Tuesday, September 30, 2014

_a diatribe: Hong Kong vs. the Mainland _

May I present, a lengthy diatribe on the perils of ignorance, as it pertains to HK vs. The PRC.

A couple years ago, Anita and I were in the Seoul Tower as tourists, photographing the city skyline from above, when we overheard an ignorant mainland Chinese tourist run his mouth off to the customer service staff. He was giving the staff member shit for displaying a magnetic world map in which a Taiwanese flag magnet was shown over Taiwan. He asserted that Taiwan was not a country, but rather territory owned by the People's Republic of China. This statement belied not only the ignorance of his place in the world (Taiwan is most definitely NOT part of the PRC, as they have their own completely independent democratically elected government, laws, currency, economy, and most importantly, CULTURE), but was also completely irrelevant, given that he was lecturing a KOREAN customer service clerk about a Chinese territorial dispute, while at a tourist site in KOREA. The fool may as well have gone to Ikea to complain about his cell phone bill - the idea of relevance was COMPLETELY LOST on him.

And so you're thinking, why am I bringing this up now? Let me bring you back to the present, where mass civil protests are occurring and escalating in Hong Kong, calling on Beijing to grant full election freedoms to the citizens of HK, as they had been promised. China, being a communist country, does not afford political freedoms to their mainland citizens. Democracy is a foreign concept that is met with guns, tanks, and labour camp sentences. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is a special administrative region that enjoys far greater freedoms than the Mainland, leading to a discrepancy in expectations.

The issue in and of itself is very complex and delicate (as politically charged issues tend to be). But yet, so many North American armchair commenters, after reading a single article on CBC and/or other news websites, are suddenly running their mouths off about how China owns Hong Kong, so they can do whatever they want, suck it up Hong Kong, blah blah blah. You know what that sounds like? An ignorant fool spouting off PRC territorial claims to a clerk who gives NOT ONE SHIT about your issues, in Korea. Don't do it. By opening your mouth, you confirm that you are ignorant of the facts, and even worse, ignorant of your own ignorance - you lack any understanding of the issue on even a surface level, let alone the tense and complex nature of the underlying relationship between Hong Kongers and 'mainlanders'. Shut your mouth and go back to commenting on Stephen Harper, or whatever issue du jour you're having that you can at least passably qualify as having some knowledge of. /End Rant.

Quick side note: after the mainland tourist in Korea faacked off to go be a douche somewhere else, I went to the display and removed the mainland Chinese flag altogether, and hid it in a separate display. So now, according to that map in Korea, the ONLY Chinese republic that exists is Taiwan. HA!

Seoul from Above-1
Seoul, as seen from the top of Seoul Tower.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hi-fi vs. Lo-fi, Part I: The Brooklyn Bridge

A comparison of new vs. old, hi vs. lo -fi camera tech. This is the Brooklyn Bridge, shot at 2:00am from the East River Bikeway, exposed for 15 seconds. The Fuji X-T1 version has those beautiful star shapes in the lights. And of course, a hugely malleable range of tones to manipulate in post. And it's pretty sharp, considering my wobbly tripod. But the Holga version has it's own feel and aesthetic that I love as well, despite being a $27 all plastic piece of crap. Which version do you prefer? Personally, I love the film version more. It's gritty, grainy, and has imperfections that mirror our own lives. But that could just be the hipster in me talking. Excuse me while I put on some skinny jeans and a paisley button up shirt with faux leather elbow patches.

The Bridge - Digital
Fuji X-T1, Rokinon 12mm f/2.0.

The Bridge - Analog
Holga 120N, on Kodak Tri-X 400. Developed in Rodinal 1:25 for 7:00min at 68 deg. F.

I wanted to do a few more comparisons, but need to run and catch another flick at the Calgary Film Fest. More to come this week. Ciao!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Poor iPhone 6+ owners are getting all #bentoutofshape (ha!) over this Bendy Mcbend phone controversy (OMG - who knew that thin metal would bend when my fat ass sat on it?!). Good thing I'm not an early adopter. But even if I was, I wouldn't be able to fit a phone that big comfortably into my pocket anyways, so #bendgate, #bendghazi, #willitbend, #BendOverAndTakeItFromTheGhostofSteveJobs probably wouldn't apply to me.

Anyways… it's that beautiful fall colour time of the year in YYC. Put away your bent phone and go soak in the sights of the golden foliage before it's gone in a couple weeks. Then you can resume complaining about your #BendItLikeBeckam phone.

Autumn Foliage 2014-5

Autumn Foliage 2014-4

Autumn Foliage 2014-3

Autumn Foliage 2014-2

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nuit Blanche Calgary 2014

Last night was Nuit Blanche 2014 in Calgary, and the area surrounding Olympic Plaza was transformed into a venue hosting numerous contemporary/ performance art pieces. Unlike many Nuit Blanche events around the world that run until dawn, the Calgary version ended at 1am, due to some overly stringent noise bylaws. Our festival is a relative newcomer, and it showed, as the performance pieces were hit and miss, and organizational logistics weren't well thought out (the popular "All Night Breakfast" pieces were set inside a tiny cramped space, while a far less engaging piece was granted the main lobby of City Hall). But the hits were definite hits, and it was fun, well attended, and has huge potential for growth and improvement. Looking forward to next year.

Nuit Blanche Calgary-1
Fitting caption, as the bottom arrow points to my Revolution Brewing shirt (from a craft Chicago brewery of that moniker).

Nuit Blanche Calgary-2
The actual Pennies from Heaven performance featured a lady up on a ladder tossing/ dropping popcorn into the mouths of passersby underneath. Fun!

