Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Often times, the odds are good that the goods are odd

Last week vanished in a blur, so much so that I ended up only taking pics on my phone. They're a bit random of sorts, but I'll share a bit more of their story.


She should be a familiar sight. The Jess-dog turned four the other day. She's a big sook. When she was little we were all in a car accident and I think that's left a fairly lasting impression on her. We also always trained her to be more passive than remotely aggressive since any mistake on our part may result in her losing her life since most people see German Shepherd Dogs as dangerous.

It's always made me a little sad when I hear about dogs that bite someone and have to be put down. The truth is, they don't understand right and wrong. Dogs don't have a sense of doing something out of malice — they're just instinctual. So when a dog loses its life, it's not its fault — it's the fault of its owner.


There always seems to be something interesting at my local gym. I don't talk much about the gym, but to be honest, it's something that's regularly on my mind. I took up lifting weights a few months ago and have been settling into a routine. Now when I'm not at the gym I randomly feel like lifting heavy things and I feel like I get gym withdrawal. But I wouldn't call myself a gym nut, and I'm not lifting weights that are all that heavy... yet.

Before last year, I wouldn't have stepped into a gym, believing you could do everything with bodyweights — push ups, sit ups, pull ups and the like. I guess I've been convinced otherwise now.


Over at the Guylian Cafe in The Rocks. I like shiny lights. In fact, I don't like room lights. I'd much rather a series of small lamps and individual spots to highlight things like bookcases and artwork. I think a small part of that comes from when I used to dabble in stage lighting. I spent hours upon hours reading up and learning about it, actually putting some of my electrical engineering degree to use.

To this day, I've always though it would be cool to build some LED lighting strips and program some controllers for all sorts of things, like transitional mood lighting at particular times of the day. Or hook them into motion sensors to automatically provide energy efficient lighting when needed.

I find it interesting whenever I see thing that actually take something functional and practical, and combine it with something that is actually creative and artistic. Lights tend to do that for me.


Also in The Rocks, I must have passed this alleyway a couple of hundred times but never noticed it for some reason. It's on George?, just near the old police station. I've always said that there are a number of small alleyways that one could spend hours exploring and getting lost in The Rocks, but I never realised how close to the main strip some of them were.


One year, a few days before my birthday, my SO sent me a letter, but didn't say who it was from. Inside were statements from people I knew, describing what I was like. The next day, I got another similar letter. And so on and on until it was actually my birthday. It's probably one of the sweetest things anyone has done for me, plus I'm a suckers for letters.

On the day of my birthday I received a parcel in the mail, which contained all sorts of things, including bubbles, a little bear and a Caramello Cream Egg. I'd mentioned that I liked them, but they were fairly hard to find at the time. Sentimental me kept everything, including the egg, until I had to clear out my old stuff from my parents place.

I never did get to eat it. And considering it's several years old now, I don't think it would've been a wise idea.


While I was clearing out my old stuff from my parents' place, I came across a number of things. An old, empty cigarette packet from when I used to smoke, and my old wallet which, among a number of receipts, a note to myself.

The gist of it is an explanatory note about a black ribbon I used to have tied to my arm. I don't remember where the ribbon came from, only that it was cut in half, with one used to tie my rather large journal, which I called "Genesis", shut. The other was meant to serve as a reminder to myself to always do the right thing, and by that I meant according to my religion.

The thing was, I was chasing a girl that, according to the rules of my religion, I should probably not be chasing. So really, to do the "right thing" was to deny myself of any feelings I had for her. Which made everything pretty distressing and really wasn't fair for either of us. I can't say that I regret my decision — it's just a decision that had to be made either way — but I do often wonder what else we do in our lives with good intentions, without realising we're fucking up something special.

 

How's this for a blast from the past? I was a big PC gamer back in the day, racking up hours upon hours on games like Command and Conquer: Red Alert and Wolfenstein 3D. Of course, I'd always cheat, which just made games much more funnier when nukes could be launched from pistols and dogs could fire laser beams or something like that.

There's also my old Nokia phone, and an actual legitimate copy of Windows 98. I have no idea why I decided to put my tennis racquet there.


