the whole summer happened

Its been months since I last blogged- what have I been up to? I was in the middle of my last entry and I left it as a draft since April. So the following will be that draft with updates. Why did I get delayed? I wrote my licensing exam in July and passed! I have been studying for about two years for this exam and the last three months in particular I really clamped down on it. It was a  fairly difficult exam to study for- the content was very broad – you need to know all areas of applied psychology including areas that you may not practice in or have had any sort of formal classes in such as industrial organizational psychology. The style of the exam is also quite difficult to master and so I spent a lot of time doing practice exams to recognize how they word the questions. In the end, it was as challenging as I thought it would be. It initially started out bad- my momentum was slow and knowing there was 250 questions ahead did not help. Once I gained momentum though I started to feel more confident and the pace was good. I did notice stress was a major factor in this exam- I managed to spend 15 minutes on a question I knew I should be able to get (about 1 minute per question is recommended) and realized that I needed to come back when I was cool headed (which worked).

I celebrated immediately with a personal pizza at Famoso (which was delicious), and a cocktail (which was gross I don’t know why I order alcohol when I don’t like alcohol), and went to McBain Camera and bought my first full frame camera, the Sony SLT-A99 Mark I. I decided to go for the A99 instead of the A7 I and II because I REALLY liked the handling of the A99- it just felt right in my hands. I also loved the excessive amount of physical buttons for easy control. The top LCD info display was also a nice plus, as was the huge amount of angles in the rear LCD. Down points include it being used (fairly used  with worn out paint and some missing bits), slower AF/less AF points, noisier images, and no modern updates to lenses. Sony has really  stopped its focus on A moun and put everything in FE mount. Generally though most of the lenses I want are already on A mount so I was fine with that. I also had access to many cheap lenses since there are legacy Minolta lenses for cheap, and A mount lenses that are being abandoned by sony shooters moving to e mount.  I likely will go FE mount at some point, but I am quite happy with the lens selection for A mount, particularly the cost. The FE mount lenses are ridic expensive and the used market is not much better. So I grabbed the Sony 50 f1.4 along with the body for super cheap (and had a DX 18-70 mm garbage lens and 70-300 FX forgettable lens from my A100 purchase a few months ago), and I took that as my only lens to Toronto. It really forced me to think more about my shot compared to shooting with a zoom. I really liked that and have been doing more manual shooting, whereas previously I was an aperture priority shooter.

Recently though a week or two after the A99 purchase, I also grabbed the Zeiss 24mm F2 for a third of its MSRP from eBay Japan. Its been amazing shooting with both the 50 and 24 lenses, and I really do love the fast glass, as most of my shooting is in available light, and typically indoors with dim lighting. I have been shooting with the Zeiss 24 F2 for a few weeks now and I quite love it a lot- although I do miss the f1.4 on the 50, the 24mm fits my shooting style a lot more- typically i am in a cramped indoor situation like a restaurant booth shooting H, or I am doing scenery. The 24 is REALLY dense and my first serious lens- I am very happy I got it. I just realized that I had been using an old firmware on the A99 and was not using the depth assisted AF- which uses both the AF on the SLT mirror box, and AF on the sensor itself to increase AF accuracy and predictability- really good for objects that won’t stop moving like a toddler. Unfortunately its not a giant leap in AF speed (definitely not a sports shooter, or as good as the A6000, nevermind the SLTA99II or A9), but I hope it gives me more keepers. I typically do not shoot in AF-C (usually AF-S) so we will see how this new style of shooting goes.

I also picked up the Peak Design Leash camera strap and can’t believe what a nice addition this strap has been to my workflow- I typically go between scenarios needing the camera strap and not needing the camera strap regularly and being able to swap it on and off without having to undo all the strap anchors is so so so useful and time saving. I wish I got this strap earlier. I also don’t feel the need to get the larger Slide and Slide Lite (despite using the hefty A99 and 24Z) so that’s great- the much smaller Leash fits in my pockets and can come with me everywhere.

ANNNNNNNNNNNNND they reversed the changes that made my work load much more manageable, my next return slots sooner, and my caseload shorter, with no impact on client care, no impact on new intakes, and still no complaints about my service. I’m about here with public practice. An unfortunate byproduct of community/public practice is that larger agendas from a big organization needs end up affecting the front line and prevent flexibility or change. Or its an individual. Whatever it is, I’m about here. I have calculated some numbers and by staying only in private vs. keeping a private and public practice, I would be able to have a much better standard of living with TWO LESS DAYS OF WORK PER WEEK. Also I am the only clinician in my clinic because they did not find a replacement who went on mat leave. So they are basically cornering me and telling me to deal with it when they don’t really have any options. And they wonder why the team imploded 3 years ago. SEVERAL MONTH LATER UPDATE: we lost like two thirds of our team haha. So we don’t have senior clinical leadership, management, and clinician staff. As of now, I am the only clinician in our team in our clinic- again. This was the same team compliment when all the psychiatrists left years ago. The great thing is that I am in a much better position now because my TWO(!) psychology internships are now completed, my private practice is running well, and I don’t need to freak out if the team actually implodes. Pretty nuts how far we have crashed again. I have no new patients for the next two months because I am taking all the leaving staff’s patients.

