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I'm having continued problems with my rear-end. The abscess that flared up at the end of January and responded to antibiotics kinda returned. But just like last time, it settled down a day or two before I saw my surgeon, only this time I wasn't on antibiotics. He's a bit perplexed about what's going on and wants me to have some examinations. In April I'm off to Concord Hospital (inner-west suburb of Sydney) to have an endoscopic ultrasound of the area. But before then I'm having a colonoscopy because the surgeon is wondering if there's something "up stream" that's coming down and causing the infections. That's on Thursday. So tomorrow I begin the fun job of preparing by fasting and purging. I've got this stuff called "picoprep" (sodium picosulphate) that causes a big case of the squirts so that my guts are cleared out when I get probed. Oh, and it'll be under general anaesthetic, so I get another damn catheter. I hate needles and I hate recovering from anaesthetic.

In other news, I have a new phone! This is my second phone ever, after using a Nokia 5220 XpressMusic for almost 2 whole years. I've replaced that with a Motorola Milestone (for U.S. readers, essentially the Verizon Droid). Yes, it's not really a new phone. It's over a year old and the Milestone 2 has been out a little while. But that makes it cheaper, much more so because I bought a second-hand unit. I didn't want to give money to Motorola because they've locked down the boot-loader and kernel, and told people to buy elsewhere if they wanted to mod phones. I was really wanting a hardware keyboard though and there's not many of them about. The only other good phone with a keyboard seems to be the HTC Desire Z, but that is still quite new and hence pricey. So I decided on the Milestone, but to buy second-hand to avoid rewarding Motorola's behaviour. And now it looks like their signing key may have been found, opening the way for complete modding anyway! some arsehole claimed to have found the key to troll us.

So I have my first Android phone. The stock 2.1 firmware only lasted a few hours before I installed Cronos Froyo (2.2). You see, the boot-loader and kernel may be locked down, but everything else is replaceable once the system has been rooted. Then it was onto Cronos Ginger (2.3), but that was unstable and buggy. So I've been running CyanogenMod 7 release candidates since then (Cronos is based on CM anyway). And installing lots of apps. And adjusting overclocking settings, and more recently memory manager (lowmemkiller) settings. It's been a great toy and I've even used it as a phone to make a few calls! Oh, and the hardware keyboard is worth it. It has its own problems, but I prefer it greatly over the on-screen keyboard. The screen is great too. Higher resolution than my Dad's iPhone 3G S!

The only photography news I can report on is travelling down to Bateman's Bay to visit my brother Glenn and his wife Tania. It's been almost two years since we were last there! I shot two thirds of a roll of Velvia 50 in my Electro 35 on the beaches and cliffs over a weekend. I really need to finish this roll because I already have three other E-6 rolls to send off for processing. Oh, and a few 220 rolls too, since I can't get them processed locally any more.
  • Listening to: Röyksopp
  • Watching: QI
  • Playing: Warzone 2100
  • Eating: nothing!
  • Drinking: lots of water
Ooh, I'd better write a new journal to get that last one off my front page. I really must move on from my bottom problems and get on with my life. Speaking of which, I developed another abscess at the end of January but it was a small one and thankfully seemed to have responded to the antibiotics I was given. It flared up just as my surgeon was coming back from holidays and it had settled down the day before I went to see him. He didn't paint a good picture however; he doesn't know why I'm having these problems and there's probably nothing I can do to stop anything developing in the future :(
For now it seems to be behaving itself though...

Christmas was kinda boring and seemed to finish very quickly. We got to see Scott and his girlfriend Shannon (who he's been living with for a while now). It was only a few days though. Andrew and Alissa visited most days with the kids. Boy, they're a handful.

I also visited Scott in Canberra with Mum and Dad for his birthday. It was just after my abscess was diagnosed and I didn't know if I'd end up in hospital soon, so I was very reluctant to go. My first abscess happened when we visited him last year for a late birthday get-together. I don't want this to become a tradition - getting an abscess that is. I'm fine with visiting Scott, although I sometimes feel like we've done everything there that's worth to do.

I've shot a good amount of film recently. While in Canberra we went up Black Mountain Tower and I got twelve photos around the viewing gallery with the Flektogon 50 mm lens on my Pentacon Six. If they turn out well, I'll be able to stitch them together into a 360° panorama. But I fear the film advance mechanism might have slipped while winding on one of the shots. I need a more reliable MF camera.

This past weekend was the Bathurst 12 Hour race up at Mount Panorama. Andrew had gotten me a three day ticket for the event, so I got to go and photograph some great cars. Like my experience with FoSC last year, I just don't have the lens(es) or camera(s) for photographing the cars in action - no long lens, no autofocus, no motor winder. So I mainly shoot the cars in the pits and the "paddock" behind the pits.