This probably didn't turn out very well, but I found my old university lab notes. I have no idea what the hell is going on here anymore asides from trying to figure out the voltage across a certain point, but apparently I got the right answer as evidenced by my "woot!" note.

The lab book was one of several books I found that day. I wrote a lot when I was younger and before the internet gave us blogs. One such journal was an account of expeditions I went on when I was in high school. 

I wrote:

That's another great thing I like about these hikes. I like to write a lot. In fact, I once considered taking it up as a career. But in our lives there are too many distractions. Too much to persuade your thoughts from what they are. That why I like the bush. There aren't houses or cities or rooms to clean or other things to do. There's just what nature intended.

It's funny how when I read everything I write, I go from a cringing in embarrassment to realising that some of the simplest things I held true when I was a kid still apply today. I did end up taking up writing as a form of a career and I still love to hike for the simple reason that it gives me time to close my mind off from everything else. 

Sometimes, I guess the best person to turn to when you're uncertain, is the little kid inside you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's sometimes better to do without thinking than to never do anything at all

Alright, where the hell have I been?

I'm a bit behind on some projects I'm working on and that means I've been putting this off. But I have still been snapping photos from what random events seem to land in my lap.

Also, that Google+ camera strap went out to one of my readers. Hope they're enjoying it. For those interested, there's another walk happening at the end on March which will end up being televised. Come along and say hi! The last one was awesome.


Every Chinese New Year, I do my Chinese-y thing and go to a Buddhist temple. Only I'm not Buddhist. In fact, I'm not of any religion. But Chinese culture and all that ends up being related to Buddhism so I end up going either way and paying my respects, saying my prayers and all that jazz. I suppose you could say I don't subscribe to any particular one of God's fan clubs, but I think there's probably a God out there.

Anyway, these lions are meant to be good luck. You follow them around and try to touch or stroke them. I realised afterwards that the people inside them were friends I'd met through an old school mate that do Kung Fu. I feel slightly weirded out now.


This is Puddles, not in mid-step, but just chilling out on the stairs. With one paw down for some reason. Lately he's been getting more and more affectionate. He's come a long way from being a rescued little street cat.


Over on Bay Street, just off Broadway, I used to go to this Oporto after uni and get fat. I haven't done it in a while, but I regularly pass by. I never noticed until the other day that "tomorrow" is typo'd. I think I was more horrified at the thought of having Oporto for breakfast.




I think we've reached a small, quiet period where these sort of decorations are down. It's pretty amazing how fast these shops can change their decorations from Christmas to Chinese New Year. And Easter is coming up, right? Giant bunnies anyone?


I don't like Korean food that much. I find that eating a lot of small portions tends to confuse me and leads me to believe I haven't eaten much. Horribly deceptive, but I think that's more on the side of my brain being full of derp.

Anyway, while we were standing outside this place, I realised that the funky upward lighting wasn't intentional. In fact, it was a light that had fallen off the roofing and was dangling by a single cable and balanced on the shop sign. And I'd been standing under it for the past 10 minutes!


When council closes off roads in the city, pedestrians go nuts. But only if someone else does first. We watched the police close off this road for the Chinese New Year parade and no one made a move. So I did. And when people saw me and realised I wasn't getting killed, they all ran out on the road. Seems like an awfully easy way to kill a lot of people.


This guy was full of awesome. He's got a mixing deck in there along with all his audio gear and it's powered off solar cells. Unfortunately the cops asked him to leave and for a while we were without any music.


I have no idea where they placed the projectors for this, but it seems to be an on-going tactic since Vivid Sydney many months ago. I gotta say, as cool as this sort of thing is, I'm beginning to tire of it a little.


The parade itself? It was full of WTF. Not necessarily in a good way. I have no idea what these chefs had to do with Chinese New Year, but there they were. 

I could understand the little schools' participation, but in many cases there seemed to be groups that had just turned up because it happened to be some parade down George. Marching bands with brass instruments? I know the stereotype is that Asian people are meant to be good at playing instruments, but really? 


