Monday, October 29, 2007
current music - 'out of the blue' by electric light orchestra
just got home from night school where i've been learning how to be a photographer. as opposed to learning how to use a digital camera. a subtle differentiation perhaps but i now have an appreciation for all the variables that affect the pictures that a camera takes; how to combine those variables and how to control those variables for the effect that i want to achieve.
tonight was white balance. in the workshop we fooled the camera into thinking that the light in the room was everything from direct sunlight to fluorescent lights (which ironically enough was exactly what the light in the room was). and the difference in colours recorded was stunning. so now i know why indoor images without a flash are so often yellow and orange tinted.
all in all it leads me to take better photos each time i whip the old D1x out of my bag, so to speak.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
current music - wish you were here by pink floyd
are blogging and facebooking and flickring acts of procrastination or important acts of social networking?
i could have achieved so much more this week if i hadn't made a conscious decision to get my 'on line' life in order. but it was gained at the expense of my 'off line' life which is slowly sinking under all those jobs that there never seems time to do.
well it seems to me that if one keeps one's 'on line' life ticking over then the feel good factor that the experience generates stimulates one to get their 'off line' life sorted.
now that is either wisdom or self deception to the nth degree.
Friday, October 26, 2007
current mood - chuffed
Having said that I wanted to use my camera off of the programmed automatic 'run-home-to-mummy' mode, i decided to wander down to the british museum to take a few pot shots.
the great hall is a sight to behold - the classic pillars contrasting with a geometric sky. it was one thing to be there. it was something even more special to have an hour to indulge oneself in just looking and shooting.
i'm pleased with my results. no seriously i am. they come out pretty well - the only post shooting touching up i've done is to make the black and white seem a bit colder - the ambient lighting was really rather yellow, and to crop the images into trendy squares. no, the main reason i'm so chuffed is that i rejected only about 2 thirds of the shots. my normal ratio of keep to chuck is about 1 in ten so to get my ratio down to 1 in 3 is quite a step up as well.
anyway the flicker link is here so please take a look and tell me what you think.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
current music - live in buffulo (2004) by goo goo dolls
current mood - chipper
so my hobby of photography continues to go from strength to strength. having moved on from holding the camera the right way round to taking off the lens cap, i can now truthfully and proudly claim that i have read the manual, all 223 pages of it. obviously i have absolutely no bleedin' idea what any of it means but i'm working on that.
seriously though, i have just begun to take the camera off of the fully automatic mode - this is the run home to mummy mode, it sets up everything for you - i just need to point and shoot. now that's served me well so far. i was very pleased with my australia photos given that i'd only just got the camera but now the time has come to experiment a bit. so today i sped up the film and the exposure and then got n to leap off his trampoline and risk life and limb; a sacrifice worth making for his father's hobby, i think.
then i used gimp (no photoshop for this linux using suburban mediocrite) to isolate the image from the background and ... hey presto!
i've decided i've got enough half photos to slam a favourites collection on to flickr. as soon as i do i'll let you all know my dear hob-blogglings.
current mood - satisfied
we speak of rites of passage for our children. and rightly so. n passed an important threshold in his short life today when my hand released his bike saddle he pedalled from me before coming to a controlled, if a little undignified, stop. i remember my brother (and his pal) teaching me to ride a bike and how grown up and in control of my destiny i suddenly felt.
there are rights of passage for parents too. giving birth (a's bit), cutting the cord (my bit) and so on. they range from the formal to the religious but i also believe that they are also informal. you'll never know just how proud i felt as n wobbled off across the grass. it was a perfect metaphor for my job of preparing him for his send off into the big wide world out there.
way to go n. i love you.
Monday, July 30, 2007
current mood: chafed and chuffed
it's not to find an image that best captures the dunwich dynamo but this one serves quite well when you realise that what you see is hobby cyclists like me asleep on the beach at dunwich in suffolk at 7am having just cycled 120 miles through the night. for fun.
and that's what i did this weekend. the boys were neatly packed off to nanny w, a packed herself off to scotland for a wedding and i packed myself off to hackney for an 8:30 start to the 2007 dunwich dynamo, or dun run as we cycling enthusiasts like to call it (feel fee to interchange 'geek' for 'enthusiast' if you wish.)
the dun run takes place each year on the saturday night/sunday morning in july closest to the full moon. i reckon there was about 500 of us that pitched up in a park in hackney to the bemusement of the locals and the happiness of the local publican before setting off through epping and loughton and into the suffolk country side. i'll not bore you with descriptions - basically because it was so bloody dark you couldn't see a thing. it pissed down pretty much all the way and, not putting too fine a point on it, i seriously thought i had hypothermia after getting back on my bike in the rain in my wet clothes after a rest stop in some village hall.
but the coldness passed, the sun came up at 5 and the rain stopped just as i arrived in dunwich. my brother in law was there just after to meet me and bring me home (thanks again t) and i was home by 10 in a kind of a dream like haze - partly brought on by the lack of sleep and partly brought on by the euphoria of having cycled for further than i have ever cycled before in one hit and through the night to boot.
