A journal of questionable quality

Monday, July 31, 2006

All things light..

if it's not a sundial, it's a camera
It seems there is a lot to do with light, and it's transmission, jammed in my head. Unfortunate really.

Photography, this wonderful invention, has had me firmly in it's grasp for most of my life, and it's been quite a long life. I was lucky enough to have parents who indulged my hobbies.

The advent of digital, I feared, would be the end of photography, an assumption many people have made about almost everything new. I can't believe I was responsible for such a statement, but there you go - I also made some wild statement about Israel not being stupid or arrogant enough to invade it's neighbors and what do we have? A rerun of the 1996 murder of 100 civilians in Qana. Same effect, different decade.

No wonder Mel Gibson has taken to drink.

With the gradual increase of interest in HDR I find myself becoming more digitally inclined. Also panoramic stuff is easier when you can get the results straight into Photoshop. There are advantages after all.

What can I say?

It will never alter the fact that traditional (real) photography needs to be kept alive, if not for the incredible depth of colour and the silkiness of black and white, but for posterity. Some evidence that we spent all those years agonizing over f stop numbers, film speed, all the things that make up a good shot.

It is indeed a pleasure then, to see increasing numbers of people taking up the humble art of the pin hole camera.

There is also a healthy following of the wonderful Lomo camera considered by some to be the most inaccurate camera on the face of the earth. The Lomography motto is "don't think, just shoot", which is the perfect way to approach photography, in fact it's the way I deal with digital photography.

Other healthy, and surviving pursuits include cross processing - the process for slide film is used for print film and the other way around. If you're looking for contrast it's a good method. Experimentation is the key. If in doubt just take it anyway.

But, back to the humble pinhole camera. You see, it's making a come back. I have to admit I missed world pinhole day which was April 30, but never fear for there is all the time in the world to take up the cause of pinhole photography, and numerous sites around that advance it's cause.

Take a look at the Lighthouse in a Tree site - near the bottom of the page you will see a downloadable pinhole camera. In PDF format, it will print out exactly as you need it to. Put it together, load it with some film and go out there and make a picture. Capture one second, or 100th of a second of your life. Freeze it, keep it, stash it for someone to find under your floorboards in 100 years.

Hopefully while you are there you will feel the need to purchase one of the wonderful silver prints they have available. An investment in beauty.

Let's do something that doesn't involve pixels, scanners, memory cards, batteries. Let's keep it alive.
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Sundials - the theory, the project

and sundials too
Mentioned over at Propagandafactory, but suspiciously not here, the great sundial project managed to reach new heights of silliness as I try and work out where the sun will be at anytime in the future.

In the tradition of action/treasure/old crypt type movies, the idea is to build a structure that will allow illumination by a shaft of sunlight on a predetermined day. Blame the BBC coverage of the burial mound in Anglesey that I fell across. Seemed to spark something in my brain. Something that still hasn't gone away which is unusual.

Most of my ideas fade away into reality over time.

Luckily there are a mass of people out there that know how it all works and have been good enough to make programs that purport to tell me where the sun will be anytime in the future. I am slowly battling my way through the collection of freeware that they have been kind enough to make available.

I should probably admit, right now, at this time, that I have no idea what this structure will look like, what it will be made of, where it will be sited, nor what it will illuminate when the time comes. That's all the small stuff.

The way I see it, if the locals of Forest Lake, our fair suburb, will allow a scrap iron dragon to be built and placed in the lake, there to spout water out of various orifices and rust like buggery, I am sure they will have no difficulty in accepting the 'great sundial project'. Or should I say, the project involving a sundial that works only in one place, and only at one time.

Still there remains the thorny little number of visualization - needed something to not only mock up the structure, but to add the required sunlight. Maya, or 3d Max would do admirably for the mock up of the structure (whatever it turns out to be), and they both have a certain amount of ability to produce directional lighting, but...

Google to the rescue. This time not because I was looking up something, but because they own a piece of software that will do the job brilliantly - SketchUp.

Originally created by an outfit called @Last, SketchUp managed to impress me when I trialled it some years ago, but I couldn't justify owning it at the time.

Since then it has got more and more advanced and, shock horror, the last time I called at their website to check it the company had been sold to Google.

Google have split it into two versions - a free version which people are using integrated with Google Earth, and a pro version.

The reason you have to know all this?
When designing outdoor structures, SketchUp's real-time shadow casting lets you see exactly where the sun falls as you model, allowing unprecedented dynamic solar planning.
Now, that reads to me like I have the thorny little problem of knowing where the sun will be fixed. Now all I need is a design - any ideas are welcome.

