The World according to COVID-19

The empty streets of Sunnyside on a Thursday night.

The world is changing, at a pace that most of us can’t handle right now. SARS-nCOV-2 or COVID-19 has uprooted life as we know it. It’s forced billions of people to face the new reality that lies before them. The reality of limited access, the reality of separating ourselves, and a life with minimal interaction. It’s forced businesses to close, and assess how to continue in the now forced “Work from Home” era. It’s likely to continue for weeks, if not months at this point, and it feels insurmountable at times.

For me, I guess the biggest adjustment has been the work from home aspect of life. Part of the reason I like going into an office, aside from the ability to socialize with my peers, is it forces me to stay on task. The home adjustment has been difficult, I have to keep telling myself I need to stay on task. I went from having a desk and a computer so restricted that it’s impossible to be distracted, to a desk and computer loaded with video games, photography, virtual machines and networking projects. It’s very easy for me to think about something with one of these many projects and be like, oh, I can just pop over and do that quick. No, you really can’t, because 5 minutes, becomes 30, which quickly becomes an hour down the rabbit hole. I’ve learned with Work from Home it’s important to stick to routines. Also for the love all that is holy, if you’re working from home order a standing desk converter, it’s $150 (minimum) but if your like me, your body will thank you in the end. I’m actually standing right now while I write this, and have been standing since I got up at 9 am this morning. It really does help with posture, and i’ve had a better night sleep since I got one.

Another big adjustment has been socializing in the era of social distancing. One of the big reasons I dislike the phrase social distancing, is because it’s a misnomer you can still be social without being physically close. It’s why i’ve take to using the term physical distancing. The internet has changed the way that we as a people socialize with one another. Video Chatting, Voice Chatting, have all changed the way we can interact with one another. Right now i’m scheduling game nights, and video chats with friends when I can. We are doing our best to live our lives in our newfound social construct. At the end of the post i’ll list some of the tools i’m using to keep in touch with my friends. Definitely try to find some games that you can play remotely with them too, Jackbox Games has a plethora of good selections for this.

The last major adjustment has been getting used to just how empty the streets of New York have been since this all started. The fact that major restaurants are shuttering their doors across the city. Companies like the one I work for are shuttering their doors for the first time in decades, because they need to. I didn’t live here personally during the events of 9/11 but from people who did this virus has become very similar to the events following 9/11. No stores open, no one using mass transit, no one on the streets. Traffic is minimal, and people aren’t out and about. Standing on the subway platform Thursday night just so I felt a little bit of normalcy I watched four distinct seven line trains go by, completely empty, except for the occasional homeless man sleeping on them. The world is a very different and very strange place now.

I guess my last piece of advice for this new reality is don’t let the constant bombardment of news get you down and out. Earlier this week I had a rough few days because it was just day after day of updates on the new infections in the world, instances where people I work with were diagnosed and fears stemming from that. Find your peace with this new world, the reality of it is, someone you know, and someone you love is going to catch SARS-nCOV-2. Chances are it won’t be a serious case, but if it is do your best to love and support that person no matter what happens. Find your friends, keep in touch, and lean on each other even if its from afar. We need our friends and family, now more than ever. We are in this together, no matter how alone we may all feel. We are only separated by the physical boundaries put between us. Work to socialize, and work to be in contact with those you care about, on the daily if you can.

I have a feeling this will become a weekly thing since i’m home 24/7 until this is all over, and it’s going to be good to document this new reality.

Until next time…

Dave

An Ominous Storm

As a friend of mine put it, “Yeah this looks like a horror film”

Hello All, strangely enough i’m back. I never intend it to be the case but we’ve entered a very dark time. The picture above isn’t from a horror film, no, it’s become part of every day life. Unless you’ve lived under a rock the last six weeks since I wrote the post that was supposed to be my last posting, you know what SARS-nCOV-2 is, or perhaps you know it as COVID-19, or just plainly as Coronavirus. It’s a word that in the 3 months since it appeared in Wuhan Province, China has brought the world to a screeching halt.

