More mystery

On the Why Is It So? theme, I’m still wondering about something I saw a couple of weeks ago.

I was walking Minnie on the North Beach ovals at about 5pm and a group of kids pointed at the sky. I followed their gaze and saw a big jet, high enough to be leaving vapour trails. That’s pretty unusual in itself. We don’t usually see vapour trails around here. But this was a big, four engine jet, very high, leaving four, 2+2 lines, in the sky.

The odd thing is, it was flying NNW to SSE like this:
The thing is, why would a big jet be flying over Perth and not landing?

Planes don’t fly over Perth on their way to somewhere else, do they?

I admit I’m speaking from complete ignorance here. I know nothing about aviation and I’m sure there’s a valid reason, but I’m mystified. Where has it come from, why would it fly over Perth on its way to somewhere else on that sort of course? Surely the path to Adelaide, if that’s where it’s going, would be inland?

De de de de, de de de de…




The older I get, the more coincidences seem to be happening to me. I suppose it’s explainable by having more life experiences under my belt (yeah, and I can’t do my belt up any more…), but sometimes it’s scary.

On Wednesday the story about Qantas selling exit row seats on aircraft to anyone who pays, instead of reserving them for tall people who need the leg room, was on ABC radio as I was coming back from walking the dog. While driving, I was remembering a particular incident about 15 years ago when I had an exit row seat coming back from Sydney despite my short legs. I mentioned it at the time (this was about 1994 or so) to a bloke who used to run the local service station and is particularly tall and he said he really needs these seats when he flies. The service station closed down years ago and I haven’t seen him in many years, although I know he used to live in this area.

This was on my mind when I pulled into the local deli to buy the papers. Who should walk in the door but the same guy! It was uncanny. Scary, even.

This just one of a million stories from the naked city. 😉 PC

Speaking of walking the dog, four labradors together.

Their attention is being held by the owner of one of the brown ones out of shot.

Like this? I swear it wasn’t set up!

I always leave my back door open and sometimes crazy brave doves wander in to peck the carpet. Minnie gets into retriever mode and feathers fly (the doves survive).

Last ime it happened a couple of months ago, I turned around after catching the dove and taking it outside to see Minnie like this.

I grabbed the camera and voila! Cute, eh?

Now we can see Dornie

At last, at last! Google Earth has finally got around to updating its images of Dornie.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, until recently, it was impossible to see any detail on zooming in to the Dornie/Kyle area on Google Earth. No roads, no houses, nothing but a blur.

I’ve just checked this morning and now we can see Susan’s place. Observe:

Click on the image for a larger view.
If you zoom in, you can even see the red car parked in front of Sue’s place that features in one of my shots on the DVD. How about that?

Now I’ll be able to incorporate these better views into the DVD.

But look at the difference it’s made to the images. Above is a view I’ve used in the DVD:

And this is the view now.

At least I can now see the road through the Pass of the Cattle. That’s good, but it’s lost something, don’t you think?

Interesting (to me, anyway!)

Watch this guy

This photo was taken on Saturday 2 May at Marmion beachfront. Take note of the good looking guy on the left. No, the left – the guy on the right is a nobody.

In order l-r: Hugh Borrowman, Maxine Croft, me. If you listen to the ABC, you may have heard Hugh’s name in the past day or two. He’s our cousin, over on a quick visit from Canberra, and I suspect he’ll be holding that image of beach, sea, sand, warm sun, soft breezes and salt air in his mind for the next few years as he heads off overseas. You’ll be hearing more of him soon, I predict.

Maxine is a 7 year survivor of lymphoma and keeps on fighting. She’s doing well, as you can see, despite chemo and setbacks.

As for me, that’s how I look now. I hope to be 30Kg smaller in a year’s time or less. Sort of like this:

That was 1984.

As I said, watch this space.


Digital Magic

Here’s an example of Photoshop’s magic. My original photo was a bit crooked and the pole and pedestrians were in the way.

This rework below has straightened the image, removed the pole and pedestrians and swept away any traces of the trickery. Notice the wall above where the TV camera and pole were, and the pub footpath sign where the woman’s boobs were. The sign has been recreated.

