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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Melon Dramatic

So the melons are coming along nicely.  They absolutely shot up at first, but have kind of levelled out now.  The second wave of growth is coming through.

A total of eleven have germinated, leaving six stuck in eternal slumber.  The roots are starting to poke through on a few of them, so I'll have to decide which ones to keep and which ones to guerilla plant in a park somewhere around here.

Playstation controller for scale.

The spider plants have completely stopped growing.  One of two things is responsible for this - I've been keeping the melons wet as is the way of melons apparently, and that is either too wet for the spiders, or the precipitous drop in temperature this week has stunted their growth.  Seriously, it was twenty degrees last week and now it's nine.  And raining.  What is up with that?

The next step is presumably planting them into something bigger.  These pots are designed to be planted whole, the roots grow through and they disintegrate.  I think another week or so should do it, what with the weather becoming warmer for good.  Probably.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Because I'm a Massive Idiot

So the negatives you get with medium format are essentially the same as those with 35mm.  You get a line of pictures, someone in the bowels of the photolab decides where to cut, you get another line and so on.  As such, you'd think it'd be particularly easy for someone to not lose negatives, on account of them all being attached to one another.

I keep my stuff in a folder that's designed to hold large film, you can hold it up to the light and see which picture is which.  Thanks to the fairly large format you can even get a good idea of which picture is which.

Unfortunately I've somehow managed to lose a picture.  A single picture.  I have no idea how it happened on account of all the pictures being adjacent to at least one other photograph in the sequence in which they were taken.

I only found out I've lost a photo because I'm going to go to the printers and get some bigger ones made over the weekend, just to see what they turn out like.  In case you're wondering, the one I lost is on this page.  It's the first one, with the very red leaves.  Not a huge loss, but it's a picture I still like for the colour.

A long time ago I lost some digital photographs that I loved, at which point I realised that digital archiving is a real thing and if you want to keep your stuff safe you need to engage with some kind of backup system.  I still don't have off-site storage figured out (the price is prohibitive) which means that if this house burns down, or more likely, is shaken to the ground and then burns down, I'll lose everything.  On the other hand I've isolated my pics to the extent where it's away from the internet, and safe from prying eyes.  Relatively.  Everything in this game is relative - there's no such thing as 'safe.'

Anyway, the upshot to all this thinking is that instead of waiting a couple of days to filter out my analogue photographs, sleeve them, tag them and bag them (as it were), I've got to do it immediately after they've been picked up.  I've also got to actually check the photographs when I get them from the printer just to make sure they don't miss out one on the end of a sequence.  It's unlikely that it'll happen, but I can't for the life of me think where this particular photograph has gone.  There's also the interesting question of archiving the film camera stuff.  The easiest way at this point would be to get a scanner and go nuts.  It's something to add to my lottery list after tripod, lenses, timelapse release and, of course, a wicked sick printer.

Digital filesystems are easy, analogue is much harder!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Cherry Blossoms

So it was quite a good week for taking pictures of flowers, cherry blossoms abound!
Unfortunately the cherry blossoms don't last particularly long, so I've only got a couple of pictures.  I took absolutely tons of them, but I didn't get any that were particularly interesting.  These two are decent enough to have a quick look at, in case you've forgotten what they look like since last year.


I went to shinjuku park which has hundreds of trees with dozens of varieties, so the colours were different from tree to tree.  Interestingly enough they were all shades of pink.  I wonder if it's simply impossible to breed them into different colours, or whether the idea of cherry blossom colour is so important to Japanese people that they refuse to try to make something a little more interesting.


There are, however, a million shades from white to bright pink.  This is one of the pinkest varieties I could find.  The centre mass is darker because of the shade, but you can see how delicate the petals actually are when the light shines through them, as in the edge petals.

The video is a better representation of the general blossomness in Japan as of last week, check it out!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Too Much Information

The wonders of modern technology.  With enough magnets you can see through anything, and with enough money you can employ those magnets to help you fix stuff.  If you have javascript enabled in your browser you can flick through the album and see the leg from left to right.  Or right to left.

Either way, it's absolutely fascinating.  At least I think it is.  You can see so much of the makeup of a knee, from the major arteries through to the weaving of the the muscles.  If I'd known I'd get to see so much detail I would have carried on working out those muscles (ignoring doctors advice).  A strange narcissism.

Anyway, I include these pictures for today in case you've never come across this incredible technology before.




























Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Melons Ahoy You Pervert

Not those kinds of melons.  These ones:


They're already desperately attracted to the sun so until I plant them outside I'm going to rotate them around.  By the pictures I've seen on the internet they seem to sprawl which would seem to suggest they just kind of flop over and face the sun as soon as they can.  But we don't suffer layabouts here, so they're going to grow upwards until they get their own place.


So far we have four confirmed germinations which is good news for melon lovers, as I only have three possible spots.  The strongest survive.  The weakest may well go into a playoff for the final two positions, both living in one pot with the aim being to grow little portable melons to send back to england.  I'm not sure of their edibility, but they might make good ornaments.


