Archive for the ‘dublin’ Category
No, I’m not moving: the scenery is being moved for me. This is a Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland, which means that they can close the DART line. Why do they need to close the DART line? Because the west stand of the Lansdowne Road Stadium
is was built hanging over the DART line.
It meant an all-nighter: these photos were taken long after 2AM, with a tripod in my kitchen, which was an interesting challenge.Some came out really well, with interesting colours, and I may post one or two in my main photo gallery. It helped that I have a camera (Pentax *ist DS) with good sensitivity (ISO 3200), and a fast Sigma 70-200mm lens.
By this morning the stand was mostly gone, leaving nothing between me and the coast but a few low houses. I don’t quite have a sea view, because at that angle the coast is not that close. There are trees, which suits me just fine.
The scenery is changing in my office, too: on Friday I handed in my notice, kicking off a process that will occupy much of the next four weeks. I’ve already been heavily occupied in “knowledge transfer”, mostly informal “mentoring” so far, but I’ll be giving a presentation to colleagues on a particularly thorny product range.
I was going to say something about University, but the U key on my new keyboard is intermittent, so I’ll need to take a look at that, tomorrow. I was drilling holes in one of my guitars the other day, brass dust went everywhere…
For the last couple of weeks I’ve not had as much sleep as I should. There’s nothing in particular keeping me awake; I was simply not getting tired until after 1am, despite getting up at 7am every weekday. Even on weekends, when I could sleep as long as I could wish, I’ve been awake around 8am. It’s probably related to Daylight Savings time, since it’s still bright at 11pm, at this time of year.
After that happened again on Saturday, I decided to take some drastic action to mark the middle of the year. I’ve been up for 34 hours now, with the help of coffee, and took a very-early-morning trip in to Dublin with my camera. Two cameras, actually: I’ve got my old film Pentax going again, though if I get anything off the three-year-old roll of black-and-white currently in there, it might be somewhat avant-garde.
I walked through the Grand Canal Docks area, snapping buildings when it wasn’t raining; there was so little colour in the shots that it wasn’t worth keeping. The first picture above is of a low tunnel under the DART line, with some flash to bring out the texture of the spiralling bricks; the other is a new apartment block under construction. This building is so narrow and skeletal that I would not want to live in it, even if I could afford the extortionate price tag.
On my first-ever visit to Dublin in 1999, I had an “encounter” with a foul-mouthed six-year-old, who followed me down a street cursing and threatening to get his brother. Though Grand Canal Docks is a very upmarket area, it is close to some very downmarket areas, and I “met” two local teenagers this morning. One of them might well have been that same kid from 1999, eight years older: the two of them were drunk or stoned, barking incomprehensible vitriol in my general direction. As a parting shot, as a security patrol came in to view, they finished by throwing a couple of aerosol cans at me. They appeared to be cans of shaving gel, leading me to wonder if they were the latest trend in solvent abuse. Ah, the kids of today – aren’t they precious? Wankers.
I was back home shortly after 7am, so additional anti-sleep measures were necessary: cola, a couple of hours of Guild Wars in the morning, and in the afternoon, a movie on TV that I’d never seen before, but fit the “stay awake” bill very nicely. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is, when you get down to it, a two-hour-long music video. Spotting the bloopers was part of the fun: I mean, could three women really throw themselves ten feet into the air, through glass windows? One of them was carrying a full-grown man, who must have weighed the same as her plus half as much again.
My last cup of coffee was after 3pm, and should have worn off by 9pm, meaning that I can look forward to 8-10 solid hours of sleep tonight. If that means I’m getting up earlier, it will be only temporary unless I set my alarm; without a regular wake-up time, I’ll be up later every day.
Today’s big music news is the Princess Diana Memorial Concert, which did not sound at all promising, but passing through the channels now there was one pleasant surprise: Roger Hodgson, by himself, has got the whole of Wembley Stadium singing Supertramp songs. “Well, this is cosy, innt?” 8)
In the absence of any real incident, how about a little “traditional blogging”; what I did on my Saturday:
- Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head… nah. My hair’s too short to need a comb;
- Hung around the flat all morning; I have the place to myself for about two weeks, my flatmate having departed for British Columbia early this morning;
- Wrote a bit about Rush for MuseWiki, to replace the one-liner. Black Holes and Revelations is still sounding great.
