Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Earthquake tremors

There we were on the bed, K doing her work, me trying to read a book, when she turns to me and asks me if I can feel the room swaying.

The room was swaying, just barely enough that it could be sensed: my wife, far more sensitive to these things that I, was certain, while I for moment wondered if I was sleepy-dizzy. Watching the lamp in the living room sway was enough to confirm that the movement was real, not imagined. In a few minutes, we had both got out of bed, and began to put on clothes and get keys and wallet without even saying a word (nice to know we have the same survival instincts).

It was an earthquake in Sumatra, from this link:
"Serial No.: 02

The tremors felt in Singapore at 12:10 a.m. on 29 March 2005 were due to an earthquake that occurred in Southwestern Sumatra, approximately 600 km west southwest of Singapore. The magnitude of the earthquake is 8.2 on the Richter Scale. The epicentre is located at Latitude 2.1S and Longitude 97.0E.

Issued by Meteorological Services Division, NEA (Tel: 6542-5059/6542-2837) on 29 Mar 2005 at 12:43 AM (Singapore Time)"

I'm almost afraid to say the T word. The news points out that this quake is in the same area as the previous one, and I'm afraid to think of what this could mean for those already hit badly on the 26th of December.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Monday blahs

My flickr uploads are maxed out for the month, so no photos until April.

In the meantime, here's something for the photographers out there to try:
  • take a photo of the scene behind your computer
  • load it as your desktop image
  • align computer and tweak the photograph until it looks like your screen is transparent

There's a large flickr gallery of photos like that, some brilliantly executed. Top prize in my book must go to this one, as much for getting the cat to sit still for 3 seconds, as for the conception and composition. I haven't tried this myself yet, but it looks like a real challenge.

Another cool link: song lyrics rendered in outline form. Like this one. Hard to describe, but the mismatch (or shall we say cognitive dissonance?) is quite amusing.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bukit Chandu

Lone Tree 3, originally uploaded by Wahj.

K took me to Bukit Chandu on Good Friday, a photo location that she discovered last week. I'm glad she showed it to me - it's a fantastic place, quiet and beautiful. It wasn'y exactly deserted on Friday, but I'm hoping it was a holiday crowd. This photo is one of many I took on Friday, which I'll be posting over the next few days.

Bukit Chandu has:

- a park there with shaded paths under over-arching trees that kept me repeating "the woods are lovely dark and deep" in my head as we walked through them.

- a treetop walkway that takes you out from the top of the hill, over the side, and into the canopy top - great to walk among the tree tops instead of always craning your neck to look up at them - and it's a very sturdy walkway (not one of those suspension bridge types, which un-nerve me with their swaying).

- a little museum there at well, at one end of the walkway, with a nice bit of history and quaint souveniers.

Three out of three - what's not to like about the place? And, as an added bonus, we found a geocache there, "The Ridge": while we weren't first to find it, we're close, and it was a lovely cache, brand new, dry, clean, and full of goodies (we took a little plastic compass, and left a toy keychain).

Friday, March 25, 2005


BK playing pool, originally uploaded by Wahj.

A shot from the pool game earlier tonight. I got knocked out of our informal competition quite early, so I had plenty of time to sit around and take photos. I don't suppose this counts as 'sport photography' though.

The long awaited weekend is finally here. Thank god.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

IR-Visible Comparison

IR-Visible Comparison, originally uploaded by Wahj.

T asked in a comment about doing IR in Photoshop, and I mentioned that materials tend to reflect infra-red in an unpredictable manner. Here's a little experiment I just did, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity, but also by way of explaining this a bit further. I took the IR photos on my Cybershot, and the normal photos on my D70

The top left photo shows my Geocaching patch in all its green glory, on my green bag. In IR, both the dark green of the circular logo, and the khaki green of the cross, shine white, reflecting lots of IR. They both look equally white, so there's no difference as far as IR is concerned. The slightly less dark shade of khaki on the bag, however, is greyish, so it actually reflects less IR (despite being a 'lighter shade' in visible light). The black border of the logo and the main background also turn out black in IR - but the black tag of the bag (on the left, blurry due to my bad focusing) shines grey-white - so here we have two things that are equally black in visible light, but which reflect IR very differently.

