Sunday, December 14, 2008

Homework - From a Childs Perspective

As one of a group of keen but unskilled and learning photographers in Dubai have decided to set ourselves "homework" every fortnight to keep us snapping. This sessions topic is "From a Childs Perspective". Here are my offerings for Critique/slander:

(f22 1/20 ISO 100)

"We've got a ceiling like this"
(f6.3 1/10 ISO1600)

"No, don't touch its hot"
(f3.8 1/8 ISO800)

Please feel free to add comments via the comments facility on the blog, all non-offensive criticism shall be welcomed. Offensive stuff will result in retaliation so be warned Bailey!!

Pedstrian Crossing Fail!!

A while back, during my last trip to the UK my brother Rhubarb introduced me to an excellent blogg called Fail! This is basically a collection of photos of things that are just plain wrong in ways that could only ever have been the work of complete idiots.

Now in Dubai there are any number of examples of this but I thought I'd share with you two classic exmples of pedestrian crossing fails!!

Need I say more? If you can't spot the error then maybe you are the sort of person who will eventualy end up producing a Fail entry.

A cat owners guide to packing

While packing for the Grand Australian Adventure I was fortunate enough to enjoy the assistance of Sam the cat, who apparently is an expert in these matters and with a simple sniff and a meow can confirm that this are correct and in order.

I therefore decided that I would put together some "instruction for use" for the benefit of less experienced cat owners who may not yet realise the full value of cat assisted packing:
  1. Open cupboard and take out suitcase
  2. close cupboard
  3. take suitcase to bedroom
  4. return to cupboard and remove meowing cat form cupboard
  5. Return to suit case, unlock and open
  6. Remove cat from open suitcase
  7. Move to wardrobe and inspect clothes
  8. battle with cat in the vain attempt to stop him clawing clothes
  9. select clothes you want to take and load up arms;carry to suitcase
  10. shoo cat out of suitcase with your foot, stamp feet and wave clothes ladened arms at cat
  11. Put clothes on bed while you remove cat from suitcase, grab clothes and return to case
  12. kick cat out, who has already returned to case before you
  13. drop clothes in case while the cat has good rummage through your selection of clothes, checking that you have everything and that it all smells right.
  14. Return to cupboard to get shoes, knickers and other paraphernalia, remove cat from cupboard, turn and throw paraphernalia in to case on top of cat,
  15. remove cat from under clothes in suitcase
  16. close case and search for keys to case
  17. chase cat across the house while he bats the keys across the room because they have a fluffy key ring
  18. retrieve keys return to case, quickly open one last time to check you have everything, close case and lock
  19. Unlock case remove cat, curse and swear, take clothes back out and re-launder them all to remove cat hair, removing cat from washing basket, washing machine and tumble dryer in the process
  20. Reload case, remove that bloody cat, lock case.
  21. carry heavy case down stairs with no hint of assistance from the bloody cat
  22. get the rest of your stuff ready and call taxi, wondering where the heck that damn cat is, probably sulking somewhere
  23. Taxi arrives, pick up case and detect the faint tell tail shifting of wait in the case
  24. Find case keys, apologize to taxi driver, fumble with case, get it unlocked, promise the taxi driver you will only be two minutes, open case, remove very disgruntled hell cat from case, close case, lock and run free from the house
  25. Trip over cat on the steps and wonder how the hell he got out of the house.
  26. Remove bloody god forsaken cat from Taxi, return to the house, deposit cat in house, lock up and leave
  27. Get in taxi, and apologize once again for making him wait
  28. Glance back at house to see that cat on windowsill looking victorious......with all your hair bands in his mouth which he stole from your case.
  29. Consider going back but decide it just ain't worth it. That bloody cat!
  30. Thank your lucky stars you are a cat lover and not a dog lover......after all a dog lover would leave you feeling guilty that you left them behind....but not a bloody cat!!

We're coming to a Land Down Under

As any of you who know us beyond the rambling of this Blog will know, the co-pilot and I are off to Australia this week for two weeks of "walk about". We are flying to Mebourne, going to spend a few days there before hiring a camper van and heading North(ish) to Sydney to meet up with Jan and Carole to take a look aroudn there too. The ultimate aim (for me) of this trip is to convince the co-pilot that we should quit the sand pit and head to somewhere more civilized.....and where in the world could be more civilised that Australia.......answers on a post card.