Nuit Blanche Calgary-3
I was handed this protest placard. The back side read 'I will not be SHAMED for my sexuality"

Nuit Blanche Calgary-4

Nuit Blanche Calgary-8
This interactive exhibit was part of the All Night Breakfast, where you were given a small placard, and then you could spell out whatever message you wanted in Alphaghetti letters.

Nuit Blanche Calgary-7
This was what I came up with. I like the happy colourful feel of the piece, contrasted against the political call to action.

Nuit Blanche Calgary
The Symphony for Absent Wildlife

Nuit Blanche Calgary-9

Nuit Blanche Calgary-6

Nuit Blanche Calgary-13
Limelight - a spotlit area on Stephen Ave, inviting any brave enough to bask in the limelight for a moment, sharing with all any talent or spontaneous performance one fancied.

Nuit Blanche Calgary-12
20,000 Snowdrops. Anita grabbed one of the 20,000 Snowdrop bulbs handed out - a flower to be planted in the fall, and expected to bloom at the end of winter. By giving away this many bulbs, the hope is that the city will be awash in snowdrops next year.

Alright, it's time for bed. Gonna take in a flick for the Calgary film fest in a couple hours. It's a great weekend for arts and culture in Calgary.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

El Pulpo Mecanico, and the rest of Beakernight

If you were in Calgary this past week, you may have been lucky enough to experience Beakerhead, a festival fusing art, food, science, and engineering. Check beakerhead.org for more info about the festival itself. I took in a couple events - Beakernight on Saturday, and the inflatable net climbing structure on Friday. If you were here, and didn't go take in any of the events, you really missed out on some awesomely fun stuff. There were far more exhibits and entertainers than those shown here, but enjoy a small sampling in photos.

Beaker Night-3
El Pulpo Mecanico, a 2 storey tall flame throwing octopus truck, that was also seen at Burning Man. SO AWESOME!

Beaker Night-19

Beaker Night-5

Beaker Night-4
The design from which El Pulpo was modelled off of.

Beaker Night-1

Beaker Night-7
Anita and I did an 'assemble your own LED light magnet' thingy (LED bulb, button battery, magnet, and electrical tape).

Beaker Night-8
When completed, we threw them inside a rail container and they stuck to the ceiling, with the end goal being a fully lit up LED interior to represent all that attended Beakernight.

Beaker Night-9
Laser Cat. I think the eyes projected videos onto a giant screen to go along with some DJ's spinning tunes.

Beaker Night-10
Fluorescent art made by growing bacteria that express GFP (green fluorescence protein), and exhibiting them under black light.

Beaker Night-14
A sound installation where each fibre optic was attached to a vibration sensor, which would then chime when it sensed any touch.

Beaker Night-15

Beaker Night-16
An interesting percussion instrument made from PVC(?) tubes. It was able to generate a surprisingly rich amount of notes.

Beaker Night-17

Beaker Night-20

Beaker Night-21

Beaker Night-22

Beaker Night-23

Beaker Night-25
A multilevel inflatable net climbing structure. So much fun!

Beaker Night-24

Beaker Night-26

#Beakernight #El Pulpo Mecanico #Beakerhead

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Nine-Eleven. aka The day shit got real in the world. And for us travel bugs, the day that security checks for commercial flights forever became a huge pain in the ass. Faaack you, Al Qaeda. Faaack you very much.

One WTC-1
That gaping black hole in the foreground is one of the twin World Trade Centre Memorial reflecting pools.

One WTC-2
One World Trade Centre (One WTC), as seen at night from our hotel.

One WTC-3

A 12x speed hyperlapse of clouds sweeping past the One WTC.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The BIG Apples

Soooooo... Apple announced the next iPhone(s) yesterday. Who's excited?! Put your hands down, you Apple hating Samsung nerds. I know you're excited, because it's the one day of the year you can pretend to be funny, spouting off 'Welcome to 2013, we had those features last year' jokes. Way to say the same joke year after year. Ironically, your lack of innovation mirrors Apple's technology at the moment... tired, and rehashed.

So who else is excited? Oh, nobody? Yeah, I figured. At this point, the smartphone market has reached a plateau of maturation and saturation, where updates and improvements have gotten evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary. While tech junkies continuously expect life altering leaps in technology, we sigh a collective ho hum when we get served up a not unexpected smartphone equivalent of a new flavour of Cheerios. Oh what's that? Now in Bacon flavour? Greaaaaat. Sign me up.

Having said all that, am I still likely to bow down and kowtow at the altar of the ghost of Steve Jobs and get a phone that's so big, I can't sit down, because it pushes into my pelvis while in my front pocket? Yes. I'm a moron, and I can't help it. Seriously though, the new phones are too big. Check out this article comparing it to an advanced camera.

While we're talking Apple, and phones that are too big, here are a quick few photos from the other Big Apple, NYC. I bought a Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 ultra wide angle while there, and it has become my new favourite lens. All but the first photo were taken with it.

NYC Anonymous-1

NYC Anonymous-5

NYC Anonymous-2

NYC Anonymous-3

NYC Anonymous-4

NYC Anonymous-6

Monday, September 8, 2014

Beer Souvenirs (Beervenirs!)

Feast your eyes on some of my craft beer souvenirs (Beer-venirs!) from a short trip to the States. The lowest ABV is 6.6%, and three of them are in the 8.8% range ABV. I await your visit to share in their hoppy glory. In the meantime, these 22 oz bombers will stay chilled in the fridge… or possibly the snow bank outside. Because you know, it's September 8th in Calgary. Faaack.