Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"I love you, but ..." is the easiest way to tell if love is conditional

After shooting all of last weekend, my SLR is getting a bit of a rest. One of the things I do is ensure that I have multiple backups of all the photos I take. At the moment, this means all my compact flash cards are sitting at work just in case my house burns down and my multiple sets of local copies are destroyed. I'm paranoid about these things.

So this week is entirely from my phone and more opportunistic than with any sense of thought.

Christmas is coming up and it seems like the beginning of November is fair game for decorations. I don't really understand what's up with the Canadian flags though.

It's slightly amusing to me because this is near my work place. My old work place used to be near the Canadian consulate and last week I ended up listening to talks that in part related to the Canadian government in an event near that work place.

One of the interesting things about being a journalist is that you get to meet a lot of different people. As someone who was once such a social recluse that he hated the very idea of even purchasing train tickets from an attendant as opposed to a machine, it's an interesting space to be in once you realise that for some reason people are more scared of you than you are of them.

I think a business card speaks volumes about the sort of company that you work for. Whether they're embossed, gloss, matte, textured, or unique in some way they all say something. Probably what leaves an impression on me the most though, is the weight of the paper stock. I was actually surprised that Facebook's cards weren't printed on something heavier. In contrast, a public relations person I'd been talking to earlier that day had some pretty nice cards.

I often check with people whether they understand Eastern traditions in giving and receiving cards by simply doing it and seeing if they follow. I don't expect many people to do the whole giving and receiving with two hands and studying the cards, but I'm often surprised by who does and doesn't know how to, or who simply flick their cards across the table! I'm sure everyone keeps a "dirt" file on me anyway. Those damn journalists!

I have a few friends that live in Ashfield and I often end up eating around the area. While one of my favourites are two dumpling stores of Liverpool Road -- New Shanghai and Shanghai Night -- there's a cafe a little further down the road that I visited for the first time this week. I thought their chairs were cute.

It's one of the few cafes I've seen with a separate indoors, but partitioned off, smoking area. Usually you see that sort of thing at a pub. They're a bit pricey, but the servings, at least for dessert, seem pretty generous. I couldn't finish mine. Homers Cafe, 339 Liverpool Rd.

I also made the trek out west where we had lunch at a little place in Glenbrook called the Jazz Apple Kitchen. My significant other's sister's interest often plays the guitar there. While I only met him for the first time that weekend, it's interesting the things you pick up, or possibly imagine that you pick up, from conversations.

When I was following him in the car, I spent a while wondering what it was about his driving that seemed familiar. I realised a little later that the lines he drove, even though we were both driving quite slowly, reminded me of those I've seen many, many other motorcyclists take when I used to ride myself. Now I don't know whether I imagined it or if it was because he mentioned earlier that he too used to ride.

French toast and caramelised bananas. I'm a sucker for bananas. Make them into thickshakes, bake them into banana bread, deep fry them, add some icecream and call it a banana split, or make a banana sandwich; it's probably one of my favourite fruits. I was devastated when the price rose to over $14 per kilogram and cafes and restaurants in Sydney began to charge ridiculous surcharges.

Call me crazy, but if you've never tried it, take a thin slice of tasty cheese and eat it with your banana. Cheese and banana. It works.

Looking out from Bluff Reserve, Glenbrook, south-west towards Jellybean Pool. I actually had no idea where I was when I took this picture, but I'd been to Jellybean Pool many years ago when I used to go hiking semi-regularly. Back then, as a scrappy little kid, I'd fall into creeks and rivers all the time.

My days of exploring canyons and peeing off cliffs have since been replaced with the urban landscape where I still explore laneways and unfortunately find where others have been drunkenly peeing. There are less spiders at least, though.

This is Belle, a Belgian Shepherd. She's quite old and has a few medical issues, but like my German Shepherd Dog is a sweet old sook. She's how I imagine Jess may grow up into one day. Jess is still mostly bouncing off the walls still though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You can't chart your forward destination if you're always looking back

Let's try not to make posting this late a habit.

I shot over 1800 frames last week, but unfortunately I can't share most of them with you as they were part of a good friend's wedding. Ironically, I didn't end up shooting that much for this post, so we're going to take a revisit of some older photos that didn't make the seven.

But first...

The wedding bands.

I've seen people make them themselves, engrave each others fingerprints on each others', have them combine with other rings and so on, but no matter how (un)fancy, they're probably one of the most recognisable symbols of commitment and love.

That said, they can be pretty expensive symbols.

Nothing like a good old barbecue in, er, the middle of nowhere.

One of my friends has a shop on Parramatta Road with an open back yard that pretty much backs on to brushland and the M4 Motorway. It's a really strange place to roast slabs of meat, but also very cool at the same time. I often wish I had a big backyard to do something similar.