- Headed in to Dublin city centre: first stop the opticians, to pick up my new specs. They’re a more conventional shape than I’m used to, since the optician advised me to go for smaller lenses. Having such bad eyes means that I’ve never been able to take advantage of any special offers, because of high refractive index lenses, never mind the light-sensitive and anti-reflective coatings. There is some good news: my suspicions were correct, and my eyes have improved since the last test, my left eye by a whole diopter.
- Bought more cheap trousers, but left shoes for another day. I walk 32 kilometres (20 miles) in an average week, not including weekends, and it takes its toll on clothes. Thank goodness for outlet stores.
- Tonight I’m watching a “greatest movies” countdown on Channel 4, noting that I have yet to see most of them; the VCR will be recording one that should be on the list but probably isn’t: Being There.
Schmap have an interesting business model: they take publicly-available material and fashion it in to travel guides, and use this in the marketing process. I only heard of them because they borrowed a photo of mine from Flickr, one that I had marked as available for commercial use under the Creative Commons license, and used it in their Dublin guide. This is something like what I had in mind, so no complaints on that score, as long as they provide proper attribution (which they have). So, grab a copy of the Dublin guide, and see some more of my work.That’s all – enjoy!
Saturday will be over by the time I post this, and I will be asleep soon after. This was a day marked by violence and collisions, none of them involving me, thankfully, but still jarring.
In the afternoon I went shopping, and carried my camera, because I heard there was going to be a parade of Unionists through Dublin. I thought there might be an photogenic angry scene or two, but the reality was far far worse, and I’m not annoyed that I missed most of it. The mere presence of Unionists in Dublin was enough to attract Republican thugs from across the 26 counties, and they didn’t even need to see the Unionists to go on the rampage, attacking police and wrecking half of O’Connell Street.
Unlike London in 1999, I didn’t get to see the fighting for myself, only some running people, and a long view of a Garda (police) baton charge. A view of the aftermath was quite enough.
Next: a bruising Rugby clash between Scotland and England, the “Auld Enemy”, at Murrayfield near Edinburgh. After 80 minutes of scrums and rucks, plenty of kicks but no tries, Scotland came out 18-12 winners to pick up the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 2000.
At least I got a leather jacket at a good price. Can I go to sleep now?
It’s just after six on Friday evening, and I’ve managed to rearrange my sleep patterns to allow me to bunk down before ten, so I can be up again at four. That’s what I need to do to catch the bus to the airport for my 06:40 flight to Charles De Gaulle, for the Paris Air Show. I don’t know how wise it is to muck around with your sleep patterns, but the process has been interesting, at least.
I started by trying to bring my wake-up time forward gradually, from around 08:00 to 04:00, but it backfired badly last Saturday night when I couldn’t get to sleep until well after midnight. When the alarm went off at 06:00, I woke up, but spent about half an hour stuck in “first gear” before dozing back off till nearly 11:00.
Then I thought I could use an old method of mine: the Wraparound. You execute a Wraparound by lengthening your daily cycle from 24 to 28 hours, so that you get six nights sleep in seven days. It started off well, when I was able to stay up to 08:00 on Monday morning, ahead of schedule. I even got out to the beach at around 05:00 with the camera, and took some of my best pictures so far. There were few clouds in the sky, just enough to make the sunrise interesting, and plenty of light.
That backfired too: this time I couldn’t sleep long enough to keep the wraparound going steadily: I was up by 12:00, less than five hours sleep, and wilted by 08:00 on Tuesday morning, yet slept till only 14:00 or so. I must need less sleep as I get older, but it doesn’t mean that I stay awake much longer, I suppose. It all worked out for the best, though: I was so tired on Tuesday that I could get to sleep earlier, and by Thursday I was up at 04:00, like I was today and should be tomorrow.
One nice thing I discovered today is that there will be a coach service direct from the CDG terminal I’m arriving at, 2F, to Le Bourget airport a few km down the road, where the show will take place. Good – saves me the hassle of dealing with the RER (suburban rail) line so early in the morning, though the cost is exorbitant – €10 each way. I will need to use the train later to get to my hotel, but I should have plenty of time to figure that out.
The only remaining question is: how am I going to post this? I have no Internet access at home – which explains the gap in entries – and the Dublin Airport free access was absent last time I was there. I hear the Press tent at the air show will have WiFi, and I’d like to see them keep the microwaves in the tent, eh?
Never mind the Special Olympics in 2003: if any proof was necessary that Dublin has arrived as a world destination, I found it today, in the freezer section of Superquinn’s in Blackrock. That’s right, folks; Ben & Jerry now make a Dublin Mudslide flavour. It was OK, I suppose, but I’ve had better ice creams.