Friday and Saturday had a bunch of support events - Class A, C, and N, Formula Vee, and Holden HQ's doing practices, qualifying, and a few races. The pit garages were reserved for the 12 Hour teams, so these guys were setup in the paddock area under collapsible shelters. I got some photos of them there, but not as much I should have. Andrew dragged me up to the top of the mount on Saturday, so I didn't shoot much up there. Oh, and it was hot. Up to 35°C (95°F) in the middle of the day. Saturday at least had some wind.

The 12 Hour race started at 6:15 in the morning. I made a special effort to get up just after 4 to get ready, so that Andrew could pick me up at 5 and get up to the track before it started. I took my Pentacon Six and shot some Delta 3200 in the dark and the growing pre-dawn light. I got some nice photos of the pits, both from across the track and from behind.

I've processed one roll of FP4+ and the two rolls of Delta 3200. I still have another roll of FP4+ in my Electro 35 and a roll of Superia in my XR-20 to finish. Then I have four rolls of 120/220 (three C-41, one E-6) and three rolls of 135 slide film to send off to Sydney for processing. So I figure I have ~240 or more photos coming my way after it's all processed and scanned.
  • Listening to: Daft Punk: Tron Legacy
  • Watching: QI
  • Drinking: water
(for those who don't get the reference: Annus horribilis)

Well this is the time of year when we all look back on the year that was and reflect on what happened. For me, one part of my anatomy has drawn my focus for much of this year. The anal abscess in March was the beginning, followed by many months of niggling aches and pains. After bugging my GP several times in August and September, my surgeon found a fistula in October but it burst painlessly days before surgery and the IV/anaesthesia ended up being for naught. Then something flared up just before my birthday in November, so I had an MRI (which tuned up nothing of worry). Another inspection turned up a new fistula (or a return of the previous one?) which was cut open at the beginning of the month. So here I am, nursing a long (but shrinking) gash that leads into my anus, waiting for it to heal. Going "number two" is now a well-practised (and necessary) series of actions to keep it clean. A welcome improvement is that it no longer stings with eye-watering intensity after I take a shit. Hopefully this is the end of my rear-end problems for now.

Unfortunately all of this has impacted my photo-taking and photo-making activities. I'm crap at organising myself, especially my "artistic" endeavours. I tend to do things only when I "feel like it" (yes, even when I was employed). So something that interrupted not only my day-to-day activities but also my thoughts on a regular basis, really screwed me up. I should have been out more taking photos and perhaps even trying to sell them. I should have been scanning more slides and negatives for the family to earn money. I should have been working towards getting my drivers' license. Maybe I wouldn't have done any of those things anyway without the "bottom problems" serving as a regular distraction, but it certainly didn't help.

In Christmas news, I've bought my niece and nephew some presents this year. They're getting a Doctor Who poster and solar-charged LED torch (flash light) each. I chose two posters from a seller on eBay but I'm not sure who should get which one. Not even their parents offered any help. Hopefully Sarah and Zac will be able to agree on who gets the David Tennant poster, and who gets the Dalek one. With the lamination they ended up being a bit more expensive than I originally wanted to spend on them. They should like them.

I close this entry with some advice: Look after your health, everyone!
  • Listening to: System of a Down
  • Watching: QI
  • Eating: plenty
  • Drinking: water
(but money, presents, and lollies will still be accepted)

Ugh. I'm going into surgery again tomorrow for essentially the same thing as last time. This fistula is a lot smaller and just under the skin. It hasn't formed a boil-like body of puss like the last one. The surgeon said he'll check it before I go into the operating theatre to see if it's healed itself up like the last one did. With any luck, it will have healed and I can go home (hopefully without an IV too!). Otherwise he'll probably cut it open, which will make going to the toilet difficult. And the anaesthetic will leave me useless until Friday afternoon, at least.

This all assumes the highway remains open after all the rain we've received the last few days.

In other news, I finally have a new monitor! I've replaced my 10 year old Hitachi CM771 with a Samsung 2443BW+. It's nice and big, and it swivels into portrait aspect - although I haven't found out how to make the screen contents rotate automatically, or even if it signals the computer when it's rotated. The touch-activated controls are annoying; I've already screwed up the settings once by accidentally touching them while adjusting the screen.

I hope you're enjoying the photos from the Motor Show. I figure because it was a special event that I should publish the photos now instead of leaving them in my every growing queue of photos.

Update: The highway was still mostly open and the surgeon did cut open the shallow passage. I told the anaesthesiologist about the dizzyness and nausea after my visit in October and he decided to use a different anaesthetic - Propofol. Yeah, the stuff Michael Jackson liked so much. The after-effects have been almost non-existent. I came home, ate, talked on IM with Tania, worked on my scan of the Hulme CanAm (cropped, cleaned up dust, chose a tone) and uploaded it here and on Flickr. I went to the toilet and had trouble wiping my bum because it was numb. It's been 6 hours now and I'm not sure if the pain-killers have fully worn off yet. I have a bit of discomfort but barely what I would call "painful". So I'm doing pretty well so far. I was given a prescription for Paracetamol-Codeine so I'm wondering if/when I'll need it.
  • Listening to: Hilltop Hoods
  • Reading: Yotsuba and harrassing old people
  • Drinking: water
I'll write a little about my surgery and that will hopefully the end of my "bottom problems". I'll try to write about other things that are going on in my life (and mind) soon in another journal post.