There were some pretty cool items in the parade though. Dragons, when they got them right-ish, and random pandas wrapped in fairy lights on uni-cycles. Unfortunately, it didn't really cut it for me and I left about three quarters of the way in. To be honest, it's made me wonder how the typical Sydney-sider sees Asians now.


This is what happens when you don't check to see if there's milk in the fridge first. Some mornings I eat at my desk. It's mostly to do with not getting up as early as I should to eat at home and also because it's convenient. This probably isn't the healthiest breakfast though, since that tablespoon is full of honey.

I'd been told I need to eat more meals and up my protein content, but to be honest, I'm finding it hard to remember to eat at times. This coming from a guy who feels like he's always eating at his desk.


Pie Face. Maybe it's just my sick mind, but the top two faces look like they're enjoying themselves too much.

What's with the number of these shops anyway? There seems to be one on every block.


View Larger Map

Okay, maybe not (just the big pins), but it certainly feels like it. Surprisingly, their coffee isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was expecting drip-filtered watery brown tasteless stuff, but it's actually not too bad.


On George near Goulburn, there's a kebab/pizza shop that states it's open 25 hours. I've eaten there exactly once after attempting to sober up from something I don't really remember. Big slice of oily pizza. I wouldn't eat there for lunch, but it seems appropriate for 4am munchies. There's another kebab store around the corner also of dubious quality. I haven't died from it yet.


I spent a few days in Mexico the other week and flew United business between SYD, LAX, HOU, CUN. I've been told business with United is nothing compared to Singapore Air, but when I sat down I found I had more buttons than I knew what to do with. I don't fly very often, and rarely in business class. I had to sheepishly wait for someone else to pull their tray table out before I knew where mine was.


This boggles my mind. When I went to Japan last year, I didn't see many vending machines selling anything more wild than hot and cold coffee. But this is in LAX, a freakishly boring airport. You can buy Nintendo DS games, headphones, and those sort of random electronic items.

Oh, and before I had ever set foot in LAX I'd been told it's the most boring airport in the world. I didn't think it could be too bad, but it is. People were sleeping on the floor. There were probably about four or five shops. Getting stuck there for more than a few hours could be extremely boring.


When is the Wall Street Journal not a publication? When it's a shop. A shop for a publication about a street. I also didn't have much time in HOU, but for the brief time that I was, I kept forgetting that they drive their carts on the right-hand side of the road. I don't know what it is about Houston, but they have carts whizzing across their airports all the time.


And this, after about 26 hours of travelling, is what I was rewarded with. I woke up extremely early in order to be able to go have a run along the beach on the first day I was there. I really regret not going in for a dip, but I guess I never would have found the time anyway.


I was in one of those apartments somewhere on the lower levels. It's an east-facing wall, so the sun creeps in across the Caribbean Sea and makes everything glow in the morning. The first morning I woke up freaking out a little to be honest. I don't know what it is, but I tend to be a bit startled when I wake up in a different bed.

That's possibly a good survival thing though.


The first day was also the only one that I had some free time because there had been nothing scheduled until the afternoon. I wandered to La Isla and had a look around, but early on a Monday morning, nothing was really open. It's a really pretty place, a tourist shopping trap also, but I don't know if I'd ever go back.


I've got a huge gap where I'm frantically at work, but dinner is much more relaxed. At one point the CEO of the company who is hosting us wanders over and tells me I should go and have a cigar. It turns out he's hired someone to roll them there.

I quit smoking a long time ago — it was a bit of a derp thing I did in uni when I thought no one was looking. It once came up in a casual conversation we were having between friends and a girl that I had a crush on mentioned that I smoked to the others. On one hand it was flattering to have had her notice something I hid, but on the other, I was a little ashamed as I got the impression she didn't have much respect for those that smoked.


Occasionally, I still feel the urge to have a smoke after having a beer. The two go so well together. I would have thought cigars and scotch would have been my thing (and scotch typically is my thing), but I found myself chatting to new-found work colleagues over a glass of red and puffing on a death-stick.

I remember waking up the next morning, not with a hangover as I tend not to get them, but with the taste still lingering in my mouth. Not something I'd want to do regularly, but I'll try most things once.


