Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Heart

Ballpoint and Gel Pen ink sketch. I don't do nearly enough sketching anymore... sure feels good to put pen to paper every once in a while.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Currently on the reading list: Stephen Hawking - A Brief History of Time. I'm a science nerd, whatever. Some people collect stamps. Don't judge.

Today, I was engaged in a rather one sided conversation with a paranoid schizophrenic on the bus home about the dangers of Hanta virus and H1N1 mixing in humans. One sided in that he was essentially yelling slightly incorrect science tidbits at me, whilst I tried to distance myself. Not because I was scared, mind you, but because it was almost humorous and I didn't want to offend him by accidentally laughing. Luckily for me, he arrived at his stop just as his monologue had veered into the extreme territory of how our 'MENTALLY RETARDED GOVERNMENT' (his words, caps to express the volume with which he said them) should really be 'offed'...

Anyways, there's really no point to this story. But I did manage to talk about one of the most intelligent people in the world AND our 'retarded government' in one post. That's gotta be worth something, right?


Monday, January 25, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Alberta: Old and Uneducated

An EKOS poll on Canadian support for our political parties has the Conservatives and the Liberals in a virtual tie at 31.5% and 30.9% respectively. Who cares... the statistic that I found the most interesting is this:

'People in Alberta, Canadians 65 and older, and those with a high school education or less are more likely to believe the government is moving in the right direction.'

In other words, the poll found obvious trends in terms of beliefs based on education and demographics. The older you are, or the less educated you are, the more likely you are to believe that the government is doing the right thing. Except if you're Albertan, where we apparently have the same beliefs as the rest of the OLD and UNEDUCATED populace of Canada.

Take that as you will... but to me, it certainly doesn't seem like a good group to be lumped into - OLD (which one could perhaps equate to less forward thinking - no, NOT in Alberta?!), and UNEDUCATED (I'm being a bit harsh here as I agree you don't need a formal higher education to be smart, but you get the idea - and if you don't, well then I'm talking exactly about YOU).

I just read a quote on the notion of why being ignorant is blissful, which seems very fitting in this situation - David Dunning writes, "Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it."

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I hear the hate-mailman coming...


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Departures: Nevadan Countryside

As alluded to in a previous post, one of the highlights of visiting Las Vegas was not spent in Vegas, but rather, driving far far away from it. We rented a car (I realize we were in the States, but it was still weird seeing the Thrifty rental lot with ONLY American cars available - all the UGLY ones at that), and had a plan to drive to Boulder city, the Hoover Dam, up through Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and through the Valley of Fire State Park.

Our only problem - the GPS unit we borrowed from my uncle was distinctly patriotic. It just refused to recognize we were in the US. When it finally stoppped picketing, and realized we were in Nevada, NOT Alberta, it sort of went on the fritz rebooting at will. Coupled with Anita's complete inability to decipher anything that remotely resembles a map, we had a hell of a time just getting out of the parking lot of the rent-a-car centre (not even exaggerating here). If this were the Amazing Race, we'd be that dead last couple fighting about who forgot to pack the sandwiches. The only race we'd 'win' would be the one way road to acrimonious divorcehood. And the losers are...

Thankfully, the GPS eventually broke out of its funk (AKA user error), and the turn by turn system eventually guided us onto the Interstate, and we enjoyed the most incredibly scenic drive through the Nevadan desert. Which, incidentally, is full of strange Martian landscapes of red red rock, arches, coulees, and more red rock. Very cool. See for yourself. And as per usual, I don't do landscapes cause I suck at them, hence the endless closeup photos of rocks and their textures.

The very apty named, Elephant Rock.

This set of rock formations was called The Beehives.

This mini mountain wasn't named, but I kept seeing a half sitting, half laying Buddha in it. Buddha rock.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reading Room Pt. II - Irony

So I've gotten a little further into that book I borrowed from the library, Affluenza. It's really interesting. It is so good, in fact, that the more I read it, the more I feel like I want to buy it, which is ironic considering it's a book that relates materialism and consumer culture to a society wide disease.

And the hypocritical thing about me telling you to read this anti-consumption book, is the fact that I just bought myself a new lens - a prime lens whose focal length I already have one of. I bought me a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 manual focus lens, which will replace my AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. And considering I've also got a Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4, I'm not exactly a model spokesperson for NOT needlessly buying things. Oh, the hypocrisy that is my life.

Anita's gonna bludgeon me to a pulp when she sees this, but I really wanted to post a test shot with the new glass. Shot at f/2, 1/100 sec at ISO 640. She was giving herself a facial with some kind of cosmetic rejuvenating softening firming toning cleansing skin mask thingy (not that she needs it, she's got like the softest skin ever)...

G'night folks! Here's hoping I don't get suffocated by a pillow by said wife tonight...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reading Room

Currently on the reading list: Affluenza, The all consuming epidemic - by John De Graaf et al. Check it out (you can get it at the library, rather than buying it). Re-examine your life's priorities (shopping BAD).

