Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Henry IVth Part TwoWhere was I?

Exhibition split into four sections - Britain, America, Europe, Japan.
Britain: Much as one would expect from an Arts and Crafts exhibition. A fair amount which fails on the "believe to be beautiful" aspect and often on the useful aspect as well. Rather too much crudity for the sake of crudity; the makers are so busy getting back to the rural artisan roots, that they produce things the rural artisans would be ashamed of.

America: Squat, fat and dark. They had the entrance from one house, complete with stained glass and acres of stained wood, only it was positioned a foot off the ground, and ended not far above my head. And this is on a 20th Century house. They had Frank Lloyd Wright interiors, as well as models, pictures and designs for his Mid-West houses. They are all depressingly low. They celebrate the boundless freedom of the prairie by sprawling all over it. One stunningly designed pendant lamp had a large square of stained glass on the base, with panels about half a foot high round the sides. This was slung beneath a wooden ceiling rose (can it still be a rose if it's not round?) of gargantuan hideousness (think of the pattern Buzz's holy cheese mating). As someone commented "Don't they have flies in Pasadena?" (which the American woman standing nearby confirmed, while stating they have screen doors as well).

Europe: It's quite odd looking at Scandinavian designs stemming from the same movement, and realising that I am far more familiar with what had happened the other side of the Atlantic than I was of what had happened the other side of the North Sea. But houses clad in mock-pinecone shingle [I'm sure that's the American word, but I don't know the English version. Anyway wooden tiles, usually hung on walls], combined with bright orange Mediterranean tiles aren't quite what I would choose. There was the usual Viennese designs, along with Russian equivalents. I find it odd that one aesthetic simply disappeared shortly afterwards, and the other has struggled to move on.

Japan: It all gets a bit blurry here. Not least because of air conditioning which obviously was only ever assessed on average. Some good, some irrelevant, some I'm entirely sure what it does. But by this stage I was losing patience with the dreadful design of the exhibtion, and the constant puzzles to work out what was where. Nothing seemed to flow, and much displayed seemed contrived simply to fill space.

This is taking too long. Basically, this exhibition failed. I didn't feel awed or inspired. I couldn't even find a postcard I wanted to buy, and that's from someone who has a postcard of some wallpaper (Angus Fairhurst's Underdone/Overdone).

The next cultural highlight was seeing Henry IVth Part Two. I didn't fall asleep. Unlike when I saw the first part. Although I was fairly young, and it was past my bedtime. Unfortunately, that occasion also happened to be the time when we got seats right at the end of the circle, and were therefore on the same level as the actors, and few feet away from some of them. Waking up under the observation of the bit-parts is not fun. Apparently even "the definitive Falstaff" (whose name I strangely cannot recall) had been taking an interest in my position.

Back to Part Two. It could really have done with a "Previously on Shakespeare...". Perhaps it had, but it took me a while to get into the language, and much longer to figure out who was a goodie and who a baddy (it didn't help I only saw the cast list, and hence the list of parts, in the interval).

It felt like it dragged a bit in the first half, and got its rhythm in the second, but it might simply be that I was scrambling to work out the connections between various people, while being given prompts about as yet unmentioned people called Bolingbrook (and that most of the audience had tried to find out if they had time for one more in the interval). Shakespeare's so much easier when, due to some administrative oversight, you've already done the play three times, and know as-an-orange before they get to it.

Not wishing to recap every nuance in every scene, the play was pretty much standard Shakespeare. Perhaps better acted than some I've seen, and whilst being good, it just didn't have the fun or the power of some other plays. No idea if it was the play or the production (now there's finely honed criticism for you). The last play I saw was a Propeller production which, although somewhat at least felt more cohesive, more lively, and much more innovative.

When the production did veer from po-faced if-this-was-Propellor-they'd-be-fingers-moaning-brandy-glasses-by-now-ness, it did so with a noticeable judder. Suddenly it's all unnoticed cross-dressing and drunken judges doing slapstick.

I'm being harsh, but there was something missing. Regrettably I don't know what. I just wasn't enthralled. I wasn't suddenly aware it had finished and people were leaving. I wasn't oblivious to the guy in the front row flirting alternately with the girls either side.

Falstaff (played by Michael Gambon; see, I knew he was someone famous, I just didn't know who) often sounded drunk. I know the character is essentially a lecherous drunkard, but slurring rushed lines really doesn't help the audience in knowing what was said. Oddly most of the other leads didn't glow quite as one might expect, and it was the minor players who carried off their roles better.

But heck, a play's a play, and it wasn't awful, and I did get to watch the sun setting on St Pauls from a new view, and discover that the clock on it is slow, and it's a long way down from here; all that for only ten pounds (apparently it's some scheme to encourage people who wouldn't normally go to the theatre to go. The man behind me, who was also in the cheap seats, repeatedly shouted bravo; obvious first-timer).

So thank you Travelex (and whoever cancelled the day before), even though I've no idea who you are and what you do (well, the name does suggest something, but the bank does that, and so does the Post Office - who, in a bizarre timeloop, are now getting in the telephony market. Just in time to be Skyped out, said he who has yet to buy a suitable headset, worries about whether his computer will take the strain, and realises that having free phone calls to the other side of the world might mean I'll have to speak to someone).

So that's before the weekend covered. I think the weekend itself will have to wait to later in the week.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005


More pictures on Flickr: people this time.

Got Goodwood pictures back, not great, and not yet scanned.

Saw International Arts and Crafts exhibition at V&A. Some content good, some dubious, some "wasn't this in the Art Deco exhibition?". Layout and design of exhibits dreadful. They really need to start poaching people from the Tate; one picture I couldn't see because the glass covering it only reflected the video projected onto the wall opposite, others gave stunning representations of the spotlights lighting them.

The blurb accompanying each item was often hidden in the shade of the frame (and the lighting there is dismal anyway). I struggled to read it and I don't have poor eyesight (well, in that eye). The main writing section, which offers an introduction to the works, was usually positioned after one had seen them all. Frequently they would have the blurb set out on a panel which contains several other items running along it. The corresponding display paid no attention to the sequence. Occasionally they'd be helpful and number the items on show, only some of this were so badly positioned that to find the number required more bending and peering than a what's-not-my-line competition.

They would have entire rooms carefully recreated from some magazine image. And then label each item at the boundary of the room. Only they once again would not be in any order. So they would have a label reading Bowl. 1200-1300... next to Bowl. 1943... and often the description of materials wasn't enough to work out which of the many bowls/cups/platters was the ancient one (and don't ask how 13th Century Japanese bowls relate to William Morris).

One of the best examples was at the end, with ten screen prints of various Buddhist figures. The text, positioned to the left of the prints gave the names of each "right to left".

I have never heard so many people complaining in any exhibition. Considering pretty much the entire ethos of the museum is design, you'd think they'd have some awareness of it which they could apply.

On to the exhibits:

I'm going to have to cut this off here, as I'm out of time, and won't have any this side of the weekend. Blog adjourned until next week.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sir Humphrey ApplebyIt's really just as well I was bored and thoroughly bereft of any suitable blogging ideas.

[In Ukrainian doing American accent, and I missed most of it due to forgetting it was on] And now for your viewing pleasure...

That music meme thing which everyone has already done.

01. Total volume of music files on my computer?
Er, could you hold on while I get the hamster warmed up?
1958 songs. No idea how many gig, but I'd like to add that in mitigation I've been needing to buy more storage for about the past four years, and so most of it is over four years old.