Maps looking like this have sadly become all too common place in our daily lives. The media speaks of it on the daily. Our lives have been utterly uprooted by it.

It’s been a hard pill to swallow, constant bombardment by news, and developments. Major institutions shutting down, containment zones popping up around major cities like New Rochelle, and business shuttering their doors indefinitely. Mis-information, and the fear mongering tactics have lead to a panic across the globe, and if you believe some of my friends an unfounded panic. “Oh but it doesn’t kill anywhere near as much as the flu does on a yearly basis”, as of now yes you are correct. The novel coronavirus has killed 4,720 in the past 3 months. Whereas the flu has killed nearly 30,000 people this winter. So yes, as of now the flu is worse, key words as of now. The problem with this argument, that the flu is worse is that normalizes a concept of complacency. It tells you, that oh, its not that bad, we can just live our lives normally.

But, that’s not really true, the biggest enemy we have right now is not only mis-information, but a true lack of information on the virus itself. We do know, that at risk categories like myself, are more likely to develop a serious condition based on the historic track of the disease, but what we don’t know, and arguably the most important aspect of the disease is, transmissiblity. How long does this virus survive on surfaces, how long does it survive in the air? Current accepted information says that it’s much harder to transmit then the Flu. If that’s the case, then great, social distancing and the procedures we’ve begun to implement will have a significant impact on the disease. But, if new studies like the one being peer reviewed in Princeton currently, come to light, and say otherwise, we may be in for a longer haul than anyone expected.

The second problem, we will quickly encounter, especially if the latter outcome of transmission capabilities turns out to be true, we will quickly reach maximum capacity in our hospital system. The inability to treat patients efficiently, and or at all, will lead to major upticks in fatality. Especially among the aging population, and those we pre-existing health issues like my own. It’s all about flattening out the curve and being able to treat patients quickly enough to keep from overloading our healthcare systems.

I could keep going on and on about this topic, with the amount of research and news i’ve ingested at this point, but i’m not going to. I do have a few last points to make. First, if you think the virus isn’t a problem, and that it’s overblown, that’s false. Is the media fear mongering at this point? yes, and because of that people aren’t taking the virus as a serious issue. But, even if it’s not a serious problem for you, there are people who you love, and care about who it may be a problem for. The argument “well its natural selection” is a horrible, and shitty argument. No one wants to die, no one wants to leave family members behind, and just because someone is at risk, doesn’t make their life any less valuable than your own.

Please, please, please, wash your hands, that’s all I ask. 20 seconds, under hot water. Santize your hands, Santize your phones. Cough into the crevasse of your arm. Help protect those around you, who may not be as fortunate as you when it comes to your health. If you’ve made it this far, and you would like to educate yourself i’ll leave a few links below for your consumption.

A storm is coming, and its an ominous and uncertain sky in front of us.

Until next time…

Dave

Links to relevant information:

The Last Song

A plethora of color on a warm day in Sunnyside.

You’ll notice it’s been a fair clip since I last posted. It’s time to explain that. This will be the final post on the website, at least in the sense of updates, I’ll still likely use it to display my photography content and what not but the days of weekly updates are no more. 

When I started this project, I was in horrific place, I was looking for a way to understand, to process, and to grow. I didn’t know who to talk to or how to process what I was feeling. My social life had been thrown into turmoil, I’d just uprooted a life that I’d lived for five years, and I was living in a state of in between. It’s kind of unbelievable looking back now, the state I was in merely even six months ago. Through this project I could start delving into my own mind, my feelings, and process things I’d been feeling, or preventing myself from feeling for years. Even with the infrequency with which I posted it was a safe outlet for me. Some weeks I would post about things I’d noticed in my travels of the new environment I was working and living in; Other weeks I’d post about things like friendship, or loss. Things that needed processing and a physical outlet, a way for me to find a new equilibrium. 

