Archives for the month of: July, 2008

Yep, my departure from the currently very wet and chilly Plymouth retreat can be measure in hours. As the day of departure looms I increasingly get asked if I’m excited, scared, nervous or any other host of leaving emotions. Truth be told I’m not really feeling anything. I have a lists, a list of things I need to do and a list of that must be packed. I’m working through these lists and making sure that I complete everything that needs to be done before my flight is all that’s on my mind.
Neither of my lists includes ‘get nervous’ or ‘start to worry about…’ so I’m not.
That being said I do feel intensely under prepared when it comes to my physical fitness. I was starting to hit the gym hard when I had my operation, and that completely threw a spanner in the works. Fortunately I got back to yoga and Capoeira pretty damn quickly, so my anaerobic fitness and my flexibility haven’t declined (although I would have preferred for them to increase). My CV fitness is going to let me down I think. Not much I can do about that now though.
Perhaps I am slightly worried in that respect, it would certainly explain why I find myself holding my breath randomly.
Thinking forward I’m predicting that I’ll be back to a good level of fitness (in comparison to my past) after two weeks. And I’ll be definitely noticing some marked improvements on that after a month and a half (half way through).
Lets see how my predictions fare :).

I have been busy busy busy this past week. I can tell you this, you really find out how popular you are when you’re leaving the country. I have been delighted and flattered to find that I’m very popular! This has added a social busyness to my packing busyness, which has been a nice change of pace. I think I would be going crazy if I were JUST packing and cleaning all this time.

I’m still nervous about getting this new visa, I’ve been expecting a phone call all week telling me that I didn’t have the correct documents together for it. Maybe I’m just being paranoid. Fingers crossed my passport should be back by tomorrow, then I can really relax and move my worry onto other things :)

So as I settle into my penultimate day at work I can’t help but feel that tomorrow will be an emotional day.
The last jobs that I left were either because I didn’t like it (temping) or I couldn’t actually do the job I was being paid to do. You can imagine how demoralizing it is to go to work and not actually be able to do anything useful in an autonomous way. Here however I can do my job, quite well I like to think too. And I enjoy it (most of the time). In fact the only reason I’m leaving is because it felt like time for a change.
Admittedly that change has turned out to be a kick-ass trip around the world but still, it’ll be a sad day.

This morning I was dreaming about being in a film – well sort of being in a film, you know how dreams can be – when I was rudely awoken. I thought it was quite a good idea so I’ll share it with you.
The main character is a single father raising a son. He works in a forensics department and is good at his job. Money however is tight. This could be illustrated by clips of him balancing spreadsheets and choosing the cheapest tinned goods in a super market. However life is still good and he has a firm relationship with his son.
Then he makes a mistake at work, and one of his responsibilities is taken away from him. This comes with a minor fall in is pay (think co-worker saying ‘Hey it’s only $30′ or something like that). This is too much, however our character tried to rework his finances he still needs an extra $7 a week to make ends meet.
At this pivotal point we see the father and the son sitting at a table, the father is looking to find a second job in the newspaper and the son is doing homework.
Father: “I don’t have enough time to get any of these part time jobs!”
In desperation he asks his son if he has any ideas
Son: “Well you could read scripts”
Father – Looks puzzled
Son: “I’m sure you could read scripts and note down if you liked them or not, it wouldn’t pay much but it’d only take a few hours a week”
Father, gets the wrong idea and proffers some paper and a pen to his son: “Ok write something”
Son laughing: “but I don’t have any money to pay you”
Father: “Well you’re what fourteen now? I think it’s about time that you got a job”
Son: “…”
So the son gets a part time job and writes scripts so he can pay his father $10 a week to read them and say if he likes them or not. The thing is that the father likes the scripts too much. He strongly starts to believe that these scripts should be made into a movie. From here much hilarity could ensue (this is pretty much where I woke up so how it ends it pretty open).

So there you go, let me know what you think. For some reason the father figure was played by Steve Martin in the dream.

