Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Common Sense

Keep off the grass and... oh yeah, Please Close Gate!

Taken by the wonderful Rob, aka HentaiMaster over at Deviant Art.  Apparently this was taken in the Blenheim Palace grounds, UK.

Steampunk Spidey

Look at this little guy I found on Deviant Art, isn't it fantastic?

Sunday, March 27, 2011


When my sisters and I were still children we read or had read to us many many books.  One of these books was The Story of Ferdinand - the Spanish bull who would rather smell the flowers than butt heads, snort and pant and generally succumb to the social norm.

One thing we found distinctive about Ferdinand, is that he was often drawn sitting back on his haunches under a tree:

Although neither Ju nor myself have spent the majority of our lives on farms or farming, Mel has.  Farming and livestock are her bread and butter.  She has worked extensively with sheep, deer and cattle yet has never in her life seen anything like Ferdinand.  She always assumed it was a quirk of the children's tale - an image which illustrated how very different Ferdinand is to all the other bulls.

And then... one day, while I was staying with Mel and her fiance Al, we were driving back from town and we saw a real-life Ferdinand.  Al turned the car around and we went back for another look - and photographic evidence.

What a pity there were no roses there for him to smell.

Friday, March 25, 2011

100 Photos - 100. Relaxation

Bikes Around - Issue 02

Suzuki Boulevard M109R
Canon Powershot SD880IS

 Harley Davidson
Canon Powershot SD880IS

 Triumph Daytona 675 2011 Special Edition
HTC Touch Pro2 Smartphone

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wine Truck

We stopped off at Charlie's Winery on the way home from work this afternoon, and outside was parked this great looking old truck.  I thought y'all would like it.

I am sorry the quality is not that great - I took it with the camera on my phone.  I tried to make it nicer using a photo-manipulation program (called GIMP) but was only moderately successful.  Also I wish I hadn't cut the back off the deck of the truck in the top picture.

Birthday in Perth

So.. it's my birthday today.  I haven't told anyone here - we'll wait and see if they work it out.
Here's a present I brought over with me.  I will open it tonight when I get home from work.  Wonder what it is!


And in other news, I saw this spelling mistake on the news this morning:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bikes Around - Issue 01

Yamaha Virago
Canon Powershot SD880IS

Yamaha R1
HTC Touch Pro2 Smartphone

Harley Davidson Screamin Eagle
Canon Powershot SD880IS


Monday, March 21, 2011


Fremantle is a bit of an historic town just south of Perth.  As typical for pretty much all of Australia it is filled with convicts and criminals.  Er.. well, that is - it used to be.
According to the pamphlet Fremantle used to have a ratio of 1:3 people in favour of the convicts.  As you can imagine it wasn't very long before the prison just wasn't big enough.
I was keen to get to Fremantle as I have an interest in old places and their history, but the trip was a bit of a botched job really.  Nodnol and I didn't arrive there until about 4pm and we had no idea whereabouts all the attractions were.  It didn't help that the Chilli Festival was in full swing (so, naturally, there was no parking).  Nodnol apparently loves chillis and was keen to check it out - but not for the $15 they were charging for entry.  Not being a fan of chillis at all I was even less keen to fork out.  So we went for a wander about the town.  While we did see some lovely old colonial hotel frontages and some older buildings there really wasn't a great lot to see, historically, without a proper guide (even a paper one) so we wandered rather aimlessly and wondered what we'd come here for.  I think that I have been spoiled by the sights of Bath in England, and only other cities as old or older will be able to impress me.  Or maybe Fremantle had been talked up beyond its own capacity.

What we did find was an old record store which was very much like heaven (and made me want to move to Australia for this shop and this shop alone - to Hell with the snakes and spiders).  Like Smith's Bookshop in Chch, this store had a small entrance but went back a ways off the street.  Whether it went up or down from there I do not know for I never made it much further than halfway in.  In addition to thousands of records, the place also sold second hand stereo systems, tapes, and a few old video cassettes.
I asked them if they sold online but they said they'd tried & it was too much effort for a negligible reward.  Hmmm... what they needed was someone who would be prepared to catalogue and database all their stuff on a computer, then manage the online... wait, no, I already have a job.

There was a second hand bookstore too.  It was certainly a Very Good bookstore and I could have spent more time there.  They did combine the Science Fantasy genre with the Fantasy genre though and that really gets up my goat so I didn't give them too much of my time.

We found markets too.  Ones more like the market Ju took me to in Devizes than New Zealand's Sunday-Market-In-A-Carpark.  There was some cool stuff in there and even a guy selling Maori Koru & Tiki carvings.  He'd kindly put out pamphlets explaining the meanings of the designs but somehow neglected to inform his customers they were not souvenirs of Australia.

