Hasselblad X1D-50c

Do you love insanely high resolution, smooth, creamy medium format images but you hate carrying 200 pounds of medium format gear? If so, you have found the perfect weapon of choice in the Hasselblad X1D-50c.

Prior to the X1D, I was shooting the Hasselblad H5D-50 Wifi camera and carried several of the heavy HC lenses in my kit. The X1D uses the SAME sensor. It uses software that is actually more modern than the H5D.

After a couple of weeks with the X1D, I sold my entire H5D kit including all of the HC and HCD lenses. The XCD lens line is so much lighter, and syncs at 1/2000 out of the box. My HC lenses would have required an expensive shutter upgrade to achieve anything higher than 1/800. And multiply that fee by 6-8 lenses and you’ve got some serious outlay of cash.

I currently shoot with the X1D, and my lens kit includes the 90mm, 45mm, and 30mm XCD lenses. I’m excited for the release of the 120mm later this year, and frankly that may just complete my kit.

The 30mm is plenty wide for landscape, the 90mm is amazing for portraits and fashion, and the 45mm is a great walking around lens for street photography.

So as pros go, the high end 50MP CMOS sensor, the beautify of Hasselblad’s color management system, the fast flash sync, and the medium format “look” in a package that comes in at a third the cost of a new H5D system, and frankly stacks up nicely even against the H6D-50.

As many before me have noted, it does have some “early adopter” issues you might expect in a new platform. The firmware is buggy. It sometimes hangs up. The delay after a shot is unacceptably long… close to 2 seconds. Focus is MUCH slower than any comparable full frame 35 (as if there’s such a thing), but it’s quite similar to the H6D I rented. Again, I think this is more related to firmware than hardware. We’ll see with future updates. My biggest complaint is the “eye level activation” that works like a piece of crap if you happen to wear glasses. I cannot get the thing to activate unless I take off my glasses, which renders me nearly blind. I really hope that Hasselblad addresses this issue in a future firmware update, as it drives me absolutely nuts.

All in all, for a camera body that rings in under $11,000, and lenses worthy of the brand, I highly recommend this camera. If you shoot action, medium format isn’t for you anyhow. If you need 100MP, you need the H6D anyhow, and you are almost certainly shooting in a studio. X1D was meant to be highly portable, and it shines.

People of the Lie

Today I turn 39. A couple of years ago I read a book called People of the Lie, and I realized that I and my entire family were the subject of the book.

Being in a home with a narcissist while growing up is challenging in ways you can’t fully understand until you are an adult, and in my case, not until I was in my late 30’s. What’s interesting is that my little brother, six years my junior, figured it out 10-15 years before I did.

When you are a person of the lie, you are simply a fixture… you’re not a person. You exist to validate and placate the narcissist, never rocking the boat, never hurting their fragile ego. If you do, you aren’t berated – you are shunned.

As a little kid, you learn that love is conditional, and you’d better not do anything to upset the apple cart. You do everything you can to placate the narcissist to preserve yourself as best you can.

The narcissist will swing back and forth between flattery and bullying. You are puffed up with compliments to keep you hooked, then the rug is pulled back out. It’s a control tactic, and it’s very very effective on spouses and children. People who feel obligated to make it work.

I sat and stared into space during thousands of hours of conversations. I had learned never to disagree, but my conscience wouldn’t let me agree either. I sat silent so that I wouldn’t have to do either. He would press me “Are we on the same page” to which I would continue staring off into space and I’d mumble something incomprehensible. It’s a very strange thing to have learned, and even stranger that the dynamic worked for as long as it did.

As a little kid, you learn that love is conditional.

A narcissist can never self-reflect. The narcissist is “always right,” “always persecuted,” and “always the good, altruistic hero.” If someone rejects their manipulation or challenges their skewed version of reality, not only are they shunned, but they are a “loser” or “crazy” or a “bad person.” They are badmouthed to everyone else stuck in the lie. I saw this happen with each of my siblings, until finally it was my turn.

I’m actually sad that I was the last. I should have figured it out sooner, and I should have tried harder to protect my younger siblings. I knew the damage it was doing to all the members of the family. I just didn’t know how to fix it, and I didn’t want to be on shun island.

Now that I’m on shun island, I feel free. There is no more control, no more manipulation, no more being part of the lie that is his double life. You can’t use people as pawns and against one another if they all communicate directly with each other (something narcissists try like heck to prevent).

So, I got no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m free. No matter what happens in the courts, no matter what happens in my job, it doesn’t matter. I’ll never be part of the lie again.

Christmas Letter 2016

2015 sucked. You may remember it from the last Christmas letter, or if you are lucky, you got to watch us flame through the year like the Bad News Bears.