On the way into work this morning I was thinking about dark background flash photography. Essentially I was wondering how you would work out how far away your background would have to be from your flash and subject in order for the background to be recorded as completely black.
I’m sure you’re all well aware of the rule that light falloff follows an inverse square law. It also occured to me on this drive that f-stops on a lens also follow a square law. This led me to wonder the following:
If you know the dynamic range of your sensor in terms of stops – for example 9 – and you know the distance from you flash to your subject – 1m – is the black level distance really very easy to calculate? 4.5m beyond subject.
Let me walk you through what I’ve just done:
I’m assuming (incorrectly but this is just a quick example) that your correctly exposed subject falls dead in the middle of your dynamic range, i.e. 4.5 stops from peak white and peak black. I’m also assuming that if you double the distance between your subject and your flash (to 2m) that you’d have to open your aperture up one stop to compensate. This would give evidence to my idea that the square law fall of light is directly proportional to the square law nature of ‘stops’ in camera lingo. My final assumption is that if you took a meter reading and the underexposed by 4.5 stops (in this case with a dynamic range of 9) that you would get a pure black output.
All of this is just conjecture at the moment, but I have an idea of how to test it… more info when I get the time to experiment :)

Recently I’ve been getting more and more enthusiastic about photography, unfortuantely it’s been a passive enthusiasm. I just haven’t had the time to really get stuck in. I’m eager to really get to know my camera until using it to get the results I want is second nature. Other things have been getting in the way.
Strangly it’s gotten to the point where I’m almost looking at all this travelling as more of a break to learn photography with a few extra bits thrown in….
I must be careful not to let photography get in the way of the whole travelling experience, hopefully if I get it right it can enhance the whole thing. It could result in me searching out scenes that I would not normally have seen.

Last weekend I was over at my cousin’s house for tea. My Aunt and Uncle had a new vacuum cleaner that needed ‘assembling’ before it could be used – basically the handle needed screwing on. Now I don’t know if it’s my engineering training or the fact that I’ve been taking things apart and putting them back together for most of my life, but to me the assembly seemed obvious. My Uncle though still felt the need to check the instructions.
It was at this point that I had a thought. This mechanical assembly was so second nature to me that I wouldn’t have thought twice about doing it without any instructions. So there must be things that I find very difficult, perhaps to the point of complete confusion, which other people can do with ease.
All I need to do now is decide what these things are and if I want to become better at them. I’m a firm believer that everyone can do anything, if they put their mind to it.

Well, I’ve been circumcised. Under local anaesthetic I may add, which means that there’s random and slightly uncomfortable small talk during the procedure – mainly mocking ‘Britain’s got talent’.
This all happened about six weeks ago now and everything’s healed up, which is a relief! I have been slow to blog about it as I’ve been contemplating about how much information to go into. I’ve got no real problem with telling people that I’ve had the operation, as long as it’s not a group of people for some reason, but I don’t want to give people too many nasty mental images…
I can tell you this though, your idea of modesty can be sharply re-aligned (if only for a short time) by having to lie on an operating table in a room of about six or seven people in and your most private jewels out and on display. It was pretty cold in there too… honest.
In some respects it was a poorly timed operation, I was just getting into an exercise routine that would have made me limber as a dancer, strong as an ox and as focused as a monk (really) by the time I left for my crazy training in China. As it happens I’m going to go to the gym tomorrow…. we’ll see how that goes.
On the other hand of course I’m glad to have it all sorted before I leave for a years worth of travelling.
I did find a rather interesting side effect of having to sit very still while recovering. I’m not talking about the large number of DVD’s that I got through, but rather the fact that I found my creative spark rekindled – so to speak. It happened right at the end of my two weeks off work, while I was visiting my lovely friends in Loughborough. Now I don’t know if the extended period of mental rest was the cause, or if it was the quite mornings with a thought provoking book that did it. Either way I’m quite happy about it. Now I have some notes on musing about the world and curiosities that I hope to explore and eventually share with you :)

Arg!
Visa stress (which reminds me I need to get another passport photo – Damn), China have moved the goal posts and changed the rules! The visa I have is for 60 days, but I’ll be there for three months. Originally this wasn’t going to be a problem I was going to extend my visa while I was out there – as long as this is done before it expires it’s not a problem. However now the Chinese officials have decided that in order to extend you visa you have to have a Chinese bank account with £1500 in it…. !!

Realgap have given me the documentation to try and get a 90 day ‘F’ visa…. I’m a bit dubious but I’m going to have to give it a go!
I’ll keep you posted.
I also had to re-arrange a whole load of travel insurance as well, because of the fact that I’m doing dangerous activities (Martial arts and SCUBA diving) but they’re not one after the other.
Fortunately insure-and-go sorted me out without too much bother :)

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