02. The last CD I bought was?
Massive Attack: Mezzanine. Sale in HMV, and I thought I really ought get a proper version just in case there's a thunderstorm.

03. Song playing right now:
[Turns speakers on, hits 6] Stereophonics - A Thousand Trees. Winamp's on shuffle, nuff said.

04. Five pairs of songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):
Ash - Girl from Mars. Young, happy, summer, friends. Now what does say that those concepts are strongly linked to a song which is nine years old.
Rootjoose - Virtually Fat Free. Because I like silly things.
The Cranberries - Zombie. In-joke, nevermind. Or Linger for cheesy singing.
Radiohead - Creep. I was young, and easily led, so being like everyone else I went out and bought the Radiohead album. I was also rather ill-informed so that I didn't know everyone else was buying the one after Pablo Honey. But I like it, even if lots of people don't.

Goose pimples:
No Doubt - Don't Speak.
REM - Everybody Hurts.
Sinead O'Connor - Nothing compares to you.

Skunk Anasie - Glorious Pop Song (having listened to the rest of the album, skipping the first track, natch, at two thirds of full volume [who was it designed for?] simply to piss off the neighbours, as so being happy again by this stage).

Embrace - Um, that one. Ok, so I tend to put albums on and just leave them. The one with All You Good, Good People.
Crowded House - Don't Dream It's Over. Aptly enough I have%2

[Swearing very loudly]
Blogger has developed censorship skills. First I mentioned that Blogger was denying all knowledge of my blog, and now trying to use the Preview button has wiped out two-thirds of this post.

- Baton to LondonDan and Ryanstask (although I expect at least one to not notice that, or be above such things generally).
- Cars which don't work (and it's a decade newer than mine, and not my brother's recently killed car).
- Found tapes: classical music played on childhood car journeys. Two tapes, and only ever two sides played (including references to Peter and the Woof and the Box of Delights).
- My father's ability to drive into big things because he's cross and trying to prove my mother wrong (closely connected to the phasing out of in-car music).
- Guide to new photographs on Flickr (and would the fact none of them have titles, tags or descriptions give away slightly that I, like Sir Humphrey, might be about to cite the flood of 1967. I'll do it some time).


Saturday, May 21, 2005

CF6 600 - DOF - 01Stumbled upon.

And you I was an acquired taste.

Now what he forgot to mention is that the film pays significant homage to The Day of the Triffids.

Unconnectedly, Google appears to have noticed that the thumbnails it supplies for image searches are quite a handy size for thumbnails, and that I appear to have expanded their viewing potential (it's so much easier than seeking out a suitably sized source image). So suddenly it's decided that all images which appear on this site are not to be trusted (can you imagine the loops Google would created in thumbnailing its own thumbnail?), and so it's dropped me from the image searches. I wondered where two-thirds of the traffic had gone. It's really odd seeing the original source for an image come first in the results instead of me (for some reason I had been leading searches for Braille, ladybird, firefly and Morris).

How come when I'm typing now it's sunny (and shining on my screen), but when I went to drop off and collect photographs it managed to start raining in between looking out of the window and opening the front door?

I probably ought be out taking photographs, with my super infrared film, except I'm scared of it. So if anybody knows the answers to some really stupid questions about Kodak HIE the address is below (and above-left come to that). How can a film not have an ISO? How does focussing differ? Will the masking tape holding the small inherited filter onto the back of my lens stay in place for all 36 shots? Will my photography tutor ever ring me? What conditions are best of IR effects? Who really killed JR?

What? The last one's a legitimate question, as I don't know because I always had to go to bed when the theme tune started.

Oh, and I've got the complete randoms set back. I may need glasses, or I may just need to become better at focussing quickly (damn my camera's lack of autofocus, so I can't just blame the tools). I hopefully will have time to get them scanned tomorrow, if I'm not off seeing red.

And finally, if you want to be slightly unsettled allez ici.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Horse's head, no bedAs I've been wasting far too much time on Flickr, I think it's time for another photography post. Firstly, I managed to wangle spending the afternoon at Goodwood, so that's the sports film done (but not yet developed, so hold your horses as it were). Somehow, despite weather forecasts getting progressively more ominous as the week progressed (use metcheck.com, the 48 hour thing is so much more informative), it somehow contrived to not rain much. It did for a bit late on, but more in a passing-cloud way than anything with malice.

Admittedly it wasn't quite warm enough for the faint sound of steel drums and mentions of name "Safari Sunset" to conjure up images of rustling palms and rum based cocktails. Or maybe it was the cries of the bookmakers which kept the mind firmly ensconced in a windy hilltop somewhere in a land of scudding clouds. Cries which incidentally are virtually indistinguishable from the "3 pound a pound" or market-traders, and equally as informative. If only they too sold things cheap at the end because they want to be off (spot who didn't place one bet, and with such giddily enticing outside odds as 5-1 wasn't likely too either).

No idea how the pictures come out. One set I over compensated the focus to account for the approaching horses, but the rest might be better. Horses are quite big, and thunder past quite noticeably when they're grazing the rail. On the last race, the apprentice one, one of horses riding out to the start was very obviously running away with its rider. Frantic eyes and slackly gnashing mouth flecked with foam is not a good look for a horse (or a rider come to that), especially not when it's 3 foot from my head.

Oddly, the place was nearly abandoned when we got there late. It stayed desolate all afternoon. Being miserly, we were in the cheapest enclosure, which comes complete with a caravan of loos, a generic event food stall (in the same yellow and green as the appear at every single boat show. I'm sure one could start to play a dumbed-down version of the Eddie Stobart game with them, although today's Burgers wouldn't have added much, and people might think one is a bit odd for yelling "Cornish Pasty" or "Pork Roast" to stake one's claim).

So the people-watching was bit thin on the ground, although it did offer one pure gem. Man and woman climb old terraced grandstand. Walk along until the woman sits down. Man wipes seat with hand. Pauses, looks puzzled by hand. Staying standing, man huddles protectively round woman, patting and rubbing her back as if she's cold. Man with now clean hand sits down.

So I now have one more film to use by Wednesday, which is the infrared. For which I still don't have a filter. My tutor thought she could find one, and was going to give me a ring yesterday. I still haven't heard from her. But then the people I told yesterday that I wouldn't be around today have still rung up, and left a message wondering if I could give them a call before half past five (and they do have my mobile number).

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed yet, there are some new (well, by now -ish) pictures on Flickr. Some not great. Some possibly meaning most of them. The gorse in Brighton came out better when I made a print of it, and dodged the dark vegetation. There's also the usual selection of flowers because I was stuck for subjects, and occasional other things.

And all that's in lieu of the complete randoms set, which I should get back tomorrow (but it's Boot's so that's very, very touch-wood). I'll endeavour to scan the soon, but no promises (and wow, I think I've just found my new favourite word: Endeavour, because it means "try", but doesn't sound as pathetic).

Now onto other people's photography. London Dan (oh, and his pictures are just about passable, if you really have nothing better to do, and happen to be pa... I really ought think about what I'm writing, preferably before I write it) recommended, somewhere along the line, but I can't find it now, a photoblog of a guy's daily commute in New York. I find it hard to describe the images there without lapsing into cliches like "achingly beautiful". Today's shot is inside the driver's cab. Which looks a lot less plasticky than I'd expect.

And referencing Flickr in exams? Now if I tried that... then the marker might be left wondering how a photosharing website relates to crack propagation in the horns of a gazelle.