I sit here today, writing this, because I feel like I’ve found that equilibrium. I’ve found that piece of me that I needed to find. I’ve come to appreciate the time I spend on my own doing my own thing, as much as I’ve come to appreciate the time of the people that I’m still friends with, or the new friends I’ve made along the way. I wake up in the morning feeling optimistic about the day, though I’m still always tired and never get enough sleep. I can look at the world in a way where I see that today is another day that I get to move forward, to learn, to grow, to be with family, and friends. I don’t dread what the next day has to bring so much anymore, but embrace it and look forward to it. I’m just as happy sitting alone in my room, or exploring Queens by myself, as I am spending time with the people I care about. I’ve come to realize too that just because I don’t talk to people every day doesn’t mean that I’m alone either, and the feelings of emptiness I used to feel when that did happen were completely unfounded. 

The past almost year now, has been a true education for me. I’ve learned more about myself, in that past year, then I have in probably the last decade. I’ve thrown caution to the wind in many cases, and made many changes, but still adhere to the core tenets of my personality. I’ve evolved, as I wrap up the decade that was my twenties, and age sees me out one door and into the next. I am nothing but hopeful for the future I have laid before me. I’m hopeful for myself, I’m hopeful for my family members, and the friends that I still have in my life. I see the tracks of a new path being put out before me, as the train move forward never ceasing. 

My one final piece of advice is move forward. Yes, it’s certainly okay to reminisce about days of old, relationships of the past, adventures you’ve had, but one must never let that fully encompass the world they live in. For if you live in your memories, you miss what could be around the corner right in front of you. You don’t find the opportunities that others may see, because your distracted by what was, when what could be is standing right in front of you. Grow, Learn, Love, Lose, it’s all part of our journey here on earth. Life is short, don’t waste it. 

So, with that, I bring this to a close. Thank you for the Journey you’ve joined me on these last 8 months. Thank you for being the invisible sounding board I needed to grow, and become a better me. This will be the final post. So, a fond farewell to you all.

Never lose sight of who you are…

Dave.

Hello 2020, We’ve been waiting for you.

Greetings Programs! It’s definitely been a little while. The holidays will do that to you for sure. I’m back in Sunnyside finally. After several weekends of travelling back to back, its nice to finally get a break. The topic for this posting should be pretty apparent considering the title. Its the first day of the new year, and the first day of a new decade. The first day of 3,652 days, with an endless slew of possibilities.

It makes no sense to look back at this point, the decade is over. Instead i’d like to look to the future. To look to the possibilities for me, and for those who may need to hear it.

First, i’m going to talk to myself I guess. Dave, you don’t always give yourself enough credit when it comes to most things in your life, but this time you need to. You’ve done an immense amount, you’ve made changes that needed to be made, and you’ve grown significantly. You’ve let go of the grudges of the past, and started to live for the now. You’ve begun to put yourself out there, and you’ve begun to live your life. Be proud of the person you’ve become, be proud of the foundation you’ve set for yourself. The future, no matter what others may say, think or do is bright for you. A future filled with infinite possibilities. Make use of your thirties, don’t get to forty and wonder where they’ve all gone. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, and your compass will always guide you home. Trust in yourself, in your family, and your friends, they will never steer you wrong.

Now, to the others whom i’d like to speak to.

To my family, While I don’t say it often. You guys raised me well, you taught me the ins and outs of what it is to be an adult, and I’ve survived pretty well so far. Thank you to the time you put in molding me over the past twenty nine years. Thank you for supporting me, and thank you for being there. I will continue to move forward, and do my best to keep learning, and growing.

To the friends I have that have gotten married in the last decade. Whether it was this year, or ten years ago. Congratulations to you. You did it, you found that person for you, the one that completes you. While I have no personal experience in the area, I know you will all flourish. Be there for each other, learn, and grow; It will never serve you wrong. Be open, be honest and always, always, always communicate. I look forward to seeing how you all progress over the next decade as it’s likely to be a time of great change for you as well.

