Thursday, June 30, 2011


If your minimum standards for the behaviour of children don't include:

- Following basic laboratory safety rules
- Not talking while the teacher is talking
- Not talking during a video
- Following the SCHOOL RULES like not chewing gum

and if you don't follow through with consequences once you've threatened them, then you shouldn't be a teacher!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Time for a break

I'm very tired and feeling uninspired. I'll be back posting for term 3, so 18th of July.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting to Know You

I posted last week about getting to know my new camera and getting used to all the wacky newness of having a Digital/SLR hybrid. I thought maybe I should give you some examples of the sorts of things I'm getting out of it:

This is the first photo I ever took with the new camera. It is underexposed, blurry, and kind of... Well, brown. I was horrified at it, but fortunately I know that adjusting settings is all that's really needed.

This is a picture of a flower. No, really. If you look really hard and squint a little, you can almost see it. This was taken in the shade, late afternoon, and with too short an exposure.

This is another flower in the same patch of grass, this time with a longer exposure. I still wasn't entirely happy with it, though. It was too dark and way too blue.

This is that same flower, with a fair amount of photoshopping. I brightened it up, changed the contrast, altered the hue of the picture, then I took the colour out of the flower because I couldn't figure out any other way of making it less blue.

So you can see why my first challenge is just getting to know the device. I think I've made reasonable progress as far as this goes, but I have a fair way to go. I realise that very few photos out there come out perfect the first time and that most have at least some post-production work done on them, so I won't beat myself up about that flower not coming out so nicely the first time. But that kind of result without using photoshop is what I'll continue to aim for :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011


One of the problems with ADHD is that it is partly the result of a faulty reward system. This is overly simplistic as the characteristic lack of dopamine affects many areas of brain function and learning, but it may be related to risk-taking behaviour and addiction in those with ADHD.

Treatment for it through stimulant medications decreases the chances that someone with ADHD will attempt to self-medicate through other means, such as drugs or hoon driving or eating the mouldiest cheese they can find.

Of course, if it goes unmedicated, the poor ADD-er will start looking for other ways to get this "high" that we are so lacking.

One of the things that ADD-ers are known for is intense, short bursts of obsession over a new hobby, be it photography, stamp-collecting, or a movie they just saw. The symptoms are a lot like the early stages of falling in love. Consider please:

- You can't think about anything else
- It's all you talk about
- You get pictures of the of the object of your affection and put them EVERWHERE
- You find out as much as you can about the object of your affection
- You feel excited at the thought of doing something with the object of your affection

Of course, just like in love, after a few weeks your obsession dies down a little. That adrenaline rush you used to get just isn't as intense any more, and other thoughts are able to make it into your brain for more than half a second. This is where it either becomes True Love where the relationship grows into something and nurtures both of you, or fades into the distance to be replace by something that is as thrilling and exciting as the previous one was at the very start.

And so, the obsession cycle goes in ADHD, and it is all about seeking that next high.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A personal challenge

My housemate and I are involved in a mutual challenge. Every week, we try to cook a recipe we've never done before. It's pretty good because it's helped to reinvogorate my interest in cooking, and I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to do something like that with photography, now that I have my new DSLR. There are, however, a few modifications I would make:

Firstly, I think that it should be fortnightly or monthly. The recipe challenge can be weekly because I can afford to just pick a night of the week when I have a few hours free and spend maybe 10mins choosing a recipe before I go cooking. With photography, I need to give myself enough time to factor in changes in my workload, other scheduling and weather. So I think I'll make it monthly, and put up a few photos I'm particularly proud of for that month.

Secondly, I've realised that my first challenge has already started: getting to know the camera. So this month, I'm learning about how the camera handles light. My goal is to be able to consistently get photos where it's clear what the subject is. I need to learn how to balance the shutter speed, ISO, and the F-stop (how open the shutter starts off being).

It's not as easy as it sounds, mainly because a DSLR is a bizarre mix of the SLR film cameras I once used and the point-and-shoot cameras I've recently become used to. For instance, on this DSLR I can't see how the photo's turned out until I've taken it. I don't have to wait for it to be on the computer, but what I see through the view finder isn't exactly what I end up with.

With the SLR camera I once had, I'm used to controlling the shutter opening by rotating part of the lens casing and I can't do that here. I also have to push a button to see roughly how much light is getting in at that diameter. Of course, that won't tell me how the shutter speed will affect the image.

I'm also really not used to ISO, and I don't really want to use it if it can be avoided because it results in photos becoming noisy.  This means I have to focuse mostly on the other two, and on using the flash.

Hopefully I'll have fewer shocks when I go into Playback mode, like today when I went to look at my shots and saw nothing but black...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I feel the need: The need for SPEED!

Now, I'm not a racing cyclist. I don't consider myself an athlete. I like to think I'm athletic (despite the layer of squish that I've been sporting lately), in spirit if not in the flesh. As such, going really fast on the bike isn't one of my main goals.

Having said that, I must admit a small amount of jealousy toward the lycra-clad guys on their roadies with their massive and muscular calf muscles who insist on overtaking me during my commute every morning. I'm not jealous of the lycra, bikes or muscles: Just slightly miffed at how fast they can go.