I went in for surgery on Thursday. I hate needles and anaesthetic, so I was pretty anxious about the whole thing. But in the end the surgeon didn't actually do much. The outside end of the fistula had burst on the previous Sunday. So all he did was give me an "inspection" and pump me full of antibiotics. The anaesthetic left me useless for the rest of the day - I was really dizzy and sitting up made me nauseous so I napped in the spare bedroom. I wasn't too good most of the next day either.

I don't know how quickly the fistula is supposed to heal. And I still have occasional "internal" pains which worry me. I'm hoping they're just scar pains and not something the surgeon overlooked which will require further surgery.
  • Listening to: Rammstein
  • Drinking: water
Ok, I'd better update this journal with what's happened in the last 6 weeks. And, I'm sorry, that includes problems with my rear end.

Mum and Dad went off to China for two and a half weeks, and I looked after the house and Con, our pet cockatoo. I visited Andrew and Alissa a few times in their new house, including a house-warming party with their friends. That was a lot of fun. I did my own shopping, getting around by bus and walking. Looking after Con wasn't so bad, but he was clearly unhappy by about half-way through from lack of attention.

Mum and Dad returned with a whole lot souvenirs, stories, and a shitload of crappy digital photos. Life has returned to relative normalcy. Well, except Mum has developed a liking for certain Chinese foods, despite complaining about the food while she was over there.

Now, onto my bum. On Mum and Dad's first day in China (Shanghai), I went and saw my regular doctor. Unlike the previous doctor (described two journals ago), this one did a proper *ahem* examination. By that time I had found a little lump of something inside, near my anus/rectum. He found it too and thought it was a bit of scar tissue, moving around freely. He didn't give me anything, except advising me to head off to hospital if it got bad.

I continued having odd aches and pains but really wanted to avoid rushing off to hospital because of the inconvenience it would cause i.e Andrew and Alissa would have to look after Con, which they've never done before. So I walked every day, hoping that the exercise would help. It might have. On the Saturday night before Mum and Dad came home it flared up badly and I was so close to going off to hospital. But it eventually settled down after a bunch of toilet trips (relieving the pressure?).

I wanted to see a doctor again. My regular doctor wasn't immediately available, so I first saw another, a Chinese woman this time. She examined me too and even stuck a rectoscope in to have a good look. She thought I had scar tissue on a sphincter muscle and proscribed a rectogesic, containing glyceryl trinitrate. So, three times a day I'm sticking nitroglycerine up my bum! It's helped a lot, but I still get the occasional strange pain. It makes me wonder if I actually have two problems down there at the same time, complicating matters.

When I did get to see my regular doctor, he said I should make an appointment with the surgeon that relieved my abscess (back in March) to see what he thinks. So that's where I am now - tomorrow morning I see the surgeon. I'm hoping he'll know what to do to fix this long-running problem. I'm not looking forward to more surgery, but that's probably what is required and likely what a surgeon would want to do, after all.

Update: The surgeon's diagnosis is that I have a fistula. It's not fun. I go in for surgery next Thursday at our newly re-opened private hospital. Lets hope this clears things up and I don't develop any more problems down there, at least for a while.
  • Listening to: Doctor Who Prom
  • Playing: Warzone 2100
  • Drinking: water
Ok, enough talk about my bum.

My parents are off to China on Thursday. My brother Andrew is driving them down to Sydney on Wednesday, where they'll stay overnight before their flight, and I'll probably be going along too. There should be some good opportunities to take photos. I just don't like the idea of sitting on my bum (oops, sorry) in a car for about five hours.

Then I get to look after the house, pet Cockatoo, and myself for two and a half weeks. This holiday has been in various stages of planning for most of the year and I have not been looking forward to my role in it. But having my brother and his family nearby makes it better. I can visit them, they can visit me, we can do stuff together, and they're available for any emergencies.

I have another package of film coming in the post. It's been a while and my supplies have been low for some time. I'm getting 5 rolls each of Velvia 50 and FP4+ in 35 mm, and Pro 400H in 120. I haven't shot Velvia since its cancellation and resurrection a few years back. Being slide film, it's expensive and a pain in the arse (oops, sorry again) to send it off for processing in Sydney, but I hope it's worth it. With Spring just around the corner I should have lots of good subjects to use it on. It's also about time I used the Efke IR820 infrared film I got almost a year ago and haven't anything with.

