Saturday, July 30, 2005

Twinkle likes the colour red

twinkle likes the colour red

We already knew that Twinkle likes the red carpet, but today we established that she has a thing for the colour red.

K was cataloguing her shoes (part of the that's going around), and after we'd painstakingly laid out all her shoes (as neat a parade as would make an RSM proud), Twinkle immediately claimed the red shoes in the middle, rolling and rubbing her face in them. Later on, she moved on to do the same thing to the other red pair (two spaces up in the middle rank), and we both concluded that Twinkle clearly has a thing for the colour red - that, in fact, our cat is a red-fetishist - a red-o-phile - a red-loving, shoe-sniffing, scene-stealing primadonna who plonks herself down in the middle of anything red. = )

Which is odd since articles I've read claim that cats don't perceive red as clearly as we do, either seeing it with less saturation, or as shades of gray.

Just look at those eyes ...

just look at those eyes
Last evening, with tym and ampulets celebrating the end of their respective scholarship bonds at the East Coast Food Centre, was this adorable cat who hovered around our tables and took scraps from us. She looked in remarkably good health for a stray: cats this cute no doubt get fed fairly often (and are conversely probably not mistreated as often: it would take a completely heartless brute to look into those eyes and still kick an animal like this, though there are always people like that: I'll never forget the time these stupid morons tied a piece of string to a stray's tail and K and I had to try and remove it, no easy task given how nervous and skittish the cat was). She was also quite pregnant, which explains the begging for food.

Iffy stares intently

From one cute cat to another: this is Iffy, staring intently at some mysterious spot on the blanket, as she is wont to do. She's like a sphinx when she does that.

How to fold a t-shirt

Came across this last night: the video's in Japanese, but you don't need to understand it to appreciate this radical .

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Boot fetish

Going through my collection of shoes for the , I realise I have a lot of boots.

I blame the army: I was perfectly happy with regular shoes until I tried on my first pair of army boots, and realised that they were so much better than anything else. You could tramp all over in boots, and no harm would come to your feet. Mud, water, sand, and (later in England) snow and slush - whatever - army boots treated them with the same disdain. Even back in the old days of stiff rubber soles that offered no cushioning, they were a damn sight better than just shoes. And they were free.

(well, there was the 2½ years military service that came with the boots, but hey ...)

I was in the infantry, and the quality of boots was of painful importance: if they were going to let you down, you'd only find out 15 km into a 24 km march, with every blister emphasising the problem and no turning back. I became very aware of how boots could either reduce or induce pain. We used to wear out boots at the rate of a pair every 6 months, but I've kept a pair from every generation of boots the army has given me, as a momento of everything we went through together.

Anyway, meet the gang:
the usual suspects

The grubby pair slouching on the left is the pair that took me through basic military training. Pebbled leather, hard rubber soles that offered no cushioning, and a quick lacing system that came loose easily. Stiff, looked good on parade, not so good in the field. Leaning heavily on it is a pair of the type that was issued in the mid-90s, with a panama sole that offered much better traction than the chevron patterns of the previous one, and a different lacing system that tended to hold together better on the lower half. When I came back from England to rejoin the army, this was the type of boot that took me through my time in my battalion, 3 overseas training trips and a wide variety of terrain. Standing proud on the right is the latest issue, with side panels, and a cushioned sole that would do a sports shoe proud. It's also the lightest of the lot: feels like nothing compared with the leftmost pair, which weighs in at almost a kilogram. This is the boot for the reservist, who needs every advantage he can get!

My ankles still feel naked in normal shoes, and I've continued to wear boots in everyday life, with concessions to my laziness by getting zippered ones: I just can't be bothered with laces anymore.

