records!  Of course, I was recovering from illness and working through the 2,000 records I bought in January, plus it was the shortest month of the year, and I had a couple business trips (photos from one coming soon!), but the fact remains I didn’t buy any vinyl in February.  I had worked down the January acquisitions to less than 100 records to process, which included clearing one of my two shelves of about 150 records that were “in queue” to be listened to as well.  So overall, a good month for working through my acquisitions, and I felt like I had reclaimed much of my available space in the man cave.

I made up for it in the last 8 days, buying about 825 records, of which about 75 are “junk”. Of the 750 I like, about 475 are mostly Motown and soul, and the other 275 are classic rock.  They’re currently sitting in 9 crates and boxes, so all of that available space I created in February is about gone.

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9 boxes of vinyl remaining after sorting out the “junk”…

The group of classic rock is fairly spectacular in my opinion.    It came after the Motown collection, and Mrs. Outspoken’s response after I received the call about the collection was “Really?   You have all these albums yet to clean and listen to, and you’re buying more?!?!”

Yep.  I gotta buy when the opportunity arises.  I went 7 weeks or so with nothing, so buying 2 collections in a little over a week might seem a little over the top, but both were great deals at under $1 per album.

So what makes the collection of rock so great?  How about 4 Zeppelin, 4 Pink Floyd, 4 David Bowie, 4 Allman Brothers, 3 Beatles, and 20 Bob Dylan for starters?    Other artists with multiple albums include Van Morrison, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Steeley Dan, Springsteen, Foreigner, Rush, Yes, Kansas, CCR, ELP, Grand Funk, Heart, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jackson Browne, the Cars, and Aerosmith.  It’s basically a compendium of 70’s and 80’s radio rock music, including some of the softer folk-ish tunes, with none of the pop-disco stuff.

Then there’s some oddball stuff too – stuff I just don’t see. The Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Hackett, Kate Bush, Patti Smith,  Nektar, and some Christian praise stuff by 2nd Book of Acts and Phil Keaggy.  Honestly, I could probably enjoy listening to about 80% of this collection, and if it comprised my entire collection, it would represent probably 60% of what I’d want to have.  Basically, the guy who assembled this collection and I had similar tastes.  🙂

One of my favorite finds so far has been an album from The Monroes.  It’s an EP, only 5 songs, and it was their only album.  I really enjoy it.  Definitely and 80’s sound, but 80’s guitar, not the electronic stuff.

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It was missing a lot of Beatles (but hey, it has Abbey Road), Hendrix, and some of the psychedelic stuff I like, but overall, it’s a great collection in my opinion.   I’m sure I’ll find enough titles to cover my costs, but I think I’ll be keeping a much higher percentage of this collection than normal.

Both of these collections came through my previous contacts; the albums are finding me at times!  It’s also part of why i got the deal I did on them.  I’ve treated the sellers fairly, and they’re active collectors, so I was in a way helping each of them move a large quantity of records quickly.    I also agree to buy them all, and don’t get into cherry picking the collection  or nit-picking on the condition of certain albums.

The way you treat people is important in life and business.  Over the course of my career, I’ve always been focused on process improvement; how to find ways to do “it” better.  It hasn’t really mattered what “it” is, as the basic problem solving methodology of Lean works anywhere (at least I’ve yet to find an application where it doesn’t).  While some people call me an efficiency expert, I look at it more as improving the overall performance of the teams and systems of an organization.    We change the system to change the result, and coach the people through the systemic changes.  But it’s about more than results; for the changes to stick, it’s also about behaviors.

As we change the behaviors and systems to produce different results, we start changing beliefs within the organization.  What happens when the shared beliefs of an organization change?  One, we change the future of that organization.  Two, we have created a culture change.

How’s all this tie into me buying arguably too much vinyl?  Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first.  But for one, I buy with no fear of spending too much, because I have a several year track record of all my hobbies actually producing money.  I have the tax returns to prove it.  🙂 Plus, I’m spending cash that has come from the hobbies.

Therefore, I believe, as does Mrs. Outspoken – even if not as completely as me – that I’m not being irresponsible or delaying our objectives, because in the end I actually contribute towards those shared  objectives from my hobbies.   And I believe I’ve done so buy dealing appropriately with others, and the evidence of that is the number of opportunities that tend to find me.

Second, since there was so much David Bowie in the one collection, would be this album:

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A line from the song Changes is perhaps the foundation of the best inspiration I can think to provide today:

“These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

No matter what it is you’re trying to do or achieve, there are often people who will try to hold you back, make you feel like it’s too hard, not worth it, or even impossible.  Don’t listen to them.  Act responsibly and with intention, treat people with dignity and respect,  but be courageous at the same time.   You can’t do what everyone else thinks you should do and still achieve the greatness that is within you.