I haven't given up on Fremantle.  I think I need to be more prepared next time and go in with an idea of where I want to go and what I want to see.  Perhaps I should read up on the history a little first, and the buildings I look at may have more meaning.  We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


The weather in Perth is a dry heat, one I could get used to.  Like the land around it the buildings are dust coloured and sit next to each other in muted reds and creams.  Our hotel is right on the road, resting next to an intersection at which people seem to enjoy starting honking wars.  I had thought I was fairly immune to the sounds of traffic but perhaps it is the combination of the heat, the time zone and the cars which wake me up in the night.

For all that I am not overly tired - not yet.  That will come as the pace of work begins to pick up.  I am on day shift this week which looks to entail very early morning starts and early-to-mid evening finishes.  Here is where my mettle will be truly tested.  Yes... I am here with work.  And that is all I can tell you about it.

Yesterday Nodnol and I went out to a place just a little south of Perth, called Fremantle.  I hope to find the time to right about that too - perhaps in the very next post.  But there is a lot of pressure to spend most free hours socialising with the rest of the detachment.  I think on the whole this is a good thing - it facilitates the development of a strong bond between us all.  But it is something I will have to manage.  I need to balance the social aspects with my need to be quiet and by myself at times in order to recharge.  Last night, for example, was a quiet time for Sez - a movie, some music, and some eggs on toast.  The night before however was a different story.

We went out to sample the Perth nightlife (because Thursday was only a sampling of the Irish bars on St Paddy's day, and it seemed to be the same as an Irish bar anywhere in the world on St Paddy's day.)  Two of us left the hotel bitterly unprepared for the formality required at most bars and we really should have known better.  I, myself, had only in mind dinner at a restaurant in mind when I put on shorts and jandals, (sorry, flip-flops/things) and had not considered that we would be going out on the town afterwards.  More fool me.  Both Barry and I were the usual cause for our inability to get into most bars on account of our lack of trousers and on one account my footwear.  Black Betty's denied everyone entry on account of our New Zealand driver's licences being "too easy to forge."
We left that place in a hurry after one argumentative gal told the black bouncer he was being racist.

Shortly after however we found the place of my dreams.  I cannot even remember what it was called (I'm not sure I even looked at the sign when I walked in the door) but even from 20m up the street I knew I was going to like it.  That's because I could hear the beautiful sounds of the live jazz orchestra enlivening the sidewalk.  It was a beautiful thing, and I was even allowed in wearing my jandals.  Once inside it became clear the band was really playing swing music.  And they were accompanied by dancers.
Tall dancers, dark dancers, dancers with curly hair and dancers wearing the most beautiful period skirts and hair styles.  The bar was definitely split into those dancing and those watching, but the atmosphere was fun and friendly and I didn't want to leave.  The men would ask a different woman to dance for each new song, and although the dancing area seemed a bit crowded they managed to miss each other quiet well.  I have resolved to find a place in Auckland and learn to swing dance.  It may well be the answer to my fitness.  Seemed a lot more fun than running and possibly a hell of a lot more exhausting.

Well let me end with a couple of photos, they were the only good ones I took on the night and they are the beer coasters at this swing-dancing-live-music bar of Perth.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recording Project

Read this

THOUGH gargantuan the Task must appear to the Tyro, it must nevertheless be attempted : to essay definitively to evaluate the well-nigh gigantic Contribution to the Welfare of the melodious Muse achieved by Mr. ACKER BILK and those most admirable Complements to his Genius, the Members of the PARAMOUNT JAZZ BAND. Suffice it, however, to record here merely that this agnate Crew have together scaled the glittering Heights whereon dwell the Giant Success and his Handmaiden, the Lady Fame.

  Not once, not twice, but thrice have these be-laurelled Gentlemen sallied forth into the Lists, there to contest with cheaper, less worthy Opponents for the Publick's Crown of Acclaim: and three Times, too, have they emerged victorious - with the Ballad celebrating the doughty Leader's own West Country County of Birth; with a dulcet
rondo paying elegant Tribute (upon the reverse Side of the Kingdom) to the Prodigal's first, and last, View of his Motherland; and - redolent of the Breeding and Manners for which Mr. B's Compatriots are renowned the Globe over - with a fetching Madrigal bidding of Good Morrow to a Lady of Latin Descent.  And with each Success, planting the Standard of Jazz Music firmly atop the vasty Peaks and desolate Wastes of Popular Song, they raise anew a different Emblem: the Standard of Appreciation of those whose Taste had previously aspired to nothing better than the Banal, the Trite and the Meretricious.