The Shoe Meme

Ampulets has hit me with the , so here goes:

Total number of shoes owned: 12
Of which, the following 3 are regularly worn
- Boots, Doctor Marten, Zippered, Black, most worn
- Loafers, Hush Puppies, Brown, also frequently worn
(these two have had their soles re-glued by me several times, cos I like them so much)
- slip-ons, Weinbrenner, white, usually worn when I can't be bothered to wear socks

The rest are worn once in a blue moon:
- Sandals, Chaco, Black (for beaches: last worn in Bali)
- Shoes, Laced, Brown, Bata (dunno why I bothered: I'm too lazy for laces)
- Shoes, Bata, Some other pair from (ditto)
- Shoes, Running, Nike (if I exercised more ...)
- Shoes, Dress, Black, worn on wedding and rarely after
- Boots, Zippered, Brown, Dressy, worn rarely cos they hurt
- Boots, Army, circa 1991 (old model, with metal loops for the laces all the way, and chevron patterned sole)
- Boots, Army, circa 2000 (second generation model introduced circa 1995, panama cut sole)
- Boots, Army, Gore-tex circa 2003 (best model yet. Love these: wear them when travelling)

Most expensive pair of shoes:
I think it's a toss-up between the Gore-tex army boots (in excess of $100, but paid for with annual reservist allowance) and the dress boots (definitely in excess of $100).
Bonus - Most expensive pair ever: a $200 pair of Doc Martens that I bought before going to England for university, and which lasted me 5 years, through travels in 4 countries and up 3 mountains, making it also the most value for money I've ever got out of a shoe. (least value was a pair from Clarks that fell apart within a month)

Cheapest pair of shoes:
Since the army gave me my first pair of boots for free, they surely are the cheapest. The current DM's are also 'cheap' since the bonus cash from my credit card paid for all $90 of it. In absolute cheap terms though, any one of the Bata shoes, at about $29.90, is cheap.

Last shoe bought:
The Weinbrenners

Shoe under work desk:
Whatever I'm wearing to work (9 times out of 10 the DMs) since I take my shoes off at work

And the people I pass this meme on to:
Well, I don't know so many people who haven't been shoe memed already, so
tscd
kanadapost
the bokolog

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Twinkle, of the rising sun

I am following 's advice: rather than blog about something that I have made a committment not to blog about I will, instead, blog about my cats.

Twinkle of the Rising Sun

The red rug is courtesy of Ikea, but the cat is all her own. Twinkle has the ability to lounge anywhere, and to do so in the most un-ladylike manner, legs all akimbo and everywhere.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Good old Brum

Found this site recently which brought a smile to my face:

Birmingham: It's not Shit.

I spent three years in Brum, and I grew to love the place like a second home. It'll be 10 years to the day I came back from Brum (in 1995 I re-enlisted in the army on August 10th), and I haven't gone back since I graduated. There's a bit of nostalgia in me, looking through various bloggers from Brum (there're some blogrolled on the right), trying to get a feel for what the place is like now. It surely has changed; I just wonder how much. We keep talking about going to the UK at the end of the year (the wife has relatives there) but it's probably too early to confirm whether we're going or not.

The weekend in review

I'm convinced my current headache (as opposed to the headache of last week, which bears a passing, but not familial, resemblance to this one) is the direct result of the back massage yesterday.

K took me to this place which does foot and back massages, and for 40 minutes I sat on a chair while on my defenceless back this man pummeled and poked, and put pressure on places he probably shouldn't have. I'm convinced nerves were pinched and blood vessels squashed inappropriately: later that night at dinner, in the middle of swallowing a large mouthful, I had the disconcerting experience of my vision blacking out rapidly from the edges before recovering just as quickly. I have no idea where this came from: I'm not prone to fainting or blacking out, but this was like entering a tunnel in a speeding car, the lights dimming and then returning just as quickly. Perhaps something was thrown out of alignment: my masseuse seemed to treat my back as some sort of challenge, like a hunk of steak he had to tenderise, or an opponent in the boxing ring he had to KO. No, I don't think he meant ill - but I do think that subtlety of technique was not his strong suit.