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And so, the weekend..

immobility blues
So, that was the weekend. Yvonne out Saturday and Sunday to do my jobs.

I sit home. Uncomfortably. Fucking shoulder still requires my arm bound to me - another three weeks to go.

Best chair in the house is, unfortunately, this one. Bolt upright, perfect angle for arm support. Maybe I should drag the bastard out in front of the TV. Maybe I should get TV running on this screen here.

Updated Briskites site - figured having moved shop they might appreciate the new address on the site - save anyone getting confused. Messed with some new layouts - these days I mock them up in Photoshop or Illustrator, just like everyone else. Hand drawn inspiration is not easy with the drawing hand in the prone position.

Mocked up a few .FLA objects; getting ready for the Flash collaboration with fellow Yellow Arrow participant, Glans from Copenhagen. A similar theme to Photoshop tennis, but this time in Flash, this project should end up huge, fantastically good looking, and animated.

The trouble I have with Flash is that anything can be done with it. Anything. So, the idea of planning things ahead turns out to be a total failure as I veer off in to some other ideas I have been meaning to trial. Certainly passes the day though.

It was the weekend that the kids go to their Dad's. A weekend on our own. Except for the bit where I stayed home and Yvonne went to work. Somehow that doesn't really seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Still, we got the bit when she was at home after working her arse off all day, to ourselves, and had a quiet Saturday evening helping the All Blacks flog the Wallabys which had to count for something.

And, I did trip over something called 'the rasterizer' which has given me a head full of ideas. More about that later.

And a new version of mIRC came out so I naturally had to install it, and get into some heavy duty IRC conversation just to make sure everything was working. I don't give a shit what the rest of the population think, IRC rules when it comes to quick and dirty communication. You can keep your messengers, avatars, peeps, emoticons, and all the other teeny shit that goes with most IM's - I'll stick to what works for me - IRC. And, perhaps a little Jabber when I feel the need.

So, it was big. I managed to fill in the entire weekend without damaging the healing shoulder. Another three weekends to go and I may be getting about without the sling - looking good.



Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday - another week gone.

another week down
Another week.

Not a particularly private one with the residence of Yvonne's eldest, struck down, as he is by a lurgy that sounds and looks like lethargy with a cough, unable to attend school, work, and barely able to remember to maintain his breathing such is the weight of his chest upon his lungs as he lies prone on the sofa watching videos.

I actually left the house to make a guest appearance at the place who really didn't want us to return the new Canon printer for warranty, even though that's where it is actually supposed to go.

For punishment, no other reason, it will take at least 5 days for them to get around to checking that it really doesn't go - just in case we decided we had nothing better to do than take the bastard thing in there to piss them off. After the mandatory 5 day punishment period they may decide, if we are lucky, to forward it, by the slowest known method, to the repairer, who will undoubtedly punish us some more for actually having a warranty and daring to use it.

What is it with these minions that sit behind counters accepting returns? Is there something in the countertops that causes them to be unhelpful, hostile even. Do they take lessons in how to act like a pimply, shiny faced arseholes - or are those type of people - the greasy mass - just drawn to that type of work?

Whatever gets them going I suppose. As long as they go home at the end of the day feeling some satisfaction. Hang that greasy collared shirt up for tomorrow, air the socks for another campaign.

No matter. Got it done. They can fuck round all they like - we have a spare printer. We just didn't tell them in case we had to fill out yet another form.

From there to the local shops where some shopkeepers are pleased to be of assistance - catching me off guard. Not a greasy, grey cooler in sight. Well, not until you get into the supermarket.

The entire one hour sojourn was so big I was forced to sleep it off during the afternoon.

The thing I learnt was that there is a whole lot more weight hanging round my neck when I am walking around shops than there is here at the keyboard where my arm is supported all the time.

Still, another week passes. Everyday my shoulder feels a little less tight, a little less pain, things are looking up.

Another three weeks in this sling and then we will see what the expert has planned for us.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Filling in the week

And on it goes
The healing process is a strange thing. It amazes me that bodies do that. It pleases me that they do. Bloody unfortunate otherwise. Staggering about with a bent wing for the rest of my days.

Passing the time can become a bit of a challenge. Confined to arm movements that don't include handstands means that I am forced to sit and plot the pastimes with which I will celebrate my return to health. That and surf the web, looking, learning..

web 2
Already this week I have managed to uncover another 9 social bookmarking sites, another 5 video hosting sites, and as many to host your blog.

Seems to me that everyone in the entire world has decided they will make an Ajax application, and it will be easier if they copy an existing one and reskin it.

Ajax - my god, who would have thought that people would take to it so completely.

