Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Forces of Habit

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help

I suppose it is the very nature of habituation to slide beneath the radar of our normal perceptions. This occurred to me the other day as I noticed I was stuck in a habitual cycle, one which I had become aware of due to a change in circumstance.

For the longest time, the old impact printers at the office were connected to the mainframe system via a gateway PC. Due to the age of this set-up and the frequency with which the PC would lose the connection to the mainframe, I got into the habit of turning my head to peek in at the status display whilst walking past the printer room.

Now that the operation of the mainframe printers has finally been taken over by HIS, the gateway PC sits unpowered, awaiting its journey to the land of surplus. Yet each time I pass the printer room—situated so that I pass it several times a day—I still take a glance inward.

I wonder how long it will be before I stop looking. Will it happen because I have thought about and discussed it specifically or because my brain finally just gets it?

Habit breaking itself is not necessarily difficult. For example, I recently had the driver's window in my car repaired. It had been gradually malfunctioning, first necessitating pressure from my elbow as I raised or lowered the glass to keep it from derailing. This went on for a while before it threw in the towel and quit.

I cannot recall how much time had passed between that day and present, but I figure around one year. So it came as little surprise that I only used my elbow when opening the window once or twice thereafter. And that was that. Never again have I reverted to this learned behavior. I suppose the joy associated with the now-functional window coupled with the passage of time aided my swift acclimation to pre-habit.

Speaking of car repair, since the only system left unrepaired after my recent flurry of automotive expenditures is the air conditioner—which I vow to repair before summer; I am tired of hot, sweaty summer commutes—I am looking forward to making some weekend day trips.

Most recently I took the visiting family to the Wakulla Lodge for lunch and to take the river tour, then up to Havana where we walked around and looked in shops, and finally ended up in Quincy to drive and walk around before heading back.

Next I would like to hit up the Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site, Britton Hill, the Saint Joseph Point Lighthouse and a barbeque restaurant I passed during another trip. The name escapes me but it is possibly Hog Wild BBQ in Carrabelle. All I can remember is that the sign advertised barbeque worth driving 100 miles to eat.

It would be really nice to have a camera before embarking on any further travels. The film SLR I had is beyond repair and I do not have the budget for an SLR digital with removable lenses. I would love to get another film SLR, but the idea of uninhibited picture taking at no cost is appealing right now. Can anyone suggest an affordable but quality digital camera?

Two Comment Bubbles eight Comments

  • Claire

    I can't pick a specific model but I have been very pleased with the quality of our Canon. I can recommend a place to take your car for A/C repair. It's called All American on Blountstown Hwy. They'll keep your car probably a week but they do good work.

  • erik

    I would also recommend a cannon an a540, a550, a640... whichever has the highest mega pixel that you can afford. Other than resolution all these "A" series cameras are essentially the same. The really great thing about them is they have access to manual focus and manual fstop settings despite being point and shoot and for someone as savy as you you will get better use out of these features to creatively control lighting and focus than you will with something like a lot of zoom.

  • Marc

    I agree with Erik...the PowerShot series is an excellent "point-and-shoot" series. However, through much research not all A series cameras are the same. I highly recommend the A520.

    Sure, out of the ones Erik suggested, the A520 has the lowest resolution (at 4 megapixels), but it's not all about resolution! After about 3.5 megapixels the change is not noticeable---unless you are cropping or printing larger than 8.5 x 11 which most home camera users do not do.

    But the A520 is superior to its followers in the control over the camera. I know this because I wanted to bump up to the A540 (6 megapixels) so I could crop, but I quickly found that after the A520 Canon, for some reason, took away the spread of control on manual mode. The A520 can go from its biggest f/stop of 2.6 and its smallest of f/stop 8.0---the key here being that the smaller the aperture the better your depth of field becomes. The newer A series cameras only have a f/stop selection of f/2.6 to f/5.5. And the loss of control was not worth the extra megapixels.

    And the A520's price is down under 200 bucks now.

    For your viewing pleasure, a review.

  • Matt

    If you can afford it, I'd spring for a Canon Digital Rebel. The bodies can be found in the $600 range these days and are far superior to a point and shoot (then again, they're a little bigger, and you have to buy the lens separately).

    As far as the mexapixel race goes... as Marc said, after a certain point it just doesn't matter any more. In my opinion that point is about 4 megapixels.

    But it's not just that... the color sensor is just as important as megapixels. A larger color sensor will make for better pictures. It doesn't matter if you have a 50 megapixel camera if the color sensor is crap.

    Canon and Nikon make the best SLRs. I like Canon.

  • Marc

    "I like Canon."

    haha, me too.

    I just bought the Rebel XT (not the XTi - several reviews made it seem the next gen wasn't worth the money)...but at any rate...I'm in love!

    Package deal:
    1 - Rebel XT (body)
    1 - 18-55mm lens (stock)
    1 - 2g memory card
    1 - usb memory card reader
    1 - extra battery (aside from the one with the rebel)
    1 - carrying case
    1 - lens cleaning kit

    Package deal with 2 day shipping (and no sales tax - god bless the internet) = $707!!

    And the sensor is where it is AT!!!

  • erikpatten

    At uga we just got 20 canon a540s which is a 6 megapixel model. So far they seem great. They have manual focus and shutter speed controls, manual aperture control from 2.6 to 8, and iso ratings from 80 to 800. They retail for 168.95

  • Marc

    I wish it were true...I love the powershot series...but alas, aperture range is only f/2.6 - f/5.5:


    5.5 is just not small enough to make a big difference in depth of field control - even 8 is pushing it.

    Maybe I am wrong, because I have not personally handled a 540 for myself...Have you actually been able to set a 540 to f/8? But, I do know for a fact that the 530 can not go to f/8...

  • David July

    I just finished purchasing the A540 and a 1 GB SD card! It turns out Canon has discontinued this model, but I was able to find one reasonably priced at Newegg. Thank you for the recommendation!

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