Then again, it was a weekend with two buffet dinners (including an excellent , which I'm linking so I can find the phone number again), as well as champagne, so I haven't been following the healthiest of diets recently. I don't normally drink, but the champagne was courtesy of a good friend, and the company and conversation was excellent (even though I felt rather lost when they started debating the relative merits of the drink, being woefully under-educated concerning wines). The place was nice (Cornerstone Wines, ex-Provignage), though the consensus was they could at least have served water, instead of making us buy it.
Postscript
It never rains but it pours: we had a farewell lunch for a colleague who's leaving us, and it was another massive buffet, this time at Merchant Court Hotel. Great buffet - but I'd reached saturation point already - three buffets in as many days is a bit too much.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

One cat dreaming

twinkle dreams
Twinkle sleeps like a kitten: one paw thrown over her eyes, paws twitching, tongue sticking out. Probably thinking about ... catching mice, or small furry animals at any rate. Watching her reminded me of one of the story arcs in , "A Dream of Thousand Cats".

Saturday, July 23, 2005

omigosh! It's see-thru!

transparent screen
I blogged about this sometime back ... I think ... can't seem to find the post though ...

(come to think of it, blogger doesn't have much in the way of search facillities for its blogs - the little google toolbar on top doesn't really work all that well)

... anyway, it was about creating an apparently transparent screen on your laptop. It just involves taking a photo of what lies behind your laptop and setting it as yhour desktop picture (sizing and aligning it properly) such that it appears that your screen is see-through. Nothing spectacular, but I thought it would be a cool thing to try. More examples of this can be seen here, at the page for photos tagged with .

This, and other things, can be accomplished on a boring saturday afternoon while waiting to go out for dinner.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What is mush?

asked what mush was.

Mush is not a dish. Well, maybe it is, but mush is not certainly not a recipe.

Mush is a state of mind - a way of being and cooking - a style, a mode, a means to an end.

Mush starts with whatever's available in your kitchen. Anything will do, but a carbohydrate base of traditional staples is better - rice, potatoes, pasta, couscous, have all formed the base of mush at one point or another.

Mush is when what you have at hand to cook is chopped up, mashed together, mixed, crushed and (yes) mushed together. No rules, but some rules-of-thumb: moist is better than dry: sloppy better than neat: mixed up better than discrete. Most importantly, 2 shades shy of bland is better than a touch too spicy. It's convalescent food - and, by long tradition, it must taste marginally better than cardboard, but only just, and not for want of trying.

Mush has been many things. For example, sometime back, mush was couscous, cooked plain, with a dab of margarine, and an egg scrambled into it at the last minute. Sometime before that, mush was an entire can of luncheon meat mashed up, fried a bit, and with an egg cracked over the mess at the last minute as well. Come to think of it, there may have been luncheon meat in the couscous as well.

Mush has it's origins with my undergraduate days, when I used to eat pasta with butter, and only butter. It was an ideal undergrad's meal: the whole thing was cooked in one pot, the only thing other than butter you needed was salt and pepper, and eating the whole thing out of the same pot (preferably with the wooden spoon you used to stir it) meant only two things needed to be washed. This, in its own time, had supplanted the meal of choice (and meal of necessity - same thing at that point in time) of my first term in university, which was anything that could be put on a slice of toast, which often meant (by the end of term) butter only.

Coming back home for Christmas probably saved me from malnutrition that year. But I digress. I was about to say that the true origins of mush are probably buried deep in my childhood, when my mother realised that I was un-fussy, and could be happily fed loaves of bread for meals on busy days. I think I liked the purity and simplicity of it all, bread and water (yes, I was a childhood Zen gourmand).

And so, when I'm sick, I reach instinctively for the wholesome simplicity of staple foods, cooked up well, and mushy. That's mush.

And I'm definitely sicker today. I had to hold it together to conduct a workshop this afternoon, but eyes are watering, nose is running and cough is coming back. Bah. Two panadols and strepsils kept me together through the workshop, sparing me the embarassment of being visibly sick in front of 26 new teachers (I looked at them and thought "Was I ever that young?"), but I just want to limp to the doctor's now and get some meds ...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

"At least it's not mush"

I hate this cold weather. I'm coming down with something again (of the sniffly, red-eyed persuasion), and I have a workshop to conduct tomorrow. That, and the fact that my other 's template went schizo over lunch, made for a miserable day.

The first thing I did when I got home was to think about what kind of warm, comforting, restorative dinner I could make. It was either mush (pronounced in this household as moosh) or chicken soup.