This is me for most of the next day. I can't tell you how painful it is to be working when you know you could be out there floating in a pool or in the sea. So close, but yet, so far.

But it was certainly a different place to be working.


Yo dawg, I heard you liked clouds so I put some cloud in your clouds. On the way from CUN to SFO.


Cancun airport has a Bubba Gump. You know, from Forrest Gump? Why in Cancun? I have no idea. I also have no idea why at this stage in the trip I developed a heavy American accent while I was at the airport.

I have a pretty horrible habit of subconsciously picking up on the accents of others and adapting them into my own. To be honest, I don't even know what sort of accent I have. I was born in the UK and occasionally, when I'm nervous or stressed, involuntarily speak with a British accent, so I'm wondering whether I just speak with a semi-Australian accent because that's what I hear most of the time.


Can you hear Bubba's voice? I can. Or could. I wonder how they got the rights to this?


After travelling for about 28 hours on the way back, I jumped off the plane and went on a 5.13km obstacle course called the Warrior's Dash. There was mud. Apparently while I was away it had been raining. I brought my camera along, but had nothing to wipe the lens clean with since everything was caked in mud.


How caked in mud? Billy here looks relatively clean. I think the worst part about the mud isn't that occasionally you can smell manure washed into it, or that you don't know what else is in there with you, but the feeling when you get it in your eye. You can't wipe your eyes because your hands, clothes and arms are caked sometimes literally in crap. And you don't want to stop and lose your pace either. So you try and shrug it off.


One of the river crossings in which my friend lost his camera. He tried for a while to find it, but came up with bits of grass and bark. I doubt anyone is ever going to find it.


Naive little me thought I'd be able to use my shoes again. I wish I'd donated them to this here group. While my clothes came out alright in the wash, my shoes are dead. They were well on their way out before the run, which is why I decided to use them, but I was hoping that the mud would come out and I'd be able to use them for some other run. Fat chance of that.

Mud gets everywhere. I mean everywhere. I get pretty badly congested sinuses and for about a day after the run, I was still blowing muddy snot out of my nose. Yum.

Anyway, we placed around 3400 out of 8600 entrants, finishing in just over an hour, including the time spent waiting in line for obstacles to be free and searching the river for that lost camera. Not bad for a jet-lagged scrawny kid, I think.


Over on Broadway there's a little Japanese place called Maki Maki. When I went there several months ago, it was pretty average. I'd decided that the place down the road, Masaka, was probably better. Only when I went there on a Sunday, they were shut, so Maki Maki it was.

The place has changed quite a bit since I last went. The menu, decor, seating are all a crapload better. It feels like it's changed from a take-away place to more of a sit-down sort of establishment. Get the Wagyu steak thinggit if you ever go.


Speaking of places that have changed, the old Paddy McGuires in Captial Square has been replaced with this place — Yardhouse. I don't know what it is, but the back of it — the part that is inside Capital Square itself — was full of senior citizens. It was mid-week, sure, but wow. I opted for a quieter seat inside. Me? Calling a bunch of senior citizens too loud?

Anyway, while I didn't eat there, it looks like it might have some decent food. Must go back some day.


I think this is how the guys at my gym attempt to display lost property. Either that or someone has been dressing the fruit again. I think those bananas would make a good hairpiece.


The Australian Youth Hotel. Last time I was here it was for a staff function in the very same room. They call it the Nude Room because of all the art on the walls of nude women. I like the chairs for some reason. And the lights. I think it gives it a sort of class, which is strange because downstairs is very much a pub.

Anyhow, there's a whole bunch of weeks in there that I hope makes up for me going missing. I might try and post in smaller increments if possible, so it's more fitting with the name of this site and so I find time for my other projects.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Excuses, excuses

I'm not very good at this regularity thing, am I?

I'm overseas at the moment for work and finding an internet connection has been more difficult than I first imagined. It looks like I'm going to have to give you guys another mega-update next week as I'm running flat off my feet here at the moment as well.

In the meantime, here's a random pic of me from last week trying to be a dragon, but appearing to just be a hippo...