Anyway. Through a mix up on booking days off work I managed to have the day before we set off and spent the day relaxing, unwinding and generally getting myself ready for my holiday. Part of this included packing of course which, being a boy, I have of course left until last minute. As I was getting my stuff together and laying it out on the bed I got to thinking about all the other trips I have taken with the Co-pilot and how, invariably, it results in mountains of luggage - her being a girl after all (yes apparently four pairs of flip flops simply are essential). Anyway, I decided to take a photo of a boys needs for two weeks in a camper van:

Kit includes: five T shirts, three shirts, three shorts, 2 trousers, shoes, undies, socks, tripod, laptop, camera, ipod, few books and sunnies. No, the cat was not part of the packing, he was just there to inspect and make sure I had everything.

Anyway, I then packed all this into a small bag and waited to see what the co-pilot needed. When she returned home from work she began the disgorging of the contents of her wardrobe into a flotilla on suitcases.....honestly it would have been easier to just bolt a suitcase handle onto the side of the cupboard and take that. At the end of the packing up we ended up a lot more than a boy would have taken:

but I am reliably informed that it is ALL needed and ALL essential.....for two weeks.....roughing it in a camper van. I would hate to see what we ended up with had we not decided to go minimalist and travel light ;0)

Movember - The grand finale

Movember is finally over and I am able to now liberate my chin from the torment of the prickly woolybear catapillar that has been living on my top lip and chin.

So it is with great pleasure I give to you the three steps to liberation:

And now I am once again a happy baby faced softy, and all the better for it!!

While wondering around our local Incontinent Hypermarket I did come across the following helpful looking Movember ender product:

Although given the brand name I wonder if it is facial hair it is really intended to remove (makes you eye's water jsut thinking about it doesn't it!!)

Cooking Facilities

Since moving to the Sand Pit Cell Block out in AssWakka the co-pilot and I have found our cooking options severely limited. Upon moving in we realized that there was in fact no oven in the kitchen. Now you might think this to be something you would notice when looking around, but when it is something you automatically expect from a "fully fitted kitchen" you don't think to check. I mean, when did you ever look around a flat and check there where toilets or walls for example?

Anyway, we raised this omission with the landlord who's response was

"but its normal not to have an oven, nobody has them in this part of the world"

We can only assume that "this part of the world" referred exclusivey to our block, because I have yet to find another flat or house which benifits from its kitchen not being cluttered up with this clearly unnecessary appliance.

Through further inquiry it transpires that Rigsby had decided to save money and just not fit them, and also saved further pennies by not fitting a high enough rated fuse box, SMDB, MDB or tranformer room in the building to cope with ovens in the appartments!! Up shot being that even if we decided to pay for it oursleves, we can't have an oven fitted.

As a result we now have only two cooking options: One electric ring (the other three rings are gas, and we are not allowed to fit the gas as its unsafe!!) and the microwave.

We are slowly getting better at the microwave cooking and the co-pilot even managed to make one of my favourate dishes one evening - PIES!! Yes pies in a microwave!!

We have also learn't to live with eating meals that only requires one ring such as chilly or spag boll (microwave for rice/pasta). However, the co-pilot was foolish enough one evening to entrust the preparation of popcorn to yours truly.

Now if you know me you'll know I have quite a short attention span and can never resist a "what would happen if...." scenario when it pops into my head. Well, while making the popcorn the time between adding corn to pan of hot butter and the popping starting was just too long and I got to thinking....the packet say add enough corn to the pan to just cover the bottom. Well......what would happen if you ignored this wise advise and just hoofed a load extra in there. Well for those interested, this is what happens:

Oh that, and you get banded from making popcorn ever again.

Dubai Rugby Seven's - Day 2

The Second day of the sevens saw me joining he hallowed ranks of the VIP corporate sponsored stands at the very kind invitation of the lads over at United Utilities (Thanks to Paul, Jim and Brian). The upshot of this being that I got to sit in a great location right in the half way line, enjoyed free bacon butties and breakfast and hot and cold running beer. It was good!!