2016 was different.

After our failed adoption with Brandon, we were quickly rematched with a new birth mom, this time in Florida. We took a couple of trips down to hang out with her during the pregnancy, but we were much less confident this time around. But then, a week into January, I met Nicole for dinner at 54th Street Grill, and there were no kids with her. This was unusual, but it was a nice change. Then she pulled out a box, and in it was a pee-stained stick that said “pregnant.”

Naturally this came as quite the surprise since we’d been told by the experts that we couldn’t conceive naturally. That meant we had to make a huge decision – do we go ahead and adopt anyway? We thought about it for a few seconds and decided yes, we were already committed to the birth mom.

We had numerous false alarms in late January, but eventually the call came that we needed to jump the next flight. We got to the hospital literally as the c-section was in progress. And little Mia Grace was born.

The next two months are a blur of a newborn screaming in pain every 15 minutes 24 hours a day. At the end of month two, the doctor finally relented and let us switch to a lactose-free formula. Almost instantly, Mia became our best sleeper. I really don’t remember anything from February and March except for having Mia with me in the basement all night so Nicole could sleep.

Throughout 2016, we learned that pregnancy while caring for a newborn is really not fun, but we knew it would be worth it.

April was filled with Royals games and dance competitions. Spring is always the best time for both. April is also the month Nicole and I celebrated four years.

In May, I lost my grandma after a long bout of hospitalization and pain. We all traveled up to St. Louis for the services and saw the family.

Then in June, I lost my mind, and I bought Nicole a new puppy for her birthday. The dog is so cute it’s ridiculous. She’s also stubborn, loud, and refuses to poop or pee outdoors. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving. We also took a road trip to St. Louis so that we could watch Nicole barf in plastic bags – as is her tradition while pregnant.

July and August, I was in bed. And in the bathroom. And back and forth. I had a case of Strep that was treated with Augmentin, and the Augmentin gave me C-Diff. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t google it. If you’ve had it, you know what I mean. Imagine if you will, horrible stomach pain 24/7, with a side of diarrhea every 10 minutes 24/7 – for months. My favorite (least favorite) moment was when I was on an important call with our distributor WHILE I drove myself to the ER. What I learned is that next time I need an antibiotic, I’ll just go ahead and die instead.

On the plus side, August also brought the finalization of our adoption of Mia. August 24th is her “Lucas Date”. Which is awesome because her birth mother had given her a legal name as a practical joke – Nicole Miracle.

Then September 9th, the most perfect baby in the history of babies was born – Molly Ryann Lucas. And I immediately saw that she had a cleft chin. Apparently she looks just like her dad – except for that.

For some unknown reason, my sister scheduled her wedding for a week later, so we loaded up our 4 kids and our recently c-sectioned wife and had a road trip to Madison. The drive there was ok, the wedding was a lot of work, and then on the way home, Nicole and I decided to get divorced. Fortunately when we got home we changed our minds.

Olivia and I went to the Royals and sat in the Crown Club for her birthday – and we got to meet Rex Hudler!

In October, my retina detached, as evidenced by a black line running through my visual field. I went to the ophthalmologist, then the retina specialist, and he diagnosed me with retinoschesis. Apparently I’ve had 4 previous detachments that were outside of my visual field. And apparently the treatment for this condition is – well, hopefully you won’t have any more detachments in your visual field.

November was my annual Society for Neuroscience trip, but this year I got to take Nicole (and Molly). It was in San Diego, so there was lots of beach time, and some unplanned house hunting. Yes, we like it there.

Finally in December, I started my quest to become fully inked and got my first three tattoos. More are planned, but it was a good start. My wife says they are sexy, but she also says I can’t get a “Don’t Tread On Me” tattoo no matter how much I want to. I thought this was America.

Making America Great Again

And so it is finished. America is doomed. By this time next year, we’ll be killing gays in the streets, subjugating women, and reinstating slavery.

OR

By this time next year, we will have replaced Obamacare, started enforcing our borders, renegotiated NAFTA, fixed the tax system to encourage businesses to, like, keep making stuff here, and maybe even start fixing our law enforcement issues.

It really depends who you ask as to which of those scenarios will take place.

I get it, I really do. Donald Trump says a lot of mean things. He even says perverted things (or at least “a” thing). He’s made questionable business decisions. He’s bullied other companies into doing things the way he wanted at the price he wanted.

The thing that’s puzzling about the left’s complete and utter meltdown has been that Trump spent most of his life as a Democrat, and is by far the most progressive candidate ever put up by the Republicans. He is much closer to Bill Clinton (both in policy and in his dealings with women) than to Bush or Reagan.