I'm trying out the idea of using slower films with my 35 mm Ricoh SLR, and faster films with my medium format Pentacon Six. The thinking behind this idea is that I have faster Pentax K lenses for the Ricoh than the P6, and that the larger 6x6 frame reduces the relative impact of grain. Also the smaller, lighter, and more automated Ricoh is better suited to daytime photography (street?). And finally, I use a spot meter with the all-manual P6, giving me more flexibility to meter difficult night shots. Or maybe that's all just wishful thinking. I'll have to shoot more (particularly with my Pentacon Six) to see.
  • Listening to: Rammstein
  • Playing: Warzone 2100
  • Eating: well
  • Drinking: water
Well this is embarrassing. I seem to have developed another anal abscess. I had one back in March caused by a bad case of constipation and which required (simple, quick) surgery to drain. I've been using Metamucil since then to "remain regular" but a recent cold distracted me with its own demands and I ended up constipated again for part of a week.

I've had odd pains down there all week, but that's nothing unusual. I've been having odd pains on and off since I had the first abscess and was almost getting used to it. So I was hoping that this episode was just another false alarm. But on Friday morning the pain became more... constant and predictable. And I thought I had found the location of the abscess after lots of prodding and probing.

So it was off to the doctor's again. But because of the urgency I had to see a doctor I had been disappointed and annoyed with in the past. He let me down again. He had a look at my rear-end but even after I told him where the lump was, didn't probe for it himself. No matter what I told him he remained convinced that I simply had a small tear in my rectum that had become infected. So he prescribed an antibiotic and sent me on my way.

I was expecting to be sent straight off to hospital, like last time. I had packed my pyjamas and a toiletries bag, charged my mobile phone, and even shaved my arms up to my elbows! I'd like to see another doctor on Monday for a second opinion and hopefully better examination. That is, if I haven't come down with a fever and headed off to hospital before then. The fever BTW, is from the abscess infecting my blood and was quite bad last time.

I hate feeling like crap.

Update: It's Tuesday now and I'm feeling better, mostly. What ever it is that's going wrong in my rear end is responding to the antibiotics. So I might be able to avoid another hospital visit for now. I really should try to get on top of whatever it is that's causing my recent health problems. My not-so-great diet and low levels of exercise this year would be top suspects to investigate.
  • Watching: Top Gear :)
  • Eating: pills
  • Drinking: water
My desktop computer is pretty much dead. I'm still not certain what's wrong with it, but appears to be the graphics card or the AGP/GART hardware on the motherboard. It's been hanging randomly and occasionally giving error messages - it now lasts barely 5-10 minutes before hanging. It's 6 years old and I've been meaning to upgrade for years, so I've taken the plunge and ordered a new motherboard, CPU, and RAM. Luckily I had the money available. Annoyingly, the RAM I chose was a special order and it's taking its time. Do I really need CL7 DDR3 SDRAM?

In bigger news, Andrew and Alissa have finally moved to Bathurst! It was a surprise to us all - the first I knew was when they turned up at our doorstep on Wednesday afternoon. Apparently they were approved to rent their new house before Sarah's birthday party some 3-4 weeks ago and also came up for a secret day-trip to sign the lease just a few weekends ago. It's not the first surprise they've pulled. Back in 2000 I was involved with them getting married at the registration office without Mum and Dad knowing before hand. A few years later they got a new car shortly before we drove up to Kingaroy, Queensland (where Mum, Dad, and Scott lived for a year). And their way of telling us about Alissa being pregnant (with what would become Sarah) was to print the ultrasound picture on the Christmas cards they gave to everyone. So they like their surprises.

For now they've unpacked the moving truck into their new house and have gone back to Sydney to clean the old house. If all goes well, we'll be able to see their new house on Saturday or Sunday. They're over in West Bathurst, across the road from a friend we grew up next to here. It shouldn't be too hard for me to get there on my own - taking two buses. And they should have a good view over Bathurst.

Now all Andrew has to do is get a job (me too :P). I'm looking forward to again having a brother living close. We'll be able to go on photo-taking trips. And it'll be fun being able to drop in on them so easily.

Update: My old/present computer seems to run fine with only one 1GiB DIMM in it. I had been running it with 3×1GiB DIMMs for a while before the problems started. Yesterday it had only the first in, today the second. I previously ran MemTest86+ for most of a day (three complete passes) and it all checked out OK. Either one of the DIMM's (the third?) is faulty in a way MemTest86+ didn't check, or it's something else. The sockets? Some weird interaction with AGP/GART? I'd like to know because I plan to use this motherboard to upgrade my main server machine.

It looks like I'm going to spend today at Andrew and Alissa's new house. Andrew has to head back to Sydney to finish cleaning the house so Alissa could use some help unpacking and dealing with the two terrors.

Also, Woo hoo! 13K pageviews! :dance:
  • Listening to: Liebe ist für alle da
  • Watching: Top Gear :)
  • Playing: Warzone 2100
  • Drinking: water
I've got new fixer and have already processed three rolls of film in the last week. I had stopped in the new-year after a roll of Acros shot at Christmas came out a little funny. My fixer was already over a year old and even though it successfully cleared a scrap piece of film in the necessary time, I decided to play it safe and get some new stuff.