Another photography link: Stairs was seeking people's opinions on two of his own photographs. Asking people for opinions. That's never good. He does try to encourage positives, by asking which we prefer and why, but that's like trying to hold back the sea with only a small Dutch boy's finger, when there's not enough dyke to have a hole in it (Can you come up with a better analogy? Call Figment Imaginative Services [Nuneaton] Ltd now on 0800...).

Or maybe it's just me who doesn't quite read the entire paragraph when perhaps it might matter, and so proceeds to lay waste to one of his images. But even with the minor niggles, he's really very good. I would ram this point home by finding a suitably similar image of mine, and comparing and contrasting them, but regrettably I do not have any picture of a fritillary. That I know of, obviously. I mean, some of them could be fritillaries, but it's a bit hard to tell. They could equally be l'Arc de Triomphe, but never having been does limit that possibility slightly.

So go and tell him how wonderful his photography is, while I just carry on blaming the sequences of digitising and compression for the faults with mine (yeah, cos scanning negatives is well known for savagely underexposing the foreground, or making the main feature of an image about as big as Dougal's cows).

Moving on to not photography, although City Comforts has recently featured a shot of Alton Library (my fabulousness knows no bounds; not existing will tend to do that to an abstract notion), which looks like a barn, in a good way. At first I thought it strange that I find out about new buildings in towns not so far away by reading a blog by a guy in Seattle, but then I realised the sole purpose of Alton [to me] is to remind me I'm nearly at a friend's house (and provide yet another roundabout, this time with a sign to Jane Austen's house). I would go and probe to answer his questions, but as the next time I'm likely to be passing is early August, this might be a little slow. And anyway, whenever I use that road I'm always late, and most of the time it's not the road's fault.

More recently, he linked to 3 New Yorker articles on various aspects of global warming. So far I've read the first, and beginning of the second, and I think they're worth reading. Most of it I, and probably you, should know; some of it you may not and I didn't.

Slightly annoyingly, it's American, therefore thinks nothing of referring to the average temperature of the Earth being 57 degrees. That must be including the core, right? Except then it would be hotter, so, er, um... Oh, they still use Fahrenheit (and promptly quote people talking, once again without units, in centigrade).

And while I'm picking on it, and the marks of America, what do you make of the following sentence: In 1979, the satellite data show, perennial sea ice covered 1.7 billion acres, or an area nearly the size of the continental United States.

In 1979, the Satellite Data Show, held at the Birmingham NEC...

Conjugate your bloody verbs. You may not know the correct name for that tense (i.e. I don't either, but I suspect it's one of the p ones) but is the s really so abhorrent? I don't know why, but verbs sticking solidly to the root form, regardless of context, are annoyingly common in American writing. I would like to launch into a rant about it here, but I can't remember the other examples. Usually it's things ignoring the vowel-shifted versions (sit/sat, get/got), or any suffix ("he fix the car": Did he or does he?).

Speaking of the quirks of the American language, since when have words had umlauts? These aren't imported words with genuine umlauts, but retrospective accents denoting a junked hyphen as in microorganisms or coordinated.

Speaking of quirks generally, since when has Denmark been an artic country? Does America know, oh bugger, I've just realised why, although technically Denmark is not, and Greenland is, but Greenland's some odd self-governing not-quite-independent country which happens to belong to Denmark.

Drat, indignancy can be too all-consuming sometimes.

I'd better stop before I beat myself in a puree with lots of cream.

That sounds a bit dodgy, but it was only supposed to be a rather poor pun.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

That wasn't very good, was it? Why is it that whenever the someone new appears, the post which gets them is under par (or do I mean over par? Sorry, good walk ruined camp). Spot who's been commenting on the better blogs in Buzz's sidebar.

Anyway, first things first: Killer line, over on Buzz's blog. In his comments (not that there aren't killer lines in his posts, but...). Easy Jetsetter's last line in the sixth comment [read the rest first].

The BBC's new weather graphics. Does anyone else think it owes something to nappy adverts? It's the way clouds and rain sweep across the country, showing the new, improved absorbency of Sussex.

It's very depressing. The entire country is greyey-brown. Obviously they used the satellite image impart extra realism, as this country is widely known for it's arid climate.

It's also just not very good. Whatever happened to occluded fronts? I've yet to see an isobar. Instead we have Sky Sports-style Tuesday ticking away as Kent pisses itself. [The website still clings to the old symbols].

But then the BBC's not what it used to be. At the weekend BBC News 24 spent all day playing an interview with a man. A man named Cosmo Lush. Naive, or malicious parents? Slightly delusional deed-poll? Journalistic pseudonym? Or just underlings seeing what their producer won't notice?

Stopping now, as it's late, and I'm watching the Alan Yentob thing on skyscrapers.


Monday, May 16, 2005

The Isle of ArranTypical.

Just as my stats go on hiatus, sorry, server maintenance, which ensures that whilst the status messages informs me everything is being logged normally, the actual stats, when they reappear, will tell me that I achieved an all time high of two visitors on Saturday, and nothing since then. Oh, hang on, the beginning of that sentence rather suggests there ought to be a different ending, so here goes, The Man from Uckle (who's probably too young to get that reference, even though he's not that much younger than me, but somehow my brain has convinced itself that it's the other side of my birthday already, this is a long sentence isn't it, maybe it comes of being old, or of thinking I'm older than I am, and I did find myself putting the butter in the cupboard and the Marmite in the fridge the other day, having made toast around a banana plant, which I was only doing because I'd run out of milk, and do you think I'm mad yet, or should I go on a bit longer) posted in response to my post yesterday on taking photographers of complete strangers.

Upon seeing this, I thought I'd post comment in reply on his blog, only then realised that if the comment is longer than the original post, it probably ceases to be a comment and becomes an armada of landing craft crunching into the shore.

So, the comment as it was:

Amusing and entertaining? You must really be trying to avoid using "interesting". And all I thought I was doing was ranting, in a poorly edited, were-not-where way.

You think it's great that I have to go and do these things? You would; you don't have to.

And I've still got two films to go by the 25th, and they're both real sods to get done.

So am I supposed to now demand that you do indeed take 36 pictures of people you don't know? Well, I'm not going to, because you've got other things to be getting on with.

And now for the traditional wait a week while the film is developed, then at least another week while I'm too lazy to upload them to Flickr (but it's not my scanner, so...), before finally unleashing them on the unsuspecting, er, two people who bother to look at them. I know they're usually a bit dire, but still occasionally there are reasonable ones.

BTW was your use of "relatively regular" a subtle hint for me to stop forgetting to post for a week, and then launch the week's half-finished drafts once hastily patched up? But I'm so busy, I have, er, various unfinished emails to people, including Mr pre-InAcFa (I'm doing it, but you only sent half an email so I wasn't sure if that was it or not, and why can't you use over or out? And by "doing" I mean "have read").

And rather obviously, not all the last paragraph would have appeared in the comment.

Hmm, and now Dan's comments elsewhere on overused words has made me start to wonder about those I overuse (yet again). Hmm is one of them, as is well, oh, er, hang on, and any other silly "this is speech really, not proper grown up writing, because I don't want to be a grown up" techniques. So are fiendishly, cunning, drat, damn, sod, bugger, arse [Doctor Freud will see you now] and, so, then, yet, but, slightly, somewhat, a bit, rather, obvious, just, only, whilst, although, though, and according to MS Word which. And those are simply the words I am aware of overusing.