If you don't know anything about Ajax fear not, just remember when you are waiting for a site to load and in your status bar you see '1,000,000 items remaining' you are looking at an Ajax application. What started as a neat way to put sign in boxes on pages has spawned an industry hell bent on loading everything, including the sink, into your browser, so that, after some considerable wait, you can enjoy the standard shiny logos and over sized printing.

web 3 - or is that web III?
I am bored with Web 2 now. Everyone is bored with Web 2 now. Bring on Web 3. Let's have a conference about it. Get a bunch of experts, and their hangers on, and put them on a stage with a remote control for the Powerpoint presentations, a laser pointer for.. pointing, and let the audience gaze with awe at their greatness.

Let them lecture us about usability. Again. For Web 3 we will have to produce pages that are able to be deciphered by a pet chimp before they can be validated. We should invent another graphics format too. JPEG2000 is so last century. We will need to learn about quantum physics for Web 3 - so as to be taken seriously.

For Web 3 let's ban all those shiny logos - Apple started that, and they deserve punishing. Bloody aqua buttons indeed. Let's ban the term, 'new, improved', lets have pages that load up, don't jam, don't conflict with a browser, or each other. That would be new.

It's obvious that Web2 is not conducive to good shoulder healing.

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Planning the buggy marathon

or, how to keep positive in a negative way
Shoulder blues firmly set in. House bound. In my brain anyway. Feeling a little less useful than I have done in a while.
The list of things you can do with one arm is shorter than you would expect.

I don't see being able to sculpt another 'David' anytime soon.

Rock climbing may be out. Not that I have ever done any.

Time to develop some attainable plans.

There's a stack of power kites sitting in the corner, removed from the car least someone decide they may be useful for them. There's a couple of kite harnesses there too - removed for the same reason.

It's amazing how satisfying I find looking at them, the entire power plant of the kite buggy that's sitting in the garage, waiting for another blast around the bayside parks, around the foreshore at low tide, just as soon as I have two similar arms and shoulders to hang on to the bloody things.
Peter Lynn comp buggy
Long before this unfortunate bike incident I had been planning a buggy outing of some distance.

Not the usual up and down the park, endangering life and limb, scaring the locals, but a one way trip, at low tide, around the foreshore as far as possible.

When beaten by natural boundaries or the incoming tide, the idea was to heave to, pull up on the beach side, phone Yvonne with succinct directions and wait to be picked up.

A noble plan. The first course that I plotted unfortunately required the ability to cross the Brisbane River mouth - a slight oversight. Now we have become much better at driving Google maps we are better placed to plan the mission.

Six months I was told before the shoulder will be back to it's old arthritic self, six months to plot the course, avoid the rivers, swamps, mangrove and whatever else is an impediment in this area of the coast, and many exist.

Seems a long time, but the buggy is not going anywhere, it's not going to become defunct sitting in the garage, it won't get eaten by termites.

Something to look forward to. Something to plan for. They are the things you need to keep in mind while the long process of healing continues.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Time dragging

belly button gazing
If it wasn't for the fact that I have the biggest ego of anyone I know, and several I don't, I would be starting to feel rather useless right now.

A person with one arm bound to their chest is not a useful one. I am able to report this due to the current damage - to me. I have managed to come to this conclusion after these last few weeks, most of which has been spent trying to find a comfortable position to sit/lie in.

They can't wrestle intruders (that'll be why the handgun is around - right or left hand - doesn't worry me).

They can't hang up the washing. (Never did manage to find the clothes line - why would I want to when there is a perfectly good dryer sitting in the laundry.)

They can't defuse bombs. (OK, I may not have tried that yet, but it doesn't look to be something that could be done with one hand.)

Engaging in sex is something that requires careful planning - spontaneity is now something from another language, probably Latin.

My car driving days are over for the time being. I spent $500.00 on the bloody thing the day before the bike drama and have yet to road test it. Seems to me I could still wheel the bugger about if I really needed to. I never was much for indicating anyway.

The day begins with a swab down of all the body parts that may need freshening up, and some do if you have just spent the night sleeping with a foam sling encasing your arm.

In here, the office, read all the news:Google, BBC, New York Times, even news.com sometimes, although it is the slowest loading site in the universe.

Satisfied that Israel is still in over it's head and Iran is still postulating like an old whore looking for business, we progress, awkwardly, to the email of the day.

That done the rest of the day can be devoted to annoying Yvonne, feeling sorry for myself, eating painkillers, and drinking coffee.

Reverse the order for the evening, and Yvonne showers me, gets some clothes on me and sits me down for a one handed dinner. Lucky that my dinner almost always consists of vegetables, mashed, mixed, and ready to spoon into mouth.