Ice cream (with liquer), steak, a fine Brie: what’s the occasion? My birthday, again. I used to mention Bing Crosby as someone I shared a birthday with, but it seems I was wrong about that – he was born a day later, according to more authoritative sources. Never mind; besides Queen Catherine the Great and David Beckham (who turned 30 today), other names I can drop are those of Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti and actor Duayne “The Rock” Johnson. Ye Flipping Gods…
Today was the May Day Bank Holiday here in Ireland, and I actually took the day off for a change, I normally work these days and take a more useful day in lieu. My afternoon went on another of my mad walks down the coast, this time to Dún Laoghaire (Dunleary), the harbour and ferry port. The word of the day was “grey”, with a few gaps in the cloud providing a little colour. As I found at the Leopardstown Racecourse a few months ago, this strange light fools my camera into underexposing, and this time I soon remembered to compensate for the effects.
As before, there was little point in keeping what little colour the images contained, and it was back to black & white. Mucking about with different colour balances had little effect, even with the RAW data from the camera that had no in-camera processing. There are more pictures on the Dublin gallery page (follow the Gallery link). I haven’t trawled through all the pictures yet, so I should have a few more later, including some 3D work.
I’ve just seen myself on TV tonight, twice, because I spent the afternoon at the Hennessy Gold Cup horse racing meeting at Leopardstown. First up was a quick shot of my taking a picture of big race favourite Beef Or Salmon at the parade ring, then I was in a group of photographers at the last fence, watching Beef Or Salmon make a Hash of it. More photos from this day are behind this first picture.
On previous trips to Leopardstown I had wondered how I might get on to the course, seeing as all the gates were guarded by security personnel. Today I took a closer look and found that the personnel in question – kids earning pocket money – are apparently stationed there to keep the gate closed, not to actually stop anyone getting on the track. I found my way to the last fence and hung around with the “pro” photographers, the ones engaged in the Big Fast Lens Arms Race. They wouldn’t talk to me, of course, too busy telling loud stories about flying around the world at a moment’s notice and abusing their gear. If you had paid five figures for your digital SLR camera body, would it be patched up with gaffa tape and hanging off your back in the rain?
I had a chat with the St John’s Ambulance member on standby there, learning something about the kinds of falls experienced by jockeys. Some fall better than others, and it has a lot to do with experience, he said: a new jockey might find himself on the ground wondering what the hell happened, while an experienced jockey can tell if the jump is wrong before the horse is over the fence, bail out in time, and fall correctly.
How did the Pentax hold up? Very well, under difficult conditions. Unlike the “pros” I kept my gear mostly dry, and the pictures are not perfect, though very useable, It may be a totally new camera, but they still look mine. Still, I’m beginning to see why some people will pay a lot of money for a big lens that grants them another stop or two of light. The ironic thing is: I have a fairly fast “prime” lens which I could have used yesterday, but didn’t, thinking I would need the zoom lenses only. The extra light would have come in handy. Oh well.
The Pentax *ist DS was here when I got home on Friday evening, so that largely did for the weekend.
I can see I have a lot to learn about photography, analogue or digital, which makes this an excellent camera for me. It has to be among the most user-friendly of all such “prosumer” cameras, so-called (I think) because it has easy Picture modes alongside Program and Manual modes. The Picture modes set the camera up for typical shooting scenarios – portraits, close-ups, landscapes, moving objects, and the Auto Pict mode which switches between those other modes. The Program modes give you partial exposure control, and Manual mode gives full control.
I could go on about features like this that are not unique to this camera, but it’s the way they’re packaged that makes all the difference, in a modern digital body that can accept fifty-year-old lenses. I have four, including a brand-new auto-focus lens that came with the camera, and another decade-old manual-focus 50mm lens. Even today, on a quick trip down the coast to Bray, I soon found myself switching from the Picture modes into Aperture Priority, which is how to set up low-depth-of-field effects and more. I suspect my photographic output is going to increase dramatically, and I should look for a dedicated photo hosting solution, it might be too much for this little site alone to handle. One called PBase has been recommended by other Pentax users on the DPReview forums, so that will be the first place to look.
Ow, my poor feet… I should have checked the map before setting out this afternoon, then I wouldn’t have had to estimate my actual mileage, afterwards, at about eight miles or thirteen kilometres, most of it in a freezing north wind. I decided to carry on the full three-mile length of the South Pier of Dublin Harbour, past the Poolbeg power station, all the way to the lighthouse, just to see it for the first time. The way back, in the dark, along the narrow uneven pier, with sea on either side, was a little hair-raising. I can take it, but my walking shoes are about two years old and paper thin. Oh well, tomorrow is a good day to get reshod, before the last in the current Japanese classes.