But I often have periodic purges (otherwise they wouldn't be periodic, not unless it was a very long period) of words I worry I overuse. Which is probably why I don't worry about using interesting, because I know I killed it off years ago, and it never recurs now. Oh, and sorry, if I'm speaking (and these lists illustrating words as examples really could do with some font trickery to distinguish, malarkey, them from the words forming the sentences, but that would require ra... sli... somewh... quite a lot of inserting tags, which I don't feel like doing. I am of course, and of course is another one, quite safe in using quite having completely vanquished it from my vocabulary years ago. Assez is a damn handy word).

Basically (that too, along with admittedly and apparently), to a certain extent I give up caring as long as I can steer clear of nice and lovely.

Moving on:
Somewhere on Danny boy's page (he probably gets that a lot, and so it probably annoys him, but hey ho a nonny nonny. I'm sorry, I appear to have lapsed into Shakespearian song) is a link which lead me to City of Sound (I'm not sure if I meant to go there, but it appeared in one of the "open in a new window while I carry on reading the post" windows), which had as part of the Flickr badge in the sidebar this image. Which now means in my head I have the voice of Rabbi Lionel Blue announcing "Mind the gap".

And with that thought for the day I'll stop.

Except to say why does the weather vex me so? If it's not blowing a hoolie [insert crude comment here] it's trying to freeze at nights. Which means I'm doing the hokey-cokey with a banana plant, in a big heavy pot, with big leaves which catch on everything (but it's easier now, and week of being between the washing machine and dishwasher has insured that most of those leaves which had not succumbed to the wind, have succumbed to Hotpoint hinges.

Oh, and Buzz, it's not just you it happens to. My brother spent the weekend agonising over whether to claim on his insurance. He came out on Saturday morning to find his car parked on the pavement, with wonky looking wheels, and well sculpted driver's side doors and wing. It would appear someone hadn't quite figured out the line of houses barring the way might suggest the long straight road is about to come to an end. So being him, he was upset, he panicked, he sat down and thought things through, he worked out whether it would be worth the loss of no-claims to claim on the insurance. He had just about made his mind up when he remembered the insurance broker had seemed convinced he lived in Brixton and so adjusted the fully-comp rates accordingly, and so the car was on third party fire and theft. There goes potential scrounging off him in the future.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

CF5 600 - Flashless - 14 Lamppost Number 4[Er... Blogger's losing it. Again. This time clicking on Create to start a new post, opens a copy of the previous one. Most odd].

Two weekends down, one film done. Oh dear. I've got between now and Wednesday after next to get two films done, one on sports photography (Sports? Me? Can you see where I'm going with this? Although I did see people windsurfing on Friday, but they wouldn't have come out, and I suspect high speed a mile off is not quite what my tutor had in mind) and one using possibly pre-fogged infrared film, for which I've yet to buy a filter. It's going to be fun.

So today, I had to go off to a land far away and take pictures of people I didn't know. I chose a land far away, one to avoid all the "Hi, how are you?"s (like that would happen. Normally it's seeing people dive into the nearest available shop, and develop a keen interest in, oooh, I see you sell shoe laces, and, er, umbrellas, no I don't want any keys cut, or shoes glued back together thank you, and is he gone yet?), and so if it all goes badly wrong I can run away to a different town.

I think I got sunburnt. I may need to be become a bit better at taking photographs of people at slightly more than three an hour (slight exaggeration). The first few where surreptitious shots, but it's damn hard to be surreptitious with a big black camera attached to a big black lens, held by a big, er, black-haired (well I claim it's dark brown, because it goes gingery in the sun, but French teachers tended to try correcting me when I used marron) guy. And by big I mean tall, and a bit gawky, and sodding hell, does everyone have to be under four foot today, I'm standing downhill from them and still I'm higher.

If doing surreptitious camera work, and one needs a lower camera angle, put your bag or camera case on the ground, and frowning at your camera, put it down. You should now continue fiddling with things on your camera looking bemused, and occasionally flicking the camera up to focus on the prey, bringing it back down to frown, teeth-suck and fiddle once more. Then swing it back up, take your picture and move on. This assumes your intended subject hasn't just gone into M&S after your charade has demoted you to the position of street furniture.

But does no-one ever stand still? I think I have a heck of a lot of pictures of people sitting, squatting, leaning, as they drink, they smoke, they tell a joke, they misquote lyrics, they eat, write letters, read papers, magazines and text messages, phone their friends (in the case of the woman in green, she was still walking round town, still on the phone, two hours later, having been seen repeatedly in-between).

And why do people have an unerring ability to ensure they're not in the shot? I know it looks like I'm aiming at the clock, but that's all a cunning ploy to point the camera in you direction without arousing suspicion so if you would kindly stop walking off to one side now it won't work oh never mind.

What is it with sunglasses? People, if I'm trying to take surreptitious shots of you, I don't want to see me. And also I can't tell if you've clocked the camera yet.

Basically, I'm more Peperami than Paparazzi (and I don't even like Peperami. It's a bit of an animal. Wow, you could have fooled us. So which bit?). Does that previous sentence even make sense? Who cares, if it sounds good?

But taking pictures of people is bloody hard work. Even when I started asking people it only seemed to get harder. Their faces changed. They look like studies in acting normally, looking relaxed, complete with eye in the corner of their eye checking out if I'm done yet. Either that or they are really stupid and pull faces (not that I'm thinking of one guy in particular here. What does one do? I can't really pretend to take a shot without doing it, as he might notice the lack of clatter. Oh well, the tutor did mention she was interested in the reactions we would get. Cinema verité and all that). There are also a heck of a lot of people whose response to being asked if they mind being photographed, is "why me?", followed by some comment which dismisses them. Do people really think that little of themselves? Having said that, I probably would fit into the why/are-you-sure category.

I've got very orange sun shining on my screen. It's getting round to setting behind that hill, not the other one, again. I think it's dropping hints.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mona LisaOver. No, um, out. Bugger.

Ah yes, 'tis the purest joy that is a sailing club safety cover radio refresher course, or something like that. Basically go on a long drive (deLondonwards, early on a Friday evening. My, what fun). Then hang round waiting for people. Then go to get fish and chips because it's cold and windy, with sand whirling through the town, although how it got out from underneath several foot of mounded seaweed I've yet to work out. Then give up on the idea of running back from the fish and chip shop because whenever the stone's wet with spray, I go backwards. Then people turn up, and the barbed comments and the course begins. In some ways useful, but it was too patchy. Some people knew it all, some didn't, so the level kept bobbing up and down. But we're probably an odd bunch to teach, and the guy's an engineer, not a teacher.

He started by trying to compare VHS to a phone, and then promptly came unstuck when the audience didn't suggest the similarities and differences he wanted. But that was pretty much inevitable with such a mixed audience; some people spent the whole time being terribly earnest and confused, others constantly making jokes which undermined the entire thing. I was part of "Oh get on with it, wait, what was that?" camp.

I did learn, after several years, what PTT actually means. I know it's the button one pushes to transmit, even though I had never quite connected Push with Talk (and the requisite To or Then depending on how cheap the equipment is). And suddenly, thanks to a comment by a doctor, we lurch from the arbitrary teacher struggling to explain that in and out can't happen at the same time, to simplex, not duplex, aerial circuitry.