120 miles, 10 1/2 hours. well dun me.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
current mood - enthusiastic
i'm coming up to the end of the year.
no, do not adjust your watches or calendars. i've decided that each year should end on august 31 and the new one commence on september 1st.
well for a start my work life dictates it. as you'll probably already be aware my dear hob-blogglings, i work in a school, so shifting to an academic year makes sense. you stagger to the end of one year in mid july, catch up on all those jobs at home you've been putting off for months and then start a new year fresh in september. yeah i know five and a half weeks holiday is a bummer but being a deputy head is a mucky old job and someone's got to do it.
next of all, my birthday falls in august (hint). so it kinda works to think of a new year starting when it acxtually does, if you see what i mean.
after that is greenbelt. it neatly falls at the end of my year and serves as a great party to round off all that hard work putting together the comedy and light entertainments strand of the programme. actually it's getting easier with each year - this year's greenbelt email box has only 700 odd emails in it. last year it easily surpassed 800 and the year before it had more than 900.
i've managed to avoid tax and mot on the car (accidently) to get them due in august and another of my myriad jobs to do each summer is to overhaul the finances - joint account and all that.
and lastly, i think the december 31st new year's eve is crap. in a scene out of grumpy old men (and women) we stayed in last year, our friends pleaded poorly kids and being knacklered (same as us) and pulled out and instead we watched an ealing comedy in the company of a bottle of baileys before the bbc showed us footage of a sports reporter and a weather girl falling over on the ice at somerset house and then an opera singer i had never heard of (A had but then again she'd never heard of nirvana until i played her both versions of 'smells like teen spirit' one by nirvana and the other by the ukelele orchestra of great britain) knocked out some aria or other and another reporter kept asking people in the crowds why they had come (answer: because it's new year's eve) and then the fireworks started and went on and on and on and then we polished off the baileys and hit the sack.
so to anyone reading this blog consider yourself invited to my end of year party. it's to celebrate the ending of my 39th year and the beginning of my 40th. the date is saturday 1st september and if you reply to this post i'll let you know all the details.
Friday, July 13, 2007
current music - billericay dickie by ian dury and the blockheads
current mood - amused (you'll never hear any better double entendres)
do you remember filling in your timetable at school and, if you are a girl, colouring it in? do you remember working out where the hell you were meant to be going, who the hell you were meant to be taught by and, if you ever got there, what the hell you were supposed to learn?
takes you back huh?
well i've spent nearly all day sorting out a whole school's timetables in preparation for the new term in september when all the kids will come back to school wondering what the hell...
now call me a sad arse (and many do) but i've had a great day filling in the boxes, working out how to avoid clashes and generally, well generally doing timetables.
it's been a while since i had a really good day. and today was a really good day.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Some people think Apple is the ethical alternative to Microsoft. I'm not one of them. Ask yourself if DRM is a good thing (it's the thing that stops you using your music downloaded from itunes etc on your ipod and your computer and to burn it to disc etc.) Ask yourself if the source code for OSX is open or hidden. Ask yourself who owns over 40% of Apple.
Some people think Linux is for geeks who spend longer trying to get it to work than actually using it. I'm not one of them. I'm not a geek (though you'll never know how hard i've tried to be.) Linux works straight out of the box. It plays DVDs without a fuss. It allows me to use my ipod like any other media player. It allows me to install any programs i like and then change them to suit my needs. It does not require any antivirus software. And it is completely free of charge. Not a penny.
Oh but it's not compatible with Microsoft Office. Oh but it is. Oh but it's not compatible with Windows or Apple networks. Oh but it is. Oh but it's not compatible with Windows or Apple software. Oh but it is (though why would you want it to be?)
