Shazzan!

Where's my genie then?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Finally!

I can solve a rubik's cube now. Not that I figured it out myself, I had to follow a guide, but still I'm happy. After a bit of practice I'll move on to some more puzzles. I've seen someone's puzzle collection and I almost want to get something like that as well.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Recently I was joking with my sister-in-law that I only blog when I buy something new. It seemed that way for a while, but unfortunately that's not true. It's coming up to 2 months without a new post and yet I'm surrounded by new purchases. Well strap yourselves in, this post has the makings of a short essay.

I'll start with the ERC camp I went on last week, since everything else is actually about stuff I've bought. I've been doing these camps for a while and I think I do quite well remembering everyone's name during the camp (there's normally about 60 people on camp and I usually know everyone by first name after a day or two). But the problem is after camp there are long breaks before seeing most people again, by which time I've forgotten a lot of names. Well no more! I've decided to start taking pictures of the other volunteers I meet (can't take pictures of the kids due to policies) so I can see them more often. That should cut down on the awkward "I remember you but don't know your name" parts of conversations. This camp I only got half the volunteers, but it's a start. Also along ERC news, the Annual Charity Ball is coming up which I'll be going to. It's a sort of dress up thing, this year the theme is Celebrities. Someone suggested I go as Aragon (Viggo Mortisen) since I'm looking a bit scruffy. Maybe it would work, my brother suggested Borimir (Sean Bean) though since I have a rounder face. And lastly maybe I should go as Brendan Fraser since I get a lot of comments about looking like him. I'm still undecided, suggestions are welcome.

I got myself a new phone about a month ago, nice little Sony Ericsson W810i walkman phone. All up it's pretty nice, but I was expecting a little more on the walkman side of things. I can't quickly create playlists (like selecting "Add to Now Playing") and editing saved playlists seems impossible. I seemed to have lost about half the storage on my 1GB Memory stick too, but I think a reformat will fix that. Apple updated iSync so that it works with the W810i a few weeks ago which I was very pleased about. I'm trying to synchronize my contacts, calendars and whatever else between my phone, laptop and gmail account. A little tricky but I'm getting there. The camera on the phone is 2 megapixel and seems to work well in bright light but low light has a lot of noise. While it might have been a little expensive (I bought it outright, don't really like these 24 month contracts) it is nice to have a phone/camera/walkman all in one. Maybe there will be some firmware updates to improve the walkman, but I'm not holding my breath.

Just after camp I also caved in and bought a digital SLR camera; the Canon EOS350D standard kit (comes with an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 lens, not USM). A little later I'll get some more lenses, but I think I've spent enough money lately. It takes very nice pictures and I'll bring it to volleyball next Saturday to take some action shots, compare them to the film ones I took. Of course I didn't have 1600 film for them, so it's probably an unfair comparison. The lens is a little slow for indoor sports, but that's common among zoom lenses. I have thought of getting a fixed lens just to get an f2 but I don't know what focal length it should be. I've played around with the camera over the weekend, took some night shots, pictures of the nephew and niece. There's a few that might warrant posting to Flikr, but I'll let you know if I put them up. But now I need to concentrate on getting my photography skills up so I can justify getting this great camera.

My other weekend purchase was a car. It seems I've shrugged off the biker image and joined the ranks of four wheeled automobile drivers. It will be a little sad to not have a bike anymore, but when I really thought about it I just couldn't justify getting another bike over a car. I had gotten all I wanted from my VTR250 and was about to upgrade to a larger bike, but common sense got the better of me it seems. Instead I friend was returning to Singapore and needed to sell his Toyota Celica. He was about to sell it to a dealer when I called him. It seems very much like Paul's MR2, except with 2 extra seats and probably less power. I got it pretty cheap but it does have some scratches and high kms, not so much as to make it a bad deal I think (I hope!). Now that I've been looking at it and other like it, I really like the idea of a '97+ Honda Prelude VTi-R but that would have been twice what I paid for this Celica. I might start saving and planning for the Honda, but I'm pretty happy with this Toyota for now.

My kettlebell collection has become rather well rounded with the recent arrival of a 24kg and a 16kg bell. The quality of the Australian Kettlebells seems to have improved from when I first bought one, the only downside being that the two 16kg kettlebells I have are slightly different shapes. Not a big deal since they're so light, but I'm sure it would make a difference in the 32kg size or maybe even the 24kg. I can do a lot more with the 32kg, including snatches and presses but it has highlighted my left shoulders weakness. I'll have to really work on my form as I have a slight tendency to "cheat" some of the presses. To fix that I'll go to a lighter weight and do slower and stricter press variations. I'm also thinking of cracking out the barbell and doing some deadlifts for a while to see if there's been any progression with that for me.

As for my volleyball, things are going alright but on a slight decline. After having last year off I returned very fresh and broke through my plateau. Now, playing for both Norwood and Flinders, I feel myself getting a little worn again. I think I should play only a little (if any) volleyball over the summer to give myself a good rest period. That way I can focus just on fitness over summer and really work on skills next year. My plyometrics hasn't gone anywhere yet because I had ordered some stupid things from the US but they hadn't arrived. I had given up on them and thought I'd send off a quick email to the company (JumpUSA.com) but didn't hold much hope for a response. Much to my surprise, the very next day they had refunded my money and told me that the order was probably lost. I've now ordered the same stuff but found they had an Australian distributor so it should be a lot less hassle.