While I followed it, and am not adverse to sudden lapses into the vaguely scientific, I could see other people in the room try to work out what herpes has to do with it, and that's the American name for semi-detached isn't it?

Then it's on to over and out, but never as I just wrote it (unless one's feeling particularly Dukes of Hazzard). I knew this already, even if I invariably use over and then remember I'm supposed to have just finished the conversation, so in my defence it's usually "over, um, out".

We move onto protocols for various things: radio checks, standard communications, channel transfer, use of Channel 16. And then terminology: This is "callsign", the differences between repeat and say again, the lack of difference between send and go ahead (one's made by McVities, and doesn't taste very nice), the chaos that is affirmative, copy that, ok, roger or understood, the cheesiness of wilco (even though the instructor seems to be unaware it's short hand for "understood and will comply"), the two meanings of relay (he forgot to say what they were), standby, Mayday versus Panpan (one's a Bank Holiday, the other a high-kicking Peruvian dance).

The onto the standards for giving Mayday messages (insert Grace Jones reference here), which he he tries to remember, and then halfway through tells us there's an acronym for it. He gives it at the end, and I'm fairly sure most of us didn't get it.

By this point we've already been interrupted by the coastguard just happening to call us up (my, what a coincidence) requesting wind strength and direction, visibility, cloud cover, and then the weather (um, what was all the stuff we just gave you?). Judging for the change in tone in his voice, he wasn't too pleased about the feedback, of either sort (although the type screaming louder than the wind might have won it). But as he called us at a set time, and the course had started late, we hadn't yet covered what we were doing.

We then are supposed to play with the radios, but the laminated instruction card didn't actually work on handset our group had. But most of it could be learnt by simply being allowed to play with the buttons without being shouted at (ah, yes, you can tell I've been a member of that club since I was a child).

Then outside to practice on some toy radios (not on any proper VHS channel). We get sent to pre-determined spots. Cue much silliness. The doctor I'm with (they get everywhere) decides to do a mayday because we're cold and standing in the wind. I bit my lip, as surely it can't be good form to do a mayday, even if it's supposedly off any monitored channel.

The guy running the course occasionally comes in to boss the group with the two youngest people in about (and it's not my group. What's happening? And don't say time). But mostly it's us asking each other stupid questions, or adults berating their younger relations for not using the phonetic alphabet ("Indigo? What's this indigo? In-di-ya. Over"). Just as well the transmit on the handset I had wasn't working so no-one heard me trying to summon Beta, not Bravo. I was Delta, and we just had Alpha talking, so you can see where it came from. Admittedly I might had problems talking to Gamma instead of Charlie.

After completely losing control, and having to endure silly conversations about ambulances going the wrong way (Charlie calls a mayday, and suddenly sirens start to squeal), we get summoned back. We learn we should have stood silently awaiting communication from the instructor. Yeah, it might have helped if you'd mentioned that beforehand.

Back inside, and I've been foiled into my attempt to work compliance or bomb gone into the communications (ah, so it'll just be me with those film references then?). Somehow we get onto the point of squelch, despite all of us having already been using it.

Then moving beyond purely radio, and into the various roles safety crews perform. It turns out one long running problem has been caused by the team leader having one radio call sign, and each safety boat having one. So when the leader is on a boat he has two call signs to respond to.

As so we get to role of Beachmaster. This is getting interesting. Will he or won't he? Oh he will. The instructor passes a question about maydays onto the commodore, as she has more experience of them than him. Now that's just mean.

Of course without the backstory, it doesn't appear quite so mean. Once upon a time, someone capsized. Various people where on rescue boats, including me. The [ex-army] team leader transfers me to a different RIB, takes crew off that, and bombs off to help. He jumps in to help, leaving his young crew in charge of that RIB. I'm on one driven by someone who isn't the best driver of RIBs (yes, I may be related to him). So one RIB hanging-fire with only the driver in it; the team leader in the water, trying to help a guy who refuses to leave his boat; another poorly controlled RIB loitering, with a crew who can't do anything while the boat is not where is needs to be; and the committee boat anchored a mile away. Oh, and all of this, except the anchored boat, is drifting towards the tidal race over a ledge of rock which extends out a long way.

Madame Commodore was on the shore. I'm not sure if she was officially beachmaster, or just being bossy. She's watching through binoculars, which offer her a skewed view of what is going on. She keeps hectoring people over the radio. I end up having to respond and try to communicate her messages onwards, as I'm the only person who is in a safety boat and isn't driving it. She's panicking, because we'll all be swept to our doom over the ledge. I try point out it's still some distance away (bloody miles). She's still demanding attention and things be done. I reply with a very slowly and distinctly spoken "We are. [short pause] Out", with the subtext being "will you bloody well shut up and leave us alone, so the only person with a spare pair of hands can be useful" (bear in mind I had not been relaying the responses her suggestions were eliciting from the team leader and other people on the safety crew, on the grounds it was before the watershed).

I was told afterwards that the people who address her in that tone of voice are few and far between. I'm fairly sure she still hasn't forgiven me. Eventually they get the team leader and capsized sailor on board the other one. Our boat is dispatched to help elsewhere in the fleet. The team leader decides to let the capsized boat drift over the ledge, and then be picked up from the other side, while the owner is taken ashore. He asks Madame Commodore to notify the Coastguard (in a "yes, we do know there's an upside-down boat drifting across a reef. Don't panic" way). She calls mayday.

Mayday: for an abandoned boat. You can kinda see why some people won't let her forget it.

Getting back to normal, the course continues with a couple of anecdotes, including the wonderful local coastguard who would only respond to the correct callsign. Now, that doesn't sound like it's bad, but when he has different callsigns depending on whether he's sitting in his car or not, it becomes easier to understand that it might be annoying (apparently, even in mid communication, he would get into or our of his car, and the callsign would change accordingly. So whoever was speaking to him would have to guess from the silence that he's now switched to the other callsign. Ah, genuine Dorset logic). But then the recognised local version of out is Many Thanks. It's just that type of place.

Wow, did I just get through an entire post on radios, and the west country voices which use them, without one single reference to Smuggler FM? Drat.

Anyway, as The Dambusters has finished (missing Lancs are very useful when learning the 8 times table), I'd better stop. Although Channel 4 showing the film explains why I had the march stuck in my head earlier this week, and wanted to say bomb-gone when playing round on the radios. I must have seen a trailer, and not noticed.

Do, de-do, de-d'-d'-d'-do...

I was searching for a handy MP3 of the Dambusters' March, for those of you unacquainted with the film or the music, but the only one which didn't wanted be to download some .exe for the Ukraine was this catgut-still-in-the-cat version [source], which isn't quite what I had in mind.

After that wince, I think I'd better stop.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Being bored I started playing round with Google, and eventually trying to get Googlewhacks. I came up with:
Antidisestabilishmentarianism lamb
gnomonically flocculation
headlice flocculation
mouldiest gnomonical

Except of course none of those are true Googlewhacks, due to Google claiming each one contains a word it does not recognise (to be a Googlewhack, each word in the search term must appear as a link in blue bar which gives the number of results). The anti... one is not a word according to Google, even though it's cited on the front page of Googlewhack.com.

Gnomonically is not a word, even though gnomon, gnomonic and gnomonical all appear in Google's dictionary. Does that mean theoretical is a word, but theoretically isn't?

And mouldiest just ain't American enough. The Non-U spelling appears on 1,180 pages. The U spelling appears 1,550 times. Non-U has a recognised definition, U doesn't.