The other weaklings must, I'm afraid, head off into the sunset, unless of course I can sneakily plant them somewhere around here where no one will notice.  Guerilla gardening.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Farming

So I'm now officially a farmer.


Interestingly, of the dozen melons I planted this is the only one to come up so far.  These four plants were separated from the rest which makes me assume that the quarantine I imposed on these guys was actually beneficial in some way.  I'm assuming it's warmer where I put them.  Or maybe I forgot to water them and that made this melon start growing.

The spider plant also has some new growth which is encouraging.  I've since put these four somewhere brighter, and moved the other lazy bastards where these guys were previously.  If they don't start getting their acts together, they'll be in the bin.  I've already given them a verbal warning, next is written.



Friday, 27 March 2015

Straight to the Knees

So my knee's still not right.  It's been a couple of weeks so I went back to the doctor today with the expectation of maybe booking an MRI for a few days time.  What I got was something slightly different.

Oh boy.

So I'm going to get really technical here, so please bear with me.  There are a few squishy, fleshy pads knocking around the ol' nobblies and mine were either swollen, or there was swelling surrounding them.  That part was lost in translation, but I did just about manage to understand the swelling part.  Anyway, that's when he whipped out an eight foot comedy needle that required two nurses to carry it into the room.

Obviously that didn't happen, but an injection was required.  An injection to the knee.  While awake.  Let that just sink in.  Absolutely horrific.  It's also not a quick injection, presumably the added fluid isn't particularly natural and your systems need to adapt, slosh around a bit.  It's a pretty damned weird feeling because the knee is usually a fairly closed system and when you add several litres of unknown nonsense I imagine it's a bit of a shock.  The knee was pretty tight afterwards, I kept expecting a fountain of gore every step.  Mainly litres of water or whatever but some gore too.

Anyway, if this doesn't help over the weekend it'll be the MRI option.  I'm not a doctor but with a knee full of mysterious liquids, won't it be difficult to get a picture?  Maybe they'll have to stab deep into my knee again, this time to extract the lake they put in today.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lensageddon

So I bought my camera a few years ago, which means it's nearly time for the new models to come out.  Nikon have already produced their camera in my range, or are very close to doing so.  Canon are going to release their stuff in a few months.  Obviously, this camera was a once in a lifetime purchase, I'll never be able to afford something as expensive or frivolous again so I've been looking at the lenses that currently make up their lineup.

I really want a big lens.  One of the 400mm pro lenses that get you shot in america because they think you're carrying a bazooka.  The kind of lens that comes with an aluminium case for lugging it around because it's too big for a normal bag.

Alas, two things stop me.  Firstly and least importantly, I wouldn't use the lenses that much.  Wicked interesting animal pictures, strange portraits and occasional oddities aside, I'd probably only ever haul it out a few times a year.  Then again having one of those in the wardrobe would probably get me out more frequently.

The second and more important reason is obvious.  They cost, even second hand, as much as a car.  The cheaper versions would suffice for me, probably anything above f4 (if you don't know what an f number is, it basically means that, should I have this lens, my penis is bigger than someone with an f5.6, but smaller than someone with an f2.8).  Second hand price doesn't drop that much once you get to a certain echelon of gear, so all of these are thousands of wonga, even if used.

So I started looking around for other types of lenses that were feasible within the next year or two, stuff that had a practical use for me.  I really like the idea of a 50mm, a prime that you can just walk around with and take some pictures.  The 50mm primes are cool because they're really fast and relatively small, which means you can hand hold them just fine and use available light, which means not toting around a flash or tripod.  As I have none of these things it's almost the ideal type of lens.  Unfortunately the good ones of this variety are pretty expensive too.

So I'm back to square one.  I came across some interesting macro options.  These are cool because they let you blow up small objects, making them fill a frame with things you might not otherwise see.  If you get a normal macro lens route you can take quite nice pictures of people, and you can get pretty darn close to small insects too.  This is a kind of photography I could get behind, and despite the relatively low prices of these lenses, you need a tripod and lighting setup, which inflates the price.  To get the really cool pictures you would look at something like this.

It magnifies everything up to five times which is great because it opens up a world of photography that you can indulge in anywhere.  Looking at everyday stuff blown up to be huge is fascinating, and with the setup required being relatively small, you'd just have a box in the corner of the room with all the gear you'd need to take a picture.  You could probably take some really interesting videos too.  I think that's my next project.  Save up for that particular lens, clear out a corner and set something like that up.

Thousands of pounds are impossible, a few hundred might not be.  Super saving powers go!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Operation Fruits Go Go

So I'm going to try and grow some fruits this year.  As a cursory fan of enormous fruit and veg, I obviously went straight to melons, because they don't have the potential of, say, a pumpkin -  but they can still get big.  I think both those pictures are the same grower.

