Coming back after a week away, naturally I find myself inundated in, and nearly overwhelmed by, e-mail. Wading through it all and trying to find the ones I need to respond to is no trivial task. I'm sure most everyone reading this has experienced the same thing a time or three.
However, it reminds me once again that I should periodically advertise my regrettable inability to respond individually to queries and requests. Every week I get dozens upon dozens of questions on every conceivable photographic topic. Is the Canon X or Nikon Y better? What do I think of X lens? Have I ever tried Y film? What do I think of X company's prospects for success or survival? Can I discuss metaphysics or politics? What's the best book on Y? Can I please sign a petition or advertise a show or review a book or link to a website or post a picture or look at a portfolio or recommend a school or advise someone about a career choice?
Don't get me wrong—this is not an annoyance. I read everything anyone sends me, frequently get great tips or learn something from what someone has to say, and the questions I get are almost always thoughtful, the correspondents polite and friendly. And—ach—I usually have to ignore them anyway.
Believe me, I hate appearing to be snooty by ignoring these requests. It's not that I suffer from self-importance. Far from it; yr. hmbl. blggr. would love to help. And it's not just incompetence or ignorance, i.e., that my knowledge is spotty, that I think sometimes well but most always slowly, and that I type like a blind bandsaw operator. No. It's a simple equation: (free hours in the day) – ([numbers of questions] x [time required to answer each]) = less than zero.
But: sorry. Really and truly. I wish I had time to answer every question and help everyone who asks for it.
Meanwhile—speaking of being inundated and overwhelmed—there's been a small disaster chez Johnston. Over time, a massive tower of books had accumulated by my bedside. Don't get the impression these books were organized into neat stacks. Rather, the bedside reading was a great mound of volumes of every shape and size, some opened to where I'd left off reading—a miniature mountain of intricately interdependent structures, in some places weakened by slippery slick-paper magazines, constantly shifting and being shored anew as I occasionally extracted titles from lower down in the pile, jeopardizing everything higher up.
I guess disaster was inevitable. I needed to retrieve a floor lamp to replace a broken switch, and alas, the base of the lamp turned out to be too great a stone in the foundation of the great pile. There was a bookalanche. The whole everlovin' edifice toppled; books slid and skidded every which way, picking up and carrying off other books as they roared by; mountaineers were killed, villages buried, massive conifers snapped like twigs, hikers lost for ever. Send in the brandy-bearing St. Bernards. The floor by my bed and for many feet in every direction is now an undifferentiated jumble of books, shin-deep. It is not a pretty sight.
And the irony? (There's always irony.) Buried somewhere in the carnage, one of the casualties of the incident (only temporarily lost—I hope) is Henry Petroski's The Book on the Bookshelf, a fascinating history of the organization and storage of books.
I think I should have read a little further in that one, before letting it disappear into the pile.
Posted by: YR. HMBL. BLGGR.