Couldn’t do that with film. It was in Cambridge, by the way. Still is, for that matter.


A few more pics

It’s time I published a few pictures of my own.

I’ve been taking photography seriously since 1967, that’s 42 years, but only from about 1986 did I feel as if I’d started to ‘get the hang of it’. I have thousands of images from around Australia and the world. Here are a few.This was in the Trigg Bushland Reserve in July last year, just around the corner. So were these, but in 1989:

That bush has burnt completely twice in the 22 years I’ve been here, but it just bounces back better than ever. When it burnt in 2001, it uncovered this:

That was revealed by the fire, but the question is, what is it? Someone went to an awful lot of trouble to make it, but why? And why build it when it’s covered by undergrowth and invisible 99% of the time? Do we have druids in the area? Crop circles resulting from alien spaceships? Weird.

More to come. PC

Digital images

I can’t resist telling you about a website I visit every day, Digital Photography Review, It’s a UK site and very geeky – strictly for camera addicts like me, but when they review a camera or lens, they post sample pictures they’ve shot with it. This, to me, is fantastic, because they make the full sized originals available for download and they look much better on a good LCD monitor than they ever did printed on magazine pages.

What kicked me off on this is the sequence provided for their review of the Canon iXUS 990 IS published a few days ago. This is a small pocket/handbag, point and shoot, happy snapper in pink or champagne colour or whatever, which you can buy here for about $550 just about anywhere, less on the web.

But the pictures it produces! They usually shoot images around London which are great, but this time they took it to Denmark, Copenhagen I assume, and the images just made my jaw drop.

Take a look for yourself if you’re interested. Start here:

Click the tiny images along the top row to select, and if you have a fast internet feed (I think everyone has a fast internet feed except me!) you can download and see the images full size, straight from the camera by clicking on the file name below the large image. The full sizes are 4 to 5MB.

I enjoyed these images so much that I downloaded nearly all of them, and remember, these are as-shot, not retouched or massaged. I wish I could post one or two here, but they are copyright and I’d need to get permission. I’m sure it would be given, but…

Which leads me to say, please don’t use any of my pictures that I show on this blog for any purpose other than looking and enjoying. Feel free to print them, but if you want a proper print sized file, please ask me. Thanks.

Anyway, I just feel that the images from digital camers are now so pleasing that it’s brought a whole new level of enjoyment to photography. It’s hard to go wrong in the technical side of making photos now, and I’ve heard that Auto-Creative modes are just around the corner 😉 There’ll be a Cartier-Bresson mode that will click the shutter for you at the decisive moment; a Helmut Newton mode that will make gorgeous women take their clothes off and pose as soon as you bring the camera out; a Spielberg mode that will make a two hour wide screen movie with special effects at your next kids’ party; a Lord Litchfield mode for next time you visit Buckingham Palace (or the Swedish Prime Minister), and so on.

The only problem is, I’d be too embarrassed to be seen taking photos with the camera above.


Getting smaller?

My recent big event was that I had the lapband gastric banding operation on Wed 6 May, so I hope I’m on the path to getting smaller. I wish I could say that everything’s different and I’ve lost my appetite and am eating tiny meals, but I’d be bullshytting if I did.

The op was easy – in on Wednesday morning, first bus off the rank (yeah, I feel bus sized) at 8am and back in the ward by 10am I think. It was only an overnight stay, but I was allowed to get up and walk around, and I was home by 1030am the next day. Amazing. No stitches – the small wounds were just glued together and covered by a thin film of plastic, which slowly dissolved off in the shower over the next two weeks. It was all laparoscopic, so there was only one incision of about 6cm (I just measured it) and half a dozen other holes. No mess, very little pain.

Sure enough, for the first five days, I had little appetite and the mandatory clear soup and fruit jelly filled me up. But then my appetite returned and I felt as hungry as ever. They didn’t tell me much, but I’m assuming there’s no saline solution in the band at the moment, because I can’t feel any constriction. I’m supposed to start gradually eating soft foods, which I did, but I’m supposed to eat slowly and chew 32 times and all that, but frankly, I just forget and eat normally. I’m not having any reflux problems, and my weight is slowly creeping up again.