To the friends I have that have experienced a loss in the last decade. Again, not going to offer advice. It’s not my place to. Whether you’ve grown and moved on, or you are still in throes of change. Know that you are first and foremost never alone, know that your family and your friends will always be there to support you, and know that there will always be someone to listen when you need it. The only things that I can say is another decade offers 3,651 days of change, and possibility. Look forward, and move forward. If it feels insurmountable look to those who can help prop you up in times of need, but know that you are all strong enough to get through it on your own. Know that you are the only person you need to get through the dark times, but if you want help, there’s nothing wrong with that too.

Lastly, to the friends I haven’t made yet. I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where you live, what you do, or how i’ll meet you. I do know that I’m excited for the possibilities of the future. I’m excited to see what those changes bring, and who may enter, or exit my life as such. The only thing I do know for sure, at least for myself is I’ve got another 3,651 days until I write the next decades look forward. In that time, there’s two more presidential elections, probably at least 3 more moves, and future that’s totally up in the air. For the first time, that doesn’t terrify me, because no matter what comes of it. The future is bright. I look forward to meeting you, whether it be tomorrow, or 3,650 days from now.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you all again periodically over the next few weeks. Expect the next major posting in the middle of January.

Happy New Year Family, Friends, and people reading this whom I may not know.

Until next time…

Dave

Fotograph Friday, Holiday Edition # 2

Another photo from my trip to Philly, this one actually made it to being my phone background this season.

Happy Friday All! This week’s photograph again comes from Philly. This was taken at the Holiday market they had going on a few blocks from my hotel. It’s one of my favorites just because you get the incredible difference between the two evident planes in the photo. This one was again using the Hoya 8 point star filter.

Hope all of you are well and finalizing your shopping list. Until next time…

Dave

Snippet Sunday # 5: The Return

“Success is not final, Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill

Snippet Sunday is back, and this week our quote comes from Sir Winston Churchill. It reminds us that both success and failure are both fleeting; Like a leaf in a deep wind that whips up off the sea at night. But the courage to continue on, to hold steadfast as a beacon in the night, like the lighthouses of old is the true test of our tenacity. The ability to weather the darkest of storms, and to have the courage to bring your truth forward. That is the true center of this quote.

There likely will not be a weekly update this coming week, but we will proceed with Fotograph Friday.

Until next time…

Dave

Fotograph Friday, Holiday Edition # 1

This week’s Fotograph Friday comes to you from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I took this shot the first night I was there for PAX Unplugged. It’s truly an incredible shot, and I only cheated a little bit. The star effect was achieved using a filter, in this case a Hoya 55mm 8 Point Star Effect Glass Filter. Settings were pretty low, and required a longer exposure, which is likely why this shot is just a little soft. (Next time I’ll set up the tripod and not be lazy). Got a few more of these Holiday themed photos to get us through to New Years.

In Boston this weekend, so maybe i’ll get some cool photos there. Regardless, until next time!

Dave

Hope and Change, Eventually.

The holiday tree in Philadelphia this season…

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about 2010 – 2019. If you need a refresher check it out here. This post is likely to be short, and less of a look at anything I’ve done, or anything to do with the city. Instead it’s a look torwards the future, starting with 2020, and my thirtieth birthday.

For the past decade I’ve spent my life in a perpetual state of fear. I’ve spent it rejecting change and clinging desperately to things I’ve had, things I’ve cared about, and honestly stupid, petty things; resentments I’ve held for people I don’t even talk to anymore. It hasn’t been healthy and as a result my twenties while important and career building, have been stunted and not as good as they may have been for others. Starting with April of 2019 however I had change forceably thrust upon me, and at first it was nauseating (quite literally). But the changes didn’t stop there, over the course of the next 6 months life threw a lot at me, an interview, a new job, moving out of my parents place, living with two of my good friends, finding an apartment, and moving in to it. All of it left me feeling overwhelmed much of the time, mainly because while all of it was happening, internally I was trying to cling to vestiges of my past.