Chicken soup, of course. For those of you out there who need a quick fix, here's the recipe:

Take 4 potatoes. Small. Pre-washed. Nuke in microwave for 3 minutes, or however long you like.
Boil a pot of water.
Cut up one carrot.
Cut up one onion.
Discuss with wife, over phone, the relative merits of Maggi chicken stock cubes versus 's instant soup.
Cut up two cloves of garlic.
Cut up two stringy stalks of celery.
(if you're fast, all this happens within the time it takes for the water to boil and the potatoes to nuke)
The carrots go into the boiling water.
Then the potatoes. Chop 'em up first though.
Then the ... well, after this point, pretty much put them all in. Plus basil.

Boil for about as long as it takes for you to get impatient.

This is important:
Add two sachets of Campbell instant chicken soup. Last.

Serve hot. If soup is disaster, copious application of salt and pepper will mask the taste.

As I said to my wife, "at least it's not mush".

Monday, July 18, 2005

gun safety

There are many reasons I shoot mainly digital photos now, but here's one of them: the oh shit moment when we realise that the two film cameras you were testing for condition (by winding, triggering the shutter, checking the meter works, checking the shutter speeds sound right) were actually loaded, and you're gonna end up with a bunch of out of focus shots of knees, elbows, and googly eyes staring at the lens.

This must be the photographic equivalent of hunters shooting themselves in the head while cleaning their guns. Doing it with a digital is the equivalent of being able to retroactively decide that the gun was, after all, unloaded.

Anyway, it looks like I'll be taking old fashioned b&w for the next few days/70 shots.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Das Dampfboot

steamboat exploded
I took this shot of the steamboat at dinner last night, which was to celebrate dad-in-law's birthday. They must've thought I was mad, waving the camera around clockwise with the shutter going full-auto like a machine gun.

Nothing quite beats a steamboat for communal eating. Only family or friends can eat like this - and if you're not family or friends before, you are after.

20 shots were used for this, taken unfortunately at full-size, which meant I had to lower the resolution (photoshop already complains that my start-up disk has not enough space: since when is 2 GBs not enough space?!) before attempting to import all of them into PS for editing. I had originally thought to produce a composite like the previous one, irregular in shape, but it looked better regular. I fixed the focus on the steamboat and switched off autofocus before I panned the camera (if you can call swingly wildly in a circle panning) so that when the composite was finished, the middle would be sharp, and the edges blurred, wanting to draw attention to the boiling pot. I should've done colour correction for each shot before I melded them, but it was too much trouble. It would've been interesting, for example, to have desaturated the shots on the fringes, and drawn the colour into the middle, but I'll leave that for another photo.

Still on boats: I finished watching the director's cut of Das Boot after dinner. I should add "finally" to that previous sentence. Das Boot was a great movie the first time I saw it on TV many years ago, but it was so, so depressing. You spent two hours staring at the claustrophobic confines of a submarine, and then the ending hits you like a ton of bricks. The director's cut is worse: now you spend almost four hours doing the same, knowing full well what awaits you at the end. Brilliant movie, no doubt the best submarine movie, and possibly one of the best anti-war movies ever made, but horribly depressing, in the way only the Germans could make it.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

cracks in the wall

cracks in the wall
I've posted a similar picture before: cracks in walls are just fascinating sometimes, resembling forks of lightning, or some river-scape. This one is from downstairs, where the sun has splintered the plaster. The adjustments in photoshop (autolevels) brought out the cracks in stark contrast, as well as showing a blue stain that was not visible in the unenhanced image.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

urban tiger in miniature

urban tiger
Saw this fella prowling around town. Despite his size, he swaggered like a tiger in miniature. No one could have told him he wasn't king of the urban jungle. He gave me one suspicious glare with his eyes, and stalked off.

And now, for something completely different ...

crane composite 2
Yesterday's course in town gave me the opportunity for a short walk around, and photos (this is why I carry the camera with me all the time, even though it's rare to find the opportunity to use it).

This photo's a bit of an experiment. It's composited from 5 smaller photos, which I took panning from the bottom left of the crane anti-clockwise to the top. The final image was a bit dull (I had hoped the red of the crane would come out more strongly) so I opted for a psychedelic looking filter in photoshop to add some spice to it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

It LIVES!!!