Hide the vegetables! The kids won't know they're there! I don't know why I haven't noticed this before, or why people hadn't thought of it sooner. What will I be eating next? A cheeseburger with hidden spinach?

Scotch and dry is my drink of choice. I don't like fizzy mixers, but scotch neat or with water is just a bit too strong for my liking. Dry ginger ale seems to hit that right balance for some reason. It's a pity I never seem to have any at home. I have bottles upon bottles of Glenfiddich 12, 15, and JW Red, Black and Blue from my days as a bartender, but never any dry to go with it.

There's also a bit of a strange situation I find myself in. I rarely drink because everyone I've lived with has been a non-drinker. My significant other doesn't like to drink, my most recent ex-housemate tries not to as she gets drunk and a little grumpy too quickly, and my housemate before that is deathly allergic to alcohol.

As a result I only seem to drink at home when I'm down and I only ever drink one spirit in those cases -- Jack Daniels straight up. I seem to have gone through several bottles now.

Taken during the Sydney Google Photowalk, I ended up turfing this one because the two people were slightly out of focus. I'm beginning to wonder whether I should just be a bit more lenient, or whether in the long run it's good to maintain a high standard. The same could apply to many things in life. It's funny people always say act like the world will end tomorrow, but if that were true we'd have no long-term backup plans.

Over on Broadway, there's a set of a apartment blocks called the Quadrant. One of my friends used to live in there. It's a fairly swish place considering how close it is to the city. Despite being so close, it has a pretty large, under-used courtyard. This water feature sits in the middle of it, but it otherwise feels like pretty wasted space. I suppose if it were up to me though, the city would be full of skyscrapers. Wait, it is.

There's also a pretty good Malaysian/Thai restaurant in the Quadrant called Malacca Straits. I suddenly had a craving for their food today and that's saying something since I usually don't like to eat Asian food.

Could be on a beach somewhere, or a park, or someone's backyard. I enjoy these moments of just taking time out, but to me they're just that -- a moment. People often say they need a holiday to get away from it all, but to me a holiday is more about immersing yourself in new experiences. I think what people are really asking for is time to pause and reflect on life. The great thing is, you don't need to go somewhere far away -- in fact, that can sometimes be more stressful -- you can pause to reflect almost anywhere you are.

It's just closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and letting everything go for just a moment. And often, that's all you really needed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sometimes you have to take a step back to make a giant leap forward

Alright, it's another week with a few experiments in street. I guess it could be argued that most things here are street since most of the time I wander around Sydney's streets taking photos, but I don't see it that way.

The greatest take away from all of this? I'm still here alive and breathing. Taking pictures on the street will not kill you.

I have no idea what caused this paint spill at Railway Square, but it was pretty fun to watch the stories that came out of it. Was it a trolley? There were tracks coming out of it. But the paint trail went on for several hundred metres down Regent.

It was mostly cleaned up the next day, but not before I spotted this little track of footprints. Dirty bird.

I actually took this to experiment with in some new processing software I was going to try. I still haven't gotten around to doing so. Last week was my turn to come into work early, so I've been getting all this lovely light, but not having enough time to watch for things to shoot.

A fairly recognisable intersection, Goulburn and George. What is with this crossing? You can't turn right no matter which way you approach it. I've often wondered how much of Sydney's traffic is just people driving around trying to figure out how to get on to a certain street.

I'm wondering what she's thinking. Not many people actually look up as they're walking. It's pretty sad actually. We're rushing through the city, staring at the back of the person in front of us, or down at our smartphone, which is meant to make us more connected.

I liked the variety this guy had. While I've seen that bag around a few times, I haven't seen any Chicago Bulls merchandise since high school. Rarer than that, it just hides his blue-dyed rat's tail -- something I used to have when I was a wee little kid and never seem to see any more. I guess it's like the mullet. There are only so many people that can pull it off. Like MacGuyver.

And back to his bag, what's that it's eating? An Angry Birds keyring. Awesome.

This guy was enjoying a peaceful moment, nodding off for a nap while surrounded by shoppers. No one really gives you a second thought. I'm beginning to wonder how much you can get away with in Pitt Street mall.

Eddy and Pitt. I wonder who spent the time to do this. More importantly, what the heck is it? It sort of looks like an alien with a huge exorcist head stepping on a baby. Or taking a dump, getting freaked out and running away. I'm sure that's exactly what they had in mind.

This was one of those awkward moments where I saw a shot, lined it up, and the subject turned and looked directly at me. I shot it anyway and kept on walking. I actually thought the original shot would have turned out nicer. I guess it shows what happens when you're just that touch too slow.

