Photography ... astronomy ... art ... design ... technology
(... and the odd rant)

All of these make my world go 'round, to some extent, and they will all be found here at some time or other. Some of the photography can be purchased from my Redbubble site. I can also be found at Tempus Fugit (no longer being updated).

Thursday, August 16, 2012


It's winter. The tail-end of it, anyway. Mid-August, and winter, so I'm clearly not in Scotland. Not that August in Scotland couldn't be wintry, although that would be more likely in June. June snow! Summertime, supposedly, and yet you can see gravity-assisted ice crystals without being fundamentally surprised, just indignant.

No indignation here, now. Not a trace. Except possibly directed at my coffee cup, which has had the temerity to empty itself.

This is suburban Brisbane, and at this moment it's deeply pleasing. Blue sky with more than a smattering of cumulus fractus. There is a wind too, possibly around Force 2. If it gets above Force 4, most Australians seem to start complaining; "shitty weather" was a phrase I became familiar with some years ago. Try the east coast of Scotland in February, when the wind is coming off the North Sea (having previously deposited any and all of its warmth over Russia); then you'll learn what shitty weather is. Mind you, I suppose in Alaska they'd scoff: "Scotland? Paradise with whisky."*

Today, it's about as pleasant as it gets. The mercury is probably sitting around 23, and suburban Paddington is simply a haven. Sitting on a ridge, in my favourite bookshop/cafe, overlooking palms and a variety of broadleafs - deciduous and evergreen - and any cares and concerns I might have, have made themselves scarce. My son's happy place is the beach, in the surf; mine is here, but it's hard to define precisely why, so I won't try. I shall just return in a week or three for another dose, when my batteries need to be recharged.

* Yes, I know; that seems tautological.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Faster, Higher, More Sedentary

OK, so I'm not a committed blogger. Mea culpa. It's a fair cop, guv. For a while though, I was dabbling elsewhere ( and may yet continue.


The Olympic Games are on as I write, in a land far away. Mind you, they could be just down the road, for all the difference it would make to me. I used to watch a bit of football in my teens, if I had nothing better to do, and Wimbledon used to hold some fascination, but it's many a year since I felt drawn by either. Later on, I found televized lawn bowls appealing - though goodness knows why, given its inherent lack of obvious drama (I find Stephen Fry's attachment to darts quite bemusing) - and have even rolled a bowl or two, with a surprising measure of success. It has to be said though that I am not a huge fan of sport, as either a spectator or a participant.

Surely the Olympics are different? They are inspiring, aren't they? All those super-fit, single-minded paragons of sporting prowess and excellence, giving their all. Sounds about right... Many years ago, in school, we were asked to write a composition about the future of the Olympics. Well, in asking me, the teacher was asking the wrong person, given my ambivalence towards the subject. However, after due consideration, I wrote something about the increasing cost of hosting the event, and opined that it would become prohibitively expensive for many nations. As it is, we see the massive undertakings becoming exercises in brinksmanship, with facilities being completed barely in time, not to mention the failure to recover a sufficient portion of the cost though ticket sales. Still, we love the Games themselves, don't we?

What I didn't comment on, 40-odd years ago, was the issue of performance-enhancing drug use. To me, that makes a mockery of the whole shooting match (ironic moment: haven't heard of any shooters being chastized for drug use), as there is always the nagging doubt: 'yes, but did s/he win fairly?' It may take years for that question to be answered, if testing procedures have yet to be developed for new doping agents.

The other thing that niggles me is the constant examination of which nation has most medals. I really don't give a monkey's whether China has more medals than the UK, or Uzbekistan. Nations don't win medals, competitors do. If Mark Spitz or Daley Thomson (that dates my interest...) wins a neckful of gold (and does it cleanly), then I salute their achievement. If the USA sends a crop of hopefuls that ends up collectively more successful at acquiring gold, silver or bronze than their Australian counterparts, so what? Nationalism strikes again.

I wish all fair competitors the best of luck, and congratulate those who have already stood on the winners' podium, but the simple fact of their being accomplished enough to get to the Games marks them as being something special in the first place. To further divide them by hundredths of a second or by being millimetres closer to a bullseye, seems almost superfluous.

It has to be said that I shall be far more interested in whether or not the Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover land safely on the Red Planet tomorrow afternoon. Hitting a 3km-wide target at a distance of 250 million kilometres (as the crow flies), and doing so in a controlled manner, is a significant achievement. My fingers will be crossed. For those equally interested, Catherine Q has a post about Curiosity here: Mars Rover's Risky Ride.