Hurrah, I've found a legit one: mnemonic gnomonical. Except it's on a word list so it's not legit. Drat.

Anyway, I've had an even less legitimate Googlewhack pop up in the results: I can never think of what to say Oh well i'll type anyway I know there's something in my head I just can't figure out how it is said Well the best thing to do now is for me to stop typing any how.

Which has a touch of the Doctor Zeuss about it. And at least they were using Firefox. And should I be pleased about being the first result for ditty beginning "I can never think of what to say, Oh well I'll type anyway"?

Anyway, I'd better stop and go and sort out a fiendishly cruciform problem (see, what I did there? Does Googlewhack count if it's seeded? Except cruciform's not a word either. Why is Google so damn illiterate? [It might have helped if I hadn't spelt it cruxiform the first time round]).


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Shitike Creek, Oregon, flooded roadPonderings:

Figment: does the word ever occur outside close proximity to the word imagination? It must do, yet I can't ever remember being aware of it as anything but a "a figment of my imagination". Google claims figment and imagination appear on the same page 266,000 times, out of 779,000 instances of the word figment. There are apparently 279,000 occurrences of the word figment without imagination appearing on the same page. Which according to my maths means there a 234,000 pages which feature the word figment but not imagination, but also do not not feature the word imagination. My brain is not in right state of randomness to begin to understand this.

Anyway, so apparently there are 279,000 pages in which figment is not used as part of that stock phrase. The early results appear to refer to various bands and brands (or dogs). The first one I find which doesn't feature figment as a name claims not to feature it at all. The next has: A figment spell creates a false sensation (from the glossary of the Dungeons and Dragons game). The third (and result number 77) is: Are apparent productive spillovers a figment of specification error? And that's about it for the first hundred results. Figment when not being used as a name seems to be most common in reference to computer games and graphics, and even then it isn't that common.

While playing in Google, I noticed a the new Local button. E.g. Poughkeepsie? Is this going to be yet another stunning wonderful, but dead from Maine outwards, feature? Like Google Maps was until they noticed North America was not the only continent (no, there's the continent of Ukie too). Well, it might work. And that's quite a mighty might.

Getting links for Google Maps invoked that thing about bringing horses to water. I used the address maps.google.com/maps. The page loaded, and the address stayed as dot-com. The map loaded was the UK.

But as the only time I tried using it in earnest it told me to drive to Brighton via the M25 (if I wanted to go London on the way there, I'd get the train), I think I'll stick the AA for a while yet (as long as I never have to cope with one way streets; it knows they're there, it just isn't entirely accurate about which way they go).

Back to Local Google for local people. So do I try it, and be asked if I mean Ohio or Idaho? May as well. Except I decide to be really cruel and stick in a postcode instead of a name. Was I looking for quilt shops in Lafayette? Did I mean... woah, it actually worked. And that was with a partial postcode. And the results seem fairly accurate.

Oddly, as I reduce the search range, the number of results stays nearly the same, but the quality decreases, as Google quotes the Borough Council, and some lawyers, when I was looking for a supermarket (although I found out about a Thai market I didn't know about). It also gets a little petulant if one tries to search by county: Did I mean: town, county.

Just noticed on Google maps: England has an exhaust pipe. Just search for Dover (I don't know how to get functioning urls for the maps yet).

Running with yesterday's stats, and today's Google Maps theme: Shitike Creek Road. I was searching for where the heck Eugene is (it's about there, no, there, in Oregon), and having to zoom out some distance to find any recognisable feature. When I did, the most prominent thing was an unlabelled darker patch of greige somewhere northwest of Eugene. I try centring over it and zooming in, but there's not much detail other than some yellow road with 26 written inside a shield (I've never known which shape denotes what when it comes to American cartography). Zooming in further veins start to appear, including a cluster the other side of a lake from Madras (not that one). The yellow 26 road is now Warm Springs Highway. Zooming in further, the veins are roads with names, but no texture. And then I notice one of the names.

Shitike Creek Road? Just think of the minutes of entertainment a well placed paddle leant against the road sign could create. And the name does rather suggest there is a Shitike Creek (please, please, please let there be a Shitike Creek Whitewater Rafting Company or Canoeing Club).

Oh, I've just noticed the satellite option. Green and pleasant (it's a figure of speech, ok) set-squared land to the right, brown hills to the left. Lurid green streaks following rivers, and dusty blues hedging roads. Occasional blocks of white, sitting in dark scars.

A bit of research suggests my initial guess was correct, and it's some Indian Reservation. The featureless town is apparently Warm Springs, OR (and it's been raining).

Anyway, I think I'd better stop being puerile (unless I happen to be passing through Austria soon, which is oddly not yet on Google Maps).


Friday, May 06, 2005

Breton fisherman's capHow very odd.

Probing stats I just found out that the Australian version of Google rates me higher than the UK version when searched for "anyhoo" (as does the .com one). No great surprise there, but what did surprise me is that below the brief title of the site in blue, Google no longer has random selections of quotes in which I use the word "anyhoo", but instead has a short description which matches the tagline of the blog. Except it ends ...from a guy in England.

Who put that bit in there, and where did they get it from? I know I've stuck similar things in various blog listings, but I'm fairly sure I've never put exactly that (usually due to eeking the description out into two seperate sentences). So where did it come from? Is Google edited?

Even more oddly, no other blog I can think of has this. Either Google displays only the title (presumably due to Ryan only putting Ryanstask in the title - except the byline is "Ryanstask", er...?), or has the search term and accompanying text cribbed from the page. I lie, Strang's Blog has it (compare the title text on the flaghead with Google's description).

Stranger still is the comparision between CNN and the BBC. One search term results, one summary.

Oh, now that's really freaky; if I type www.google.com, it automatically transfers it to .co.uk. However if I take the search result address from any other Google site, and switch the ending to .com/*** (from .com.au/***, as above, for example), I get the .com result. Which in this case is not the same as the .co.uk result. How does one politely suggest to Google that I might actually mean what I type?

Could those international types who read this blog please let me know whether Google.com redirects to your local site?

I'm now playing with changing things in the address bar. I think I've got Google Brasil in Bulgarian (unless anyone can think of what else hl=br could mean. Incidentally, I'm 2nd on google.com.br in English, but third when the language code is br. I've just found the language codes for Google, and Bulgarian is bg. So I've no idea what br is.

Oh, ok, now I've found the language codes Google use. BR is Breton, which explains why it looks like Gaelic.

It's bizarre; Chinese results in one language put me second, and in the other version it puts me third. Unfortunately I've no idea what the difference between zh-CN and zh-TW are. I would have expected a Madarin versus Cantonese split, but TW versus CN seems to suggest Taiwan versus China.

Hurrah, I'm first in Icelandic, regardless of source site. So just along as everybody searches in Icelandic...


PS. Obviously the "desciption, not search term sentence" thing only applies when the search term is the name of the site (or part thereof).

Pubic LiceWell that was fun.

I gave up at quarter past Prescott because I decided I really couldn't be bothered. I probably ought to have been drunk; at least then John Snow bounding about the greenscreen (because obviously bluescreen is a bit too partisan) would have been funnier. It's quite strange, but thinking about instances such as the Doom version of Downing Street, I suddenly realised all the election broadcast needs is to be dubbed badly into Japanese, and then stuck on late-night Channel 4 and it would be ideal student television.