On the bottom left is a shot of a pink and blue tissue box, a red biscuit tin, and red shoes. In IR, the colours all disappear on the tissue box: they all look equally white. As white, in fact, as the red tin. The red fabric of the shoe is white, reflecting IR, but the cross straps, which look a similar dark red, don't. The tip of the shoe, a dark red, also does not shine white under IR. Skin tones, looking at the lovely set of ankles in the shot, also tend to come out a ghostly white.

The point is that it's probably very difficult to replicate an IR shot in Photoshop, because there's no way to predict how a material reflects IR. Certainly not by colour anyway. Perhaps there's a guide by material - something along the lines of "nylon is reflective, but cotton isn't" etc. If one is shooting trees alone, however, then my earlier comment about turning all greens to white probably does the trick.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Twinkle's shaved tummy

Twinkle's shaved tummy, originally uploaded by Wahj.

A photo of Twinkle's shaved tummy, after her operation. The vet did a fantastic job with the incision - it looks like a small belly button, and was a very neat stitch. She's healing just fine, and is acting pretty normal now ... except for the sleeping on the laundry bit. Which, as I gather, is actually pretty normal for cats anyway.

PS: K has just reminded me that Twinkle was sleeping on the laundry long before the operation, so I guess she's just being normal for a cat.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Old-fashioned infra-red

Having done the high-tech version of IR photography, I did the low-tech version last night.

K had a roll of Kodak HIE from her trip to a canopy walk on Friday, and I had one roll from a year ago, so she asked me to develop both of them last night. There's a reason why I had been procrastinating developing my IR film: it's extremely difficult. A look at the Kodak reference manual (F13, available off the web if you're interested) shows it's peppered the words "complete and total darkness", along with "not even a safelight" and other dire warnings about how IR light might be penetrating your curtains and bouncing off your walls, fogging your film and you would be the wiser.

In the end, the one mishap was that I underestimated the amount of developer, and one entire side of my negative (which was in the top spool in my small tank) was undeveloped. No fogging - but that was because we shut ourselves into the bathroom with no lights and no windows or doors open. Which explains the underestimating of the amount of developer, since it's hard to do this in the "total and complete darkness" that Kodak mandates for HIE film. Which also explains the cursing and the swearing as I trying to extract the film from the catridge (must buy new film picker ...), with both hands stuck inside a dark-bag, in a toilet with all the windows and doors closed, sweating from the heat and humidity, and feeling condensation actually starting to form on the inside of the bag, threatening to make the film sticky and impossible to handle (which has happened to me before, with medium format film). It took me about 30 minutes to get each roll loaded into the developing tank, and I had to take a break halfway through.

I am so glad I've discovered a way to do IR photography with a digital camera ...

K's photos were really good, even just looking at the negatives hanging out to dry you can tell there's some great shots there. Mine were not too good, plus the developing accident didn't do much for them either. After hanging the film out to dry, I started on my personal project for the evening, which was to paint up one of the chariots for my Mycenaean army (more about that here, on my other blog). This was something I decided I'd to to cheer myself up - a small little manageable painting project that could be done in one night, with tangible results. I found myself humming 'Jerusalem' as I was painting (you know - "give me my bow of burning gold / give me my arrows of desire / give me my spear, O, clouds unfold! / give me my chariot of fire" ) and I got the piece done in about 2 hours, which is a pretty good pace.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Infra-Red in Daylight

Orchard Road, originally uploaded by Wahj.

It took me so long to figure this one out.

I've taken infra-red photos with film, and an infra-red filter. I've taken infra-red photos with my Sony Cybershot at night, using the "Nightshot" feature. And only today did it suddenly dawn on me that if I put the same filter in front of my digital camera, I could take "nightshot" photos in daylight!

K and I took a lunchtime walk down Orchard Road, and we took some really cool IR photos. This one is just opposite Nassim Road, near Orchard Hotel. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love the way IR lends everything, but especially trees, and ethereal quality. K hit the nail on the head when she said it was 'painterly'. More of these photos to follow, for sure.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Twinkle after her operation

twinkle post op
Originally uploaded by Wahj.

Twinkle was spayed today. We brought her back from the vet, and the poor thing looks punch drunk. She followed K around house, looking for comfort, and she's lying on the bed now, curled up and resting. The one good sign is that when we put the food out, she miraculously regained her balance, and sprang at the bowl will all her normal agility and pounce.

