Saturday, September 19, 2009

More critters!

I'm always intriguied by how our guinea pigs have such different and distinct personalities even though they're sisters from the same litter. You'd think that they'd be fairly similar in taste and temperment, considering that the pair haven't been seperated since birth, but they're such polar personaility opposites it's almost fun to watch them interact with us and each other.

I'm the studious one.
The studious one
Eowyn ostantiously trying to maximise profits (or squeak-to-carrot returns)

Eowyn's the slightly smaller (and punkier looking) of the two. She's also the more calm and sedate of the two, always happy to be picked up and cuddled, and rarely startled by anything. She's also the bolder of the two and takes the lead in most situations. It's adorably cute how Leia follows Eowyn everywhere when we leave them to their own devices in the garden. It's a guinea pig train!

Leia looking stunned/shocked/startled... again!

Leia on the other hand is the more skittish and tempermental of the pair. She startles really easy. So easy in fact that she often bumps her head on things while reacting and trying to get away! You should really see her jump! She literally does this hop, turns around, and dashes for cover while bumping her head on the wall/food bowl/house in the process! It's so comical and adorable at the same time!

Nom nom nom.
Nom nom nom
Eowyn, always focused on the important things in life.

Compared to Eowyn who goes 'meh' and just sits there and nibbles away!

Think smart, act blur.
Think smart, act blur
Leia looking confused. Another of the many 'awww so cute!' expressions she's got.

Leia's very happy vegging out in front of the tv or computer - seriously! Leia sits through Warcraft sessions and tv episodes like a champ. Sometimes when the living room tv's on, you'll catch Leia watching through the bars of her cage. She also gets lonely quite easily and will start squeaking if we take Eowyn out of the cage for too long or if she can't find her sister. Eowyn on the other hand, just seems to take everything in stride!

Leia's also more inclined to try and hide or scurry off to her little corner. The only time she's aggressive is when it comes to trying to get food! She's trained herself very well to squeak whenever the fridge or pantry door is opened, which often either gets her a carrot or some attention. She's trained us pretty well too!

In your face, filling out your frame.
In your face!
Eowyn on the dinner table.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On photography, legalities and other things.

I'm primarily a street photographer - I try to capture snippets of the strange tableau called life 'as is' as candidly as I can within public places such as streets, malls, parks, beaches, conventions and so on. It's an approach that requires me to be constantly on the watch and constantly moving, trying to preempt that perfect moment so that I can point, frame and snap without missing it entirely. As such I have to be quick to anticipate, quick on my feet, and quick to pull the trigger... things I often fail to achieve!

Atlas in infancy?
Child and water feature, Forrest Chase

As far as photography goes, I'm quite the neophyte. I know just enough to know what I'm doing, but don't have enough experience or confidence to consistently capture the weird and wonderful. Such is life. As with anything you've got to keep trying at it, otherwise you'll never quite make it.

One of the most singularly frustrating things about being a street photographer though is some person's reactions to you trying to take the perfect shot. I've been yelled at, told off or threatened with legal proceedings more times than I have bothered to count. Most times I'd just smile and move on, but then there's the occasional fellow who reallys gets under my skin. Seriously, know your rights before having a go at me!

No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die.
... no Mr Bond, I expect you to die.
Evil mastermind planning world domination? Forrest Chase

There's no law in this country prohibiting me from snapping your photograph when we're in a public place. By virtue of the fact that you are in a public area, you automatically lose your right to reasonable privacy - meaning that I can snap a picture of you, your children, or even a picture of you frolicking naked on the sand if you're at a public nudist beach. The key word here is 'public'. Any issues you take up with me aren't legal, just merely questions of (1) personal taste, (2) perceived decency, or (3) paranoia that I'm a pedophile or (gasp!) a terrorist.

If I used your image to sell something or in an illegal manner, sure that's against the law. Just snapping a picture of you isn't, so please stop insinuating that it is. Incidentally, grabbing my camera, threatening me, or performing physical violence is against the law. A delicious irony that I'll savor when you're on the wrong side of those iron bars.

Child in a pram, Hay Street Mall

In my experience, persons with young kids, the elderly, and persons of African descent are most likely to take offence to my photography. Sure I can understand that some parents are overprotective of their little bundles of bawling, pooping, joy - even if it is unfounded; but elderly and persons of African descent? That I can't fathom. Perhaps it's something to do with a deep-seated pride or cultural touchiness I know nothing about? Please feel free to enlighten me if so.

My primary problem with being a street photographer is a lack of confidence to get out there in front of a person and obviously shoot that person with the person's full knowledge that they're on not-so-candid camera. That's something that I seriously need to get over or work around somehow. I notice that the more I photograph the more confident I get, but at the same time I'm not quite where I want to be with my photography, and I think it shows in the pictures I take.

Well, I'm off to take more pictures! Practice makes perfect hey?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ave Ceasar!

To be honest I was a little apprehensive about driving down to Mundaring to check out the pizza. It is a fair distance from home after all! But in the spirit of adventure and finding a decent feed, Char and I made the trek up to the hills with her folks to see what all the fuss was about.

Having a little spare time, we did the touristy thing and went to the visitor centre to have a quick browse through before heading to Mundaring Weir to see the dam... and predictably it rained on us a couple minutes after stepping out of the car. I swear, some days it feels like I'm living in England with all this intermittent blustery days and shrieking rain.

And then naturally when we got back to Mundaring town, the rain stopped. Bloody weather!

Now to be entirely honest, I wasn't sure what to expect at Little Ceasars. Hearing stories about the great pizza and reading the news clippings about the awards the pizzas' won is one thing, but actually eating it is a whole different kettle of fish. Maybe I'm a little cynical about the whole 'best in wherever' tag because you see it around so much, but this really lives up to its reputation. The pizza is awesome!