I also got a small bottle of Rodinal and that's what I used as developer with the recent rolls. I diluted it 1:50 and used the times from the Massive Development Chart. They look overcooked though - high contrast and very bright. A similar thing happened last year when I started developing HP5+ in HC-110. I eased off on the agitation and the results were much more agreeable. Since I got the times from the Massive devchart, I also used their agitation instructions - 30 seconds continuous at the start and then 3 inversions every minute. I think I'll scale that back to 2 inversions every minute and only 10-20 seconds at the start. But I currently have no more B&W film to process, so it'll have to wait until I've shot some more.

In more home-development news, I've ruined my glass thermometer! I dropped it in the sink while cleaning up after the last roll I processed. It didn't break but I noticed a few days later that there are now several small bubbles in the line of red fluid. I presume this would put the reading off? So I'm looking for a replacement and I'm thinking an upgrade would be nice. I've spent a while looking on eBay (my main shopping site now!) at all sorts of digital thermometers. Surprisingly, many list their accuracy as ±1°C, while showing the reading with one digit after the decimal point. What's the point of showing, say, 20.2°C when the real temperature may be anywhere between 19.2°C and 21.2°C? Strange.

A few "food grade" thermometers list their accuracy as ±0.5°C, but they're more expensive of course. I have some DS18B20's here that are also rated as being that accurate (and they're free samples too!). I'm half tempted to try putting together my own digital thermometer using one of these sensors, a microcontroller, and an LCD. Maybe get one of the less-accurate commercial units, gut it, and use it as a nice case for my own electronics. Or more likely, I'll be lazy and just get the commercial unit and use it as-is. I have no idea how accurate my thermometer was before I dropped it, so ±1°C might be an improvement!

In other news, my niece Sarah turned 5 years old. Somehow five years ago doesn't seem so long ago! We had a small birthday party (and lots of playing) in Victoria Park, which has been "redeveloped" recently to include a playground. It's next to the hospital and was used as a landing site for emergency helicopter flights to Sydney. But the hospital was upgraded a few years ago and got its own helipad, freeing up the park to be an actual park. It now has a flying fox with two lines, a large slippery-dip, a maze, a sandpit, a large rope-pyramid thing to climb on, probably a bunch of other things I've forgotten, and several picnic areas with electric barbecues. And thankfully the weather was quite nice for the middle of June.
  • Listening to: Liebe ist für alle da
  • Watching: Doctor Who season 5 :)
  • Playing: Warzone 2100
  • Drinking: water
I've just recently purchased an X-rite/Pantone "Huey" colorimeter. I've been meaning to get one ever since my experience of getting prints made for the Bathurst Show at the beginning of last year. I'd previously used Big W to get my prints made on their Fuji and Agfa machines but mum had told me about "Prints and Images". So I took along my memory stick with a bunch of images on it. The woman who runs the shop is American and in adjusting the appearance of my photos on the computer monitor we soon got onto the subject of colour spaces, leading to a minor ego clash. She said she calibrates each of the monitors every day, and I had to admit to relying on a vendor-supplied colour profile for my monitor.

After that I checked several of my photos on my mum's LCD monitor. I had previously dismissed its appearance because of the way LCD's work - being unable to produce really black blacks. I also compared the prints to mum's monitor and my own, finding mum's LCD much closer to the prints than my aging CRT. It dawned on me that my monitor had a fall-off in its response - the dark end was just a little too dark. This conclusion has been slowly reinforced over the last year or so when viewing other dark material online.

Back in April I joined another website called Red Bubble, where I also go by the name of Imroy. It focuses heavily on making prints, so all of the uploaded material is print-resolution. I started going back through all of my photos and uploading the huge files. When I came to Public telephone, I wasn't happy with its lack of contrast. So I went back to the original scans and started almost from scratch, keeping in mind my monitor's performance. I also checked its appearance several times on mum's computer. What I uploaded to Red Bubble can be seen in Public telephone redux.

Now I've got the Huey and I've used it with Argyll CMS (because I use Linux) to adjust my monitor controls and generate a profile. I use the profile in Cinepaint, Firefox, and The GIMP. Unfortunately my preferred (despite its recent drastic UI changes) image viewer, gThumb, does not do colour management.

In other news, this weekend I'll be helping to celebrate my niece's 5th birthday. Scott will joining us too. It should be a lot of fun. Lets just hope the weather is alright...
  • Listening to: nothing :(
  • Watching: Doctor Who season 5 :)
  • Playing: Warzone 2100
  • Drinking: water
This Easter had a few extra events beside the usual eating of chocolate.