More painkillers - even if I don't need them - and the day is gone.

Then we do it all over again. And again. And again until, in a month I get to see the surgeon again, to prove I haven't been doing handstands or skydiving. What happens after that I have no idea. At all.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Vocals for Saturday

continuing the audio revolt


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Friday, July 21, 2006

And then - by long distance

And, just because I can:
The Friday post via mobile phone from Brisbane to Audioblogger in the US.

this is an audio post - click to play


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Friday blues - how unusual.

the friday wail


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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Missing address

so who changed the address
I should have known that Telstra, providers of our broadband service and providers of a small amount of space where we perch the zoetrope site, would one day lose the plot entirely and force some unwanted change on us.

They did once before - announcing that because we were changing to broadband we would have an entirely different web address for no real reason; changing the suffix from '.com', to '.net.au' just to spin people out. It worked.

Made the change as instructed to find that even as late as today the old address still exists, not just in Google cache, but in real life as well.

Now we have just managed to finish repairing another, new, problem; there is now no requirement to use the 'www' prefix. In fact, it's not an optional thing - the address with the 'www' simply doesn't exist.

Was a time when that would have made no difference, www or not would still pull the same URL, but not in Telstra's case. Telstra needed to make an address with 'www' a 404 rather than actually do something about it.

We think it's because Telstra is a telephone company, a badly run telephone company, and they have little, if any experience in handling web stuff, other than providing a server and hoping all goes well.

So, for the last 48 hours we have had no site - and many of the external links were all of a sudden wrong. Great. I noticed yesterday that the profile photo on Blogger was missing, and it is actually referenced off the zoetrope site. Should have figured what was going on.

Nice of Telstra to explain what they intended to do, and when they intended doing it.

We're back. On air, on time.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

more healing

checkup number 1
Even at the disgusting time of 8.00am, I was keen to see the surgeon who fixed up my shoulder. Saw him once after the event in hospital, but at the time they were convinced I was having a heart attack (another story - A Wilsonisim© I fear) and didn't give him a lot of room to move.

X-Rays first, in the same place, then on to bigger and better things. Physiotherapist next. Checked me from top to bottom, made me demonstrate I had been doing the required exercises, which, luckily, I had. Gave me a few more things to do - after all I only have all day every day to do them.

Seems I now have more days to do nothing in. About another 4 - 6 weeks of them if everyone gets their own way, and they will for I have no desire to do a re run of this horror.

All is going to plan, we are told, and in the coming weeks / months I will regain some serious strength back in my shoulder. Around 90% - 95% of what it was which is near enough for me to put up with.

And, as luck would have it, rehabilitation will eventually include hanging on to a kite to stretch the arms to their full extent. Pleased to see there will be a 'medical' excuse to head over to the buggy park. There had to be an upside to all this, and I guess that can be it. You know you're missing an activity when you begin dreaming about it - I thought that was reserved primarily for sexual content.

So, all is well. Time is to be the great healer. I'm not big on giving a lot of time to the healing process. I'm going to be this time.

the things you do
Apart from the ever present Yellow Arrow and new projects at Flagr (including my own new map - 'places to crash your bike'), time on hands leads to other stuff - including the mandatory attempt to produce a vlogcast, with a head as rough as mine and a voice to match: http://zoetrope.podOmatic.com/ which has caused at least a day to be spent looking for a worthy (and free) autocue system. One that doesn't make me look like I have had my eyes glued open. It hasn't been an easy search, but I did find a great product - Prompt! - free for the light version - which can be found here http://www.movieclip.biz/. It's a brilliant app, based in Shockwave, works like a dream, and now all I have to do is get a face for television.

Following that was hard, but I managed to find this place here -http://justcurio.us which is novel. Naturally I have spent considerable time there answering questions so I can ask them. (Go there, you'll see what I mean.)

We also managed to get the Talkr account up and running correctly, so now, [cough], it's possible to have the blog entries spoken to you (I hasten to add, not in my voice) as an MP3, which I think is amazing. Propagandafactory is processed by Feedburner for Talkr as an experiment. It all seems to work well.

There's more. Much more. These are the things that happen to me when I am unable to move all of my limbs at once. I maintain it's not my fault.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

healing

it's all about pain
Shoulders are not naturally happy body parts.

People take them for granted. People have been taking them for granted for too long.

My own right shoulder has decided to take a stand, demand recognition, require indulgence.

The damage, documented in prior posts and boring anyway, has made itself known by producing pain not only when I move the area, but also when I don't.