Great things aren’t done by being average.

 

 

Searching for Passion

It’s fall once again, that time of year when the in some ways the world appears to be dying in Northern climates.  There are things I like about fall: Our wedding anniversary, my parents’ and my in-laws anniversaries, Thanksgiving, winter beers, a break from hot summer temperatures.   However, more and more I find myself lacking passion and energy in the fall.

I had a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, and here on early Sunday morning I’m reflecting on what I could have done the last three days.  While I did have a nice dinner with the in-laws and my wife and I completed all of the Christmas shopping for my family on Friday and Saturday, I still feel like I should have or could have done a lot of other things.  Fun things, hobbies, or productive things.

I have a book series that I’d like to get re-published, and I just have to type it into the computer and get it formatted for publication. I could have worked on that.  I have 400 or so albums to clean and grade for resale, and an equal amount to listen to for personal enjoyment.  I could be writing on the blog more.  I have another writing idea that I tested and just need to put the work in to making it a reality.  I could do more work on some training presentations for my real job.   I have 7 more rolls of film to develop.  I could have done taken some more pictures.  I have thousands of old slides to review, scan, and upload to various sites.  I have my grandmother’s recipes to scan for family.  I should exercise more.  We could have gone hiking in the damp, gray, 43 degree Pittsburgh November weather.  Talk about sucking your energy away.

There’s things I used to do, like brewing beer, roasting coffee, fishing, camping.  Then there’s church-related things.  Since leaving the Presbyterian church, we’ve struggled to find a church home.  As we near advent, it’s odd not to be engaged in preparing for the various church activities.  Or practicing new songs.  In fact, I haven’t even picked up a guitar since Easter.  This might have been a good weekend to put on some new strings and noodle around a bit.

I could have baked some bread or soft pretzels.  There’s things we normally do in the summer, like taking the dogs on a long walk or playing golf.  We could have played board games, cards, or  just found some friends to hang out with.   But instead, I watched  the first three Star Wars movies (numerically, not by release date).  I drank more than I should have.  I watched an entertaining Pitt football game.  I stayed up late.

I’m sure there’s other things too that I’m not thinking of that I could have done.  Maybe that’s part of the problem – I’m into too many things.  Other than feeding my introverted need to be alone sometimes, these weekend activities didn’t contribute to advancing my health, financial well-being, or my marriage.  They didn’t increase my bank of memories and experiences with friends and family.  In short, they didn’t bring me joy.

Spending some time thinking about why, a lot of it comes down to the fact that my routine has been disrupted over the last several months.  I guess I need a new routine.  I’ve kept work notebooks or journals for about a decade, but I’ve been experimenting with Bullet journaling the month of November.  It hasn’t worked great, but it hasn’t been horrible either, so I’m going to continue it for a while.  For December, I’ll create a habit tracking log in the journal. I need to really think about my routine, or my Leader Standard Work as we call it in Lean.

My habit of writing and exercising in the morning hasn’t worked well with so many early morning meetings lately.  But now, I wonder how often I’ll need to be in the office by 6am?  I could probably start hitting the gym at lunch a few days a week, and I could most certainly get there after work a few days a week.

It seems like when I put together a plan to get something done, it gets done.  So unfortunately, I probably need to plan my evenings and weekends better so I do more and ‘veg’ less.  I’m not really an impulsive spur-of-the-moment type of guy, and my wife isn’t either.

Ironically, the busiest weekends often seem the longest and the most refreshing.  I like feeling like I got some things accomplished.  Like I actually DID something.  This weekend, we had very few plans, so we could get most of our things done in 4-6 hours each day, leaving the rest of the day unproductive.  I guess this year, my plan for beating the winter blues is to focus on being more productive.  I need to identify which “things” should get done first, then move onto the next, and focus on getting them done.  It’s the time of year to set goals for the coming year anyway, so I’m going to identify the habits and routine that should lead me to accomplishing my goals.  By focusing on the habits, hopefully I’ll rekindle some passion in certain areas of my life.

This post was a bit of a ramble, but sometimes you just have to think through what’s bothering you to come up with a new plan.  I hope you personally had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, and perhaps you can use December as a month to put a framework in place to achieve your goals in 2017, too.

 

 

 

The Minolta 700si

Perhaps just to confirm my wife doesn’t think I have too severe of a camera addiction, when she discovered a Minolta Maxxum SLR kit at an estate sale, she brought it to my attention.  She takes the time to look in bags that look like camera bags, and in this case she recognized the Maxxum name and figured maybe I’d be interested.

