Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Plasma donation

Saturday, 5 January, 2013

Today I donated blood plasma, my 5th plasma donation and my 48th blood donation overall (the others were whole blood). I took this photo myself with my right arm outstretched.

5/365 Plasma donation

Heavenly ascension

Friday, 4 January, 2013

Every workday morning I arrive at Macquarie Park railway station and take the long escalator up to street level. The sun was blazing outside this morning, and the impression rising out of the relatively dim underground station is of ascending to a blinding heaven.

4/365 Look into the light

Gore Hill Cemetery

Thursday, 3 January, 2013

I took a detour on the way home today, getting off the train a stop early and walking home via the Gore Hill Cemetery. This is one of the oldest cemeteries remaining in Sydney, established in 1868. Most of the burials were in the first decades of the 20th century, and the last was in 1974. Since then the cemetery has been allowed to become overgrown, but still receives some minimal maintenance. It is located right next door to the Royal North Shore Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in Sydney. I suppose many of the rooms have views overlooking the graves…

3/365 Forgotten

Back to work

Wednesday, 2 January, 2013

It was back to work today after the Christmas/New Year break. This time of year many businesses are still closed. Normally we have a wide selection of places within walking distance of work to buy lunch, but today only about half of them were open. I went to Go-Hun Thai, where they cook yummy Thai food to order. Here are some of the cooks, making my lunch!

2/365 Go-Hun Thai

365 photos

Tuesday, 1 January, 2013

For the past few years I’ve wanted to start a 365 days photo project, but each year I’ve only remembered it a couple of weeks into January. But not this year! I went out for a walk this morning and took some photos of the bushland near my place. And so this is the first of my 365 days project photos for 2013.

1/365 View over Balls Head Bay

It’s a view from the Bridge End Valley walking track, out across Balls Head Bay towards the Sydney CBD. The actual CBD is behind the headland on the left. You can see some naval ships there, moored at the HMAS Waterhen base – a small base housing the Royal Australian Navy’s mine clearance and diving units. This view is about 12 minutes walk from my place.

I probably won’t be posting all my 365 photos here, but you can keep up with them in the Flickr set.

Trevi Fountain at night

Friday, 21 December, 2012

A good night to be out

Aussie humour

Thursday, 6 December, 2012

This is why the Australian sense of humour beats anything the rest of the world can produce. This is our actual Prime Minister. Fair dinkum.

Recreating the past

Tuesday, 4 December, 2012

In 2001, my wife and I went on a trip to Italy. We visited many places and had a wonderful time. (You can read our travel diary if you wish.) We had such a great time, that we vowed to return to Italy one day. This year, we did. We revisited Rome and Venice, and then continued our trip into France (our first time there).

On that first trip, I took photos using a 35mm film camera. I’ve since scanned the photos to convert them to digital format. A couple of those old photos in particular I really like: a photo of my wife standing in front of the Pantheon in Rome, and another I took in Venice of us sitting together on the bank of the Grand Canal, setting my camera on a tripod and using the timer release to get myself in the photo. That latter photo was taken on black and white film – I took a few rolls of black and white film, as well as colour, on that trip.

Now, as it turned out, we were in Rome on exactly the same day in 2012 as we were when I took that photo of the Pantheon in 2001. So I decided to see if I could recreate it, with my wife in the same position. I had the previous trip’s photos on my iPad, so I had a reference and set up the scene as closely as I could manage – not incredibly close, as it turned out, but good enough. Here are the two photos: the original shot from 2001, and then the shot from exactly 11 years later.


Pantheon, 11 years exactly

And, for good measure, it happened to be (completely unplanned) that we also ended up in Venice exactly 11 years to the day after that original black and white photo. This time, instead of recreating it with a tripod and timer, I asked an American couple standing near us to take the photo for us. I showed them the original on my iPad, and explained that it was taken exactly 11 years ago on the exact same spot, and if they could please take a photo as close as possible to the same framing. While we sat there with our backs to this couple of strangers, they had our iPad and camera. They spent several minutes lining things up before taking the photo. For some reason, I neglected to ask them to take several shots, in case some didn’t turn out – they ended up taking exactly one shot.

Here they are: the original shot from 2001, and then the shot from exactly 11 years later.


Further contemplation

I’ll probably never know who that couple were. But thank you.

Practice sticks

Tuesday, 13 November, 2012

For reasons of busy-ness and the fact that I’ve been learning lots of new drumming stuff at my weekly lessons that I’ve been practising, I haven’t done a play-along of the first song on our band’s initial set list (Brass in Pocket, by the Pretenders) since our first group practice session several weeks ago. I was starting to worry that I might have forgotten how to play it, so I just decided to give it a play through now.

And played it through, two times out of two, at least as well as I’ve ever played it before. Possibly even better – more fluid, better timing. It looks like all this practice I’m doing is actually making me better!

D Major

Wednesday, 31 October, 2012

So, I learnt a thing about music last night. I learnt what a major chord is.

This may seem paltry to those of you with any musical training, but it’s something that I genuinely never understood before. I had that moment of insight where it suddenly became clear, and it’s now a piece of knowledge in my head that I never had before.

I’ve known for a long time how to play a C major chord on a piano. Someone showed me that way back when I was a kid. You find C – that’s a white key immediately to the left of a pair of black keys. Then you find E, which is two white keys to the right. Then you find G, which is another two white keys to the right. Play C-E-G simultaneously, and that’s a C major chord.

I’d got it into my head that these “major chord” things therefore involved the same finger pattern on the keyboard. So, for example, if you just shift one white key to the right, you end up on D-F-A. And that should be “D major”. Right?

It turns out that’s wrong!!!

What you really need to do is count all the keys between the notes, the white and the black ones. Going back to C major, the keys are: C, C#, D, D#, E. You need to count 4 keys from C to get to E. (C# is 1, D is 2, D# is 3, E is 4.) And then to go from E to G, you need to go: F is 1 (because there is no E# black key), F# is 2, G is 3. 3 keys.

So a major chord is a note, plus the note 4 keys above it, plus the note 3 keys above that.

So if you start at D, you go: D# is 1, E is 2, F is 3, F# is 4. Then G is 1, G# is 2, A is 3.

Which means that D major is in fact D-F#-A, and not D-F-A as I’d always assumed!

I was genuinely delighted when I realised this. And now, I can actually figure out the correct major chords starting at any note I want! I honestly feel like going to a piano and figuring them all out and playing them. It’s one tiny piece of knowledge and understanding that has opened up a way for me to expand my horizons beyond a rote-learnt single chord, into a larger field of chords that I can just calculate correctly, on-the-spot, any time I need them.

And you know, in hindsight, it actually makes sense. I know that a piano is conventionally tuned so that the tone interval between each successive key – regardless of whether they’re black or white – is equal. So the interval from E to F is the same as the interval from F to F#, called a semitone. So in a major chord the intervals are always 4 semitones, and 3 semitones. I had never made that realisation before.

As I said, this may seem trivial to anyone who knows any music theory, but to me this is a revelation, like a blindfold being lifted from my eyes. I was, and still am, genuinely excited. Music theory has always seemed completely opaque to me. No longer! (I know there’s a lot more to be learnt, but I gotta start somewhere.)