Saturday, October 23, 2010

That fetish

I'm feeling a little confessional this morning so I thought I'd tell you about one of my fetishes. It's about bags, I can't help myself, I just like bags. I know I'm not alone and I bet a fair number of you also share this fetish in one form or another.
First let me set your mind at rest, it's not a fetish for black garbage bags (go and google that one) nor is it a fetish for handbags. I confine my fetish to functional bags - a bag to carry my stuff to work or to carry around a camera or two. David Alan Harvey, of National Geographic fame, has a serious camera bag fetish. It puts my mild obsession to shame.
Years ago with me it used to be highly functional bags made of all sorts of high tech fibres, designed to stop a speeding bullet at ten paces and protect your camera from anything the world could throw at it. In the mid 1980s I remember buying a Tenba camera bag for, what was in those days, large sum. It was a great bag, not too deep, decent dividers, various pockets and padding. All in all a great bag, including its nondescript grey colour. The problem was it was made, I think, of an early version of Cordura and it wore its way through any fabric it rested against. Your clothes didn't stand a chance. A couple of years ago I dragged this same bag out of its resting place because I had a use for it. Unfortunately the waterproofing in the bag consisted of some sort of coating on the inside of the Cordura. This coating had parted company and disintegrated into a fine dust - the kind that is designed to penetrate - and stick to - every part of a camera or lens. That was sad because it was a good bag, nobody seems to make those shallow, minimalist sorts of bags any more.
More recently my fetish turned to Crumpler bags, first a Fux Deluxe messenger bag, then a variety of computer bags and most recently a computer knapsack. Whilst I really like the look and feel of an elderly, grubby, Crumpler messenger bag, they don't grab me like some other bags. Nor do they quite cut it in the "perfect work bag" stakes.
Now we come to my most recent fetish. Maybe it's something about the ageing process - mine not the bag's - but as I've got older I've come to value the qualities of "old fashioned" materials over the latest high tech carbon nano particle gadget bag. Enter bags by Billingham and others.
The thing about Billingham bags is that they're made of very old fashioned stuff - laminated canvas, cotton webbing and leather. They shouldn't really be effective camera bags...but they are.
Now the next problem with bag fetishes is size - I always seem to think I need a bigger bag than I do. My first Billingham bag was a 555, I can load more kit into that bag than I can lift! In fact I can't work out why I bought that bag. It's so big that nobody in their right mind would try to carry it. I use it as a container to lug stuff around in but I don't try to walk anywhere with it.
My next Billingham bag I decided was going to be a sensible size. I had to be able to carry it when it was full and it had to sit comfortably. "Buy a Hadley" they all said to me at the shop when I told them what I wanted. I tried the Hadley and decided it was too small. I tried the 225 - a great little bag - and decided it was too small. You can see where this is leading can't you?
I ended up with a 335, this is also a great bag, but you can never use the words "small" or "little" in the same sentence. You could take this bag away with you to Outer Mongolia for 6 months and carry enough gear for a professional assignment. A great bag...just not what I intended to buy.
Meanwhile my back's been getting creakier and my bags appear to be getting heavier. So off we go in the search for another bag. I've got to the stage that I don't tell my beloved that I'm bag shopping and I sneak the new purchases into the house hoping they won't be noticed. She's a very tolerant woman but my bag fetish is a bit much for her!
This time I went straight after the good advice bag - a Billingham Hadley Pro. It's a small looking bag but it takes a surprising amount of stuff. I can fit a Leica M, a couple of lenses, notebook, keys, passes, "first aid kit", pens, wallet, MacBook and various other cords, chargers, earphones and stuff. It doesn't weigh too much and it sits comfortably on my shoulder. When I went to buy it, they only had black. I didn't want a black bag, but I wanted a bag. So I bought the black one. It's actually turned out to be an inspired choice. It blends in and it doesn't look like I'm straight out of the British Raj. I just hope that it doesn't overheat in the summer.
Interestingly the bag tags didn't tell me what the material is, however on the Billingham site it says that black bags with nickel plated fittings are made of their new, synthetic, FibreNyte material. If it is, it's a great copy of canvas - it looks and feels just like their canvas.
Oops I realise in this exploration of my fetish I haven't told you about the important sub-branch - Pelican cases...never mind another day.
For those who are interested I'll work up some piccies of various bags to add later.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ears yet again!

Day 14 is drawing to a close. I've just had my first 24 hours pain free and that is a bit of a revelation. I'm hopeful that it's all plain sailing from here. I was surprised at how painful the procedure was and how long the pain persisted. Since about day 10 the pain has reduced and my reliance on painkillers has also reduced. If there was one thing I hadn't counted on it was the pain - ears are clearly sensitive!
The other unexpected thing was the infection. I suspect that suture removal at the beginning of day 4, may have resulted in the infection. By day 6 I had a substantial infection and that ultimately needed both oral and then IV antibiotics. I finished the course of antibiotics on the morning of day 13 and the infection had certainly cleared up.
Now whilst the ear is tender to the touch it is vastly improved and the outcome looks pretty good as you can judge.

Day 6, two days after the sutures came out

Day 14, well on its way to looking like any other ear

The one outstanding issue is loss of sensation. I've got a large area that runs up the back of my ear and over the top at the centre that has no sensation. As well the area inside the auricle above the graft is also without sensation and of course the graft itself has no sensation. I'm told that this will resolve but it is certainly unexpected and mildly unpleasant.
So really that's the story! The surgeon says I'll get improvement in the look of the graft over then next 2 to 4 months. I'm pretty happy with how it's looking now. When the last bits of serous scab resolve and the surface of the skin renews over the next few days it will look almost indistinguishable from the rest of the ear.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I spoke too soon

Not long after my last post, my ear began to get sore and tense, with some drainage. Saturday afternoon, AFL Grand Final replay day...not a great day to have problems. Nevertheless I toddled off to the Emergency Department at the local hospital. The doctor had a look and called the surgeon. Very quickly I found myself with a drip in my arm running in a dose of IV antibiotics. Next, a short trip across town and I found myself being admitted to hospital for more IV antibiotics, a dressing and observation.
Great care from everyone but not what I planned for Saturday night.
Hopefully this will start to run smoothly sometime or other!!

The ear update!

Today is day 8 and all of a sudden over the last 24 hours things have improved. I'd really got myself into a little black hole with the unrelenting pain. All from such a little procedure!
After the sutures were taken out on Tuesday the ear seemed to get worse not better. I was getting a lot of serous exudate from the graft site and it was very painful and swollen. On Thursday morning things started to get a bit mucky. It wasn't readily apparent that I had an infection but I took myself off to the doctor. His view was that it was infected and that this was also the reason it was a bit swollen and sore. He prescribed antibiotics and within 8 hours life had taken on a whole new meaning!!
It's amazing how release from a bit of misery makes you feel so much more positive and happy.
I'm now looking for a hat to "shut the door after the horse has bolted" as it were. I want something that I can wear with a suit or casually to protect my ears and face in summer without looking more like an idiot than I do now! Any suggestions?