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The new camera all cleaned up

Initially I dismissed the camera, but when I started looking in the other little bags inside the main camera bag, I first found a Maxxum 3500xi flash.   I know it’s wireless, but I’m not sure how well it works with the 3600HS.  The next black bag contained a Minolta 70-210mm “beercan” lens.  Attached to the camera was a 28-80mm macro Maxxum lens – the old-school version that was all metal and pretty rugged.  Also included was the original receipt – the outfit without the lenses cost $998 back in 1995.

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$998 – and check out the $1.69 film!

The camera takes a weird looking battery – it almost looks like a modern digital battery.  I was concerned that the battery would cost more than the camera was worth.  But for the two lenses and the flash, the asking price of $65 was a good deal.  I just don’t see Maxxum systems for sale very often.  I figured this kit lens would allow me to get rid of both Sigma 28-80/90mm zooms, allowing me to offer each Maxxum 5 and the 700si (if it works) with a lens to find them new homes.

The beercan lens looked like it was in phenomenal shape as far the optics are concerned, and it alone is worth the $65 we paid for the set-up.  She didn’t flinch at the price –  and I think she was surprised when I said I didn’t want to keep the camera itself.  She was even more surprised when i said I was getting rid of two other lenses to make room for these two new ones.

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Minolta Maxxum “beercan” lens – very clean.

So now I have at least five new-to-me Maxxum lenses I haven’t really used.  I know my 100-300mm APO and my 50mm f1.7 are solid performers; they’ve traveled the world with me.  I just developed a roll that was mostly my 50mm prime on one of the Maxxum 7’s.  I think I need to shoot each of these new lenses on the Maxxum 7 duo in the next week or two to assess their performance.   I have 7 rolls of the expired Fuji 100 left, and since I’ve been pleased with the results from it so far, I think I’ll shoot a roll with each lens, and run one through the 700si with one of the Sigma lenses.  I don’t really know much about testing lenses, but I’ll know if I like the results or not.

If I’m happy with these lenses, then I’ve got everything other than the extremes covered, and then any specialty lenses I’d want.  Maybe three more lenses will cover everything I’d like to do.  (I’d love to have a 135 STF, but that’s probably pushing it….plus the Maxxum 7 has an STF mode.  Not quite the same, I’m sure. No somethign I ever wanted until I learned about it recently.)  The 100mm macro is on my list, an extreme tele for wildlife and events, and a wide angle lens – something around 16-20mm.  Mrs. Outspoken has already agreed to the extreme tele once I have the cash, so maybe by the end of the month I’ll run that last roll of Fuji 100 through it if I find what I’m looking for at the right price.

The odd looking 2CR5 battery ($6.53) should be here on Monday, so I’ll have an update eventually on the 700si. Aside from that,  I’ve still got about 10 rolls of film to develop: one from the Bronica, one from the Hasselblad, one from a Holga that has since departed, one from the Hannimex Amphibian, one or two other C-41 and B&W rolls, two rolls of Kodak Plus-X Pan found film, plus 4 rolls of slide film that were all shot in the various Maxxum cameras.    I’ll work those in as I have time, and while I’m doing that I’ll be listening to the 250 or so albums in “need to listen to” queue.

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The recently acquired vinyl queue 

 

I must say, I’m finding a little more joy in my life now that I’m shooting more.   Sure, the amount I spend on film and vinyl delays my retirement maybe 1 day every month.  Maybe.  Because for the most part, the hobbies pay for themselves.   Perhaps you could argue I could put an extra few bucks into savings each month, but I probably wouldn’t be generating money from the hobbies if I wasn’t actively taking pictures and buying records.  Plus, learning how to generate revenue from my hobbies might actually decrease the length of time I stay employed.  The IRS already considers my hobbies a business, and so far we’ve claimed a profit every year since we started buying and selling “toys” in 2012.  It started with books, then musical gear, then camera gear, and then added vinyl.

Retirement isn’t worth depriving ourselves now of all joy and delaying life until age 65.  If I retire at 55 instead of 54 because of my hobbies, who cares? That’s if things don’t go pretty well.  It might be the difference between retiring at age 49 and retiring at 49 yrs and 2 mos if things go well.   If I have to work a few extra months because I shot 100 rolls of film a year, so what?  We still have our early retirement dreams, but we get our enjoyment on a budget.

We spent about $120 this weekend on the camera and records (and a few other little things) while hitting various sales.  The albums I sell will cover that amount.  So everything else is sort of free.  I would have eventually bought a beercan lens, so maybe this isn’t extra money spent, anyway.  At least that’s how it feels, and that’s part of what motivates me as we continue to work towards retirement.  We also budget this spending cash every month.  If we run out of cash, we stop going to sales and spending until the next month.    In the end, we truly don’t know how much time we have, so we’ll plan for the future, but still try to enjoy today, albeit responsibly.