I joined my brother Andrew up at Mount Panorama for the Festival of Sporting Cars (FOSC), which he has been attending for at least the last few years. He and his family were staying at his wife's father's place out of town in the badly named Sunny Corner. So our parents and I didn't get to see much of Alissa or the kids. The only time we saw them was on Saturday night with an early 30th birthday dinner for Alissa, and on Sunday night with a late 60th birthday dinner for Dad.

So I got a bunch of photos at both birthday dinners, although I'm still not happy with Fuji Pro 800Z. Maybe it's just my Electro 35 and its low-light metering, but the photos almost always come out under-exposed. And the stupid NikonScan software almost always puts a strong cast/fog on the scans. I have to spend so much time on each photo to get it looking decent.

I got better photos of cars up at the mount however. There were lots of classic and even antique cars there, all in racing condition! There were some old class 'A' and 'C' cars from the 80's and 90's being run by private collectors. And one time in the pits we bumped into an old man with a Contaflex (with hand-held light meter). Everyone else had digitals and I thought my Electro 35 would have been the oldest camera there!

Of particular interest (especially to Andrew) was the participation of Porsche. They brought a 1976 Porsche 935 race car and 1998 Porsche 911 GT1  Straßenfahrzeug (street version) from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Both cars took part in a "sighting" event (i.e learning the track) on Sunday, and a more serious even on Monday, but only completed one lap before retiring because of a red flag (got too hot?).

We also spent time watching the cars from on the inside of The Chase and up at Skyline. Unfortunately my gear is not well suited to spotting race cars. The longest lens I have for Pentax K mount is a 28-100 mm Rikenon zoom. It's heavy and I had difficulty getting the focus right. I shot a roll of Provia 100F slide film with it and haven't sent it of for processing yet, so I don't know how well I did. The situation for my Pentacon Six is worse - the longest I have is the 80 mm Biometar 'kit' lens. I got to test out my new Arsat 30 mm fisheye lens a few times though.

I need some longer lenses for both cameras/mounts. And I should have spent more time photographing cars in the paddock behind the pits. It was bright and sunny most of the time, they weren't moving, and I could get much closer. Oh well, next time :)
  • Listening to: The Hives
  • Watching: Doctor Who season 5 :)
  • Playing: Warzone 2100
Oh boy, I really have been quiet for a while. Four months? Yikes!

So a small update - I spent most of the first week of 2010 in Canberra with my parents plus my mother's brother and father (and his companion). It was pretty tiring and grandpa was out of action for most of the time, but we spent lots of time with my uncle and got some good photos.

Just the other weekend I travelled again with my parents to Canberra for a late 21st birthday get-together with Scott.

But during the trip I developed a pain in my butt, literally. It turned out to be a perianal abscess. I had to have surgery and I now have a small open wound draining gunk as it slowly heals. Fun times.

Anyway, I really want to get back into submitting works here (and on Flickr). I've been wanting to keep my works in chronological order, but I've been staring at my photos from May last year for what seems forever and still haven't decided which to do next. So what I'll probably do is skip ahead to more recent work (either to July or further to December) and optionally return at some point.
Yep, it's almost the end of the year. So that means a big get-together with the relatives, lots of eating and presents!

This year Mum has arranged a family trip after Christmas. It will include her dad and his partner, her brother (my uncle), dad, and myself. We'll be visiting Canberra for most of a week. I accepted the suggestion I come along as I thought it would be a great photo opportunity - both of Canberra and my family members. Uncle Graeme has lived in the U.S. for the last twenty-odd years, although he does visit regularly (plus we now have Skype). And grandpa is 87 years old, so we might not have much longer with him. Or he might live another twenty years, who knows. But I am down to two grandparents and would like to record something of them while they're still around. Actually, as far as photographing family members goes, I've mostly focused on my niece and nephew. I need to photograph others.

Anyway, before the trip we still have Christmas. Again Scott (Frexe) is staying in Canberra to get the sweet holiday pay. But Andrew and Alissa will be in Canberra with the kids this weekend and will likely visit him some time. And the rest of us 'oldies' will see him some time during our trip in the new year.

I've had some new gear arrive recently. I got a Rikenon XR 1:1.4 50 mm lens but haven't had much of a chance to test it. Hopefully it's as good, if not better, than my Rikenon P 1:2.0 50 mm. I got a set of ND filters for my Electro 35 - NDx2,x4, and x8. The idea is to use these during the day and/or with fast film to get the effective film speed down and allow the aperture to be more open. I've rarely used its f/1.7 lens fully open.

Just today a replacement covering for my Electro 35 arrived from Camera Leather. Annoyingly, the slate blue is much darker than the photo on their site. But it still looks good. I've only replaced the front so far - I had to take that off to fix the "pad of death" (POD) earlier in the year. The back covering is still good and actually looks like it might be hard to pry off.