Double trouble

We ordered the Oyster Kilpatrick (Char's Dad's choice) and Jane's Addiction (my choice) pizzas, and damn were they good!

Oysters Kilpatrick... Pizza

The Oyster Kilpatrick is a truly interesting blend of bacon, smoked oyster, onion, parsley, worchestershire sauce and cheese. It's a very interesting flavour, almost a little tangy and sweet, then you bite into these little smoked oyster or bacon pockets of savoury goodness and you're inundated with a flavour explosion I can only call 'big'!

I admit that I was a little confused over the use of worchestershire sauce, but it blended in perfectly, and the onions just added enough of a counterbalance to the bacon and smoked oyster flavour that it wasn't overwhelming.

Ritual de lo Habitual

I love how they've named a good number of pizzas after bands. There's the Smashing Pumpkin, Eskimo Joe and White Stripe pizzas. Then there's what we tried, Jane's Addiction... and yes I am addicted!

I must say, I'm not a huge fan of the band, but damnit that's good pizza! Marinated prawns, prosciutto, garlic cream, rocket pesto and cheese? Sign me up! I've had a couple of garlic prawn pizzas in my time, but this one takes the cake, the cream, and the cherry on top too. It's that good. The combination of flavours is truly sublime. My sole complaint is that the prawns are just a shade this side of salty, but otherwise, it's as close to prawn pizza heaven as I've ever been.

When I next make the trek up to Mundaring, I'm definitely having another one of them Jane's Addictions! (Light on the Dave Navarro if you please.)

Dessert pizza

And then there's dessert. A pecan pie pizza. Lord knows I'm not the world's biggest fan of the sweet stuff, but this wasn't too bad. Little slivers of pecan and caramel dusted with sugar over a butterscotch pudding mix. Sounds interesting, no? Thankfully it wasn't too sweet, although after the really big flavours of the savory pizzas, I was expecting something with a little more zing, which this really didn't deliver. (Then again my taste buds might have been fried by flavour overload at that point!)

Overall I must say that I'm very impressed with the pizza. It's really worth making the trip and waiting and fighting the crowd for. Thankfully we where there early so we missed the bulk of the rush, but it was still pretty jam packed with people. Lots of Asian fellows there too. Guess we all subscribe to the 'don't care how far it is as long as it's good/cheap' ethic, eh?

Mmm... Gooey

If anyone wants to head up Mundaring way for a pizza any time soon, let me know! (Hi Robin! This means you! :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Look! Up in the sky!

One of the many oddities I've noticed is that for all our supposed complexity and intelligence, the human species displays remarkably herd-like tendancies. We queue wherever there's a line (regardless of whether we're British or not), we gather where others gather and we walk wherever the mass is walking. It's a curious and occasionally humourous phenonmeon.

I recall once when a friend pointed up into a clear blue sky and yelled 'Hey look! A dead bird!'; predictably, everyone looked heavenwards even though there was no logical way that a dead bird would be found suspended overhead.

So imagine to my surprise when I looked through a my photos and found a whole plethora of people looking upwards! Now, being somewhat of a herd creature myself (aren't we all?) I'm fairly sure that there was nothing suitably momentous suspended overhead along Hay Street mall. Well, except maybe the canopy of the cafe I was camping under...

Here's a trio of pictures from that day.

Something in my eye.
What are you looking at?

Reach for the sky.
Reach for the sky

What's there?
Looking up

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Things to eat.

Portermisu... and beer!

Like many others, I love food. Often I find it hard to discern the line between 'eat to live' and 'live to eat'; I fear that I lean towards the latter more strongly than I do the former! In our abundance, it is easy to forget those who have little to eat, especially when we never encounter them. It's a sobering thought.

Still, food is the great human leveller. We all need to eat, and invariably we all socialise while eating. I'm sure there's someone out there much wiser than I who will be able to discuss the social psychology of food with you; but today my mission is simply to present you with a few random things I've eaten over the past few months.

I think my doctor will probably cringe.

Seafood Ravioli.
Seafood ravioli

This is probably the best ravioli I've ever had. It packed so much sheer flavour in every bite. It's a literal explosion of flavours and textures with all the different fish, prawns and other crustaceans packed into each little pasta dumpling. Admittedly it was pricey though!

Bacon and Egg Roll.
Bacon and egg roll

Seriously, that's what I call a greasy breakfast on the go. Seriously, who needs knives and forks? Get stuck in with your fingers is what I say! There's a visceral pleasure in physically touching and manhandling your food.

Sticky Pork Belly and Scallops.
Sticky pork belly and Scallops

The sticky pork belly and scallops is one of our favourite tapas at Mad Monks in Fremantle. The blend of sweet, hot and savory is quite well balanced in this dish.

Mad Monks is probably our favourite place to go at the moment. There's a good solid variety of food and the quality is always excellent. Plus they brew their own beers too. I'm partial to the Rogue beer, which is a lighter zesty style of beer; plus there's a whole bunch of others too. Among the beers, the Rauchbier really stands out in my opinion; it's seriously the first beer I've ever had that I can safely say reminds me of bacon and sausages. I kid you not. Its definitely something off the beaten track for me!

Sicilian Pizza.

Char loves her anchovies... In small doses! There's a good number of places here that do a pretty mean pizza; for which I am very grateful. I've had one too many poor quality pizzas from back in Singapore. I have to say I do find that I enjoy a nice glass of white with my pizza much more than I do the beer these days. Beer and pizza have become too filling for me. Or perhaps I'm just getting older.

Anyone up for supper?