I've led more people to Linux than I have to Jesus. Come now while we sing....
current music - tour de france podcast
now i'm not the fasted guy on two wheels i accept that. but when i put my foot down on the way to work i can average 24 kph - that's 15 mph in old money. i can go down the hill at common road at 55 kph and have gone faster down other hills.
so when i saw the winner of the prologue, fabian cancellara, do the course at an average 53 kph i find myself in awe especially as he's got another 2300 km to go including the alps and the pyrenees thrown in for good measure.
i truly am in awe. but i least i get to work quicker than the cars.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
current mood - mind boggled
25 years ago i recall being in scotland in the company of my family watching events unfold in the Falkland Islands. I was 14 years of age then and a little more politically naive. i thought it was great that the Argentinians were getting a damned good thrashing at the hands of our boys.
anyway, that's not the point.
25 years is a long time but in truth it only feels like yesterday. and when i try to equate it with experiences outside of my time frame it gets even more freaky. it's the same time gap between the end of WWII and 1960. and yet those events seem like a lifetime apart.
it's all part of getting old, i suppose. but as bono sang and i agree...
"i'm not afraid to live, i'm not afraid to die."
i hope those veterans (as well as the soldiers on active duty at the moment) feel the same.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
current mood - expectant
i always thought i was too old for all this technical stuff but with the exception of text messages, i seem to be getting into the web 2.0 scene albeit by accident.
i suppose the first step was last.fm. thanks to steve i happily listen to all sorts of stuff i never dreamed of listening to.
now there's this blog for one. it's true i've not been too hot on it lately but thanks to steve and liz primarily i am now happy to inflict my mediocrity upon the world. what's more i've set up a private blog for my family to post thoughts and news on.
then there was flickr. well i got this rather fab camera off a mate and started snapping and all of a sudden i needed to inflict all the images on the world.
and then there was facebook. now that's down to danny. no sooner had i agreed to be on his page than i'd accidently agreed to set up my own and invite all and sundry to it.
and d'you know what? it's good. i'm reckoning this stuff could actually be a great way of maintaining friendships. so watch out for this high priest of suburban mediocrity. i'm out there.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
current mood - tired and awake at the same time
with a few minutes spare while they check the airplane's oil and air pressure and fill up the tank, i assume, i thought i'd let you know of my whereabouts over the last couple of days...
b and i travelled up to a place in the high country of victoria, as its known, to howqua; specifically to the cabin owned by jack and judy (although only jack was there for our visit.) time and indeed emotion permits me only to say that it's a good place for one to immerse oneself into the artistry that god paints vividly at every turn. i took a gazillion photos, the best of which i'll post on flickr shortly.
if, my dear hob blogglings, you've never been to howqua, put it on your list of places to visit before you die - or you'll regret it.
similarly - it would only be fair if any of you could oblige me with places that i ought to visit before i die (it would be rude not to, wouldn't it.)
by the way, don't suggest singapore airport - (a) i've been there and (b) it's about as boring as airports can be.
see some of you soon and others sooner. i'll be home by lunchtime.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Anyway we stopped in Rye to take a look at some sandcastles. Here's one i didn't make earlier...
...but i did think to take a snap shot.
The rest of the images are at flickr.
Friday, April 13, 2007
This is one of my snaps from a visit to the hustle and bustle of Victoria Market in Melbourne.
Head over to Flickr to see some more. This I believe is a link to my page
Thursday, April 12, 2007
and for those of you who cannot bring themselves to do so here's a taste...
Friday, April 06, 2007
Oh nothing major, that's the point I suppose, nothing major ever really happens to this mediocre suburban, but enough for me to need a break from blogging and concentrate on other more stressful streams of life.
Sadly, I can't share all my news for some of it is confidential, the details anyway, but let's just say, dear hob blogglings, that one of the major issues in my life has a sort of resoultion to it. Part one of the resolution came on the last day of the Spring Term and the other will come to pass at the end of the Summer Term. Beyond that I can say no more or I'll stand accused again (although without the right of reply) of character assassination. Oh fuck it, I think I'll get plastered and tell all, God knows they've been indiscrete.
Also my current work situation has taken much of what meagre space my head affords for coping with life. The pressure is on, I'm working hard and still I find myself disappointing those around me I least want to hurt but that situation too, has a sense of completion and closure to it. Again, details cannot be shared but I'm feeling hopeful and optimistic about the future.
And why start blogging again now...
So life seems to be a little less stressful than of late. May long it continue.
More from Oz Tour 07 to come.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
anyway here's a few more of my thoughts about travelling from London to Melbourne.
I clearly remeber the strange feeling of detachment as I left Harrow bound for Heathrow airport. Do you remember 'The Truman Show'. I felt the same - like it wasn't really real. I felt like everyone was just putting a show on for me and that I was being manouvreed and manipulated away from the house to the airport. Do you remember that scene in 'The Matrix' when Neo goes back into the Matrix for the first time following his rescue? How he marvels at restaurants were he had once eaten coming to terms that it wasn't actually real? That's how it felt.