My new place has a great view of the Lansdowne Road stadium – the grandstand, not the field – and there’s another big match on there today: Ireland vs. USA at Rugby. The crowds are gathering and littering the streets profusely, as they were last week, when people were giving out Fisherman’s Friends. I wish I’d known about that but, by the time I went past, there remained only thousands of little packets littering the streets in all directions, and the turbine-powered street-sweepers were deafening everyone in earshot. People!
So, today is just a chillout day, engaged in what you might call Multi-Slacking, i.e. doing multiple unproductive things at the same time. (Not to be confused with what Dilbert author Scott Adams calls “multi-shirking”, which is the failure to do many important things, all at the same time.) One is writing this blog, which is verging on the productive (in my humble opinion), but I’ve also been cooking fresh ravioli, and half-watching an American Chopper marathon on the Discovery Channel.
I’m a little ambivalent about the whole concept: it’s interesting to see these bikes being built, the way the whole can be much more than the some of its parts, but I was surprised to see how much Orange County Chopppers don’t do on the bikes. They buy in all the major components from specialist suppliers, often using them stock, and farm out the paint work. Then again, it is a commercial business, with paying customers, and they can’t take the time to get as skilled in those areas as the specialists are. They have become a major player in the local economy, cash filtering through them, from the rich clients down to parts suppliers, engine specialists, and pizza restaurants.
After the first series, however, the Teutul family have become celebrities, soap-ing up the inevitable arguments, and even get to build a bike for Jay Leno to be unveiled on The Tonight Show. It’s only a matter of time before they get tired of having cameras in their faces, as the Osbournes finally are – they announced, this week, that they are calling a halt to their “UnReality TV” show.
In-between episodes, we have commercials, of course. I’ve often felt that advertisers who spend lots of money on commercials are doing so because they can afford to, they are making huge profits. There are cases when advertisers need to take a risk to attract a market, but when I see saturation of the airwaves by a few big names, it’s clear that they are not competing with each other on price. I’ve moaned about advertisers, before, but the Discovery Channel seems to attact a different class of advertiser. Nickelodeon has its toy ads, MTV and similar channels are currently clogged with ringtone commercials, but DC is full of ads for financial services. Want a loan, but have a poor financial record? They will give you the money, but they will get their pound of flesh in return, in the form of high interest rates, or a foreclosure on your house. (If you’re not a homeowner, i.e. with substantial collateral, you needn’t apply.)
Crumbs, Crivens, Crikey, and any other suitable pseudo-swearwords you can think of: I have way too much stuff, and my flatmate can say the same. It took us all Saturday morning to get it ready for shipping, but at least it all fit in the van we rented, barely, and survived the trip. The move is almost over, barring a trip to the old place tonight to pick up a final few things (after my Japanese class), another trip tomorrow for final cleaning (since I won’t have time tonight), and meeting the landlord on Wednesday to hand over the keys and collect our deposits.
The new place is looking fairly good, I have a much larger bedroom with my music and AV gear set up, even the Cable TV connection worked first time. The rest of the place is small, however, no place to unpack books and DVDs, so they’re still boxed up, and will likely remain so until I figure it out. I may have to do for my DVDs what I did for most of my CDs: ditch the plastic cases, keep only the discs and cover sheets. The exceptions in both cases are those DVDs in special packaging, of course. My large suitcase, which holds the other cases, is set to become part of my bedroom furniture, there is no space large enough for it. I’m seriously considering stacking bricks under my bed base, to offer me storage space under there.
The previous tenants didn’t do a very good job of cleaning the place, especially the bathroom, and there were some strange omissions in the furnishings: we had a TV, kettle, toaster, dual oven… but no draining trays, bath mats, or toilet brush. Don’t get me started on the washing machine, I’ve done what I could by cleaning out years of clogged soap from the powder tray and accumulated crap from the filter, including the shreds of someone’s lost credit card and several humungous bra underwires. (Ladies of all sexes: follow the laundry instructions on the box, will you? You ought to know what an underwire can do to the pump, and how much it costs to fix…)
My Kawai K5000S is probably the single most valuable object I own, thanks to its rarity, and it survived inside swathes of bubble-wrap inside its padded gig bag, and is now set up: I actually made a small start on a new piece last night, using Sonar as my main sequencer. With this move out of the way, and a week of no work or anything else coming up, I should be able to relax again. Yay!