And the excellent vantage point almost exactly on the halfway line gave me more opportunities to try and get the "blurred action" shot of the game. My favourite of the day came courtesy of the All Blacks who made a break against the Kenyans:

Of course being the caring sharing type I am I didn't abandon the copilot and leave her at home....Oh no, what kind of man do you take me for. I got her a ticket of her own and deposited her in the public stand, making sure she could see me in my VIP seat - I didn't want her to feel unloved after all. We did an ingenious technique for sneaking her into the VIP area whithout a wrist band but sadly I didn't work:

That said, after the first set of "good games" finished and it it moved
on to the wheezers and puffers rugby (vetrans and master class) I did
go for a wander around and met up with Amy, Jeramy and the Co-pilot for
more beers and sun bathing.

While wondering around the visitors from over seas and the first timers in Dubai got an extra treat when a sand storm whipped and blew everybody around for about 15 mins and it was at this point you could spot those who hadn't been in Dubai long as they all started packing up and looking like they would head home. However the seasoned Dubai expats, the rugby addicts and the pi$$ed weren't put off by a bit of grit assisted wind and just hankered down and waited for it to blow threw, which it did.

And throughout the storm the fair maidens of the Aggreko Dynamos where on hand as ever to keep us all do they get there legs that high!!

However in the end sunbathing, beer and excitement of the rugby was all a little too much for poor Amy, who we
had to take home early because she was feeling dizzy and
pucky......which was of course because of the sun and not the beer.Although this did give us chance to test out the improved transport facilities and sure enough, as promised by the even organizers there where indeed plenty of taxis and buses, and the buses had been set up to go to multiple destinations across Dubai, rather than just the Double Decker pub like last year.

All in all I have to say I have been quite impressed by the sevens this year, the organizers seem to have learn't from past short commings in terms of the transport facilities etc and there was plenty of everything so you didn't end up with huge queues for absolutly everything.....which of course leaves me with only one complaint......I have nothing to complain about!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dubai Rugby Seven's - Day 1

Well its that time of year again and Dubai attention, or at least the expat beer drinking rugby watching attention, is focused on the Dubai Exiles......home of the Dubai Rugby Seven's. And in keeping with tradition I headed down there ful intending to shun the comfort of the seats in the stands and stand down on the pitch edge and enjoy a few days of a sport I know next to nothing about.

This year is the first year the even is being held at its new home out on the edge of Dubai. To start with I thought this move out of town was a daft idea as its not just moved to the edge of town, its now 40km out into the desert. However I have to say the event was much better organised than usual....actually thats not fair, it is always well organized once you are there, its the traffic chaos of getting in and out not to mention the bus/taxi fiasco last year....oops already mentioned.

Well I have to admit that from what I have seen of my first day there, it is much improved. There was lots of parking, the road junctions were sign posted and weren't clogged up and there appeared to be loads of buses and taxis. That said, the co-pilot and I did leave at around 6 O'clock so it might have been worse at 8 when all the action finally finished.

But anyway, enough about the venue, what about the Rugby....well......I am sure it was good rugby, after all these are all international players. However I'm afaid I know little about the game other than the teh following four things:

1. It is a sport when Gentlement act like thugs
2. You can't pass forward, and you score by crossing the line and putting the ball on the floor
3. not as much thuggery is as legal as it used to be "back in the good old days"
4. It is played by men with odd shaped balls.

(speaking of which, you just wouldn't want to be the fella in the middle would you)

No, I apologies to all those who didn't manage to get tickets (as it was apparently a sell out) but I went along and enjoyed myself without knowing anything about the sport. Instead I went along for the atmosphere, the spectacle and to take photos.

The aim this year was to try and put some of the things I'd learn't from David to good use. The aim was to try and capture the speed, the action, the energy and the motion of the game. See what you think, and hopefully you like. Please feel free to leave comments, especially if its constructive criticism.

All in the footwork
This is in fact uncropped and as it came
off the camera. I was try to catch the energy/action of the running
and thought "you don't need to see their faces to see that" and by
filling the frame I think it makes the action more in yoru face

In the Scrum
I have cropped this to my favourate proportions as I think it makes the frame look fuller and capturing the scrum of the scrum.

'Run into the Space'
Trying to keep the
players in focus but panning to blur the background and give a feel of
motion. The wider crop makes it feels to me like the palyers have
the space to run into the frame although sadly they are not as in focus as I'd like.

A Good Try

Although this is largely blurred and out of focus I liked it for that very reason

Zoom Shoot
In this I used Colin's favourate technique and
zoomed out as I shot to give the shot action, although it would have
been a better shot had Number 10 not just turned and obscured the ball
from view. I think in sports shots it is as inportant to have the ball
in shot/focus as it is to have the eye in focus in a portrait. Still,
I wasn't going to tell them to do it again.