But my really nifty toy is an infrared filter. I've had a few days to play around with it on my parent's digital camera and I'm getting some interesting results. I've got three rolls of Efke IR820 film and I might take one with me to Canberra, but I'm not sure how much of a chance I'll have to use it on the trip. I want to bracket exposures in the first roll because I don't know exactly how it'll react to the filter, and my development. So I might leave my first foray into IR film photography until I have more time to plan and research.

This has been a bit of a long update because I left it too long. I hope everyone has a happy holidays! I'll be back in the new year, processing film and working through my back-log of photos to upload.
  • Listening to: Triple J
  • Watching: Cricket
  • Playing: Ultrabots
I've finished my B&W photos from earlier in the year. Now it's on to colour photos. And they're beautiful photos of the Hornsby water clock/fountain shot on Provia 100F. I still have many photos from my trip to Sydney back in May, as well as several other trips since then to Canberra and Bateman's Bay. Sorry I took a break of over a month.

Great news: my Pentacon Six has returned to my hands after being repaired! It also came with a bill for AU$445 though. I hope all the work on it will end up being worth it.

From the email updates I received from the repairman over the last two months, several things were broken inside. That is now supposedly all fixed, as well as having a cleaned and lubricated shutter with accurate timing, a realigned mirror and view screen, and the two most important issues - a fixed frame counter and fixed frame spacing. I'd like to run a film through it soon to check it all out.
  • Listening to: Björk
  • Watching: A bit of Fry and Laurie
  • Playing: Diablo II
Well it seems that our little dust storm got some international coverage. Tuesday was a very windy day - that night the tree that almost wiped out my brother's car after Christmas lost another (smaller) branch and two cap tiles were blown off the top of our roof. Wednesday morning was all pink/orange when I got up and stayed overcast most of the day. The dust is everywhere and it's horrible. Everything outside is coated with a layer of fine, orange dust. I'd like some rain to wash it all away, but we still have a hole in our roof, so only if it's light.

In other domestic news, my father has a new iPhone 3G S. Mum got his old Nokia 6085, replacing her ancient Nokia. I've been helping her set it up because it's so different to her old phone but very similar to mine (i.e S40). A major setback is the screen - it's a quarter the resolution of mine (128x160 vs. 240x320) and seems strangely washed out. So some text in the UI is almost impossible to read e.g the 'abc' icons at the top showing the (predictive) text mode.

As to the iPhone - it has some interesting features but also some pretty big deficiencies and problems. The inability to use Bluetooth to send files (e.g contacts) to or from another phone is a glaring example. And I'm not so "sold" on the touch screen. For some things it's great, but for others it's quite clumsy. In some ways the situation mirrors the old debates about the Apple one-button mouse; if you think that interaction with an on-screen 'object' can be adequately simplified to a single action (click/touch) then perhaps touch screens are for you. But I like multi-button mice, so the established 5-way toggle + two "soft" buttons arrangement is more agreeable to me.

In the on-going saga of fixing my Pentacon Six, the repairer in Dubbo has had a chance to look at it and do some work. Some parts were broken but he's been able to repair them. I have sent off my 80 mm lens off to him for alignment of the screen and testing purposes. I've also told him to service the shutter. Along with the earlier damage he fixed, this brings the price up to $500. I could have declined the shutter service, bringing the price down to under $300, but I want the camera all fixed up and ready for lots of use in the future. And fixing the shutter later would have only cost more. Plus, Mum has promised to throw in $100 for the full repair :)

I hope it's worth it...
  • Listening to: Basement Jaxx
  • Watching: Pulp Fiction
  • Playing: Diablo II
There's been a few car crashes in the extended family recently.

First my brother Glenn (recently seen in Jumping Zac) had a near-miss on his way to work in Moruya Bay. He was behind two cars, the first of which was a P-plater limited to 90 km/h (in a 100 zone) slowing them all down. He pulled out to overtake both of them, but the guy in the middle soon had the same idea and must not have seen Glenn pull out. Glenn swerved to avoid the other car and must have hit the brakes as well because he quickly lost control. He skidded back into the left lane and off the road, sideways. Luckily he stopped before hitting a tree.

The next day he had another scare when an X-ray showed a possible fracture in a neck vertebra. He spent most of the day in a neck brace, lying down, hoping he didn't become a paraplegic. Thankfully an MRI scan cleared him and he was sent home with instructions for helping his sore neck. The car has been written off by the insurance company and now he and his wife are looking for a replacement 2008 model Mazda 3 - they don't like the new styling of the 2009 model. There's only a few left in the country.

Then Scott (The light) in Canberra got side-swiped by a kangaroo. They're pretty solid lumps of muscle and this one dented the mudguard panel enough to stop the driver's door from opening.

Then just last week (I think) Tania's older brother and sister, Anthony (Great success) and Paola (Birthday girl) in Sydney were in an accident that is easily the worst. They were stopped at a red light and a car coming the other way somehow launched itself off the island in the middle of the road, landing on the front of their car. They both have some pretty serious wiplash and the car is a total write-off. If they had been stopped even a little bit further forward, the outcome could have been even more serious. I hope they get better soon!