The bedroom - once the place of peace and quiet, a place to lay, relaxed, floating, has become a place where everything is upside down - we are in different sides of the bed - made necessary by my inability to lay on my right side.

Sleep - the state voted most popular by me not more than a month ago - has become a fleeting thing; getting into bed on the wrong side begins the nightly slide into confusion and discomfort.

Snatches of sleep arrive, are consumed, and then turn into moments of wakefulness while I attempt to shift to another, less uncomfortable position; bearing in mind all the time that my arm pillow, a constant bed mate, must come with me, be placed in the correct position again and everything straightened back out. An hourly chore this week. It's easy to get tired. Ask Yvonne.

Come morning we get up and get ready to do it all again.

Night time, shower time. Assisted shower time. Can't reach round to get at my back. Lean forward, bending at the knees, letting arm fall free to enable access to the armpit so well covered by slings and things all day. Always nice to freshen it up.

Dinner time. My eating pleasure time. I sit on the floor to eat at a low table - always have. I still do, but with all the difficulties involved with sitting, legs crossed, on the floor. Where did I find that habit?
Rising from the eating position takes time and aforethought. Often, more than I am prepared to put into it.

Everything requires more than one trip. The rules are: Don't reach, don't hang anything off it, don't move it at all. Simple rules. Impossible to follow.

An arm in a sling is the perfect place to hang those few shirts while I figure what to wear.

An arm in a sling is a perfect place to jam spare drink bottles and the like to transport from A to B.

Not anymore.

In honor of it all I have made a map at Flagr, detailing all locations of my bike crashes; http://www.flagr.com/maps/81 while you're there check out the others.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Crashed, burnt, out.

a bad turn
A slight distraction is all it takes. Impact between bike and parked, unattended car was extreme enough to make my ears pop.

Major pain.

Walked as far as I could get toward home and then hijacked a lady to ring Yvonne to come and get me and bike.

Doctor / x-ray / prognosis bad.. not dislocated as expected, rather more, requiring attention of specialist Thursday morning.

Thursday morning, decision, surgery for that evening, the pace of things picking up.

Thursday PM, in pre op, after some frantic negotiations they cut my Sikh bangle off with the biggest set of bolt cutters I've seen in a while. The start of the decline.

Deeper in preop, probing for nerves, looking for ones to block. An anethesist working up and down my neck, making the nerves in my arm leap into action.

No more observation. The bliss of general anesthesia.

Awake, crushing chest pain, drama, people peering at me, shoulder feels more comfortable, but no less pain. All this from a pushbike?

End up in a cardiac ward, but have no preference anyway - too long with pain, and without sleep. No sleep tonite - everytime my breathing drops as I fall asleep a bloody alarm goes off. Count off the hours.

Morning and I know I'm in trouble. Wires, plugs, masks, everywhere. No spare space for anything. Arm clamped to my side, sling around neck. Two slings - another carrying a pain pump, something designed to keep a trickle of anesthetic flowing to the area for another 48 hours - brilliant invention is the only thing I'm thinking.

Finally manage to convince people that I am not in imminent danger of a heart attack - two ECG's later, I'm allowed to move about a bit.

I'm not well - that's all I know. I'm just not well.

Late in the afternoon, having been seen off at the hospital by the female half of a brilliant Dutch couple who are RN's together at the same hospital - the subject of a necessary extra post later, such is their importance - and I am home again. It's like the World went mad for 24 hours and I got hit by it.
this paunchy person is an approximation of me
the outcome
Hitting a parked car causes damage. In my case I manage to leapfrog all the expected stuff and move right up there to a 'category 5' damage necessitating reconstructive surgery, the addition of a few screws and a roll of wire from what I understand.

It appears I managed to break some ligament and damage other stuff - I really don't know what.

All I know is I get 6 - 8 weeks of hanging in a sling, 3 months of carrying nothing, and a whole six months off swimming, biking, and kiting / buggying.

All I know is I was lucky to be referred to a surgeon who is a kite surfer and who took pity on the situation, managing to fit me in that evening rather than in the 6 weeks that was originally on offer.

Lucky enough to get a slot on the evening shift for damaged people. Lucky enough to meet some pretty cool people.

What now
First thing is discomfort, waves of it, searing pain if you get it wrong. Second thing is the 'black dogs' are out - depression - something I am acquainted with, something I fight. Must look for the positive. It's hard when you're sore.

What now - six months of marking time - should obviously get easier and better as time goes on, but looking pretty black form this end. I try and remember that I will look back on this and laugh. I broke both my arms once, I laugh about it now. I got gangrene in my knee, nearly lost my leg, and laugh about it now.

What I want to do is get to the laughing about it bit now - without the wait.

You feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

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