Saturday, June 25, 2005

I picked up another free postcard at lunch, this time advertising (and I quote):

30th Anniversary Collection
ALWAYS AND FOREVER

the very best of

AIR SUPPLY


But perhaps the most terrifying words on this postcard were in small print, right in the middle:

Karaoke DVD + CD

Karaoke. Imagine the agony at 11pm when from your next door neighbour's door comes the sound of a flabby middle-aged voice trying to make love out of nothing at all, crooning (croaking) that he's all out of love, he's so lost without you ... the soul shudders at the thought.

Friday, June 24, 2005

t-shirts and wallets

Ondine asked last night for the link to where we got the illustrated wallets, so here it is. Poketo does a nice range of t-shirts as well, but it's their wallets that are really cool. I ordered from them some time back (no problems with delivery). K got a nice one with cats and a ball of wool by susie gharimani, and I got a lovely wallet (which I haven't had the heart to use, ironically) with an illustration by brendan monroe.

I've been reading preshrunk for some time now, and I keep seeing these cool t-shirts which I want to buy, but which I know I won't need, since my typical day doesn't involve t-shirts - it's shirts for work, then home, where the shirts come off. When I do go out, on weekends and such, I usually wear one of the lightweight hiking/outdoorshirts I bought, which do a much better job of soaking up sweat and letting the skin breathe than a cotton tee.

But still, there are some really cool t-shirt designs out there. Which reminds me: here's a site that ampulets might be interested in: Threadless runs an ongoing t-shirt design competition, where entries are rated by readers, and the highest scoring designs get printed. Looking at some of the designs out there, I think ampulets could probably give them a run for their money ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Boredom leads to weariness ... weariness leads to ennui ... ennui leads to ... weblog surveys ...


Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Unfortunately, the survey swapped two of my responses, so I appear on the survey results as having 5-10 authors on my blog, and reading 0 blogs a day. Highly irregular, but I suppose mine will be the outlier spanner in the works.

Morbid thoughts

Coming back from lunch today, I suddenly wondered what would happen if I dropped dead on the spot, what would they find on my body, and what would they make of it.

They would've found:
  • an iPod, playing High and Dry by Radiohead
  • a copy of The Horse and His Boy, from the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis, between the pages of which they would find
  • three of those free promotional postcards - one advertising The War of the Worlds, the second advertising Discovery Channel's Alien Planet, and the last proudly proclaiming "Real Snow!" at Snow City
  • a Hasegawa Jadgpanzer IV (Late Version) 1/72 scale kit
  • a wallet with about 6 dollars
And that would've been it. Morbid thoughts to be having at lunchtime, aren't they? Still, there's nothing like work to make you think morbid thoughts. Douglas Adams wrote of the long, dark tea-time of the soul, but mine starts at lunch today. this probably has something to do with K and I watching the whole first season of Dead Like Me, (on DVD, which Packrat kindly lent us) over the weekend as well.

About the only bright spark recently is the completion of two more tanks, which I can't show you because I've gone and exceeded my flickr upload limit, but which I will blog about as soon as the calendar flips over to the next month.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The end is nigh ...

This story nearly gave me a panic attack when I read it:

Kodak announces end of black and white paper production

I was ready to go out and buy up remaining stocks until I realised that it's black and white paper that they're discontinuing, not my beloved Tri-X film.

Still, this presses home a worrying thought: when will they eventually make the same decision about black and white film?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Balinese Temple

A dearth of things to blog about recently. Still, there're some more photos from Bali to show ...

Temple 4

Balinese temples are completely unlike the Hindu temples here: the entrances comprise this strange open "arch", which isn't really, as can been seen from the photo. The eye and the mind imply an arch, perhaps because that's what a mind conditioned by looking at cathedrals and the temples of Angkor expects when looking at a temple entrances. It would more accurately be described as ... well, doorposts, or flanking pillars, or something, but I keep thinking: arches.

The power of ingrained experience, I suppose. Neural pathways that are so well-worn that they draw your thoughts down them automatically, like a canal channels water.

