Monday, December 27, 2010

A Year in Photos

A Year in Photos

I know there's still a few days left in calendar year, but I figured I'd get a head start on the year end wrap up. 2010 was a big year for me - I would hazard a guess that I shot over 30,000 photos. Between photographing in Eastern Europe for 3 months, shooting a couple weddings for friends/ colleagues, and moving further away from digital photo blandness, I finally feel like I've developed my own personal 'style' of photography. I will never be a great photographer, but I've finally come to realize that I don't care either. I do it for myself, and if a few folks happen to like what I produce along the way, then I've accomplished my goal and then some. Thanks for your continued patronage, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming year. All the best, and may the rest of your holiday season be filled with laughter, love, and libations. ;)

1. Untitled, 2. Boil, 3. Tagged, 4. Spires, 5. For Kicks, 6. Proclamation, 7. Gnarly, 8. Untitled, 9. The Downward Spiral, 10. Untitled, 11. Zmajski Most (Dragon Bridge), 12. St. Peter's Ba-ba-basilica, 13. Tailfeather, 14. Hungary HBW (Buda/ Pest), 15. Upright, 16. Centre Street Bridge in Microclics, 17. Untitled, 18. Untitled, 19. Untitled, 20. Wife on a Bike, 21. Prague Jewish Quarter, 22. Endless Emerald, 23. Weeds, 24. Amsterdamarama 2, 25. Pripyat: The Beauty of Decay

Update: Dec. 28 - I tracked down my mosaic of my 2009 photos. Click here to compare the two.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"It's in you to give"

So I failed at one of my goals over the past decade - which was to reach blood donation # 50 before I turned 30 years old. At a maximum of 6 donations (of whole blood, not platelets) per year, I should have theoretically reached 50 a couple years ago. But then I was deferred several times for having travelled to 'malaria risk' countries, and then I just plain fell off the cart a few times, and so tonight, I made my 47th donation just 10 days shy of turning 30. If I could just pause the clock for 6 months... Frack.

Anyways, that's my idea of a segway into my annual bleeding heart pinko commie post about doing your part for your fellow man. Let me start with a short story: 32 years ago, a young couple undertook a risky journey thousands of miles away from home with nothing but the shirts on their backs. They left behind their few meagre possessions, as well as their only child at the time because he was too young to make the journey safely, and sought refuge from the oppression of a long civil war that ended in mass bloodshed. Through a series of events beyond their control, they landed on the shores of Western Canada, and were shipped off to a small town where they would then toil in poverty for the next 20 odd years working labour jobs. Money was perpetually tight, and opportunities were slim. But despite all the adversity, they had a second child, sponsored their first child to rejoin them through immigration, and through the support of the community that took them in, they were able to make a life for their children that would be infinitely better than their own youth. In a nutshell, that's the coles notes version of me, my brother, and my parents who arrived as one of the many Chinese-Vietnamese refugees known as 'the boat people'.

Now, back to the present: As we hit the homestretch towards X-mas, and mostly lose our minds when it comes to throwing around insane amounts of money on frivolous gifts for our friends, family, and ourselves, let's just take a moment to remember that there are many around us who are much less fortunate, and could benefit from a bit of charity on our parts. I think it goes without saying that many of us are in positions of middle classed privilege, and sparing a few bucks here and there for society at large isn't a terrible burden to our wallets. That small donation may not seem like much to us, but could mean a world of impact on the lives who need it. The point of my story was to illustrate that people are often the victims of circumstance, and sometimes all they need is a bit of a helping hand. Had it not been for the generous spirit of the Canadian community that took my parents in, we would not be in the position of privilege that we have achieved today. So while some of you may scoff at the idea of giving your hard earned money to 'those lazy homeless folk that don't want to work,' I'd ask you to step into our shoes for a second and perhaps realize that that excuse is perpetuating a stereotype that just is NOT true.

In this mad rush holiday season, please take a moment to think beyond just yourself, and reflect on what you're doing to help others. To co-opt an old slogan from Canadian Blood Services, 'It's in you to give'.

If you made it through all that soapbox prosetylizing, thank you. Wishing you and yours a wonderful X-mas season, and a fun filled (but safe) new year!


Friday, December 17, 2010

San Frandoms

Another set of random shots from San Francisco. It's been two months since we've been on a holiday. I feel due for a trip, but alas, have no money. How about I make a half assed attempt to grow a moustache, and you donate money to this truly worthy cause? :{D

Strange acorn type things that fell off a tree.

Rustling a bead curtain inside the SFMOMA.

Inside the SFMOMA.

Us riding a cablecar.

Alcatraz at night.

Shot from inside the glass elevator of the St. Francis Hotel.

Inside a cellar room in the Robert Mondavi winery.

Found on the beach...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zen Kitchen

Dinner with friends at a vegan restaurant, Zen Kitchen, in Ottawa. Despite the lack of meat and dairy ingredients, the multi-course tasting menu was fairly interesting and pretty yummy. I'm going to have to try reverse engineering a few of these creations at home...

Kimchee Caesar (more like a bloody mary because it was tomato juice, but still an interesting concept)

Fresh bread with white bean and butternut squash dip.

Polenta croutons with edamame mousse and togarashi flakes.

Split pea soup with tempeh (soy) bacon

Mixed green salad with crushed walnuts, maple candied apple, beet curl, and mustard vinagrette

Veggie shepherd's pie with peppercorn apple chutney, Brussell sprouts, beets, and chipotle ketchup.

Maple walnut pie with maple and ice syrup, and vegan whipped cream (made from coconut milk).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ottawa X-mas Bokeh

It's fracking cold outside!! I damn near froze my boys off trying to snap these X-mas lights bokeh shots in downtown Ottawa. And while I'm in a complaining mood, ARC the Hotel (yes, that's how it's called) doesn't have complimentary in-room internet. What EFFING age do we live in that you can't provide it for free? They damn near give it away at everything from coffee shops to dollar stores. How the frick can a hotel get away with charging for it?!