But, with 2020 creeping up on us, and the start of a new decade I’m left with a few feelings, many of which have felt strange and new. I’ve felt myself starting to let the past go, I slip back into old habits at times, but the changes have been too sweeping, and it’s impossible to cling any longer. Sometimes things need to go, to disappear to make room for the new. Those spaces allow us to build a foundation towards the future. Jobs change, homes change, relationships/friendships come and go, but all of it good or bad is essential to your future. Change is inevitable, and resisting it isn’t the answer. I see that now, the past year has changed me, changed me for what I believe to be for the better. I’ve grown, I’ve been forced out of my shell, I’ve lost the things that the old me clung so desperately to, and in return gained new perspective. I’ve learned to embrace the future and all it has to offer. I’ve learned that change however bad it may seem at the start, is ultimately good in the end.

As I look around this Holiday season, as I see all of the decorations, and the people; as I listen to the music, I don’t find myself looking back as I have in so many years past. I don’t find myself looking at what I don’t have, instead that emptiness has been replaced, it’s been replaced with a strange warm feeling, it’s been replaced with hope. Hope for the future, a desire to keep changing and keep moving forward. A desire to find my place in the world. 2020 and my thirtieth birthday, are going to be the start of a great decade. I know that now.

Happy Holidays my friends, my family, and whomever may be reading this. May you find your own hope this Holiday season, and may you find your place in the world this new decade.

Until next time…

Dave

Fotograph Fridays!

How I get the shots…

Hey! I actually held to my previous promises! I’ve recently been diving back into my photography, and I know a while back I promised a look at my Photographers Kit, so that’s what we are doing this week! Keep your eyes open as well! I’ll be starting to sell my prints online in the near future! Still working out the logistics of that though. So, if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve seen my photos before. Photos like this…

Or this…

Either way, you’ve likely seen my work before. Well now you get to know the secret behind all of it. The first piece of any good photographers kit is well obviously a camera, you can’t do much without it. There are two cameras I use regularly, and one of them you’ll probably be surprised by.

The first camera at my disposal should be one that you’re pretty familiar with, it’s one that sits in our pockets daily. In this case my particular brand of phone is the new Google Pixel 4 XL. It takes some truly incredible photographs.

The second camera at my disposal is probably a little more what you were expecting out of my kit. I’m running a Sony A7 II, Full Frame Mirror-less Camera. The great thing about mirror-less is what you see is what you get in most cases. This particular camera boasts a pretty wide range of settings as well, with wi-fi capabilities that allow for remote control via Cell Phone. Attached is the standard Sony FE 28 – 70mm f3.5 – 5.6 OSS lens.

Now that cameras have been established. Lets talk lenses. You’ve already seen one of them, in the previous photograph. The Sony FE 28 – 70mm f3.5 – 5.6 OSS lens allows for a wide variety of control, and offers the most robust functionality as it is designed for use with the Sony Alpha Series cameras. It’s the one I find myself most often using because of its versatility, and the added zoom functionality. My biggest complaint is generally the size of the lens, as it does tend to add a fair amount of weight to the system in use.

The next lens in my kit is the Rokinon T 3.1 14mm ED AS IF UMC De-clicked Cinema Lens. This lens serves a dual purpose, I opted for the de-clicked cinema lens on the chance I ever use the A7 for videography (Though I have no plans to in the near future). This lens however does boast an insane field of view, and is borderline fish eye. Some of my best photographs have been as a result of this lens. The downside, it’s massive, and adds a significant amount of weight to the camera, it also does not allow for any autofocus as a result of it being de-clicked.

The final lens in my kit (for now) is the Samyang AF 35mm/f2.8 Prime Lens. This lens is short, light and versatile allowing for a plethora of uses, from portrait photography, to quick point and shoot auto-focus shots. So far, I haven’t found any downsides to this lens, and will often times use this lens when i’m using my Peak Design Capture Clip (You’ll see that a little later).