Temple 3

I liked this strange ... well, here we go again, because for want of the correct term, I'm going to say "monolith". I'm probably wrong, since I don't know squat about Balinese architecture, but that's what it seems like to me. There's something impressive about it, and I like the way it stands out against the sky. Its purpose eludes me, but with religious architecture, one doesn't talk about purpose, or utility, but meaning and significance. Which elude me as well, in this case. What I can say is that it does an awfully good job of drawing the eye upwards, which is probably one of the things it was intended to do.

Temple 2

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bali

Bali is quite beautiful.

K and I got back yesterday evening, after spending 4 days at the Hilton in Bali - possibly the most upmarket place we've ever stayed in on holiday, but surprisingly affordable. Most of the time was spent on the beach, of which the Hilton has a nice private stretch that is quiet and pleasant.

We ventured out thrice - once for an obligatory day trip around Bali (more accurately described as a guided tour around tourist traps, which K and I valiantly spent our way through, buying gifts for colleagues and friends), the second time for an incredible dinner on Jimbaran beach, and the third for a sunset dinner cruise that was disappointing, to say the least.

First, the day trip. This was part of the tour package we'd booked, so we left on Wednesday morning for a drive around the island. The tour had obviously been designed with the typical Singaporean tourist in mind - we were to go to a Batik factory, a wood carvering place, a silversmiths, and an art gallery. In the end, we only went to the first two, and still spent a fair amount of money buying fans, sarongs, wooden statuettes and masks.

Batik faces
batik faces

The highlight of the trip was our drive up to the village of Kintamani, from which there were excellent views of Mt Abang. The lowermost of the three craters (seen in this photograph) was responsible for the lava flows which have turned out black in this infra-red photograph. Vegetation still does not grow there.

Mount Abang
Mt Abang in infra-red

At the top of the ridge overlooking the volcano and crater lake, the temperature was suprisingly cool: lunch, on the balcony of a restaurant with spectacular views, was in a chilling stiff breeze.

(for those interested in repeating this experience, the restaurant is at:
S 8º 16.955'
E 105º 21.855'
elevation 1324m)

The second time we went out was for dinner on Jimbaran beach. To our surprise, this was literally on the beach, at a place called the Cafe Melasti. We didn't want to choose a restaurant, so we went to the one the driver parked in front of. In retrospect, given he was wearing a T-shirt with the words "Cafe Melasti", he was probably an employee, so our 'choice' of dinner location was pre-determined anyway.

There's nothing to quite describe dinner on the beach, and I didn't manage to take any nice photographs, so you'll just have to imagine - tables set up on the sand, just above the high-tide line, chairs all facing the sea, the surf pounding in, starry skies ... ok, well, it's not that romantic, given that they've crowded as many tables as they can get onto the sand, and there's a band wandering around playing whatever tables are willing to pay them to play (which is quite a wide variety of songs, some of which don't do much for the romantic atmosphere), and then there's the sand ... well, you know ... sand ... it's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.

The third time we went out was for a sunset dinner cruise, recommended to us, and which we do not recommend. We had been led to believe from the brochure that this was a romantic dinner cruise, where we'd gaze at the tropical sunset, and then have dinner.

There was no tropical sunset. As it is here on our tropical island, so it is in Bali - low-lying clouds, more often than not, obscure the sunset. Dinner was what you'd expected on a small boat with ravenously hungry Ozzies and a buffet table system. There was no "cruise": the boat sailed out a little ways from the harbour, turned right back round, and spent the whole 3 hours sailing back and forth on a route a few kilometres long - I have the GPS track logs to prove it.

Add to that the very loud private party that took up the middle deck, and the experience was complete. The resident band played loud and long, and quite a few of the private party took to the mike for an impromptu karaoke. There was the obligatory Hotel California moment, Sweet Home Alabama was sung twice (we didn't wander down from the top deck to see who it was, but the first voice sounded like an Indonesian, the second like an Australian, and both had more passion than subtlety), and we finally sailed back to dock to the strains (emphasis on strained) of Summer of 69. As most of us hurried cross the gangway to dry land, the band played on. K and I didn't look back.

Other than that slightly off-key moment, the rest of the time in Bali was wonderful, spend mostly on the beach, of course. I'll leave that for another post, especially since I've used up my flickr upload limit for this month.