The first year of our marriage, my wife got me an iPod for my birthday. It was a wonderful gift, that I used as often as I could. As a first generation iPod, it suffered from the battery problems that all first-gen iPods would become notorious for, so over the years it was eventually relegated to use as an external hard drive (that's why I love iPods: besides the fact that they are cool, and fulfill their intended function perfectly, they continue to serve you even in their twilight years).

While browsing through the Macshop, I found this battery replacement kit by Newertech, and I thought "what the heck - it's worth a try". Anything to give the old baby a new lease of life. This iPod has more than sentimental value for me.

A few notes for those who'd try the same thing.
  • I did not, despite the dire warnings, take proper precautions against static electricity. I don't even know what those precautions are. But you should. Cos it's the right thing to do.
  • You need to remove the shiny metal backplate of the iPod to get at the battery, and the two nylon tools supplied (the blue things in the photo above) are really delicate: I almost broke them trying to pry the case off. I suppose they're made that way (i.e. soft) so you won't scratch your iPod. But mine was fairly well scratched anyway, and it really wasn't coming apart as easily as the instructions implied.
  • The hardest part of the whole process is detaching the battery from the hard drive. The two adhesive strips (more like mounting tape) were really tough, and in wrenchingpeeling the old battery off I think I saw my hard drive warp slightly. Oops. It still works though.


Other than that, the process is a breeze. It took me almost 15 minutes of careful, slow work (and many repeated attempts) to get the back plate off, but replacing it was a breeze. As I type this, my old iPod is happily suckling at the firewire port of my computer, charging its new battery for a second lease of life. For some reason, the only music on it now is Educated Guess by Ani DiFranco.

Chocolypse Now

A quick post to link a webcomic: Chocolypse Now.
"I love the smell of burnt cookies in the morning".
= )

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Crystal Mud

crystal mud

"Crystal" and "Mud" are two words that don't normally collocate, so a product named "Crystal Mud" is already intriguing at the linguistic level.

The short summary: you know those grass jelly drinks? Well, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to bathe in grass jelly, this is what you want to try. I understand this is the same stuff you see used for some indoor plants as well (for people who like plants but who prefer the clean look of jelly over soil - something I could never understand).

The 5 satchets you get per box won't quite fill your bathtub - you won't be bathing in jello (although that would be interesting ...) but they will create enough swirling jelly bits to make for a strange experience.

I found it somewhat disconcerting (I don't like things floating in the my bath with me), but I did think the jelly bits made for a fascinating photograph (which is the main point of this post). The photo was taken in candlelight, wide open at f1.8, and about 1/30, then contrast was pushed in photoshop.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sick, again.

I started to feel ill at work today. It was a familiar feeling - the start of a pain in the back of thee throat, the heat building up, the chills. By the time I left work, I was feeling distinctly unwell. I went straight to the doctor, where I had to wait 2 hours - I couldn't complain though, since an old man right before me (behind me actually, but the doctor moved him up the queue) emerged from the room with a cathether , holding his pants in one hand and a bag of urine in another. The poor man was standing in his boxers, and when he told the receptionist that he was going to walk home, I felt very sorry for him, and very worried. I imagined him walking home in his underpants like that, but he told the receptionist that he lived just behind the clinic. I wanted to follow him for a while, to see that he was going to be alright, but after I got and paid for my medicine, there was no sign of him when I stepped out.

I'm taking no chances this time - lots of water, lots of rest, lots of medicine from the doctor. Maybe I can take this time to paint up some of the many figures I've got ...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

You get the strangest kinds in cinemas.

I spent 2 hours watching Sin City last night, sitting next to a man who could not shut up to save his life.