Who doesn't heart a little custom bokeh?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When did this become a food blog?

Aaaaaaah, cooking, the process of preparing one's own sustenance. Estranged lovers we've become these past two years, but fear not, we shall make up for lost time.

Fresh Basil, Prosciutto, and Cod.

Ready for the oven.

Baked and ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cheddar Beer Bread

I'm on a bit of a yeast kick this week - my little yeasties are busy bubbling away in a cauldron as they ferment the 23 litres of water, malt and sugar into beer (check in with me a month later, and I'll tell you how the brew turned out). And then I decided I'd try out a Cheddar Beer Bread recipe tonight. Now all I need is to get a yeast infection, and my Yeast Triumvirate of Awesomeness will be complete...

3 cups Flour
3 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Oil
1 cup Grated Old Cheddar
1 can Room Temperature Beer

Stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Add oil and beer, mixing just until blended (dough will be lumpy). Bake in greased loaf pan @ 375F for 40-45 min. Crack a beer and serve. Delish!

Recipe stolen from an insert in the Calgary Herald.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Succulent Allure of Meaty Meatasticness

At the risk of sounding disrespectful to folks that consciously make a choice to be vegetarian, I do have to admit that I take a strange amount of delight in watching folks fall off the vegetarian bandwagon. It makes me feel less weak willed knowing that I once tried to reduce my weekly meat consumption and failed miserably when others who have been vegetarians for a long time suddenly decide they can no longer resist the succulent allure of meaty meatasticness (yes, that really should be a word). It's like that saying goes, 'Vegetables are what our food eat'. I only bring this up because we were at our friends' wedding last night, and the bride admitted to having given up her heathen ways and embracing the delicious carnivorous lifestyle. And I couldn't help but shout out a rather emphatic 'YES', as this means we could now go out for dim sum with her and her husband.

The above are photos of the many meaty things I ate during our Eastern European meat-and-beer-cation.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Urban Exposure Project and the Shameless Self Plug

Calling all photographers in the Calgary area - if you're interested in social issues in our community and are between the ages of 20 and 40, check out United Way and's Urban Exposure Project and see if this may appeal to you. They are currently recruiting for next year's cohort and have set 'Community' as the project theme. I was a participant in last year's project exploring the issue of 'Poverty', and it was an incredible learning experience, a chance to force yourself out of your comfort zone and get you to interact with many folks in the community that you would normally pass without notice, and also a chance to get involved in the community through volunteering at many social services agencies. The intent of the project is to have you as a photographer document the experiences and findings of your project in a series of images that will then be framed, mounted, and exhibited. Come on, as if there's any greater pleasure in life than seeing one of your photos hanging in a gallery (even if it's only for one night), and people standing around it discussing its meaning or its impact on them.

Shameless self plug - you can see one of my photos from last year's exhibit here

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Transmission Incomplete

I recently heard someone ask the question, "Why would anybody shoot film?!"... The irony of this was that he was deciding on which framed print to buy... from a photographer who shot film. It was hard to restrain my derisive snort at his idiotic comment.

I shot the following series using my Diana Mini on 35mm Fuji Provia 100 in Budapest, Hungary. The Mini has a loose switch for bulb and N modes, and often moves to bulb without me knowing it. I have blown out many a shot as a result, but occasionally, a few do turn out kinda interesting. And as more and more folks pick up dSLRs and similar larger sensor digi cams to produce noise free tack sharp images of blah, I find myself increasingly drawn to the allure of flawed lo-fi analog imagery. I especially love the scratches, dust, and imperfections in the first shot.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Polaroid SX-70 Test Shots

Photos from my first pack of 600 film in my recently acquired SX-70. I'm not sure if the film pack is really expired, or if there's something wrong with the camera, but I have a feeling the chemicals in each photo aren't fully mixing/ developing. But it's been said before, there has never in all of recorded history been a 'bad' polaroid picture. And these prove it. Decidely lo-fi, poor contrast, and horribly soft. Polaroid perfection!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shellfish / Shells

I present you a diptych of the before and after of our meal at the Hog Island Oyster Co at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Half a dungeness crab, 2 little neck clams, 5 jumbo prawns, 2 each of kumamoto/blue point/ and miyagi oysters on the half shell.




Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gastroscopic Update

Well now having gone through the actual procedure (see previous post), I can confidently say that the IV drugs they give you are awesome. The nurse tells you that the drugs will make you drowsy and that you likely won't remember much. She's mostly right. I remember trying to say "I'll try" (but it came out sounding more like 'hff hhgg' as I had the bite block keeping my jaw open), and then waking up a short while later with no memory of when it had started, how long I'd been out, or even of the waking up process - my first memory after the procedure is of being fully awake and looking around at the nurses wondering if I could leave yet. I wonder how long I'd actually been awake but obviously still somewhat drugged to the point that my brain was still unable to lay new memories yet...?

Fun times.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Does anyone feel like going for a gastroscopy for me tomorrow morning? Anyone? I hear those procedures are super fun, and I'll totally appreciate your friendship for at least a full day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wasted Days and Calgary By Night

I managed to accomplish exactly ZERO tasks on my day off today. I actually felt like I was wasting the precious oxygen supply of all mankind. Seriously, it was one of those 'Holy crap, you are a useless human being' type of days. But then, Anita came home and asked me to drive her to Japanese class, so I actually changed out of my pj's, grabbed a camera, tripod, and fired the shutter a few times to make my life seem less pointless.

And on an unrelated note, we've bought a house. Our days of travel at will and frivolous spending are behind us... sigh.