The solution is at the end of a shovel. Or so I have been told.
Many people are educated but not schooled. What do I mean by that? In my years of hiring and firing employees or sitting on committees there are always those that are very well educated but do not have a clue how things really work. In many instances these honoured individuals arrive with an attitude. It’s easy to pick them out, they are the ones doing all the talking but not actually accomplishing anything. I hate to say it but my many years of dealing with and working with academics has soured me to “higher” education and what is does to some people. These individuals are book smart and people stupid. Too many academics have a bully mentality which is probably derived from many years of being bullied themselves for being the nerds in school. Of course there are some excellent post secondary educators out there. Heck if you’re reading this you’re probably one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of higher learning, just not the attitude some carry with them once they get their masters or phd’s.
I’m a big fan of compulsory military service. Not that I support the war machine, I don’t, but I do support the discipline that is taught and the comraderie that is taught. You soon learn that to achieve your goals you have to work together. Failing military service, high school graduates should be handed a shovel and put to work alongside twenty other know-it-alls building or renewing much needed infrastructure. Pay them a decent wage. At the end of the day they will realize they actually earned their pay. The blisters and aching muscles will remind them of what it takes to make a buck. After a couple of days when the muscles gain strength and the hands harden they will look back on that ditch they dug TOGETHER and feel a sense of accomplishment. A shared accomplishment. After their year of “service” they will have a totally different outlook on and appreciation for post secondary education. They also will not put up with the paper tiger ( 紙老虎) prof’s at the front of the classroom.
If you look back to a blog I did last October 2011 you will see that I help out on a farm during harvest. It’s my two week sanity break each year. This year a historical society asked Eric Goerzen my brother-in-law to leave around 5 acres of wheat standing. We ended up leaving 7.5. The historical society wanted to bring out the machinery used back in the 20’s and 30’s to harvest this patch of wheat.
During my 3 years helping out at this farm and my years helping out at my first wife’s family farm in Saskatchewan I have met some very interesting individuals. The old timers that I met never made it through the end of high school and many did not finish junior high. But a better “schooled” bunch you will never find. The complexity of farming even back in the 20’s and 30’s just blows my mind. To see the equipment these folks brought out to the historical harvest day was truly amazing. Essentially nothing has changed in the basic mechanics which are the same as are being used today. One of the old timers I just love to chat with is George Spooner. He’s 80+ years old and still has a sharp mind and keen eyes. Eric and I (yes my brother-in-law has the same first name as I do) generally start our harvest days by going to George’s for coffee. George has been living on the same patch of dirt most if not all of his life. His home is modest but is lit up by his twinkling eyes and quick wit. George loves telling me stories about harvests past. Generally there was a crew of men numbering 8 to 16 depending on how many threshing machines they had in the field. Teams of horses were used to pull anything needing pulling. These men worked from sunup till sundown. Sometimes paid only .75c an acre. That doesn’t seem like much by today’s standards but it was enough to support a family. Now Eric and I do the work with just the two of us. That’s 14 men that had to find another line of work. Over the years most did, becoming mechanics or moving to the city. The tragedy today is that the jobs are being transferred offshore. Both skilled and unskilled. Who’s transferring these jobs? The educated but unschooled. They are only thinking of themselves and the big bonuses they get. My wife used to work for an oil company where the CEO got over $20 million in pay and bonuses. His bonuses were tied to the bottom line. If they were having a slow quarter, through no fault of the staff, hundreds would get laid off to ensure the quarterly results looked good for the shareholders. Bingo – bonus time.
During our historical harvest day we had at least 40 men and women working. Working together to get the job done. At least 20 kids were running around playing in the haystack or riding the hay wagons. We worked together and worked hard. At the end of the day it was a combined accomplishment. In this case the shovel was replaced by the pitch fork.
Of course the “shovel” I refer to is a symbolic thing. However it’s a concept that can be applied across all fields of work whether blue, white or pink collar. We need people who will pick up the shovel to dig ditches as much as we need people to design computers or perform surgery. We also need people to feel a sense of community and understand that one is not any better than the other. We are our brother’s keeper, or at least we should be. As taught by Paul in Romans – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I am sure the same sentiment is expressed in all major faiths.
The photography stuff – finally…..
Recently I have gone over the tipping point with respect to digital photography. Choking computers, large files, hard drive crashes, endless hours staring at a computer screen and file management have taken their toll on me. For the next six months I am only going to shoot film for my personal stuff. Clients insist on digital. Well what they actually insist on is immediate access to finished, PhotoShopped files. Their lack of planning is transferred to me as a looming deadline.
The magic is gone. That anticipation you had waiting for your C41 to be developed and proofed by the lab, gone. That thrill of checking your black and white negs just as they came out of the wash, still dripping, gone. Watching the print come alive in the developer, gone. That special look of Tri-X, gone.
I just had a power spike destroy 3 years worth of digital files. Even my backup drives were toasted. However negatives I shot in the 60’s are still there just as good as they were back then. The management of digital media is just too complex and time consuming. It’s a full time job. One of the many “full time” jobs digital has created for me. There is only one “me” but at least five full time jobs created by digital workflow. I want my life back!
The historical harvest day was a prime candidate for a film shoot. I blew the dust off my trusty Nikon F5, bulk loaded up four rolls of Ilford XP2, took my Nikon D700 from the backpack and threw in the film stuff.
I picked Ilford XP2 for two reasons. The first being my darkroom is having some electrical challenges right now and secondly and more importantly I like the look of XP2 for people stuff. I knew the sky was going to be blank and featureless which was another reason for choosing XP2. With XP2 you get grain in the shadows not in the highlights like traditional silver based black and white films. It’s also wickedly sharp with a great tonal range. Being C41 I can take it into my local drug store and get the negs developed and proofed within 1 hour.
Generally when shooting in the environment I was in; bright sun, no clouds; I just take a meter reading off the northern sky and go with that. God must like photographers because the northern sky is 18% grey. For shadow shots I just open up 1.5 to 2 stops depending on how deep the shadow is. No need for fancy matrix metering. Another thing that I enjoyed was the limit on the number of photographs I could make that day. Four times 36 equals 144. That was it. No changing cards, no chimping and deleting to make more room.
What this did was bring me back into the mode I used to be in while doing PJ work. Anticipate the action, be in the right place at the right time, get that one shot that summarizes the action. I loved it! No spray and pray! The F5 would chew up the entire 36 exposure roll in a matter of seconds if I used that digi mentality. This put me back in the “moment” again. Getting the “shot” was more about skill and timing than just dumb luck and a big CF card.
I used my old AI converted Nikkor 85mm f1.8 and Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lenses for 90 percent of the shoot. The Tokina 16mm came out for some “drama” shots. All lenses have shades on them and no filters were used. I probably could have used a polarizer for some of them but what the heck I can burn down the sky in the darkroom. I find so many people do not recognize the importance of using a properly designed sunshade for their lenses. Why spend big bucks on a great lens and then kill it’s colour and contrast by not using a sunshade? It’s like putting skinny retreads on a Ferrari.
I always set my cameras to aperture priority if they have that feature unless the effects of subject speed become the priority. Using depth of field (DOF) plus out of focus areas in the foreground or background is one of the creative tools missed by so many beginning photographers. For this reason I do not use hyper focal distance techniques very much unless doing street photography.
The following images are scans of the proofs obtained from the drug store. When the snow is flying I plan on getting into my darkroom again. Once that happens I will share some of my favorites from this shoot on my main website. To see full size images click on the thumbnail. This takes you to another page were again click on the image. Kind of dumb but that’s how this gallery system work. Looking at installing a different one in the future.