Hot babe appears on screen: "Waaaa ..."
Shocking violence: "AIYOH!!!"
Some character reels off some cheesy line: <hyaena-like laughter>
Repeat for 2 hours

(this, by the way, more or less sums up Sin City for you if, like the man next to me, you were there purely for the visceral experience - hot babe - violence - cheesy dialogue - repeat)

This, compounded with the fact that the cinema managed to show the first 5 minutes of a non widescreen edition of the film in widescreen, means that local cinemas have to date had an appalling track record. They showed Episode I out of focus. They managed to set the film on fire during the screening of LOTR I (I'm not kidding: the projector jammed, and a theatre full of horrified viewers saw the image burn up before their eyes). And they wonder why people are just settling for the DVD.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Playing rough

Cat-fight
We bought a new bed for the cats recently, a wicker double-decker with a bed on top and a cosy little hidey-hole below.

As predicted, Patch, the scaredy-cat of the group, quickly claimed the cave for herself (good choice, I thought: a naturally defensible position). She's occasionally had to defend it from Twinkle, who's grown quite aggressive recently (it seems everytime we turn our head she's in a running fight with Iffy, with her doing the chasing). Twinkle's such a bully that the only way Patch can engage her on equal terms is (as you can see from the photo) from the security of her little cave, with her body and head safely tucked in, and only the paw exposed.

Rough play, but it's a bloodless fight though: the cats leave their claws in, and swat at each other like boxers (Twinkle once swatted Iffy so hard I heard the "thwack" from across the room), and are otherwise on good terms.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Waiting in line for Neil Gaiman's book-signing: re-imagined as a life story

Joining the end of the queue at 6.15pm is like childbirth - a long line stretches ahead of you, the end of which you cannot see at this early age.

The first few hours are like childhood: time seems to crawl, as the line moves 5 metres in the first hour. You have a friend who keeps you company in the queue for the first hour, like the childhood friends you had in kindergarten, and who you know will not be there when you reach the end of the line.

At 8pm, you enter the tumultuous teens. The end is something you still can't imagine, time still moves slowly, and you are filled with conflicting, angry emotions. "Did he just cut queue in front of me?", "Why is this man standing so close?" and "It isn't fair!". There is, of course, the inevitable sense of betrayal when you hear that Neil Gaiman is taking a break for dinner (they annouce via megaphone) and leaving you lot standing in line waiting while he eats (they imply by omission). "How could he do this to me? Is dinner more important than me?", you scream (internally), a question that you will understand about 50 metres down the line when adulthood and dinnertime arrive.

Sometime after that, your wife arrives. She brings dinner. She makes everything alright. You reach the long, straight stretch of the line running past the side of the bookstore, and enter the middle age of the line. The line moves faster, and more frequently, and there's a low ledge you can sit down on in between moving. Things have settled into a routine. Things are more comfortable. You make peace with yourself, Mr Gaiman, and the people in the line with you. Your wife goes shopping at Zara.

For the first time, you catch a glimpse of the end of the line, as you pass by the bookstore window. From where you are, it looks bright, well-lit, and full of purposeful happy people. You spot someone you used to teach in school, and think "How'd he get ahead of me?". You creep closer to old age, and glass-doors to the air-conditioned interior of the store beckon.

A security guard shouts, for no apparent reason, at the queue. You figure this happens at least once in everyone's life.

You pass throught the glass doors, into the bookstore and the old age of the queue. Things are comfortable, well-ordered, and calmer. The sense of wonder you had as a child, 3 hours ago at the far end of the line, returns. Your wife comes back from shopping to keep you company for the last stretch.

You reach the final stage of life in the line, walking a convoluted path marked out by barriers and railings. More people appear, telling you what to do and where to go and "move along". The end is in sight, and when you finally get there (sooner than you expected), you come face to face with Neil Gaiman.

He looks tired (expected), shorter than you expected, and wears a black t-shirt (it figures). You say something nice to him about the queue finally coming to an end, and he doesn't respond. He signs your book with a nice drawing of a falling star, smiles pleasantly but wearily at you, and you leave the queue at last.

4 hours and 30 minutes after you joined it, there is only the long walk downstairs to the finality of the car park, and a drive home with the wife.
Postscript:
Neil Gaiman is the only author to have spelled my name right on a dedication. Ever. That alone, besides the fact that he signed 1000 books yesterday, took the trouble to personalise each one with a little drawing, and stayed till the end, would've catapulted him to the front of my favourite author's list, if he weren't already there.