Oh, and donate to the Haiti relief efforts. It'll make you feel better than if you spend that 20 bucks on a shitty Michael Bay directed DVD (I know you're out there)...

Comrade G, over and out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Neon Vegas Nights

How can one visit Vegas without photographing the excess Neon lights and other aspects of the night...

Vegas Starlet
Anita strikes a pose inside the Revolution Lounge at the Mirage.

The Fremont Street Neon Cowboy

Glitter Gulch... what a great name.

Looking south on the Strip, from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Looking north on the Strip, from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

The fountains at the Bellagio, from above.

The fountains at the Bellagio, street level. I shot this out the passenger window, while driving down the strip (although the car was really just inching along the congested traffic jam).

Taken inside the elevator at our hotel, the MGM Grand. I don't know what it is about this shot, but I love it. Probably one of my favourites from this entire trip.

The not so nice area by the historic downtown. It was nothing empty parking lots, boarded up stores, and bail bondsmen offices.

We ate a meal inside here cause we were starving. It was terrible.

Another older casino in the historic downtown.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Awkward Moments

Does anyone else find it awkward when you're watching something on TV and your parents or your in-laws come in right when a sex scene is happening? I know we're all adults, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable when this happens. Anita and I are big fans of True Blood and Rescue Me, both shows filled with raunchy, sexy material. And watching the seasons on DVD means you can spend a few hours in one night watching episodes full of vampires or firefighters fornicating. Which probably makes us look like a bunch of perverts to the in-laws.

This notion is probably not helped by the fact that we brought back multiple packages of these from Vegas as gag souvenirs for our friends...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Departures: Las Vegas

A summary of our recent trip to Sin City: it was great! Except if you judge it from the perspective of a young person - then you could pretty much sum it up with one word: FAIL. We didn't gamble, get drunk and disorderly, or hit up any burlesque cabarets. Very unexciting. We make 90 year old nuns look like bird flipping rockstars.

For those of you that haven't shunned us for our patheticness and decided to keep on reading, here's some of the highlights of what we did do: spent a couple days just walking up and down the strip, weaving in and out of the masses while checking out all the hotels and their crazy insane attractions (dancing fountains, rollercoasters that swing around the exterior of multistory hotels, fake Venetian canals complete with serenading gondoleers, go go dancers on casino tables - seriously, how do the gamblers concentrate when this is going on?). Then of course, we did a ton of shopping (I scored some photo goodies for cheap cheap cheap!). And what trip to a foreign city is complete without the obligatory pilgrimage to Chinatown and the local Pho house? Then we rented a car and drove out to the Hoover Dam, up through Lake Mead National Rec area, and into the Valley of Fire State Park (this day was probably the highlight for me). It was a chance to escape the overinduldgent excess of hotels both glamourous and dive-ish, endless buffets, greasy fast food joints, multimillion dollar shrines to retail materialism, and oversaturation of sexuality - a chance to spend some quiet time in the natural (and undescribably beautiful) landscape of the dessert. For our last two days, we hit up some more touristy stuff: Fremont street, casinos, premium outlet shopping, the Arts District in junky old town Vegas, and then my personal favourite - spending a few bucks giving kids the beatdown at those carnie midway games in Circus Circus. Yeah, I'm the man. I was better at that 'roll the ball into the coloured holes to move your camel towards the finish line' game than all of them kids... except for the dude that won. Damn him and his uncanny ball rolling ability. He had to be at least 12. Badass.

Anyways, the point is that although our trip certainly wasn't 'The Hangover', I still enjoyed Vegas in my own slightly pathetic way.

But of course, now we're back home and I encounter this dilemma after every trip - where in the vast pile of photos do I even begin to sort, edit, and post? So rather than trying to piece together a bunch of shots in chronological order (which I never manage to finish), I'm gonna try posting by theme. Today, I want to give you a look at some abstract sights of Vegas - images that perhaps the average person window shopping, gawking at half-nekkid waitresses, or tunnel visioning towards the next slot machine might miss. Enjoy!

I really like how busy and confusing this shot is. It's the side of a building, with a skywalk in front, and reflections of the construction across the street. The colour construction reflections really make this shot for me.

A closer view of the above reflections.

Self shadow portrait in a covered walkway going under some construction scaffolding.

Yet another all glass exterior building, with some interesting reflections.

The fountains/ pool at the Bellagio.

The Eiffel Tower at Paris, Las Vegas, as reflected in the fountains of the Bellagio.

Interesting architecture at the new City Centre complex of buildings.

Swatches of Coloured glass in the MGM Grand.

More coloured glass in the MGM Grand.

Wads of gum stuck to a concrete barrier, just west of the Hoover Dam.

Hanging lamps in one of the many lobbies of the Wynn Hotel.