Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"I put Sriracha on my Sriracha"

Unsettling news: Huy Fong Foods, the makers of the life giving Sriracha Chili Sauce may be forced to temporarily close due to a 'public nuisance' issue (their facility is generating undesirable aromas, according to neighbouring residents). What are we going to do, fellow Srirachans?!! Stockpile? Make our own?! Get Amnesty International involved?!!

I fear in its absence, I am going to careen down a never ending spiral of utter hopelessness and despair, and may turn to dangerous alternate sources on the street to feed my addiction. You know how alcoholics resort to stealing Listerine from the pharmacy when they get that irresistible call from the booze? When (not if) I start getting the Sriracha deficiency induced shakes, I may also resort to desperate measures like licking electrified fences to get my kick... or worse, buying knockoff brand sauces... gaaahhh, it's not going to be pretty.

Fooding - Sriracha
How am I supposed to enjoy Asian Hot Pot without Sriracha as a dipping sauce?!

The strangest timing about this story is that last week, I was jokingly thinking about changing the name of this blog to 2LitresofSriracha, cause I essentially drink it like Coke.

Maybe we can enlist Dennis Rodman to solve this problem with some basketball diplomacy. If the Worm can thaw international relations that are icy, then he should be able to handle conflict that is spicy.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Confessions of a Cameraholic 2013

My dad once owned five stand-up oscillating fans. True story. I was visiting my parents one time in Edmonton and when I went downstairs, their basement had five of them stored away. I thought, what's that all about? It's a small townhouse, and there's only the two of them living there. Excessive much?! Fast forward to this October 2013, and I have just added my 36th and 37th cameras to my family. You can't escape your genes. I blame you, dad!

The backstory: I've been agonizing over what photo gear I want to bring with us to Chile. My usual go to travel kit involves a bulky DSLR (D300 and 17-55mm f/2.8 zoom), a medium format SLR (Kiev 88CM and 2 backs), a toy camera (Holga 120N), and at least one other random camera. But unlike many of our previous trips, weight is a consideration this time as we'll be trekking through Patagonia for 5 days where we must carry all our gear whilst hiking. So I wanted to ditch the DSLR and zoom lens, and go with a lighter footprint. I finally settled on this kit: a new to me Nikon FM2n (35mm film SLR), an even newer to me Fuji X100s (rangefinder style digital), to go along with a Rolleiflex 2.8E (medium format TLR). Surprisingly, these all fit in a small messenger bag (or my purse, as my niece called it).

Confessions of a Cameraholic-2

Confessions of a Cameraholic-1

Confessions of a Cameraholic-3

Confessions of a Cameraholic-4

Chile, hide your women and alpacas - I'm coming for them! j/k. I'm only coming for your alpacas.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The V's and P's of Anatomy

We don't have rugrats of our own, so we miss out on the funny and awkward questions they ask. Like when Mariana (my 6 year old niece) was rubbing Tubby's belly last weekend, and her hand brushed up against his very pronounced boys - he has white fur, but he's got a dark coloured scrote (yes, I'm sooooo mature). She turns to Anita and I, and asks "What's that?". 'Ta and I just looked at each other and laughed nervously without answering.

Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking we should have just explained that they are TESTICLES, because it's better to have that conversation in a safe controlled environment rather than her learning about them with peers her own age (ie: yucky boys). But this isn't my kid. I shouldn't have to have the V's and P's conversation with her. V's and P's stands for Vags (pronounced with a 'J' sound) and Peens, in case you didn't make that connection. Again, I'm sooooo mature.

Anyways, I was trying really hard (ha... there's a bad pun in here somewhere) to find a photo that could appropriately represent the awkwardness of this moment, but alas, I don't routinely take photos of dog scrotums... and yes, I'm giggling as I write that. So I leave you with another edition of the Dead Bird Diaries instead, only it's not a bird. Welcome to the Dead Squirrel Diaries, episode 1.

The Dead Squirrel Diaries
Photo: Asahi Pentax 6x7, Takumar SMC 105mm f/2.4, on T-Max 400. Developed in Ilfosol 3, 1+14 at 68 deg. F for 10:00.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Peeing on the Peonies

I ran a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 through the Leica M6 last weekend while my niece and my bro were visiting for Thanksgiving. Mixed in are a couple of shots of Tubby, my in-laws' dog that we're currently dogsitting while they're off galavanting through SE Asia. Tubby has a funny attraction to the peonies in my backyard... in particular, he has a fondness for peeing on the peonies. I'm not sure why this makes Anita and I laugh so much, but it does.