Bird tracks

bird tracks
I came across these bird tracks set in concrete the other day. I wonder how the bird fared. Did he hobble around with concrete bits stuck to his legs for a few days? Did he wonder why his balance and flying trim were suddenly all wonky? Is he still around somewhere, flying with a wobble while his friends make fun of him?- "Look, there goes Old Concrete Overshoes again".


Or perhaps archaelogists of the future will ooh and ahh over these tracks, like paleontologists today, arguing amongst themselves whether acridotheres tristis made these tracks, or maybe corvus macrorhynchos, or corvus splendens.
"Well, hmmm, yes, you see the distinctive ridged smoothing marks indicate a pre-1990 timeframe for the concrete, prior to the adoption of advanced concrete smoothing techniques by contractors, and, as you know from my monograph on the topic, corvus macrorhynchos was the dominant species prior to 1990 ..."

Monday, July 04, 2005

Two photos of blue skies

Stuck at home again, so here're two photos of blue skies I took recently.
starburst
I used to love jet planes: I went to the aerospace exhibitions regularly as a child, and when the Thunderbirds came for a display, smack in the middle of my exams, I so badly wanted to go and see them that my mom and dad let me, which was an incredibly enlightened decision on their part. I've lost interest over the years - for some reason, the latest generation of planes like the Raptor and Eurofighter don't capture my imagination as much as classics like the F-16 (which, though you can't see it, are what's in the photo above, and for my money, still the sexiest looking plane ever built) and the F-14 (two words sum that plane up: TOP and GUN. Enough said).

Now that I think of it, it's quite funny that while I build models of tanks, I still haven't made a single airplane model. For one thing though, the style of modelling is quite different. Airplane modelling tends to be in the 1/35 scale, aiming for a very clean and "pretty" look, whereas all my tank models are gaming pieces in 1/72 scale with a dirty, roughed-up, "used" look. I'm not even sure I can paint a "clean" look.

Blue skies, green trees
This next one was taken, lying on the beach at Bali, staring up at that beautiful blue sky. There isn't much to say about it, except just to look at that sky ....

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Happy meal

cous cous face
Last Sunday, I woke up to find this for breakfast, courtesy of my wonderful wife. What can I say? Cous cous, tomatoes, and a bratwurst sausage never looked this good.

(post title notwithstanding, on second viewing the expression on the face does look rather rather grim. He seems to be steeling himself for the inevitable consumption, mouth pulled tight in a line, as if to say "Right, let's get on with it then: do what you have to do")

Crazy lifts

The lifts in my apartment block have a history of going bonkers. I've stepped into them to hear the pre-recorded voice (which normally reads out the destination floor in a sedate voice) reading through the floors from basement 8 to the thirtieth floor ... while the lift is stationary ... and in a building which only has floors 1 to 17.

Coming back home tonight, the lift was making noises that sounded like a cross between a chipmunk and a modem ringtone. Sounded like, say, a chipmunk being faxed, if one could fax chipmunks. It freaked me out so much I stepped in, hit the button for a different floor, and stepped out to send the lift on its way so I could wait for a different one.

A bit later in bed, K lamented that it was so hard to get good photos of our cats, so I tried to catch Twinkle in a good light. Which was difficult, since there wasn't good light. After taking this photo of Twinkle, I've decided to declare the rest of this weekend a 50mm, f1.8, manual focus only weekend - I've been getting flabby with the autofocus, and especially the zoom lenses, so it's time get re-acquainted with my favourite focal length again. f1..8 will get me a fast shutter, and the shallow depth of field will force me to really concentrate on what I want to be in focus. The camera, left to its own devices, tries to get as much in focus as possible, but the eye doesn't see everything sharply anyway: peripheral vision is at a much lower resolution than the central, sharp-focus area of vision, and the its the brain that interprets sharpness and clarity in. Anyway, with any luck, I'll get off my lazy butt and shoot some photos this weekend.

Friday, July 01, 2005

flickrin' again

It's a new month, and I can post pictures to flickr again!

Hotel front entrance

Here's one from the Bali trip, a sculpture from the front entrance to the Hilton in Bali.