In much less life-threatening news, my Pentacon Six is now almost certainly in Dubbo. Just as I was sending it off, the camera repairman said they were about to go on a two week holiday and he might not get to my camera for four weeks! At the time I thought whatever, I wasn't using it much and I have other cameras. But then I realised that without his quote, I don't know how much money is left over for me to spend on other things! Well his holiday should be up now, so I guess I'm waiting on him to work through any backlog and get to my camera. And hopefully the shutter doesn't need replacing so that I can spend whatever is left from "considerably less" than $400.
  • Listening to: Tool
  • Watching: The Young Ones and Filthy Rich and Catflap
  • Playing: Diablo II
Thank you to everyone that has helped get me up to ten thousand page views! I'm no dA celebrity by a long shot, but it's nice to know that people are at least checking out my photos here.

In November last year I described getting a quote for fixing my Pentacon Six. I decided that the "up to $400" figure was a bit too much to fix and the camera still worked OK. Well since then it's gotten a little worse. Importantly, the film advance mechanism is winding on too much film and wasting film. You see, the P6 has a roller that measures out the amount of film advanced each time the lever is cocked; when the correct amount has advanced, it disengages the take-up reel. At the start of a roll, it needs almost a complete turn to advance one frame, needing less as the reel grows from the film wrapped around it. Well, that appears to be broken somehow and is advancing film for the full ~270° turn of the lever. I'm getting only 10 frames out of a roll 120, when I should be getting 12 or 13.

So I've saved up $500 by scanning old slides for my parents and am almost ready to send the camera off to the repair bloke in Dubbo. I just have to finish the roll of film that's still in it first.
  • Listening to: Basement Jaxx
  • Watching: Bottom
  • Playing: Diablo II
  • Drinking: Löwenbräu
Wow, look at the date. I guess it's time for another late travel report.

At the beginning of the month Mum, Dad, and I drove down to Bateman's Bay to visit Glenn and Tania. Glenn's been teaching at Moruya Bay high school since late last year. Mum and Dad have visited before, but this was my first time. The weather was great for the two days we were there and I got some lovely photos. One of the two rolls I shot was a roll of Provia and it's waiting to be processed along with the three rolls I shot in Sydney.

We then drove back up to Canberra to visit Scott. The next day we went to parliament house and I got a bunch of great photos there. Then it was off home.

Then just last weekend we drove up to the Parkes observatory to see the famous radio telescope. They had a special open weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing and the part they played in receiving the live video from that historic event. After standing in line for a few hours we got to go on a tour of the telescope. I shot most of a roll of 160S while standing in that line and started a roll of 400H part-way through the tour.

So I've now got even more photos to work through!
  • Listening to: Triple J
Oh dear, almost two months without an update! Sorry. Well I'd better tell you all what's been happening with me.

Yes, I did visit my brother and his family in Sydney. I stayed with them for ten days and enjoyed it a lot. I got around to many places during the weekdays, using the TravelPass ticket to hop on and off trains at will. But it was tiring and I took "rest days" on Wednesday and Friday, although I did get Andrew to drive me to Darling Harbour on Friday night. So I didn't get around to as many places as I'd have liked. My other regret is that I had mostly fast 400 ISO film with me (Pro 400H and HP5+). For daytime shooting this meant small apertures and flat photos with deep fields. I had ordered some slower Pro 160S film which would have given much shallower DOF, but it did not arrive on time. This trip was a little rushed and the eBay seller took much longer sending it.

After Sydney it was off to Canberra with my parents for a very busy three days trying to do stuff with/for Scott and seeing some sights.

I've got most of my photos from the trips back, although I still have three rolls of Provia slide film that need to be sent off for processing. Unfortunately, many of the photos I took with my Electro 35 had light leaks on them. I've now got a kit of replacement light seal foam from one Jon Goodman and I should have the problem fixed in the next few days. I'm also looking to get some nice leather to replace the covering that had be removed when I fixed the "pad of death". When that's all done I should finally have a nice camera to use...

In other camera repair news, I'm planning on saving up the $400 that might be required for fixing my Pentacon Six. I say "might" because the guy in Dubbo said it would require that much if the shutter needs replacement. I think the problems lie mostly with the film advancement mechanism, so hopefully the cost will be much less and I'll have a good chunk of money left over to spend on something else. Perhaps a metered prism or a lens.

I'm trying to work through the backlog of photos to submit here. When I recently looked at the last photos I'd submitted here, I noticed they were from back in January. I'd hardly submitted anything from this year! So this means it could take a while for photos from my trip to show up. Sorry, I prefer to have my deviations in (approximate) chronological order.

(The "Mood" selector appears to be broken, so it will remain set to "eager" with the funny little emoticon flapping his arms until it is fixed)
  • Listening to: Triple J