I received my wi-1000x and they are amazing. The dual driver system sounds very very good, and is tuned to my liking/soundstage preference. Its very much a MDR-Z7 tuning with a generally meaty sound. The noise canceling is also superb- its as good as my WH-1000XM2, which is just great. I definitely think the complaints I see about the NC on forums are from people who don’t know what to expect from NC. In comparison to what is out there regarding NC, they are definitely at the peak, and I think you really need to have that comparison point to know how NC varies between models/makes. The comfort is also great. The WH1000XM2 are just too hot for the summer- they were however great for fall/winter. Even now as I type this out with the WH1000XM2 on in an AC room, its too much.  I quite like the WI1000X a lot. I haven’t used my portable headphone amp/zx1/ex1000 combo in quite awhile because these are so good. SEVERAL MONTHS LATER UPDATE: these are just fabulous- the NC is great, the sound quality fantastic, and the BT connection is stable and reliable. The comfort is also great. I took them instead of my WH-1000XM2 for travel and they are great for the size. I realized that airplane travel just sucks anyways and the headphones could only do so much. I was kind of jealous of the new headphone line up Sony Asia just released including the updated MDR-Z7 MK II, and IER-Z1R flagship in ear hybrid earphones (two dynamic drivers an done BA) but these WI-1000Xs might be all I want now for in -ear phones. I haven’t actually used my PHA-2 headphone amp/EX1000/ZX1 walkman combo in ages.

My package with the BT160AS continues to be a royal pain in the ass. The seller actually called me from freaking South Korea to dispute the negative feedback I gave them regarding the purchase. Yes they refunded me the purchase. That’s to be expected as a bare minimum. I had to send pictures of the disgusting earwax/sweat on the headphones that were said to be NEW, make a video and upload it of it being broken in one side (I mean the used factor alone should have warranted the return),  and find the stupid depot to send them back (way off into the northwest part of the city). So yeah I was angry that they wanted me to revoke my negative feedback. I think I was already mad that I thought I found a new in box model that would be very rare, and to have it totally gross. I mean I think my tolerance of the gunk is pretty profound. Anyways I think the waste of time was really sunk it in- because then I realized I had to get my money back from customs for import taxes. Another time waster. So that’s being dealt with right now. Probably my only crappy eBay purchase though so that’s not so bad, considering I hit the used market so frequently. EDIT- I now have had a full refund including my customs costs and I reversed my feedback because the seller really went hard at trying to fix things. Fixing it perfectly would have been to give me a new pair of the headphones but that’s not happening. SEVERAL MONTHS LATER UPDATE- so in the end I managed to get a brand new pair (not like new- this is sealed in box) from USA on eBay and its in customs Canada right now. Looking forward to this- pretty rare to find this model, nevermind brand new. ANOTHER UPDATE- its freaking broke brand new out of the box- this headphone sucks straight up. It makes the BT connection, but does not have any sound out of either ear now. The seller actually refunded everything and did not request me to send it back so now I have a museum piece in the box. Its a real shame because I love the design so much, but there’s a reason it didn’t have any updates. Shame.

I managed to get a new pair of AS700BT headphones and immediately feel that was unnecessary. As much as I love them for running, the necessity of washing the foam cushions after a run, the likely water damage that broke my first pair, and the stupid extra cost I paid to get them brand new (they have been out of production for some time with no clear replacement- all sports headphones are in ears now from Sony), I kind of don’t want to use them. Uh oh. And they don’t sound good enough to use them casually – that’s what the WF/WI/WH headphones are for. The XB80BS headphones it turns out are great sports headphones and maybe that’s why Sony did not bother replacing the AS700BT. Hmmmm. Anyways I have them in blue all the way from Japan and its …SO AWESOME. I took so long to work on this draft I got this in- the bass is a bit muddy, but outside of that, its really thumping. Its a great workout headphone and I missed it so much! I am now only using it for strength training, rather than running, so that I don’t need to worry about cleaning them so thoroughly, which is what I think killed them initially. SEVERAL MONTHS LATER UPDATE- I actually managed to snag a pair of orange AS700BT in near new condition locally on Kijiji for 25 bucks! Thats a bit cheaper than the first pair I nabbed (although those were NIB) but these are just working great. Its great to have the orange pair again. Still one of my most favorite headphones period, nevermind workout cans. I can be a little less worried about the blue pair.

I have really enjoyed the new onslaught of mid size sedans coming out. As much as I like the idea of a luxury brand vehicle, particularly Mercedes Benz and Lexus, I realize the things that I like in luxury cars are very much available in mainstream brand vehicles now, and the extra cash for the badge might not be worth it. Case in point the new Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Mazda 6. The Accord in particular is awesome because of the cooled/heated front seat/heated rear seat, which is dynamite sitting in the back with the car seat and H. The Toyota doesn’t offer rear heated seat (!) but does have stellar design language inside and outside. The Mazda 6 does both front and rear heated, and ventilated front that wicks heat away, plus the Signature edition offers an amazing interior cabin. Im really really liking the Accord because of its size advantage internally as well, although the 6 is coming real close. The Camry would be a near instant sell if the rear seats were heated. Shame.

I have been really focused on my diet. Sort of. More focused than I have been before. Part of that is gorging on as much fiber as possible cleanly most meals, which means I go through a lot of baby carrots because I can eat them forever without getting sick. Its been really helpful and I have slimmed down a bit. I am pretty excited. I am also planning on buying the Polar Balance connected weight scale. It does a really neat suggestion trick including how much more to exercise and how many calories to cut out to achieve weight loss goals each day. The calories in particular is really neat because most fitness apps talk about more activity, when weight loss is 60% diet focused (or so I have been told by Polar). I love the idea of a daily tidbit about eating, as I don’t think I need to worry about my workouts. Its still a bit pricey and lacks features other connected scales have, but that weight loss calories suggestion thing is awesome, and I quite like my Polar M600 a lot so, yeah I am getting it. I have been able to drop to a peak so far at 188.5 lbs, down from 203 lbs in the spring. Very happy with that.

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