The building she's sitting at is Wake Up!, a hostel/cafe on George and Pitt. It seems like a pretty nice place to stay if you were travelling and I've considered stopping in just to have a beer and a bite. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Well, this is embarassing

So I went to pull my photos out to upload and guess what, I don't have my camera with me!

That means I'm going to be a little bit later than I would have hoped for this week, but in the meantime, here's a pic from The Star.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If you never understand yourself, it is rarely reasonable to expect others to

It's been a pretty fun week. In between losing sleep over video games and forgetting to go the gym, I went to a themed ball, hung out at an old biker cafe, ate more Japanese food, went boxing for the first time, and got punished by my temporary trainer immediately after. 

Still, it feels like a lot more could have been done with my time.

The regular shopping trip always yields weird and interesting things in the oddest places. Surfing down the cereal aisle (and yes, I still use the trolley as a scooter/toboggan when I think no one is looking), I saw this peering out from a dark shelf.

I'm all for getting the maximum use out of cardboard and all that ...

... but is that you, Pedobear?

Hanging out in Pitt Street mall again while waiting for my gym partner. You see a lot of different people walking through here all day, most oblivious of others' existence. It's a slightly comforting thought when you're wandering around taking photos, but it's also a rather strange thought. You can walk through one of the most populated areas in Sydney and no one will really know you're there.

Goulburn and Pitt, on the World Square side. I've seen this concrete doughnut for weeks now, but keep getting really blurry pictures on my phone. Having tried several times now, I think I'm pretty much used to people looking at me weirdly as I squat and try to take pictures. The funny thing is, once they notice what I'm taking a photo of, it's all perfectly acceptable behaviour.

It sort of reminds me of when we dressed one of my friends up for his bucks and went to town. It's pretty amazing what you can get away with, so long as there's a relatively reasonable explanation. Hey, it's okay, I'm the official number taker tonight.

I'd forgotten there's a TAFE just across from Railway Square for some reason. Sneaky buggers. There's been one pretty much close to everywhere I've ever lived. I don't know if that's to do with coincidence or whether they just have a seriously huge number of campuses.

I studied at the Ultimo campus part time one semester doing mechanical engineering. Given I was studying electrical engineering at uni at the time and all my coursework had become something along the lines of solving hideously complex (and boring) equations, I was stoked to be able to do things like learn to weld. A couple of hours a week at welding might just have a bit more utility to me today than calculating equations that can now be plugged into simulators.

Still at it, although not with much change, here's another street sculpture at Liverpool and Pitt, on one of the monorail pillars. I think almost all of them have a sculpture of sorts. The original creator of these is Will Coles. I'm not sure if he's the same guy fixing them to everything, but it's slightly strange to be following someone around by the things he leaves behind.

I stumbled across his site years ago, but lost the link until recently. They say Sydney doesn't have much art, but it's there if you know where to look.

Speaking of which, Sculpture by the Sea is currently on. I'd be more interested to see if anyone has tried to sneak their own work in again as Will has done in the past. I wonder who would have known the difference?

Upstairs in the Queen Victoria Building, we take a very old building and make it our own private dance floor. I bet they didn't see us coming when they named it the Tea Room. I don't think I even had a single cup of tea. False advertising, that one, unless they consider alcohol to be tea. A perfectly acceptable substitute.

I have recurring dreams of travelling on old elevators like this one, also in the Queen Victoria Building. Most of the time I'm a coal mine kid, trying to get out of the mine shaft. Other times I'm a suit and tie, a confident exterior, but really just completely lost. Half of the time I die. Now that I think of it, I've never been in an old elevator. I don't think it's a good time to start.

I don't seem to have many dreams where I die. Another is whenever I am driving or am a passenger of an R32 Nissan Skyline. I always, without exception, die. Usually in a horrific accident, but sometimes the car will just randomly explode. I've never sat in one for that reason and will refuse to drive one, even though I think they are a fantastic vehicle from what I've seen and heard.

Coffee on a lazy Sunday afternoon, one of my friends bought this pomegranate and green tea tonic, which was the strangest, glowing shade of red. Although we were at Deus Ex Cafe, I was more fascinated with this drink than the bike in the cafe. I mean, this red thing looked like it was comic book radioactive or something.

On the other hand, it was fun to actually visit the cafe for once. I'd passed it so many times, often on my motorcycle, but never stopped in. I would have thought there would be a lot more motorcyclists like at the various other places I used to hang out at when riding, but there weren't. In fact, there were a couple of senior citizens and families.

Out in the demo room, I spotted this little gem. I really wonder who decides to go ahead and make these things.

I had my eye on an old bike, a Honda CB 750 that had been restored and fairly heavily modified. My last bike was fairly old and only made over a period of two years. It was a constant battle to keep her maintained since she'd been pretty badly abused over the years. Though she's gone now, I really do miss being on two wheels and getting grease under my fingernails.