I have an appointment on Friday 5 June and I assume saline is going to be injected then to fill the band and increase the constriction. I hope so, because I was really looking forward to help with appetite control. I am so tired of dieting! I can never eat or drink without feeling guilty about it and seeing the result on the scales next morning if I transgress. Oh well, I’ll see how I feel after this first appointment.

I’ll keep you posted on progress.


The Dornie DVD Cometh…

Hooray! Good news today – I’ve found the way to proceed with the DVD project, and I’ve just now managed to burn a complete DVD at last. When I say complete, it still isn’t finished, but at least it got to the end without falling over. All I have to do now is concentrate on the voice-overs (narration) and tidy up the ending and it might just get out the door in a week or so. Phew! Five months it’s taken so far. The next one should be easier, though.

What’s next? Venice and Milan, I think. I don’t know why but I just want to do those.

However, I need to decide whether Premiere is going to be capable of the job if I give it better hardware – a faster computer, that is, or whether to pay for a copy of Edius Neo at $320. Crunch, whirr, grind, clash, that’s the sound of mental gears.

The image above is a panorama from my trip. Venice is an inspiring place, especially in weather like that. Click on the image for a larger version.

I’ll post this now and add more later, as I’m still experimenting to see how this blogging works.


First bellow

Hi. Welcome to my new blog. I must admit I wonder why anyone would want to waste time reading this, but perhaps you may find something of interest. I’ll certainly try to make it interesting and entertaining.

I’ve started the blog because when I returned from the trip to Europe last year, several people independently said they’d enjoyed the emails I sent at the end of each day from my hotels, describing the day’s travels. A couple even went so far as to say they missed them when they stopped. (Like banging yourself on the head, probably.)

Well, I liked writing them, and the older I get, the more verbose I’m becoming, so I’ll give it a try for a while. Besides, it’s always nice to get a chance to show some of my pics.

Why the title? Those who know me from Hostel days will know, but it also relates to the expression, “He didn’t get within a bull’s roar” of hitting the target or whatever. It’s hard to find a name for a blog that hasn’t already been used, but that one did hit the target and was accepted, fortunately. I’m rather pleased with it.

I’m writing this while watching Windows Task Manager as my Adobe Premiere Elements video file renders out, slowly, laboriously, precariously. Hah! Did someone say Get a Life?

I’ve spent the past four to five months making a DVD program of my trip from Edinburgh to Dornie to see Susan Haig last year. Hi Sue. It’s my first ever attempt at shooting and editing video and I chose to jump into the deep end, of course, doing it in high definition. Little did I know how difficult it would be to keep building and rendering as the program got longer. It’s about 37 minutes overall and is nearly complete, but it keeps crashing when I try to render it out to the final file ready to format for DVD.

In theory, if the computer could handle it, the complete 37 min program would take about 9 and a half hours to render according to the time estimate display which, it seems, could be up to a fortnight in error. You’ve got to laugh at a countdown that goes down a bit, then reverses and goes up. Anyway, during that time, the computer’s operating at near 100% capacity.

Unfortunately, too often Computer says no. It’ll get 5 mins done (taking an hour or more) then stop with an error message. At least it leaves me with a file I can use, but I find that the audio’s dropped out about 80% of the way through, every time. That means I have to start a new render some way back from where it crashed last time.

Anyway, I seem to be having a bit more success today and even though I’m on my sixth attempt, for some reason, this time it’s holding up. It’s been going for over three hours without crashing and I’m daring to hope that it might even go to completion! I’m clicking the mouse buttons very gently and typing quietly.

My conclusion is that Premiere Elements is just not up to the task. Maybe some new super-duper hardware will help, and I’ll try that, but if I can just get these files rendered out, I can bring them across to a new program I’ve found, Canopus Edius Neo. I’m running the demo and it seems much more stable, handling the high def with ease. Unfortunately it’s harder to use than Premiere, but I can’t see any alternative.

So with any luck, I might have a DVD to send out “soon”. I wish I could be more definite, but I keep meeting obstacles. I’ll, er, let you know. However, I may have to start from scratch and reconstruct the program in Edius… Can be done, but I hope I don’t have to go that far.