The meltdown is because Hillary was a woman. It was her time to smash the glass ceiling. And us uneducated redneck racist sexist homophobic morons in the red states stole it from her because she was a woman and obviously we all hate women.

Except that in addition to being a woman, she was an ULTRA left wing, abortion-loving, tax-loving, small business crushing likely criminal and possible traitor who thought she deserved to win. So much that she and the DNC literally rigged the primaries with vote flipping and all sorts of nefarious shenanigans, which actually stole the election from ANOTHER WHITE MALE, Bernie Sanders.

I will never defend Trump joking about grabbing women. I won’t defend him making fun of a disabled reporter (who incidentally was being a jerk to Trump). I don’t BELIEVE that he said Mexicans ARE rapists. I heard the speech, and he said “They’re sending their criminals, their rapists.” We can agree to disagree on that.

But Trump understands what almost everyone in the middle part of the country understands – WE MUST STOP SINGING THE FALSE SONG OF GLOBALISM. Soros has been pulling our strings long enough. We don’t need to bow to other countries to our own detriment. Trump is right that NAFTA has been a disaster for the working class of America. Trump is right that we need jobs HERE, not bombs to drop on Syria.

The reason 60M people voted for Donald Trump is twofold: Hillary is an evil war hawk who hates the unborn. And two, Donald Trump wants to put America first… all citizens of America. I reject the notion that people here who didn’t go through legal channels should have consideration.

Time will tell how he governs, but we can be certain of one thing – it will not be the status quo.

Christianity and Gay Marriage

If two men stand at an altar and vow to love each other forever, God isn’t confused by that.

Christians are told to love their neighbor as themselves. So, what if your neighbor is gay? What if your neighbor wants to marry their partner? What’s a good Christian to do???

I have a few thoughts, all of which are sure to offend one side or the other. As is my tradition.

I believe that Christ would want us to love them, not judge them, and try to be a positive witness (or light) to them. Jesus wasn’t keen on beating people over the head with His message. He was more of a “let them come to me if they want to hear” kind of guy. People were drawn to Him because he was loving, had a message that resonated, and was a person that you would want to be around.

But Christians, I’m about to call you out.

A lot of Christians have a giant stick up their rear. I’m not sure I can pinpoint the origin of this phenomenon, but it’s quite apparent, especially to non-Christians.

So let’s get what the Bible actually teaches on the table right up front. In Leviticus 20, we are commanded not to “lie with a man as one lies with a woman.” So basically, no homosexual sex. However, the same chapter also says we should put anyone who curses their parents to death. James 2:10 says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” Eeek. So if we… get drunk, have lust, overeat, steal, or curse someone, we are accountable for the WHOLE LAW!?

That’s a pretty heavy realization, one which Christians like to give lip service to, but not actually follow in practice. Homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible, and it’s an “outward” sin – meaning everyone around you can see it. Lust, on the other hand, is an inward sin. Those who are committing inward sins LOVE to look down on folks committing outward sins.

It’s often argued that Christian marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the church. I agree with this interpretation. But here’s where I disagree with the typical Christian stance on enforcing marriage “laws” through the government. God can tell the difference between a Christian marriage and a non-Christian marriage. He doesn’t need our help identifying it. Two non-Christians marrying each other isn’t a picture of Christ and the church, either.

As Christians, we have a responsibility in our own marriages to make them as close to a picture of Christ and the church as we can with His help. But we also have a responsibility to love our sinful neighbors, as we are sinners ourselves and Christ loves us.

The government cannot legislate what constitutes a Christian marriage, because the concept of Christian marriage has nothing to do with the government at all. Legal marriage exists solely for taxation and estates, nothing else. If two men stand at an altar and vow to love each other forever, God isn’t confused by that. And we need to spend more time worrying about our own marriages and less time worrying about doing God’s job for Him.

The sanctity of marriage is not in any way reduced when a gay couple get married. To argue otherwise is to miss the entire point. Christian marriage is the picture of Christ and the church. No other marriage is – BUT, no other marriage is TRYING to be that picture. We are so hung up on the word that we are completely ignoring the CONCEPT.

If I have an orange and you have an apple, and you insist on calling your apple an orange, it makes no sense for me to get mad about it. WHO CARES what you call your ever-lovin’ stupid apple? If you like your apple and you want to eat it and you think it’s an orange, more power to you!

I’m so tired of the Christian platitude of “love the person but hate the sin.” We should love the person because they are no worse and no better than us, and loving them is what we’ve been commanded. That should be enough, if you’re really a Christian.