Anyway, the biggest oaks start with the smallest acorns.  Or something.

The two in the middle are spider plants, I'm trying to grow new ones because I had a couple of spare pot things.

I'm going for some strawberries too, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get all this lot in the sun outside.  The veranda is extremely thin and has a high wall, so it doesn't get much sunlight.  I'll have to find a table, or even better, steps.

Something to think mull over.



And a picture of, is that Putin?  Riding a weasel?  Riding a woodpecker?  Being chased by Gandalf?  And a stormtrooper?  The internet in a nutshell.



Friday, 20 March 2015

Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before

So I can't sleep.

I know, you've probably heard someone else on the internet talk about not being able to sleep.  You might even have seen it on here, shock and much gasping.

As such, I'm left wondering what to write about at four in the morning.

My knee still hurts.  Definitely going back to the doctor on Monday, I'll have to brow-beat an MRI out of him.

Cherry blossom season is once more speeding towards us.  The trees are starting to bud which means waiting a couple of weeks, I should imagine.

Terry Pratchett died.  The author of my favourite series, and probably my favourite book.  I've been staving off his most recent works because this way was inevitable, what with his illness, and I wanted to essentially main line the endings to all the threads he started decades ago.  My insignificant homage will be to tie his series up in as short a time as possible, leaving what I can remember of his older books to memory.  Actually that's a lie, I'll definitely re-read everything at some point in my life.

I've been writing a book since December.  It's about one quarter finished, which means at the current rate the first draft will be done in a year, the final copy in about a decade.  Refresh the page hourly for rip-roaring content updates about this.

Also, if you read this you're obliged to buy at least one copy when it's released (self publishing, woo!).  My stated aim is simple:  In my lifetime I want to sell a hundred books.  Whether that's ten books, ten sales each or one book with one hundred copies, I don't mind.  That's a fairly modest number right?  I think it's doable in a lifetime.  Anyway, you've got a year to save up a tenner.  Hop to it.  (Please.)

Monday, 16 March 2015

Needs More Fireworks

So a few weeks ago I went snowboarding.  The highlight was the small festival the area happened to hold when we arrived.

They must have heard about me.

Anyway, using a camera phone (because obviously I chose not to bring my camera the one time they had an event) I took some photos that you may have seen before, but I also shot some video.  The camera had the damndest time trying to figure out where to focus and this caused a fair number of problems when it came to putting a small compilation together.  Nothing was in focus.  The stuff that was in focus had a few unsupervised children screaming through them (a joy in person, too) so they were unusable.  The result was the following short video.  Despite the fact it was taken with a phone, the quality isn't bad (when it can decide to stop focussing on alpha centauri).


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A Quick Look at the Daruma Market

So the prior post was about the pictures I took while at the market for Daruma (those plump looking red things).  This one is a really quick update to show you the video I made of my visit.  It's really quick, stupidly simple but quite indicative of the area, at least I think so.  Check it out here:


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Daruma Festival

So there was a daruma festival a week or so ago.  If you're wondering what a daruma is, here you go:


The idea is that you buy one, fill in an eyeball, make a wish or some kind of resolution for the coming year and then, when the wish is fulfilled, fill in the second eye.  I think you also burn or destroy the daruma once the year is up.


The vast majority are red, with white eyes and some writing on the front or back.  Occasionally you'll see gold or white ones; at this festival there were also blue ones but I've no idea what the differences are.


There was also this wooden statue in front of the main shrine, I have no idea what it was for but very few people approached it.  Those who did rubbed it, for luck perhaps?


The figure was very obviously worn, I wonder if it was more popular in the past or if there's a separate event dedicated to this deity (if it's a god at all).  Maybe it's just really old?


The obligatory incense bowl in front, every shrine that's big enough seems to have one of these.


Everyone was having something written on their daruma, once again I'm terrible at this kind of thing because I have no idea what it says.


The finished article.  Maybe this was last years model, hence both eyes being filled in?  Maybe I'll learn, one day.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Legs

So last Saturday was the first (maybe the second?) proper training session of the year.  We'd done a lot of fitness for a couple of weeks prior but the entire squad turned up for the official beginning.


We played a few different games, aimed at skills and fitness to try and get into the new season at a run.


It was surprisingly cold so I obviously went for short sleeves because I'm a fool.


I think I had my hands crossed for 90% of training to try and keep the extremities warm.


We also played a game of 7's against a local team, I scored 2 but my hamstrings are incredibly sore again - I need to start stretching, massaging and hot/colding once again.  This seems to crop up once every few months, achilles tendinitis perhaps?


A game of 7's right after training isn't exactly a great idea so I scored our only points before I limped off.


The first one was from the kickoff, I handed off a couple and ran as hard as I could, just about making the line ahead of their team.


This is from the kickoff, bad achilles and all.

The training went well, the fitness was okay, I just need to figure out how to buy a new pair of legs and I'll be good to go!