Whether I want to or not, I do see speed as a measure of fitness and strength. I am less fast, therefore less fit and strong. Which is clear, given that I need an electric bike to get me to work and back consistently and more than twice/week. So, my lack of speed feels like failure when I compare myself to these other guys on the trail (there aren't many recreational cyclists crazy enough to tackle the hills I take to get to work).

The other advantage to fast riding is time. The less time it takes me to get to work in the morning, the more time I have for things like sleeping in, having a cooked breakfast, drinking coffee, Internetting, etc etc.  The less time I spend cycling home from work, the more time I have for, well, the same sorts of things.

As beautiful as my ride to work is (and it's pretty damned gorgeous; lakes, parks, wetlands... Beautiful!), I'd still rather spend as little time on it as possible. So while I don't keep records of my time spent commuting and don't have a Personal Best that I try to beat at every opportunity, I can't pretend that being really really fast wouldn't have me just a little bit chuffed...

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Joys of Cycling

My commute to work involves going through a park. Here are some photos of it; hopefully they'll help show why I love it so much :-)

This is the lake that I cycle past every morning. Sometimes it's covered in mist, and it looks like the ducks are floating on nothing.

This is one of the ducks!

Some of the benches that you can picnic on.

Right now, the ground is an amazing mix of green grass and yellow leaves. At the right time of day with the sun low-ish in the sky, you realise where the Australian colours of green and gold come from.

Dew drops.

An ant with wings!

A coot. The white forehead and red eyes are quite striking.

So, this is why I love cycling so much. At some point soon I'll hopefully take some pictures of other parts of my commute and post those up for you all to see :-)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New bike!

Just over a fortnight ago, I road-tested a Gazelle Innergy electric bike. I'd read about Gazelle bikes on Lovely Bicycle, so I was intrigued given I'd heard good things about the style of bike and the brand.

I tried two bikes at two different shops. The first was a diamond-frame (men's) bike in the largest size. I could barely get my leg over the damned thing and I couldn't get my bum on the seat. So much for that! I never did like diamond frames, and having one on a bike that's too big for you is a huge problem.

The second shop had a model in the smallest size, and it was a step-through (ladies') frame. It was still a bit high for me (they'd have to take the suspension post out for me to lower it enough for my short little legs), but I was actually able to get on to this one and take it for a spin!

The first thing I noticed was how different the upright posture feels. My Apollo is pretty good that way, but I still lean forward a bit on it. This one actually lets me sit upright properly, which is so much more comfortable for my shoulders and back muscles.

The next thing was the way the motor helps with riding uphill. It's fantastic. I tried it with the pedal assist off, and on the 3 other modes (normal, "eco", and boost). The difference is huge. This bike is heavier than mine (the battery adds weight, at the very least) so it would be harder to get going up a hill anyway, but with the motor engaged and helping you along it made that hill effortless. You can take off, uphill, in 6th gear! With this thing on, you don't even need gears! Well, ok, you do. But it's so much easier with the motor!

Now, steep hills aren't a free ride on this little beauty. You can't necessarily ride them the way you would on flat ground; you do still have to work, but it makes them easier enough that you don't lose all hope half-way along. I'm still getting exercise and working up a sweat, but without the sense of impending doom that comes along with it on a normal machine.

To give a slightly more thorough run-down on what it feels like to ride: There are 4 modes for the motor: Economy, Normal, Boost, and Off. Aside from the last, these are customisable and the dealer can set up how much power each of these gives you. The maximum oomph  is 250W, but in australia the maximum legal oomph is 200W, so that's what mine is set to. I don't know about the other two, except that they're less (and "off" obviously means that I'm not using it at all).

Economy: This is the mode that gives your battery the longest life expectancy. It's good for riding home on the flat when you're a bit tired, and pretty much nothing else.

Normal: This this one's decent for hills that you actually notice. It also helps you gain a bit of speed on the flat.

Boost: Good for all but the steepest hills, and excellent if you want to reach maximum speed really really quickly. In Australia, the maximum speed it can help you reach is 27.5km/hr, and then the motor cuts out.

Though the effect of the motor kicking in is really subtle, if you've been riding it with the motor engaged and then you switch it off, even on a flat, you really notice the change. It feels like the bike lags just a touch. It's hard to describe, but it kind of feels like the bike being miffed at you for making it do extra work on its own. Yes, these bikes appear to have personalities.

Anyway. Back to talking about the physical features of the machine:

Another thing I really like is how well-integrated everything is. The battery is kept under the rear rack, which looks much nicer than some other brands where it is kept just behind the seat post and quite frankly doesn't look very nice.

The bell is part of the handle, so it looks extremely tidy.

The wires all disappear inside the body of the bike. Now, this is fairly minor but it does do something for the aesthetics.

There is a little button hides the nut that you loosen to raise the handlebars. This is a very minor detail, but it is an important one. I like it because it shows that someone else out there realises that form is as important as function. Believe me, there are some fugly things out there because people forget this.

As you have probably guessed, I am now the proud owner of one of these beauties and hills are no longer bothering me anywhere near as much as they used to! I can actually make it home from work without feeling like I'm about to die!