I think she'll be fine.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Hoop Dance

hoop dance 2, originally uploaded by Wahj.

More photos from Canada. This was a demonstration of a traditional hoop dance. I was amazed at how the dancer would pick up hoop after hoop, twirl dervish-like around the dance floor while spinning the hoops around her body, and then "poof", as if by magic she would lift the hoops off her body and they would in a sphere, or (as in this photo) interlocked together.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Who's on First?

Found this update on the old "Who's on First?" gag, set in a video rental store. Won't spoil it by posting an extract, so I'll leave you to read it yourself.


Reading update:

Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon, David Cordingly. Couldn't resist this one - it's got ships of the line (I'm still halfway through the entire Patrick O'Brien series), it's got Napoleon, and it's got a ship with character - the Bellerophon, called the Billy Ruffian by sailors who couldn't pronounce the hoity toity "Bellerophon". (wonder what the hokkien peng here would make of such a name).

How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. Francis Wheen's book is a scathing critique of everything that doesn't fit his rationalist, enlightenment sensibilities. Wonderful reading, insightful criticism, but more than that, just hilarious pokes at everything from self-help gurus to Reaganomics to deconstructionists, all with an Emperor's New Clothes atmosphere of revelation.

Machine Guns: 14th Century to the Present, by Ian Hogg. An absolute gem of a book - a strange mix of technical language that would make an engineer proud, and sardonic commentary from the author.

Cat update:

Twinkle has gone off heat, Iffy has gone on heat. They are rotating. This is not good. In other news, Patch scratched me in the face when we tried to trim her claws last night. Patch is extremely vain about her sharpened claws, which are very sharp indeed. Which is why we shoulod trim them more often. Unfortunately, their very sharpness makes it all the more difficult to trim them.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Countries Visited

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

I thought I was well travelled, but somehow it doesn't look so on this map. Looks like I'll have to aim to put some tracks down in Africa and South America to complete the tour of the continents.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Wee Update

We've confirmed it was not an accident.

Yesterday evening, after I changed the duvet cover and washed it, I emerged from the toilet to find a fresh patch of pee on the same spot, this time on the bed sheet. That same night, as we were settling down to sleep, Twinkle climbed on top of the blanket (new covers, just replaced) and peed on the same spot (directly over where my tummy is), right in front of our eyes. After a lot of shouting and scolding from me (which she ignored, as all cats do) and another cleaning job, I wake up this morning to find another pee spot, in the same location.

Needless to say, I am getting quite fed-up with this. If anyone has any idea, or has any experience with this sort of behaviour from cats, please offer me some advice. In the meantime, I'm going to lock Twinkle out of the bedroom, the only problem being that all 3 cats have to be locked out of the bedroom, which is quite a feat: at least one of them tends to slip past the gauntlet. There is, as people have commented, always the snip solution, but I'd rather find a concurrent solution to what I believe is a behavioural problem.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Laws of Cat Behaviour 2

There's no easy way to say this: one of the cats wee'd on the blanket last night. I'm not naming names, but suspicion falls on Twinkle, who is (a) on heat and acting strangely, and (b) was asleep on the blanket the last I looked.

I woke up in the middle of the night with one of the cats scratching away at the blanket. Given that my body was directly under the portion being scratched, I was being pummelled by two cat fists in alternation, and my first reaction was naturally to ask the cat what the hell it thought it was doing. (Yes, we ask questions of our cats all the time, even though we know that even if they spoke, they probably wouldn't deign to answer). K, being much more savvy about cats than me, interpreted the action as the cat trying to bury the urine, as they normally do with kitty litter, and a tentative sniff of the affected spot confirmed that it was, indeed, cat pee.

There was nothing to do but try and fold the blanket with the affected spot away, and try to fall asleep again. Twinkle got accusing looks from me this morning, but all I really want is for her to finally come off heat, for crying out loud. If there were a cat version of the Pill, I'd be forcing Twinkle on it.

On a side note, one of my colleagues suggested that the solution to the problem of Twinkle being on heat was to let her out for a few days, to which I responded that letting her out so she could get knocked up by the neighbourhood tomcat wasn't really an acceptable solution.