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-9

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-8

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-1

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-2

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-3

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-4

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-6

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-5

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-7

Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece-10

For the photo nerds: this was developed in Ilfosol 3, 1+9 @ 68 deg. F for 11 minutes. The grain in these negatives is horrendously crunchy (these scans were toned down in Lightroom). What am I doing wrong? I've seen others shoot Delta 3200 and have far nicer/ less grain, and much better retention of tones than these shots. Do I need to change developers? Or is my agitation technique during developing causing this explosion of grain?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Getting the Call from Carnegie Hall

It's not everyday that Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute comes calling to seek permission to use one of your photos as part of their slideshows for an upcoming concert. Weill Music Institute is the education dept at Carnegie Hall in New York City. So yes, I was pretty excited by the request. I may even have momentarily squeaked like a teenager catching a glimpse of insert teen pop idol here. Unfortunately, the photo they wanted to use was a crap photo I took years ago on a little point and shoot. Frankly, I am embarrassed to even maintain it on my flickr stream, but do so only in the spirit of documenting the change and development of my style over the years. "Look ma, I evolved from that knuckle dragger to this!" So I was torn between saying 'yes', because I wanted to support the arts, while also saying 'no' because I didn't want to be associated with the photo. Call it vanity, but there's this artistic desire to be remembered soley for the awesome parts of your life, not the embarassing moments like when you shirked a little turd in your pants because you had too many shreddies for breakfast and there was no bathroom nearby... or so I've heard... anyways...

Put another way, it'd be like the Chancellor of Germany going up to George Clooney and saying, "Excuse me Herr Clooney, but vern't you ze Batman? I loved zat movie!" (referring of course to the stinker, Batman & Robin, c. 1997, arguably one of the lowest points in the history of human civilization, aside from the Holocaust and maybe the invention of snuggies for dogs - seriously, WTF?!). Someone please tweet @Clooney that question, and tell me his response so that I can base my decision accordingly.

Okay, apparently, my niece is awake which means I will be her rag doll for the next 14 hours. Wishing you guys a Happy Thanksgiving (assuming you're from the land of free healthcare), and enjoy whatever fabulous turkey/ham/steak & lobster dinner you've got planned.

The Crawfish Special

This is NOT the photo Carnegie WMI asked to use, but rather me dreaming of delicious Thanksgiving dinner tonight. MMMMM.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Prelude to Patagonia, Part ... I've lost count

Anita wanted to do one more hike in the Rockies before we embark on our trek to Chile, so we did a short one to end what has been a pretty spectacular hiking and scrambling season for us. She saddled herself down with pyjamas and other random articles from the house in her continuing 'training' for Patagonia. I'm surprised and a bit disappointed she didn't pull a blender out of her pack to make us some smoothies when we reached the end.

Moose Mountain is a 15km roundtrip hike near Bragg Creek, and though its elevation gain to the summit is only in the mid 500m range, the view at the end is pretty nice for the little effort expended. And considering it's October, we can't really complain about the conditions, despite the cold winds at the top.

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-1

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-2
Don't litter. Pack your peels out with you.

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-4

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-5

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-6

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-7
Pose of the day goes to Mike.

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-8

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-9

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-10

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-11

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-12

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-13

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-14
Searching for shelter from the wind at the summit.

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-15

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-16
Proof I was part of this hike.

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-17

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-18

Scrambles - Moose Mountain-19

Oh, hey! This is my 400th entry on this blog! Happy 400th, blog. I will eat some tiramisu cake for you.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Five Years of XOXO ... Gossip Girl?

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of our wedding. Not that five years of experience qualifies us as experts on marital longevity, but I will share with you a secret to our success: common ground, and where that is lacking, mutual respect of that lack.

Example: Anita was watching the series finale of Gossip Girl this morning on DVD. BAAAAAAARRRRF. I'm guessing that the majority of you don't follow that show (yes, I WILL judge you for that), so my personal synopsis of the premise for you is this: someone anonymously blogs the comings and goings of a group of white, upper class, snobby, elitist bitches and douchebags 'struggling' through life. It's disgusting on so many levels. And for reasons I can't explain, Anita just LOVES it. But while I would rather grind my face against a cheese grater than watch that show, I do occasionally sit down and watch it with her anyways. (Okay, you can now judge me for that).

Anyways, I'm not sure why I've chosen to discuss my repulsion for that show as part of a celebration of our relationship. Moving on to the good parts. Of which there are many, but undoubtedly, our biggest shared passion lies routed in that desire to explore... countless flight, train, bus, and ferry connections have taken us through 30 countries and 100+ cities for food, drink, and adventure these past five years. Enjoy a small sampling of such below. Looking forward to our next 100 cities.

Wroclaw, Poland

20 Quid Splish Splosh
London, England

Arashiyama, Japan

Why she loved Madrid
Sevilla, Spain

Rue Boeuf (Beef Street?)
Lyon, France

The Downward Spiral
Rome, Italy

Life on Two Wheels-4
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Bright Lights of Brooklyn
New York, USA

Portugal Historic Tram No. 28
Lisbon, Portugal

Amsterdamarama 2
Amsterdam, Holland

Forests of Alishan 2
Alishan, Taiwan

Budapest, Hungary

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Endless Emerald
Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Pripyat: The Beauty of Decay
Pripyat (Chernobyl), Ukraine

Railway Bridge - Riga, Latvia
Riga, Latvia

Temple of Heaven
Beijing, China

Montreal, Canada

Prague, Czech Republic

Angkor Wat
Angor Wat, Cambodia

Zmajski Most (Dragon Bridge)
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Bucharest National Library
Bucharest, Romania