  Small Wonder, then, that from the four Corners of the Empire there ring ever and anew the Shouts of Acclaim, the Gasps of Surprise and the Protestations of Satisfaction and Amaze at the prodigious Exploits of (to name them all) Mr. Acker Bilk himself, vociferating and wielding the Clarionet; Mr. Ronald McKay, as dextrous laryngeally as he is with the padded Beater and the Cymbal Stick; Mr Collin Smith, a Tower of Strength in the Brass Department and, with his fellow Mummer, Mr. Jonathan Mortimer of Trombone Fame, a Big Gun in the comical Arsenal of the Ensemble; Mr. Stanley Greig, the original Northern Light and Displayer of Pyrotechnics at the Keyboard; Mr. Ernest Price, the scholarly Basher of the Bass; and Mr Roy James, whose Evocations from the Tenor Banjo bid fair to oust from Popular Esteem the Pipes of Pan.

This tempestuous Amalgam of Expertise and Enthusiasm has now succeeded yet again in capturing the popular Fancy with Gothick Trifle entitled "That Is My Home" (the which, coincidentally, may be discovered by those of shrewd Intellect upon this very Recording). It was therefore deemed Timely that those innumerable Persons to whose Huzzahs Mr. Bilk's Success is in no small Measure due should be accorded the Privilege of having revealed to them a further Selection of those airy Ballads from his vasty
Repertoire which "Age cannot wither nor Custom stale." And that, in a convenient, circular Form, is what lies within this Envelope today.
Mr. Peter Leslie

My very good friend Megan asked me around about the middle of last year if I would take on a little project for her.  I had already done a wee bit of research into the work, and agreed, thinking it would not take me more than a couple of days to get done.  Alas I was mistaken!  It took me a day and a half to realise that the computer program recommended to me was not going to do the job, and hour to find one that would, and two weeks to get the new program installed and running on my Linux desktop computer.
It was another two days before I could get a usable/decent input running into the correct connector on my computer, and then my stereo broke down. A couple of hours of fault finding, one more of soldering, and several minutes of reconstruction & reconnection and I was finally in a position to begin.

After a month away on a promotion course in the South Island and a few days working over the Christmas break I was finally ready to pass GO.  And this, my friends, is the break-down of what I've been doing in my spare time:

First, I take one of Megan's father's LP records:

I set it up in the player and adjust the stereo to act as a 'source' for what would have been (back in the day) a tape recorder.

The other end of the cable is plugged into the mic input at the back of my computer.

In my computer I open the 'Terminal' application which is a lot like the DOS command prompt in windows and I instruct a (magic) program called ffmpeg to begin recording whatever sound is coming in the input.

As soon as I hit Enter, the program starts recording.  I start the record, and we're off!  I hang around the player for the 20 or 30 minutes it takes for the side to play out.

Occasionally there are scratches which require me to start recording that song from the start again and applying gentle pressure to the needle as necessary in order to get as smooth an output as possible.  When the record stops playing I return to the computer and stop the recording.  By this time the screen looks like this:

From here begins the laborious task of playing back the sound file and taking note of all the start and stop times for each track.  Then I use the same ffmpeg program to convert each section of the recording into separate tracks.  The command to do that looks something like this:

ffmpeg -ss 0:00:11 -i tasteofhoney-side2.wav -t 0:02:28 7EveningShadows.wav

And I keep going until this:

Looks like this:

Hooray! That's the hard stuff done.
Once I've finished recording and trimming both sides of the record, I burn them to CD.  Styli.co.nz recommend Verbatim Digital Vinyl CDs, and have this to say about them:  If you are wanting to transfer a record collection onto CD for whatever reason, you will likely want a good quality recording, These Disc's are Seriously the Best...
To be honest I can't comment on quality or longevity, but they seriously look cool:

 Yes, the surface is textured like a record - grooves and all!

Here's the original and the finished product:

What's that you say?  What does the excerpt at the start of this post have to do with any of it?
It's the blurb on the back of Mr. Acker Bilk's Lansdowne Folio.

I can get through one record per night-shift day, and 2-3 records per weekend day, if anyone is interested. CD's cost between NZD$2.30 & $4.50* and my labour is negotiable.

* Depending on whether they come in a 2-pack or 10-pack.

100 Photos - 38. Abandoned

100 Photos - 99. Solutide

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I went to lunch with Nick today, and he made me feel bad for my lack of posts.  I told him I have nothing to talk about but apparently that's no excuse.

There was a story about my rampaging mint and how I almost made it into homemade peppermint schnapps, and today my flatmate went for a wander by himself in the Waitakere hills but didn't need to chop his arm off in order to come home again.  But in effect neither is one worth writing home about.  Instead, let me share some randomness.

In January I took this picture:

And when failing to make a highly lethal fermented mint cocktail I took these pictures of a praying mantis:

And if you're very good and encourage me with comments, I will post the details of an exciting project I am currently in the middle of...
(Here is a hint:)

Stay in touch...

~ Sezmeralda