{Please note, no photo's were harmed in the making of these shots, Photoshop was not used and}

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Movember Update

No long paragraphs of explanation or whittisisms necessary. Just look at this Mo-majesty!!

And am I proud and ready to join the family Mo-tree?


Am I pleased with my far work


Am I tempted to keep it forever

Not on your nelly!!

I really can't wait to get rid of this itchy, tickly, scratchy cack-a-pilar.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Movember Week 2

Ok its now 15 Movember so I am now officially 2 weeks into the Mo-challenge and I am sure you will agree that the improvement is vast and I am not a veritable badger muncher:

Well, of sorts.

Ok, so maybe I'm not a goatboy just yet, but you have to agree, in the right light, and with a prevailing wind, down hill, it does like kind of masculine and manly......Oh sod you then!!

On a visit to see the goat this weekend I was proudly showing off my beard and was greeted with something similar to the following discussion:

"Presumably you haven't kept precisely to the rules because you have shaved your cheeks and neck to keep it in a neat goaty".
"No I haven't, this is just the only places it grows"
"oh, how unfortunate, you really are a freak doomed for ever to look like a member of the philosophy fraturnity"
"And so do you use boot polish to colour some bits balck will leaving the rest blonde?"
"Nooo, that is the way it grows"
"Oh dear, how unfortunate"
"But at least you have had the sense to keep it trimmed and looking tidy"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you haven't let it get all long and become a wispy mess"
"No i haven't trimmed anything, this is all that grows on my chin in two weeks"
"Oh Jeeezzz, you really havn't been through puberty have you!!"
"Go and make a cup of tea Goatboay, and take to bushy chin badger with you!!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Remember Remember the Fifth of Movember

For a long time now, well since puberty really, I have dreamed of one day being able to grow a mustache or beard......or any form of facial hair really. My dad for many years had a full on bushy top lip catapllar, as did my grandad:

So I used to sit in a darkened room rocking back and too troubled by the demons that were my shame at not being able to carry on the family blood hair line.

Even friends and work colleagues have taunted me with their facial badgerness.

Well no more!!!

At the ripe old age of 32 I've decided to try and dispell some of the shame and live up to the family expectations and become a man. To grow a face badger!!

Apparently this month is Movember where one is encouraged not to shave and to be proud of ones facial hair. so in the spirit of such things I've decided to "see what grows"

and so starting from the usual and familiar clean shaven baby soft chin:

I've now spent a whole 7 days of concerted effort and dedicated concentrations and am pleased to unveil the new improved and generally more manly chin:

What do you mean you can't see any difference!!??

The Co-pilot did kind of suggest that perhaps my months growth wasn't as much as it might be, but assured me that she was sure that once I had been through puberty I would start to grow something...... this space for regular hair monster updates.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Holding Hands with 4000 (ish) pink people

On Friday the co-pilot and I joined and aticipated 4000 (actual nubers 1032) people to form a giant human "pink ribbon" at the Emirates Golf Course to raise awareness of breast cancer and the slowly bake in the sun until we too were pink:

I'd liek to say it was lots of fun and the world record attempt was achieved but really it wasn't, the morning was a little dull with lots of waiting around for 2988 people to fail to turn up.....but it was for a good cause at the end of the day so what can you say.

But they did at least have a bouncy castle......even if the rules do state that mums HAVE to go on with their kids.......apparently.........honest


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cluster Map Guest Book

I have added the cluster map application to the side of this blog. I initially added it as it looked cool over on grumpy goats blog, and I am now glad I did because it is VERY cool and amazed me how far and wide people have visited this humble little blog from.

I then got even more curious to perhaps know who all these people are there fore I thought I'd add a little guest book. So, if you visit this site it would be cool if you left a comment linked t this blog entry jsut perhaps letting me know who you are and where you are.



Sunday, October 12, 2008

For Your Saftey

I spotted the following notice in the "hotel" room while staying at the Mucky Beach Hotel in Fujairah:

Watch out Mums to be, I bet you don't realize you were suffering from an abnormality where there is a significant probability of unconsciousness now do you.  And as for the at horseplay in the water, one presumes this is a reference to water polo.