And it's nice know just how influential I am. I vote Lib Dem and the local Conservative gains 5,000 votes and over 50% of the vote (although it may have been a case of ding dong the witch is dead). Not that I found that out from the local news coverage. Due to the powers that be, I can be in deepest Dorset and see a news item about Tweeton or Notacity. When in either place, all I can get is BBC London News, which very occasionally gets out to Notacity (I think they like the shopping), but considers that the very fringes of their realm. So we get to watch the banner on the local news scrolling across carrying news of all the results in the area. Except us. The constituency to the left of us, the constituency to the right of us. Ok, so it wasn't quite as bad as the as the Charge of the Light Brigade, but they had most of the neighbouring constituencies, and we were fairly far in on their map.

Most worrying moment of the night was the discovery that the Western Isles constituency has a population of 20,000. The Isle of Wight constituency has a population of 100,000. Both have one seat in the House of Commons, and so equal power. [See the votes on the BBC map. As it's Flash you'll have to make your own way to both. Isle of Wight is pretty easy, but I can't find the Western Isles or Eileanan Siar in the list so you'll have to click on Scotland. Edit: Found it now. It's filed under N for Na h-Eileanan Siar, even though it's written as Eileanan Siar in the index. There's nothing quite like filing something under "the"].

I can't verify this as I can't find the right information in the umpteen commission and committee websites.

Most amusing discovery of the night was finding out about the names of the constituencies in Southampton. There's named after the rivers Test and Itchen, so there's Southampton Test, and Southampton Itch. Have you meet John? He's got Southampton Itch.

Ah, it would appear it's the BBC's max char set up, and the constituency has the "en" on the end. Drat. I guess I'll just have to wait till they rejig the constituency boundaries to create South Exeter.

Oh, and can any think of sports events somewhere south of London, which might be quite cheap? My cunning plan to do my photography homework round some racecourse has hit a slight "how much?" hitch. £18 for the right to stand in a field? Plus £5 for the right to walk across a muddy field and then discover myriad extra dents, chips and cracks in my car? Er... do stupid drivers on the M25 count as sport? Well, they're going fast, and I'm sure some of them are racing.

Oh, I've just had Crawley pointed out to me (not for photographic potential). LAB 16,411; CON 16,374. So counting out on our fingers, and we only need eight-hands-worth to cover the difference. No wonder they were late to declare.

I'm sure there was other stuff, but I'm a bit too tired to remember.

Oh yes, vaguely amusing, or interesting, or something, if only for reminding me of a ten-to-the-six mistake I made in my GCSE French exam (they were discussing a Ridley Scott film. I didn't quite get that).


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Prince Harry playing Polo Arse.

My cunning plan to vote Green (not because I want to, just because I've got to vote, and it's a case of none of the above), has hit a slight snag. There's no Green candidate in this constituency. There's Conservative or Lib Dem if we're going for potential winners, followed by Labour, Veritas and UKIP.

So I took the restaurant approach to voting. The sole looks nice, but I'm having fish for the starter, so I'll go with the pheasant. Which means my general election vote was based on studiously not voting for someone in the County Council elections. I was busy not voting for him because he was the nice man who tried to force through acceptance of a very dodgy and ill-considered planning proposal-cum-deal (it's the fact it had a cum-non-legally-binding-and-damn-dodgy-anyway-deal appended. That and it was a large 5 storey building, between a 2-storey and a 1 storey building). And then he got in a huff when it got rejected. Silly man.

Anyway, local-gov Tory isn't like full-blown Toryism.

But now I discover that the higher-up Mr Lib Dem has sent out a handwritten letter. It came in small blue envelope, with a handwritten address. It contained two small blue sheets of paper, with writing on both sides. At the top was a crooked stamp with the reply address. Now that's nice of him, to take to time to write to us personally. But wait just one moment. Those o's. They're not his o's. It's signed by him, complete with the undershot o's. Come to think of it, that handwriting does bear a significant resemblance to that Lucida Handwriting font. And the paper does have regular marks where there was ink on one of the rollers. And the signature has a faint dotted box round it.

But at least he wrote the name and address on the envelope. Except that's not his handwriting either. I'd say it was la plume d'un minor party worker, especially with the running-out-Biro texture.

I gave up on reading the letter as I'd already voted, and becuase that handwriting font is quite annoying to read after a while.

Why can't they just send out simple and clear stuff which says "This is me, this what I like, this is what I'll do, if I can"? Rather than all this "You are X. He said he doesn't like X. He was nasty to X. The other he is nasty about X. I like X, I do".

Hmm, why does voting always feel as if I'd made the wrong choice? But at least I can rest safe in the knowledge that all my vote did was cancel out, and be cancelled out by someone I know's vote.

Arse Two: I've just discovered a hole in my crotch (dear Liza). Hmm, why do trousers always wear out there?

Arse Three, The Belated Arse: Banana Saga continues. So why was I making toast round a banana plant this morning? Because I'd run out of milk. And because now it's May, and the may is out (along with umpteen insects, and the pussy willow. Inhaling becomes a case of animal, vegetable or mineral). Which means the temperature promptly plummets. Yesterday was cold. Yesterday night and people start discussing frost again (after the event, we apparently got nearly to zero).

This isn't fair. It's supposed to be spring. And I've the potting-on involved putting the plant into a bigger, heavier pot.

Arse Four: the innate crapness that is Boots. I went for Boots's half the price of the next competitor developing. Over a week later (Boot's version of 6 days) I collect the pictures. There not in any order. Odd. There's a couple of unexposed things, decked out in red and green stripes. One picture appears to have thin brown stripes spiralling out from a random point. Odder. The stripes have texture. And come off if you rub. Another picture has three white patches in it. They are quite large. And textured. It appears as if something has pulled off the surface of the paper. Oh, and I've just found someone's fingerprint embossed in the surface of one photograph. That photograph also has weird lines across the top and white space at the very top, even though they've not printed the top of the negative. Strangely so have the few following it as the film runs. Something just fell out, and it appears to be a bit of cut grass. What the hell have they been up to? And I wonder how they'll blame it on me this time?

Time to restart that Boots Utter Crapness campaign.

It doesn't help that I took a different film to the camera shop to get developed, expensively but decently. It was taken using Agfa Ultra which is apparently very colourful. I get them back. Seem pretty colourful. Much more primary colours than the average Kodak (but I like browny-yellow). Tutor flicks through them, and complains they're not as colourful as she expected. She complains about the strange digital process printing and the fact they're matt (um, that'll be because I asked for it).

I'm not quite sure how digital processing printing works. I think it's develop film normally, scan negatives, print from file. I'm not sure whether or not it's better than traditional expose-paper printing.

But the photography course has got back into the realm of interesting. Homework has been set - 3 films over 3 weeks, but the order is up to us. One film is to be used to take pictures of strangers (do I not ask and get punched? Or do I ask and get told to sod off?). The next film is to be used on some sporting event to see how well we cope with reacting quickly (sports? But, but, but... I can't really take my camera swimming, and I'm not sure the tai-chi swimmers go fast enough to need a quick shutter speed. And the other sport is sailing, and I'm not sure how one helms, trims and focuses at the same time). The third is the infrared, for which I need a filter, and I've no idea how to attach one to my camera. I already have an anti-UV one (it came with the camera) that screws in at the end, but everywhere which sells the filters talks of square. Square filter, round hole.