Another important aspect of a photographer’s kit, Lighting. Proper lighting is key, key, KEY to getting a great shot. Without adequate lighting a Photographer is often left with flat photographs, or photos with harsh shadows when dealing in portrait photography. I have two tools in my kit to help alleviate these problems.

The first of these two tools, is a collapsible reflector. One of the greatest assets to a photographer is natural light, and on a sunny or even overcast day, there’s a plethora of light at your disposal, the reflector allows the photographer with help from another person to augment light subtly and fill in shadows as needed.

The second of my tools, does not rely on the sun, to help alleviate shadows. Pictured above is the Genaray LED-6200T, 144 LED Variable Color On Camera Light. This battery operated light is Hot Shoe compatible and is versatile enough to match most lighting conditions. Most of the pictures seen above at least of the camera and lenses were filled in using this light. The kit comes with battery, charger, and a standard US power adapter, as well as car adapter, should you need more power than the battery provides.

Last in the kit are miscellaneous tools, that just help me when i’m out and about. I’ll go into those few items now.

One of my newest, and favorite additions to my kit is the Peak Design Capture Clip. Using the two wheels it loosens up and clips in place on any standard leather belt. The plate itself pops off, and screws into place using a standard allen key screw that locks it tightly to the camera, the quick release ability allows me to capture on the fly, and without the use of a bulky strap. The Peak Design plate also allows you to swap between any of their products without changing plates, it’s a truly unique and fantastic platform.

Another important tool, one that is oft overlooked is a decent tripod. At the moment i’m locked into a small tabletop tripod, as I can’t afford a larger one yet (They get prohibitively expensive, quickly). But, a tripod is key to taking stable photographs, especially when dealing with long exposures, and night photography.

This particular item is less of a tool, and more of a photography augment. This is a portable Lensball, with the suction cup tripod mount. It allows for unique photos and is produced with lens grade crystal. I hope to use this more going forward.

The last tool, in any photographers kit is software. As with most I stick to the adobe products, leveraging Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop for all of my photography editing needs. My biggest suggestion for those starting out with the editing process. Make sure you’ve got a large memory card, or multiples at your disposal. You are going to want to shoot in RAW, as it offers you the most versatility when it comes to editing your photographs.

So, that’s my kit. That’s how I get the photographs you see either here, or on Facebook/Instagram. My last suggestion to all, who are learning. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment! we are never perfect, and as a photographer the day you think you’ve mastered your craft, is the day you stop growing. There is always something to be learned! If you are interested in purchasing any of the gear seen above I’ve left links at the bottom for you to check out. Next post will likely be in two weeks after my trips to Philly and Boston.

Until next time…

Dave

Links:

1. Sony A7 II with Sony FE 28 – 70mm f3.5 – 5.6 OSS lens
2. Rokinon T 3.1 14mm ED AS IF UMC De-clicked Cinema Lens
3. Samyang AF 35mm/f2.8 Prime Lens
4. Impact 7-in-1 Collapsible Reflector Disk 42″
5. Genaray LED-6200T, 144 LED Variable Color On-Camera Light
6. Peak Design Capture Camera Clip v3 (Black)
7. Pedco Ultrapod II Tabletop Tripod with Mini Ball Head
8. Lensball Pocket 60mm
9. AmazonBasics SLR Camera Sling Backpack Bag – 8 x 6 x 16.5 Inches, Black
10. Google Pixel 4 XL

Fotograph Friday Returns!

The skyline on a crisp november night – Hunter’s Point Park

Finally back with a Fotograph Friday! it’s been a while, but i’ve slowly been getting out more with the camera. So hopefully there will be more of these moving forward.

The water looks truly incredible in this shot. This was taken at ISO 50, 30 Second Exposure, at an f/stop around 7. Was using the standard 28 – 70 mm Sony Lens that came with the camera. Also did a few with my 14 mm Lens, and 35 mm Prime Lens.

Blog post coming up with pictures and information on all of my photography kit. Got some cool gadgets to show off.

Have a happy friday all! See you soon!

Dave