Probably just a bit nervous. But that's how it felt.
I also remember being very polite towards the stewardesses on the flight, eating all the food put in front of me - even though I don't like melon - and leaving my seat all neat and tidy - I even folded the blanket. And then departing the plane and seeing the mess that everyone else left behind. I sort of felt a sense of moral pride and then just felt a bit foolish.
I remember looking out of the window somewhere above the Indian Ocean seeing the most georgeous of sunsets.
I remember sitting next to another assistant headteacher for 13 hours. What are the chances of that? But we agreed to stop talking about work after about 10 minutes. You'll never know how difficult that was!
But beyond that I really can't remember much else about the flight. Long haul is unbelievably boring. You are too bored to watch the telly (although I must say I did enjoy Casino Royale), too full to eat (although you do anyway), to stiff to move and too British to ask the person next to you to let you out to pee while they are watching Casino Royale.
But I'm here now. Still feeling a little stiff (or maybe that's just my age.) Had a practical day today, buying a few bits and bobs and getting an old bike to work so that I can get around the place.
Tomorrow I'll post a few photos taken with the super camera lent to me by my good pal G with a view to me buying it upon my return.
So 'til then I'll bid you good night in whatever time zone you find yourself.
Monday, April 02, 2007
current music - none but listening earlier to 'we can work it out' by The Beatles
It's a strange thing when your body is telling you one thing and your mind is telling another. It happens in lots of ways not just the effects of long haul travel. For example your body tells you not to bite that finger nail but instead your brain overrides the command and bites it off not so much up to the quick but more like up to elbow.
So it with the inability to string coherent sentences together and instead just crack bad jokes that I begin this new section of my blog all about my trip to Australia to visit big brother B and his partner F.
I'll recount the joys of do it yourself contortionism also known as economy class travel later and just take a moment to paint alittle pictutre of my first few minutes on Australian soil for I think serves as a reminder of my ultimate reason for being here at all...
Darren untwists and uncurls his body from his airliner seat and troops off to customs and immigration at 5:30 before looking for his case (a large black suitcase - that'll stick out from the crowd!) In reality the official bit is a breeze and, for the first time ever, his case is waiting for him on the carousel thus causing him not to develop the usual panic that actually his case is in Rome while he is in Melbourne.
So as he passes down the corridor and around the corner with the cool breeze of freedom blowing in his face whom should Darren meet at the barrier than his big brother, his primary reason for coming to Australia. A moment of tearful embrace is shared and then another. The pair walk slowly to find F waiting with the car lest it get a ticket at 5:45 a.m. (and I thought Harrow parking wardens were tough) A short drive later Darren finds himself at home in good old Flemington in a neighbourhood that looks 'The Sullivans' is just about to start recording - all picturesque, needy and charming. Darren spends much of the rest of the day doing practical chores plus taking B & F's dog, Helen, for a walk to the local shops to thinks about photos he might take of the locality and it's inhabitants in future days.
He chats with B for much of the rest of the day making plans before F gets home and chat and wine continues before Darren excuses himself to write blog (whilst nodding off to sleep) and then hit sack.
More tomorrow dear hob bloglins when I'm more awake than now.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Current mood – a strange feeling of preparedness for work that I have not felt for some time
Current music – ‘Cloudbursting’ by Kate Bush
Two bits of news crossed my path this week. Firstly that young Mr Lawson now has his damn fine CDs for sale at itunes. And secondly that the pop charts are to be calculated on electronic sales as well as (or is it instead of) physical over the counter sales.
So let’s all get on down to itunes and download those little puppies to hype him all the way to number 1. I'm sure it's what he's always dreamed of.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Current mood – tired and full in the head
Current music – ‘Edible Flowers’ by The Finn Brothers
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
So says Macbeth. This month’s book – ‘The Sound and the Fury’ – by William Faulkner was a very challenging read. In fact it required a bit of googling for some extra help to really understand quite what was going on. But if you have had the pleasure(?) of tackling the text you’ll know that the effort was worth it for we are given a view into the minds of people we perhaps we could never know otherwise and witness the implosion of a family at close hand.
So to lighten the mood a little I have suggested ‘A Patchwork Planet’ by Anne Tyler for our next meeting. Has she ever written a stinker? I’ve yet to be disappointed by any of her work. Characters come alive and through the observation of small matters you always get a glimpse of the bigger picture.
It’s some time since I read this book and I’m looking forward to it.