I just tried eBay. Oh there's one that's the right size, and it's only 2.99 (so far). Ah, that's dollars. So half that. Quite cheap. But there's the minor issue of postage. $5.00 more. So about £4.50 in total. Which is what the tutor said a second hand filter should cost anyway. And there's the minor problem of getting it here. I know the price includes postage, but normal airmail to and from the US usually takes anywhere between one and three weeks. Maybe I'll try Jessops first.

Oooh, I've also just discovered the polo effect exists in filters. You too can pay more to have one with a hole in it. But it's only Aussie dollars, so that's about 3 Pounds Monopoly, or two matchsticks.

I need some food (blame swimming in a crowded pool, hence having to overtake a lot).


PS. I've just noticed the unfortunate coincidence of the first word of this post and the image chosen to illustrate a later part. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Barcelona Football ClubIn true last minute style, I now present to you the latest (over a week old) political mailing. It's another one from the Lib Dems. It features a picture to give children nightmares (and I'm not referring any representation of Michael Howard smiling). The letter seems to have a creeping case of freebie newspaper, as little boxes and graphics huddle round the edges.

Whoever wrote the letter has obviously been sent the Lib Dems campaigning strategy guide. Much like Charles Kennedy's letter it starts off alternating paragraphs with statements in bold, but then they merge and so every initial sentence is in bold and underlined, regardless of what it says (and both bold and underlined? That's like hooting and flashing your lights). The first paragraph ends with the phrase "the real alternative".

It doesn't get much better. At least this time they checked the database and noticed that the "young" box was ticked. Which is presumably why they're writing to me about toddlers (I'm bit old for that, unless you mean... in which case not for a while yet). Unfortunately because I'm young they've also decided that I was ardently against the war in Iraq.

And they want me to have a house. The candidate has "a fully worked out plan to solve this problem". Fully worked out? They didn't send you a grammar guide along with the strategy one, did they?

Signature analysis: As I'm guessing InAcFa doesn't have the signature of my local Lib Dem parliamentary candidate on file, I'll be brief. He goes round the bottom of his o's to start them. Oh dear.

The pamphlet which came with the letter is going for colourful and cluttered. Labour is constantly referred to as "(can't win here)", in much the same way PBUH follows Mohammed (or "party of the past" follows the word Tories"). "It's a two horse race", complete with blurry picture of mounted jockeys, and is that an Hong Kong flag in the background? Next to the Australian one?

There's a selection of pictures of some unphotogenic man doing good (vandalising lampposts with leaflets, looking photoshopped into a photo-op with CK and various college kids, holding a piece of A4 saying "Scrap the council tax". Helpfully this last pic is captioned "The LibDems will scrap the Council Tax"). Elsewhere they play up his localness (regrettably they avoid using the phrase "for local people"), and his forty-something youth. He even has "a real plan"; none of that theoretical stuff here.

Ah, I think I understand how it works now. You pick one of the six sections you like most, and then associate that with the Lib Dems, and discard the stuff you disagree with in the other five as irrelevant.

Strangely, as one progresses down the rear of the leaflet, the editing appears to get worse. The final photograph has our man and a couple of unexplained just about youthful randoms. The girl's head looks like a horse chewed it. The guy is missing half an ear and anything behind. The candidate's head is a bit motheaten, and the rest of him looks like it was hewn from the pixels. They also appear to have castrated him in the process. I think cackhanded would be the politest way of describing that session of image manipulation. Even I can photoshop better than that.

Hmm, and I wonder if they're aware that whilst the candidate is shown 6 times (they could have found one decent angle, right?), Charles Kennedy is shown twice, which is the same amount as both Bush and Blair.

And despite all this I'm still undecided.

Sorry this has been a bit of an uninspiring post, but the most inspiring my life has been recently was noticing, during a silly Newsnight political weather item, that they'd stuck the thundercloud for Dorset West out beyond the Tamar. Dorset Far West perhaps? Could someone please get Ms Kearney an atlas.

Anyway, I've got photography to get to, so bye.


Monday, May 02, 2005

Tanzania geographic 003Always going to happen.

Last time I mentioned the annual outing of the banana. In the ceremony, I go and buy a new pot for it, and repot it into the bigger pot. So having done this I leave it on the edge of the patio in all its sleekly arching glory.

I come back a day later and, despite there being minimal wind, the biggest and tallest leaf has buckled, as have any others backing into the wind. So my banana plant now resembles some enigmatic piece of eighties sculpture.

And (note the use of the "and" despite there being bugger all connection between the two topics) why is film so slow? I know I went for cheapest option on getting my Brighton pictures developed, which was Boots' 6-day service (leave it on a Wednesday, collect it a week Thursday; thus is the logic of Boots), but I'm bored of waiting. I've just done another very uninspired film which was homework from the photography course, and I want to see that too.

Basically I'm feeling guilty for bagsying one of London Dan's free Flickr Pro accounts, and then promptly not using it. I put things into sets (which reminds me - ought to sort out original sets), and changed the date on some of the devanished things, but that's not exactly adding much. I very nearly added the last film of last term, but it's either pictures of me, which you don't want to see, and I don't want you to see, or plants, or pheasants, all of which I think would be less appealing to anyone stumbling upon my photostream. BTW, am I the only person to worry about that? Does anyone else think about what would be a good picture to end on (even if the end is only temporary)? Being boring and sticking whole films on their unedited does limit the potential, but still I feel bad when I leave the first few images visible (I've talked myself into a grammatical hole here, haven't I?) which aren't the best images.

So Mr Manx, if you're looking, I will add something new soon, just give me a little more time. Oh and I like this image of yours, and I wonder what inspired you to do that?

London Dan also has quite a few good images which he's added recently. Including this bemusing one, and I'll not bother adding the rest I think are good, as we might be here some time.

Speaking of "some time", guess who just got a little distracted by Flickr. It's so easy to wander from one person to the next glazing at gorgeous colours and bewildering forms. Having looked at the things I've "favorited" [sic], it would appear that I'm easily swayed by low sun on good architecture and why don't you bung in a reflection too while you're at? I'll have to go and seek out lots pictures on naked bodies now (not really, having already filled my quota earlier by stumbling upon this fuzzy arse. I wonder what the neighbours make of it).

Ah, drat, now I notice that I've overwhelmed the stunning example of synchronicity I observed earlier (and not I'm trawling through all the photographs on Flickr to recreate it). Anyway, in the other people's pictures bit, after one logs-on (no idea what I'm talking about? Go and join Flickr, and then add some decent pictures), it had one picture of bacon draining on kitchen towel, one of a platter at a buffet filled with slices of ham, and one of a gammon steak complete with pineapple ring (but I don't think you'd believe me if I claimed the fourth image was a policeman).

Anyway, as Manxman Dan helpfully put up an image to remind me, go over to InAcFa and see the current occupier succumb to old age (the image reminded because, whilst in Brighton and I've still not done the write up for that, for the first time ever in my live I ordered and drank a gin and tonic. How old does that make me? I only did it because I was getting bored of trying to think of things with which to drink rum, and because other people had broken the ice at the pub before. So they promptly reverted to beers and starting teasing me for drinking what their mothers drink. Oh, and don't vent one's simmering rage by pulping a poor piece of lime with a straw; it only makes it harder to bolt the gandt when the group suddenly moves on).

And is it me, or is our man in Hanover (well, same country) some managing to live one long series of mildly amusing anecdotes?

Anyway, I'm off to watch the only good thing spawned by the election. Oh, it's not the same person as last time, I'm not sure I'll bother.


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