Can't think of anything else just now, but I think I've rambled for quite long enough. I haven't even put in any links to stuff, maybe I'll come back and do that.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Some long term goals

I plan to put this on a sidebar here, sort of a permanent Todo list. Earlier this year I thought I should focus a bit more on some things I'd like to achieve. Rest assured none of them are career related, but maybe that's a bad thing. Firstly I thought I'd lay off any martial art things for a while, namely my Tai Chi. Instead I was going to focus on Volleyball. I set in my mind that I want to play league before I'm 30, which gives me a few years. Of course it may never happen, but it will help me focus on playing better and getting better physically. Right now I have a vertical jump of around 60cm or 23.5 inches. I want to keep working on that until it's 40 inches (100 cm). Really I think an increase of just 3 to 6 inches will really improve my game, but 40" is the goal. I'm going to do some dedicated jump training of some kind (weights, plyometrics, or something similar) but that will probably have to wait until summer. For now I'm hoping my slow weight loss is helping me, and I hope my new kettlebell will help my slow weight loss.

Of course there's a lot of other things I'd put on that list. Go skiing. Learn to skate backwards. Hmm ... I'm sure there's more ... get more sleep, there's a good one.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A new addition

32kg Kettlebell

I got my new kettlebell yesterday, take a look if you want. I already had a 16 kg (that's one pood) from a few years back so there's some shots with both of them to show the difference in size. By the way, the photos aren't great because I used my MacBook's built in iSight camera. Still, they turned out ok.

While I was in London I got a 25kg bell and got pretty used to that. Coming back to Australia I knew I wanted to get at least the same one again (it would have been too expensive to bring it back with me, so I gave it to Paul). I've also wanted to do some double kettlebell exercises so getting another 16kg was also on the cards. I decided to get the classic set of 16kg, 24kg and 32kg which would give me a wide variety of weights to use. Australian Kettlebells was the way to go so I made the order. They were out of the 16s and 24s which is why I've only got the 32. I'll have my full set in about a month or so but it'll be a while before I "tame" this thing anyway. Damn it's heavy! So it's back to swings and cleans until I build up enough strength to press and snatch it. I can two hand press and one hand push press or jerk so that'll let me do some negatives, etc. Maybe I'll be able to press it in a month or so.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

This photo thing

You know, I'm really beginning to regret having these post titles, it's just another thing I can't be bothered thinking up ... of course my rejigging of this blog hasn't eventuated either but that's par for the course.

I've finally scanned the photos I took last weekend, but I had to use a different computer to do it. The scanner just doesn't work well with Macs. Apparently scanners have been a recent addition to Mac OS X (I'm not sure about OS 9, but I think it's never been a big deal on Macs) which is really odd given the whole "graphic designers and artists use mac" stereotype. Perhaps it's just this particular scanner which was left out in the cold. VueScan can access the scanner, but it leaves an annoying watermark over the images unless you get a registered version. And the TWAIN SANE for Mac project proved fruitless for me. Just another incentive to get a digital camera which I'm desperately trying not to do. That Canon EOS 350D keeps looking very nice. The 30D looks even better, but it's another $1000. Maybe I can find a second hand 20D for less, that might be good. But really, the 350D has everything I'm looking for and would do me for many years to come.

I set up a Flickr account like Chloe. The 20Mb per month upload seems like it won't do me. Perhaps I'll just have to be very selective about which photos I upload. For now I've put up all 24 exposures I made, look at them here. Some are terrible, some are passable, and a few are downright terrible. I'd comment on some individually, but it's just a getting to know the camera photo shoot anyway. As I progress I might be in a better position to give a meaningful criticism

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Google Maps Down Under

Well it's not quite here yet, but just last week a friend told me that Google Maps had added street maps for Australia. Just like this one. It's a big step to getting our own maps.google.com.au. I used Google Maps a lot when I was in the UK, it has a really intuitive interface and it's very handy to be able to search for local businesses etc that are on Google Local.

Also, I've found this SNL Short very entertaining even if it is a bit old these days. This is alright too. (Grrr, google video version is out of sync. Go here instead)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Not quite what I had in mind

I did want to do a bit more on the web site this weekend and now it's a little late on Sunday night. As far as the web site goes, I haven't done any more of the redesign. Mac OS X has Apache setup but I haven't gone down that track yet. iWeb lets you make some pages quickly but it's a little messy under the hood so I'm pretty sure I won't be using that much.

The Mac is going well in general, but there have been some little problems. Apple has a bit of a slogan, "It just works". Well if only that were true. I "crashed" the mac twice today. Maybe crashed is a harsh word, but if it was windows that totally locked up and I couldn't even use the task manager to kill an app then I'd say it crashed. Printing via a windows shared printer also caused major headaches. And finally, there seems to be no default scanning application, definitely not for this Acer/Benq S2W 3300U.

The last thing I'd like to say here is that I'm trying to learn more about photography. I'd really like to get a digital SLR camera but instead of spending heaps of money on something I can't get the hang of I thought I'd try out my Dad's old film SLR camera and see what comes of that first. It's pretty basic as far as SLR's go, but it'll give me a good idea of how to take photos without everything being done for me. It also has a good response time with the shutter release which will be good for what I'd really like to do which is taking action photos of sports things. My first roll is pretty poor to be honest, but I think it shows promise. I hope is shows promise. This guy is doing what I someday hope to be able to. Well maybe not the making a living from it part, I'm not totally delusional.