I also seem to have lost the ability to count to seven. Never mind.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You never have to do anything, but you always have to live the consequences

Bit of a tough week this one. Mostly because I've forked out some money for a video game that has been slowly killing me in all sorts of ways.

So it was actually pretty painful to scrape together enough photos for this week. I did take more than seven, but the quality of them sucked. But considering the rule here is it doesn't matter how much they suck, here they are. I had to cheat a little and put in some from other weeks, but here they are nonetheless.

This is Quan. He makes excellent coffee. It's one of the few places around my workplace that sell Campos. I've mentioned previously that I'm a big fan of it, but don't particularly remember why I started drinking it in the first place. I really wish I knew somewhere I could sit down and have a cup of the stuff during my lunch break, but I'm yet to discover anywhere close by.

There are little details that go into making coffee. Quan has a little block of wood that I think he brought in that sits next to the coffee machine. Why? Because after foaming the milk he needs to tap the base of the jug on a surface to settle it. Not such a pleasant thing to do against a stainless steel benchtop, so he brought his own.

If it's not immediately apparent what's up in this picture, it's one of my pet peeves. The cyclist in the middle of the intersection is stationary in this photo. I think cycling is a great form of transport. However, more and more I'm seeing jerks that complain that they're not given their fair share of the road (and I agree), but at the same time refuse to abide by simple traffic laws like obeying traffic lights.

I don't have a problem with cyclists who ride on the footpath at a jogging pace. I do have a problem with cyclists who ride straight through red lights and through pedestrians trying to cross the road. Are you cycling on the road? Then obey the road rules. One of these days I'm going to lose it and kick someone off their bike. It'll probably be an unwarranted for just a single idiot, but the number of people that don't obey the rules seems to be becoming the majority.

Woolworths (or Safeway depending where you live) was apparently selling Kindles. I have no idea why. I rarely ever shop at Woolworths since there are practically none where I live, so the idea of selling consumer electronics is quite strange to me.

I would have thought we'd see iPods in Woolies before Kindles.

Over on Pitt Street, near Goulburn, is a little known restaurant/lounge called Shinara. Upstairs they have an all-you-can-eat buffet, Korean style, but downstairs the lounge is rarely populated. A couple of friends and I ended up having dessert here the other night and it's a strangely mature place. Mature? Well, usually we end up at cafes and such where there are a lot of loud uni students or it's on a busy street with lots of people coming and going. I think we might have been the noisy lot, and we're not even that loud.

I'd probably give the buffet a miss next time, but for somewhere quiet to have a chat on an evening, the lounge is a pretty nice place.

Friday morning tea at work involved bobbing for apples. I somehow found myself nominated, but escaped at the last moment. Probably a good thing as the last time I played some food-related game I ended up catching a tooth on a piece of string, cutting up my gums and not being able to eat without my mouth hurting for about two weeks. Good times. Will do business again. AA++++.

Watching people bob for apples, on the other hand, is a barrel of laughs. Really, it should be called "dunk your head in a bucket of water", because that's essentially what we're here to see. Given my reluctance to do it though, I have to give it up to my coworkers. While I'm a bit of a chicken for not doing it, really, what's the worst that can happen? You're expecting others to have a laugh anyway. Are you worried they're going to laugh? Sometimes logic evades me.

I've heard a story about a class of students that were shown video footage of buildings from the first floor upwards, without given the location. When asked where they thought the buildings were, they could never figure it out. It makes sense though. How many times do we ever look up at buildings in Sydney? We've got a huge number of old facades, beautiful buildings, but we never stop to appreciate them. This one should be pretty obvious, but can you picture where you'd have to be standing to see it from here?

I'm in Pitt Street mall again, looking up at The Strand building (obvious from the words on it). Most people get distracted by the old hallway that joins up with George Street with all the shops in it. It's actually a really pretty building from the outside and quite well kept.

Also on Pitt Street mall, another busker. I find it amusing that this guy is probably making more money from each CD he sells than signed bands do when their publisher sells an album. Sure, he might not have the same volume of sales, but making lots of money isn't always the aim of everyone.

I sometimes wonder if I'd rather do something I love every so often and earn a rich return on it, or to turn what I love into work and let everyone along the way take a cut. I might still be working for myself, but I'm also working to pay everyone else at the same time. Makes you wonder how many entrepreneurs are out there who think they are working for themselves, but are really working for a different definition of the man.

I think it's more clearly explained by the story of a multi-millionaire who had houses in several countries and housekeepers in each one. In the end, he ended up feeling like the was working to ensure that his housekeepers were paid. I guess our busker here is really living in his own house and paying himself.